The Constitution of India was passed on 26th of January, 1950. The Constitution was enacted by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949, and came into effect on 26 January 1950. The Constitution declares India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, assuring its citizens of justice, equality and liberty, and endeavors to promote fraternity among them. The words “socialist” and “secular” were added to the definition in 1976 by constitutional amendment. India celebrates the implementation of the constitution on 26 January each year as Republic Day.
Acts of British Parliament before 1935
After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the British Parliament passed the Government of India Act 1858, which eradicated the role of the East India Company in the government of India, and transferred British India to the direct rule of the Crown. The Government of India Act also established in England the office of the Secretary of State for India through whom Parliament would exercise its rule, as well as establishing the office of Viceroy of India. The Indian Councils Act 1861 provided a Legislative Council consisting of the members of the Executive council and non-official members. The Indian Councils Act 1892 established provincial legislatures and increased the powers of the Legislative Council. The Indian Councils Act 1909 and the Government of India Act 1919 further expanded the participation of Indians in the government.
Government of India Act 1935
The provisions of the Government of India Act 1935 had a great impact on the Constitution of India. Major features of the constitution are highlighted from the Government of India Act and the federal structure of government, provincial autonomy, a bicameral central legislature is some of the provisions of the Act in the Constitution of India.
The Cabinet Mission Plan
In 1946, British Prime Minister Clement Attlee designed a cabinet mission plan to discuss and finalize plans for the transfer of power from the British Raj to Indian leadership as well as provide India with independence. At that time the mission was discussed about the constitution framework in detail and also about the constitution drafting body. Elections for the 296 seats assigned to the British Indian provinces were completed by August 1946. The Constituent Assembly of India first met and began work on 9 December 1946.
Indian Independence Act 1947
The Indian Independence Act, passed by the British Parliament on 18 July 1947, divided British India into two new independent states, India and Pakistan, which were to be dominions under the Commonwealth of Nations until they had each finished drafting and enacted a new constitution. The Constituent Assembly was divided into two for the separate states, with each new Assembly having sovereign powers transferred to it for the respective dominion. The Act also terminated British suzerainty over the princely states, each of which was left to decide whether to accede to one or other of the new dominions or to continue as independent states in their own right. However, in most cases the states were so dependent on central institutions that they were widely expected to accede to a dominion.
When the Constitution of India came into force on 26 January 1950, it repealed the Indian Independence Act. India ceased to be a dominion of the British Crown and became a sovereign democratic republic. 26 November 1949 is also known as National Law Day.
The Constitution was drafted by the Constituent Assembly, which was elected by the elected members of the provincial assemblies. There were more than 30 members of the scheduled classes. The members of the Constituent Assembly met for the first time on 9 December 1946.
Structure of the Constituency
Constitution, in its current form (March 2011), consists of a preamble, 22 parts containing 450 articles, 12 schedules, 2 appendices and 96 amendments to date. Although it is federal in nature it also has a strong unitary bias.
The individual Articles of the Constitution are grouped together into the following Parts:
• Part I-Union and its Territory
• Part II-Citizenship
• Part III-Fundamental Rights
• Part IV-Directive Principles and Fundamental Duties
• Part V-The Union
• Part VI-The Sates
• Part VII-States in the B part of the First schedule
• Part VIII-The Union Territories
• Part IX – Panchayat system and Municipalities
• Part X – The scheduled and Tribal Areas
• Part XI – Relations between the Union and the States
• Part XII – Finance, Property, Contracts and Suits
• Part XIII – Trade and Commerce within the territory of India
• Part XIV – Services Under the Union, the States and Tribunals
• Part XV – Elections
• Part XVI – Special Provisions Relating to certain Classes.
• Part XVII – Languages
• Part XVIII – Emergency Provisions
• Part XIX – Miscellaneous
• Part XX – Amendment of the Constitution
• Part XXI – Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions
• Part XXII – Short title, date of commencement
Schedules are lists in the Constitution that categorize and tabulate bureaucratic activity and policy of the Government.
• First Schedule: It explains about the states and territories of India.
• Second Schedule: It discusses about the salaries of officials holding public office, judges, and Comptroller and Auditor-General of India.
• Third Schedule: It throws light on the oaths of offices for elected officials and judges.
• Fourth Schedule: It described about the allocation of seats in the Rajya Sabha.
• Fifth Schedule: It provides the administration and control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes.
• Sixth Schedule: It gives the details of the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram.
• Seventh Schedule: It explains about the central government, state, and concurrent lists of responsibilities.
• Eighth Schedule: It discusses about the official languages.
• Ninth Schedule: The Articles mentioned here are immune from judicial review.
• Tenth Schedule: It gives the details of “Anti-defection” provisions for Members of Parliament and Members of the State Legislatures.
• Eleventh Schedule: Discusses about the Panchayat Raj (rural local government).
• Twelfth Schedule: It describes about the Municipalities (urban local government).