India, a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic with a parliamentary system of government. The constitution of India governs the Republic and it was adopted by the constituent assembly on 26th November 1949. The constitution came into force on 26th January 1950. India has a parliamentary form of government which is federal in structure but has certain unitary features. A constitution is a set of written rules which has to be followed and are accepted by all the people living in a country. It determines the relationship between the people and the government. Dr. B R Ambedkar is the father of the constitution and the law minister who introduced the final draft of the constitution in the constituent assembly. The constituent assembly drafted the constitution. The first session of constituent assembly was held on December 9, 1946. The main function of the constitution is to describe various institutions of government, prescribing their composition, functions, and powers, and regulating the relationship between them. The Constitution of India is the supreme law of India.


The constitution is the country’s supreme law. The original Constitution has 395 articles divided into 22 divisions and eight schedules. By the process of amendments, the total number of articles has risen to 448. The constitution is an important piece of legislation. Citizens’ interaction with the government is determined by the constitution. As India is a diverse country Constitution establishes concepts and rules for people of many ethnic and religious groups to live together in peace. It generates coordination and trust between the government and its citizens. It specifies how the government will be elected, how it should function as well as who will have the authority and obligation to make crucial decisions. It explains how the citizens’ rights are protected and how the government’s authority is limited.


Motilal Nehru and eight Congress leaders 1928 drafted a constitution for India. The Indian National Congress in its 1931 Karachi session dwelt on how independent India’s constitution should look. Universal adult franchise, the right to freedom and equality, and the protection of the rights of minorities were included in the constitution of independent India. Some basic values were accepted by all leaders. As Indians were familiar with the political institutions of colonial rule, it helped to develop an agreement over the institutional design. The British gave voting rights to only a few people. On this basis, they had weak legislation. Elections were conducted in 1937 to provincial legislatures and ministries all over British India. These were not fully democratic governments. But the Indians gained experience from this and it became very useful for the country for setting up its institutions and working in them. This is the reason why the Indian constitution adopted many institutions’ details and procedures from colonial laws.

 Many years of thinking and deliberation on the framework of the constitution had another benefit as our leaders gained the confidence to learn from other countries but on our terms. Many of our leaders were inspired by the practice of parliamentary democracy in Britain, the bill of rights in the US, etc. They adopted many things from foreign countries but during each step, they were questioning whether things suited our country. All these factors contributed to the making of our constitution.



The government of India Act was passed by the British parliament in 1935 and came into effect in 1937. It is based on a report by a joint select committee. The act is written in a legal style, organized, and has around 11 parts and 10 schedules. Each part is again divided into chapters. It is also considered the longest piece of legislation passed by the British parliament. Some of the key features are it consists of two levels: a central executive and parliament and below it, provinces and princely states. It allowed the emergence of popularly elected provincial legislatures by discarding the ‘dyarchy’ system at the provincial level. A federal court was established. The franchise expanded from 3% of the population to 14%. Muslims, Sikhs, and others were provided separate electorates but not to the depressed classes. Critical emergency powers were enjoyed by the governor. The act played a major role in drafting the constitution. A significant part of the constitution especially the administrative provisions is borrowed from this act.


Cripps’s mission (meetings) took place in Delhi from March 22 to April 12, 1942. It marked an attempt to rally through the rival Indian National Congress and Muslim League, Indian support for the defense against Japanese invasion. The successive victories of Japan in the 1940s made the British alert. When Burma turned into a battlefield and the war reached Indian borders the British became more concerned about the future of India. The situation was worse but it became even worse when Congress wanted to take advantage of the situation by accelerating their struggle for independence. As the rivalry between Indian National Congress and the Muslim League was widening there was no chance to bring both parties on a common agenda. In these circumstances, the British government sent a mission to India under Stafford Cripps to achieve Hindu-Muslim consensus on some constitutional arrangement and to convince the Indians to postpone their struggle till the end of the second world war. The main proposals were, the British will retain the hold on India, and once the war is finished India would be granted dominion status with complete internal and external autonomy. At the end of the war, a constituent assembly would be set up with the power to frame the constitution of India. The provinces which are not agreed to this can keep themselves out of it and would be entitled to create their separate union. During the war, an interim government will be formed and will consist of different parties of India. Defense and external affairs would be the sole responsibility of the viceroy.


A high-powered mission was sent in February to India by Atlee Government. The mission had three British cabinet members and they are Pethick Lawrence, Stafford Cripps, and A V Alexander. The aim was to discuss the transfer of power from British to Indian leadership. Pethick Lawrence was designated as the Secretary of State for India, Stafford Cripps was designated as the President of the Board of Trade, and A V Alexander as the First Lord of Admiralty. The main objectives were to obtain an agreement with Indian leaders as to the framing of the constitution, to constitute a constitution-making body, and to establish an executive council with the support of the major Indian parties. The plan is around 9 pages long. The core of the plan is point 15 which lays out the basic form of the future constitution of India. Point 15 consists of the six sub-points that proposed the basic form of the constitution of India. The plan was initially accepted by the National Congress and Muslim league but later rejected many parts of the plan. A new plan was proposed in 1946 and it proposed the division of India into a Hindu- majority India and Muslim – a majority India later to be renamed Pakistan.


The Indian independence Act was passed in 1947 and the act created two new independent dominions which are India and Pakistan. Pakistan was split into Pakistan and east Pakistan which is Bangladesh now. The Punjab and Bengal provinces were partitioned between two new countries. The act revoked the use of the ‘Emperor of India’ as a title for the British crown and ended all treaties with the princely states. Governor General was Lord Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru was appointed as the first prime minister. Muhammad Ali Jinnah became Pakistan’s Governor General and Liaquat Ali Khan as the prime minister.


The constituent Assembly selected 22 committees to deal with tasks of constitution-making. 10 committees were on procedural affairs and 12 were on substantive affairs. The chairman of the drafting committee was Dr. B R Ambedkar and N Gopalswamy Ayyangar, Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar, KM Munshi, Muhammad Saadullah, etc were the members. The committees of procedural affairs included the Steering committee, committee on the effect of the Indian independence Act of 1947, Rules of the procedural committee, orders of Business Committee Credentials Committee, House Committee, Urdu translation Committee, Hindi Translation committee, Finance and Staff Committee and Press Gallery Committee. The committees of substantive affairs are the House Committee, Minorities Sub-Committee, North-East Frontier Tribal Areas and Assam, Excluded and Partially Excluded, Areas Sub-Committee, Order of Business Committee, States Committee, Steering Committee, Union Constitution Committee,          Union Powers Committee, Ad hoc Committee on the National flag, Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Committee on the Functions of the Constituent Assembly, Committee on Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas, Committee on the Rules of Procedure, Special Committee to Examine the Draft Constitution, Provincial Constitution Committee, Drafting Committee, Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas  Sub-Committee, Finance, and Staff Committee and Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee.


Enactment is the process by which the constitution is agreed upon and made official. The constituent assembly members made the constitution after many days of hard work. It took a total of 2 years 11 months and 17 days to complete the constitution of India. Indian constitution is the lengthiest constitution in the world. Each article was included after much discussion and debate. The Indian constitution was enforced on 26th January 1950.

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