The Background of Drafting Indian Constitution
The Indian Constitution became effective from 26th January, 1950. Till date, this day is celebrated in India as Republic Day. But, the Constitution was not written overnight. It took a long and complex process to get complete. Generally, the constitution means a set of basic or fundamental principles through which a nation is supposed to be governed. So, it defines and denotes the duties, rights and powers of state and its residents for a particular nation. Unfortunately, India did not have any such precept as it was under British and other European rule for a prolonged period. Only in the third decade of Twentieth Century, when India was at the edge of its Independence, the need of Drafting Indian Constitution was felt.
Preparation to Draft Indian Constitution:
In the year 1928 an All-party meeting was held at Lucknow and there it was decided to draft Indian Constitution. From that meeting a Committee was set up to draft the Constitution and they demanded setting up a new dominion status for India. This memorandum of demand is also known as Nehru Report. The Chairman of the meeting was Motilal Nehru and his son Jawaharlal Nehru acted as the secretary of the committee. The signatories of the meeting resolution were, Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhas Chandra Bose, Tej Bahadur Sapru, Ali Imam, Mangal Singh, Madhab Aney, Shuaib Qureshi, and G. Pradhan. Shortly after, these demands were presented to the British Government and they were allowed one year time to fulfill all the demands besides announcing India to be a new Dominion.
The Constituent Assembly:
On 6th December, 1946 the Indian Constituent Assembly was formed consisting three hundred eighty nine members of state or provincial assembly. This Constituent Assembly was entrusted with the task of drafting Indian Constitution. On 9th December of the same year Mr. Sachchidananda Sinha became the temporary President for the next two days and was succeeded by Rajendra Prasad. Mr. B. N Rau held the portfolio of constitutional legal advisor while Mr. H. C. Banerjee was selected as the Vice-Chairman. The first meeting of this assembly was held on 9th December at Parliament Central Hall and on 13th December the basic principles of drafting the Constitution were penned down. Later these principles would lead and form the present Preamble of Indian Constitution. On 22nd January, the Assembly unanimously adopted those principles. Dr. B.R Ambedkar became the President of drafting committee on 29th August, by that time Dominion of India and Dominion of Pakistan were already formed.
After the Independence of India, the drafting committee was reformed. Almost twenty two committees, assigned with different tasks, worked hard to complete drafting Indian Constitution and other stuff. Few notable committees under the assembly were Steering committee, Union Power committee, Union Constitutional committee, Provincial Constitutional committee, House committee, Language committee etc. The members of Drafting committee , perhaps the most important one among all those committees, were Dr. B. R Ambedkar (Chairman), A.K Iyer, K. M. Munshi, Muhammed Sadullah, G. S. Ayyangar, N. M. Rao, and T. T. Krishnamachari.
The Completion of Drafting and Adoption:
Almost two years later after the formation of the assembly, the process of drafting got complete. On 26th November, 1949, the Constitution was passed and unanimously adopted by the assembly. The members of Constituent Assembly met for the last time next year (1950) on 24th January. During this meeting, the Constitution of India, consisting of 395 articles; 8 schedules and 22 parts, was published and the same was signed by all the members. On 26th January, 1950, the Constitution became effective as the Supreme law of the country, and the Republic of India commenced its new journey. Though the two terms ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ were added to the Preamble later in 1976 through the 42nd amendment of Indian Constitution.
Duration and Cost:
It took almost 1078 days to complete the drafting and adoption of Indian Constitution. It cost the assembly a huge amount of six crore and forty lakh rupees (Indian currency) at the then period. Altogether eleven sessions, spread over one hundred and sixty five days, were held for important discussion on the draft.
Contribution of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar:
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar is rightly considered to the “Father of Indian Constitution” as he had already studied the constitution of almost sixty different countries. From this perspective, he was unmatched and unparalleled among all the members of the assembly. Though he was not the first Chairman of the committee, eventually he was aptly appointed as the Chairman till the last date. Due to some certain personal and health issues, all the members of drafting committee could not contribute their effort equally. But Ambedkar took the extra burden solely on his shoulder and excellently managed the whole process of drafting ceaselessly. His commendable effort was acknowledged and applauded by all the members across party line.
As the Constitution of India became effective on 26th January, 1950, it was accepted as the supreme law of the country superseding previous laws and act like Government of India Act 1858, 1919 and 1935, Indian Independence Act and Indian Council Act. Till date Indian Constitution holds the record of longest written constitution in the world. Though the constitution was influenced by the constitutions of several countries like United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, Ireland, South Africa, France, Australia, U.S.S.R, Japan, it is unique and one of the most powerful precepts with its own characteristics.