Essay on The Constituent Assembly of India

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In a democracy its citizen enjoys not only the right of running the government of the country but also the privilege of framing its constitution. The Constituent Assembly means a Constitution making body, i.e. an assembly of people or a convention set up by the people of a country for the purpose of framing its constitution.

The idea of Constituent Assembly was implicit in the demand for Swaraj made by the Indian national congress as early as 1906. In 1936 the congress resolved that “the congress stands for a genuine democratic State in India, where power has been transferred to the people as a whole and the government is under their effective control. Such a State can only once into existence through a Constituent Assembly having the power to determine finally the constitution of the country. On March 15, 1946 Mr. Attlee, the labour Prime Minister categorically admitted the right of Indians to frame their own Constitution.

The British parliament passed the Indian Independence Act, 1947 in July of the same year. As per the Independence Act two independent dominions were created from August 15, 1947.

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The constituent Assembly which was already been formed went into action as per Cabinet Mission Plan. Its total membership for the whole of India was 389 out of which 93 members were from the Princely States and 296 were elected from the British Indian Provinces.

The Constituent Assembly, when it met for the first time in December 9, 1946 was not a sovereign body. It had to follow the prescribed procedure set up by the Cabinet Mission of British Parliament. On December 11,1946, the Indian National Congress elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as the permanent Chairman of the Constituent Assembly. Before its transformation into a fully sovereign body on August 15, 1947 the Constituent Assembly had set up various Committees, such as the Union Powers Committee on Minorities and fundamental Rights Committee on financial Relations, Committee on Chief Commissioners of Provinces and Advisory Committee on Tribal Areas. The reports of these Committees were considered and a Drafting Committee, With Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, the then Law Member of Government of India, as Chairman, was appointed on August 29, 1947 to give a legal form to the decisions embodied in the reports. The Draft Constitution was submitted to the Constituent Assembly on November 4 1948. The new Constitution was inaugurated and adopted by Indian Parliament on January 26, 1950.

The Constitution, which was finally enacted is called a congress document. In the Constituent Assembly Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru moved the following resolutions on December 13, 1946 and passed on January 22, 1947 :

(i) The Constituent Assembly declares its form and solemnly resolved to proclaim India as an independent sovereign republic,

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(ii) all powers and authority of the sovereign independent India, its constituent parts and organs of government are derived from the people,

(iii) it shall be granted and secured to all the people of India, justice, social, economic, and political, equality of status and of opportunity and before the law, freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, association and action, subject to law and public morality,

(iv) adequate safeguard shall be provided for minorities, backward and tribal areas and depressed and other backward classes, and

(v) territorial integrity of the republic, sovereign rights on land, sea and air be maintained according to justice and law of civilised nation. This ancient land is to attain its rightful and honoured place in the world and make its full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of the mankind. On the basis of these resolutions the preamble of the Constitution was framed;

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“WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens,

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship ;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity ; and to promote among them all;

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FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the

nation;

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this 26th day of November, 1949, so HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT, AND GIVE OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.”

In the 42nd Amendment, 1976 of the Constitution the words “Socialist and Secular” were added after “sovereign” and the word ‘integrity’ after ‘unity’ was added to the preamble. The three concepts of socialists, secular and integrity were already implicit in the Constitution and have been widely accepted and followed by government and people of India. These concepts have been now added in black and white to the preamble.

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The terms justice, liberty, equality and fraternity found in the preamble of the Constitution are interrelated and are overlapping concepts.

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