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Constituent Assembly

The recommendations of the Motilal Nehru Committee and the decisions taken by the meetings of the National Congress at Karachi emphasised the need for the formation of a Constituent Assembly. The first reference to Constituent Assembly of India was made by Mahatma Gandhi in 1922. The process to form a Constituent Assembly was started off by the cabinet mission. Under the scheme of indirect election proposed by the cabinet mission, the Constituent Assembly meant for undivided India, was to consist of 385 members. The provinces were to elect 292 members whereas princely states were allotted 93 seats. As a result of the partition of India, the membership got reduced to 299.

Working of the Constituent Assembly

The Constituent Assembly met for the first time on 9 December 1946. Dr Sachidananda Sinha was elected provincial/interim President. On 11 December 1946, Dr Rajendra Prasad became the permanent President of Constituent assembly. Objective resolution was moved by Nehru on 13 December 1946, which was adopted on 22 January 1947. The objective resolution declared India to be a sovereign, democratic, republic, federal government. Equality, rights, etc. were some other features of the resolution.

Drafting Committed

On 29 August 1947, the Constituent Assembly set up the Drafting Committee under the chairmanship of B. R. Ambedkar. The drafted Constitution was submitted to the President of the Assembly on 26 February 1948.


The Constitution was enacted and adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949. The Constitution came into force on 26 January 1950. On that day began Dr Rajendra Prasad’s first term of office as the President of the Indian Union.

There is a special reason for the Constitution to come into force on 26 January. It was because, on this day, in 1930, the Congress had passed the historic ‘Purna Swaraj’ resolution at its Lahore session.

Salient Features of Our Constitution

  1. Preamble

It is an introduction, a preface or mirror of the constitution as it reflects the various aspects of the constitutional provisions. The preamble is non-justifiable. The preamble has been amended only once so far in 1976 by the 42nd Amendment which inserted the words ‘socialism’, ‘secularism’ and ‘integrity’.

Preamble is a part of objective resolution passed by Nehru in 1946.
The preamble starts as follows:

‘We the people of India ………..

  1. Written and Lengthy
The original Constitution comprised 395 articles, 8 schedules and 22 chapters. The present Constitution consists of 450 articles, 12 schedules and 24 chapters.
  1. Parliamentary Form of Government
The sovereign power of the nation is vested in the elected Parliament. The executive is responsible to the legislature at the centre and state levels.
  1. Federal System
Administrative powers are shared by the central and the state government.
The Central List: It comprises 100 subjects. For example, defense, foreign affairs, finance, railway, post and telegraph, monuments, telephone, etc.
The State List: It comprises 61 subjects. For example, agriculture, forests, police, irrigation, labour, etc.
The Concurrent List: It comprises 52 subjects. For example, education, power, factories, marriage, etc.
  1. Basket of Barrowings

Main Provisions of India Constitution

Countries from Which It Was Derived

(a) Fundamental rights, The organisation and power of the Supreme Court, Judicial review, the post of Vice-President


(b) Parliamentary system, Legislative procedure, Rule of law

United Kingdom

(c) Fundamental duties

Soviet Russia

(d) The Directive Principles of State Policy


(e) Federal system


(f) Emergency provisions


(g) Concurrent list


(h) Constitution amendment

South Africa

  1. Universal Adult Franchise
The voting ‘right’ has been granted to every citizen of the country. The minimum age prescribed to avail voting rights was reduced to 18 years from 21 years in 1989 by the 61st Constitutional Amendment.
  1. Independent and Centralised Judiciary
Judiciary is the independent organ of the government. Neither the legislature nor the executive has the right to interfere with the working of the judiciary.
  1. Single Citizenship
Indian Constitution makes provision for single citizenship. Articles 5 to 11 deals about the citizenship in our Constitution. Only citizens of this country enjoy political rights.
  1. Fundamental Rights (Articles 12–35)
Fundamental Rights are mentioned in Part III of our Constitution. Originally, there were seven Fundamental Rights in the Constitution but the ‘Right to Property’ was made a legal right under Article 300 A by 44th Amendment in 1978. There are six fundamental rights at present. These have been discussed below.
  1. Right to Equality (Articles 14–18)
  • Article 14—All are equal before the law
  • Article 15—No discrimination under religion, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them
  • Article 16—There shall be equal employment opportunity
  • Article 17—Abolition of untouchability
  • Article 18—Abolition of titles
  1. Right to Freedom (Articles 19–22)
Article 19—It provides the following:
  • Freedom of speech and expression
  • Assemble peacefully without arms
  • Form association or unions
  • Move freely through the territory of India
  • Reside and settle in any part of the territory of India
  • Acquire, hold and dispose off property
  • Practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business
Article 20—Protection in respect of conviction for offences
Article 21—Protection of life and personal liberty

The Constitutional (86
th Amendment) Act 2002 has inserted New Article 21A deals with ‘Right to Education’
Article 20 and 21 cannot suspended even during the Emergency
Article 22—Protection against detention in certain cases
  1. Right Against Exploitation (Articles 23–24)
    • Article 23—Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour
    • Article 24—Abolition of child labour
  2. Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25–28)
    • Article 25—Freedom of conscience and free profession and propagation of religion
    • Article 26—Freedom to manage religious affairs
    • Article 27—Freedom as to payment of taxes for promotion of any particular religion
    • Article 28—No religious instruction in institutions maintained out of the state fund
  3. Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29–30)
    • Article 29: Protection of interests of minorities
    • Article 30: Right of minorities to establish and administer educational institutions
    • Article 31: Right to property has been taken away as fundamental right and made a legal right
  4. Right to constitutional remedies
Article 32—It guarantees the right to move to the Supreme Court for the enforcement of the rights conferred by Part III of the Constitution. The Supreme Court acts as a custodian and guardian of Fundamental Rights. The Supreme Court and High Courts shall have the power to issue directions or writs.
  • Habcus corpus: When a person has been arrested without a reason, he/she or anyone else can file this petition on his/her behalf, asking for his/her release. The arrested person has to be produced before the court within 24 hours.
  • Mandamus: The Latin term which means ‘we command’. The purpose of the writ is to compel an inferior court or an individual to perform their duty.
  • Certiorari: By this writ, the lower court is asked to handover the record of a particular case to the Higher Court. The writ of prohibition is preventive, whereas the writ of certiorari is remedial.
  • Prohibition: Writ of prohibition is issued to prevent an inferior court from exercising powers with which is not legally vested.
  • Quo Warranto: A quo warranto issued in order to interrogate in court person who has occupied a government post without possessing the required qualification for it.

Fundamental Duties (Article 51 A Part IVA)

The Fundamental Duties of the citizen are incorporated in Article 51 A of Part IV-A of the Constitution. This was inserted by 42nd Amendment in 1976, with the 86th Amendment in 2002. There are now 11 Fundamental Duties.

Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) (Articles 36–51 Part IV)

With the aim to establish a ‘welfare state’, certain Directive Principles of State Policy have been incorporated in the Constitution. These principles serve as guidelines to the state. They cannot be questioned in a court of law. These principles are socialist and liberal and have been based on Gandhain ideals.


Fundamental Rights in Indian Constitution

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