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Constitution of India

The Constitution of India is the supreme law of India. The document lays down the framework that demarcates the fundamental political code, structure, procedures, powers, and duties of government institutions and sets out fundamental rights, directive principles, and the duties of citizens.

  • The Constitution of India is one of the most comprehensive documents in the world and its making required the joint efforts of numerous luminaries from various walks of life. 
  • The Constitution also has several aspects that were borrowed from constitutions around the world.
  • The Constituent Assembly of India was elected to frame the Constitution of India.
  •  A Constituent Assembly was formed in 1946, which adopted the Constitution on 26 November 1949.

Preamble: Constitution of IndiaPreamble: Constitution of India

Formation of Constituent Assembly of India

A constituent assembly  is a body or assembly of popularly elected representatives which is assembled for the purpose of drafting or adopting a constitution.
  • An idea for a Constituent Assembly was first proposed in 1934 by the communist leader M. N. Roy.

  • It was adopted by the Indian National Congress in 1935.

  • In 1939C. Rajagopalachari proposed that the Constituent Assembly be elected through universal adult franchise.

  • The INC demanded the creation of a Constituent Assembly to frame the Constitution in 1935.

  • In 1940, the British accepted this demand under the August Offer.

  • The demand remained unfulfilled following the rejection of the Cripps’ Mission in 1942.

  • The 1946 Cabinet Mission Plan accepted this demand and a Constituent Assembly was founded on 6 December 1946.

  • It reassembled on 14 August 1947 as a sovereign body and became the first parliament in independent India.

Question for Making of the Constitution
Try yourself:The Constituent Assembly of India was step up under the framework of which of the following?
View Solution

Making of Indian Constitution: Demand for Constituent Assembly

  • Annie Besant’s general assembly in 1922 agreed to call a conference to draft a constitution.
  • The British Parliament was presented with the Indian Commonwealth Bill of 1925. One of India’s most important constitutional reforms.
  • The Motilal Nehru report, which was considered the first major attempt toward a full-fledged constitution, was published in 1928.
  • Between 1930 and 1932, three round tables on constitutional reform were convened. The first round table conference took place in 1930.
  • In 1934, the idea of the constituent assembly was put forward by M.N. Roy.
  • In 1935, Indian National Congress demanded a constituent assembly to frame the constitution.
  • In 1938, Jawaharlal Nehru declared that the constituent assembly must consist of elected members on the basis of a universal adult franchise.
  • In 1940, the demand was accepted by the British government. This was termed the August offer.
  • In 1942, Sir Standford Cripps proposed forming Independent nations for Hindus and Muslims. This was referred to as the Cripps mission.
  • In 1946, a constituent assembly was formed on the basis of the cabinet mission.

Composition of the Constituent Assembly

  • The Constituent Assembly consisted of 389 members of whom 
    (i) 292 were representatives of the Provinces.
    (ii) 93 represented the Princely States.
    (iii) Four were from the Chief Commissioner provinces of Delhi, Ajmer-Merwara, Coorg, and British Baluchistan.

  • The members of the Constituent Assembly were elected by the provincial assemblies by a single, transferable-vote system of proportional representation

Making of the Constitution | General Awareness & Knowledge - Bank Exams

  • The Assembly was not elected on the basis of universal adult suffrage, and Muslims and Sikhs received special representation as minorities.

  • Following the elections, Congress secured 208 seats; the Muslim League won 73 and the Independents 15.

  • However, the Muslim League and nominees from the Princely States refused to cooperate in the Constituent Assembly.

  • After Partition in 1947, the representatives of the areas incorporated into Pakistan ceased to be members of the Constituent Assembly of India.

  • The membership of the Constituent Assembly was 299 after the reorganization, and it met on 31 December 1947.

  • The Interim Government of India was formed on 2 September 1946 from the newly elected Constituent Assembly.

  • These delegates sat over 114 days and discussed what the constitution should contain and what laws should be included.

Question for Making of the Constitution
Try yourself:Consider the following statements:
I. The members of the Constituent Assembly were elected on the basis of universal adult franchise.
II. At the time of adopting the Constitution, there were 389 members in the Constituent Assembly.
III. Members were elected via proportional representation.
Choose the correct answer:
View Solution

Working of Constituent Assembly

  • Sachidananda Sinha was elected the temporary president of the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly.

  • The first President of the assembly was Dr. Rajendra Prasad and the first Vice-President was Harendra Coomar Mukherjee.

Dr. Rajendra Prasad addressing the AssemblyDr. Rajendra Prasad addressing the Assembly

  • B.N Rau was appointed as the constitutional adviser to the assembly. He prepared an initial draft of the constitution.

  • Jawaharlal Nehru presented the Objective Resolution, which had the following provisions:
    (i) Boundaries, as determined by CA, retain the status of autonomous units together possess residuary powers and exercise functions of Government as vested in or assigned to the Union
    (ii) Integrity and sovereign rights to be maintained as per Law and Justice of civilized nations.
    (iii) Territories comprising British India, parts outside India, and other territories willing to join India shall be a Union.
    (iv) Justice, Social, Economic, Equality of opportunity, Freedom of thought, worship, etc secured to all the people of India.
    (v) Adequate safeguards shall be provided for minorities, backward and tribal areas, and depressed and other backward classes.
    (vi) Power and Authority of sovereign India derived from People
    (vii) Ancient land attains its rightful and honored place in the world

  • There were 8 major and 13 minor committees that were constituted.

  • The Drafting Committee was one of the most important committees and it consisted of B.R Ambedkar and 7 other members.
    Making of the Constitution | General Awareness & Knowledge - Bank Exams

The Drafting Committee membersThe Drafting Committee members

Making of the Constitution | General Awareness & Knowledge - Bank Exams

  • The Constituent Assembly had a total of 11 sessions over 2 years, 11 months, and 18 days.

  • The total expenditure for the whole process was Rs. 64 lakhs.

  • Subsequent to the Independence of India Act, the Constituent Assembly got divided into 2 organs:
    (i) Legislative Body under G.V Mavlankar
    (ii) Constituent Body under Rajendra Prasad

Question for Making of the Constitution
Try yourself:Consider the following statements:
I. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the temporary President of the Constituent Assembly.
II. Jawaharlal Nehru chaired the States Committee, Union Powers Committee and Provincial Committee.
III. G.V Mavlankar was appointed to the Drafting committee following the death of D.P Khaitan.
Choose the correct answer:
View Solution

Enactment and Enforcement of Constitution of India

  • By 14 November 1949, the third and final reading of the final draft was concluded.

  • On 26 November 1949, the Draft Constitution was declared as passed.

  • The Constitution as adopted on November 26, 1949, contained a Preamble395 Articles, and 8 Schedules.

  • On 26 January 1950, the remaining major provisions of the Constitution were passed and the Constitution of India was officially enforced.

  • This brought an end to the Government of India Act, 1935 and the Indian Independence Act, 1947.

President of the Constituent Assembly, signing the Constitution of India, as passed by the Constituent Assembly on 24 January 1950.President of the Constituent Assembly, signing the Constitution of India, as passed by the Constituent Assembly on 24 January 1950.

Criticisms faced by the Constituent Assembly

  • Despite its large membership, the Constituent Assembly was not a representative or a sovereign body.
  • The members were not elected on the basis of universal adult suffrage.
  • The vast majority of its members belonged to INC.
  • Further, most of the members were lawyers and upper-caste Hindus.
  • The entire process of drafting a new Constitution was a time-consuming process.

Sources of the Indian Constitution

  • A lot of the salient features of the Indian Constitution were actually borrowed from earlier legislation of foreign constitutions.

  • Constitutions of 60 nations were consulted as a result.

Source

Features

USA
Making of the Constitution | General Awareness & Knowledge - Bank Exams

  • Fundamental Rights,
  • Preamble
  • Judicial Review
  • Independence of Judiciary
  • Vice President
  • Impeachment of President
  • Removal of SC and HC judges.

UK
Making of the Constitution | General Awareness & Knowledge - Bank Exams

  • Parliamentary government,
  • Rule of Law,
  • Single Citizenship,
  • Bicameralism,
  • Legislative Speaker
  • Prerogative writs,
  • parliamentary privileges,
  • legislative procedure,
  • Cabinet system.

Govt. of India Act, 1935
Making of the Constitution | General Awareness & Knowledge - Bank Exams

  • Federal Scheme,
  • Governor,
  • Judiciary,
  • Public Service Commission,
  • Emergency provisions,
  • Administrative details.

Canada
Making of the Constitution | General Awareness & Knowledge - Bank Exams


  • Federation with Strong Centre
  • Residuary powers with Centre
  • Appointment of Governors by Centre
  • Advisory Jurisdiction of SC

Weimar Germany
Making of the Constitution | General Awareness & Knowledge - Bank Exams


  • Suspension of Fundamental Rights during emergency

Ireland
Making of the Constitution | General Awareness & Knowledge - Bank Exams


  • Directive Principles of State Policy
  • Method of election of President
  • Nomination of members to Rajya Sabha

France
Making of the Constitution | General Awareness & Knowledge - Bank Exams


  • Republic
  • Ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity in the Preamble

Soviet Union

Making of the Constitution | General Awareness & Knowledge - Bank Exams


  • Fundamental Duties
  • Ideals of justice (social, economic and political) in the Preamble.

Japan

Making of the Constitution | General Awareness & Knowledge - Bank Exams


  • Procedure established by Law

South Africa
Making of the Constitution | General Awareness & Knowledge - Bank Exams


  • Election of members of Rajya Sabha
  • Procedure for amendment in the Constitution

Australia
Making of the Constitution | General Awareness & Knowledge - Bank Exams

  • Concurrent List
  • Joint sitting of the two Houses of Parliament
  • Freedom of Trade, Commerce and Intercourse.

Question for Making of the Constitution
Try yourself:The provisions for Governor under Indian Constitution have been borrowed from which of the following:
View Solution

Features and Functions of the Constituent Assembly

  • The Provinces elected 292 members, with the Indian States receiving a maximum of 93 seats.
  • The seats in each province were apportioned proportionally to their respective populations among the three main committees: Muslim, Sikh, and General.
  • In the Provincial Legislative Assembly, members of each community pick their own representatives using the proportional representation method and a single transferable vote.
  • The princely states’ representatives were to be chosen by the princely states’ heads.
  • On the 13th of December, 1946, Jawaharlal Nehru moved the Objectives Resolution, which formally began the Constituent Assembly’s mission of drafting the Indian Constitution.
  • The resolution’s goal was to “…proclaim India as the Independent Sovereign Republic and draft a Constitution for her future administration…”
  • The resolution outlined basic principles that would guide the Constituent Assembly’s work. On January 22, 1947, the Constituent Assembly passed the resolution.
  • The princely states’ delegates gradually joined it. The Assembly was formed on April 28, 1947, with representatives from the six states.
  • The delegates of the majority of the other princely realms assumed their seats in the Assembly after the Mountbatten Plan for a partition of the country was accepted on June 3, 1947.

Timeline of Important Events

Making of the Constitution | General Awareness & Knowledge - Bank Exams

  • 6 December 1946: Formation of the Constituent Assembly

  • 9 December 1946First meeting of the Assembly. First Speech by J.B Kripalani

  • 11 December 1946: Appointment of permanent President, Vice President, and Constitutional Advisor

  • 13 December 1946Jawaharlal Nehru presents the Objective Resolution before the Assembly

  • 22 January 1947Objective Resolution unanimously adopted.

  • 22 July 1947National Flag adopted.

  • 15 August 1947Indian independence and partition.

  • 29 August 1947Drafting Committee constituted with B.R Ambedkar as its Chairman.

  • 26 November 1949Constitution of India passed and adopted by the Constituent Assembly.

  • 24 January 1950: Last meeting of the Constituent Assembly. The National Anthem adopted.

  • 26 January 1950: Constitution of India comes into force.

Question for Making of the Constitution
Try yourself:The national Anthem was adopted by the constituent Assembly on which of the following day?
View Solution

Objective Resolution

  • On 13th Dec 1946, an Objective resolution was given by Jawaharlal Nehru which laid the philosophical structure of the constitution.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru encapsulated the aspirations and values for framing the Constitution of India.
  • It was adopted on 22nd July 1947.
  • It is the basis of the present Preamble of the Indian Constitution.

Features of Objective Resolution

It acted as a guideline for the members of the constituent assembly to achieve –

  • Economic stability, political security, and faster unity of the nation.
  • Proclaim India as a sovereign democratic republic nation.
  • Ensure your federal form of Government with the distribution of powers between the central and the states.
  • Guarantee and secure justice, right to equality, freedom, belief, faith worship, and location to citizens of India.
  • Safeguard interests of backward and tribal areas, depressed classes, and other backward classes.
  • Maintain territorial integrity and sovereignty over land, sea, and air.
  • Help India to attain a rightful and honoured place in the world that will promote world peace and the welfare of mankind.

Enactment and Enforcement of the Constitution

  • On November 26, 1949, the motion on Draft Constitution was proclaimed approved, gaining the signatures of the members as well as the President. It should be emphasized that the Preamble was enacted after the Constitution.
  • After three sets of readings of the Draft produced by the Drafting Committee and published in October 1948, the Constitution was accepted on November 26, 1949, with a Preamble, 395 Articles, and 8 Schedules Of the Indian Constitution. Some of the 395 Articles, such as Articles 5 to 9, Articles 379, 380, 388, 392, and 393, went into effect on November 26, 1949. 
  • The remaining Articles went into effect on January 26, 1950, Republic Day. The Indian Independence Act of 1947 and the Government of India Act of 1935 were repealed once the Constitution of India took effect. Our Constitution currently has 448 Articles, 25 Parts, and 12 Schedules.

Conclusion 

  • Despite the numerous criticisms levelled at the Constituent Assembly’s functioning, one cannot deny that, today, India is living and breathing in the air of sovereignty, democracy, and freedom, as well as the rights and duties vested in both citizens and states of the nation, it is due to the tireless efforts of notable personalities who came together to gift India its biggest gift.

Try it yourself:

Q. The Government of India Act, 1935 played an indispensable role in the drafting of the Constitution of India. Explain. (250 words)

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