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Chapter 01. Constitution Of India : At A Glance (Polity & Constitution of India Notes)

EVOLUTION OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA

➤ A constitution is a document of people’s faith and aspirations possessing a special legal sanctity.
➤ It is the fundamental law of the country and all other laws and customs of the country in order to be valid must conform to it.
➤ A constitution sets out the framework and the Principal function of various organs of the Government as well as relations between the Government and its citizens. Various stages which lead to the development of Indian constitution are :

HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENTS

THE REGULATING ACT, 1773
➤ This act provided for the centralisation of administration of company’s territories in India.
➤ Governor of Bengal became Governor- General of Bengal.
➤ Supreme Court to be set up at Calcutta (1774).
THE PITT’S INDIA ACT, 1784
➤ Subordinated the Bombay and Madras Presidency to the Bengal Presidency in all questions of war, diplomacy and revenues.
➤ Strength of Governor-General in council reduced to 3.
➤ It distinguished between the commercial and political functions of the company. It established a system of double government.
➤ British Government was given the supreme control over company’s affair and its administration in India.
THE CHARTER ACT, 1793
➤ This Act gave the power to the Governor-General to override his council.
THE CHARTER ACT, 1833
➤ Governor-General of Bengal to be Governor-General of India.
➤ William Bentick was the first Governor-General of India.
➤ Government of Madras and Bombay deprived of legislative powers.
➤ Law member added to the council of Governor-General.
THE CHARTER ACT, 1853
➤ The Act for the first time created a separate legislative machinery consisting of 12 members legislative council which came to be known as the Indian (central) legislative council.
➤ It introduced an open competition system of selection and recruitment of civil servants.
➤ Law member was made a full member of the Executive Council of the Governor-General.
THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA ACT, 1858
➤ It created a new office of Secretary of state for India.
➤ The Secretary of state was assisted by a 15-member council.
➤ Governor-General was to be called as the Viceroy.
➤ A highly centralised administrative structure created.
➤ It ended the system of double government by abolishing the Board of Control and Court of Directors.
➤ The act known as the Act for the Good Government of India, abolished the East India Company, and transferred the powers of government, territories and revenues to the British Crown.
THE INDIAN COUNCIL ACT, 1861
➤ Government started associating Indians in legislation.
➤ A fifth member added to the Viceroy’s executive council.
➤ For legislative purposes, executive council of Viceroy was enlarged by 6 to 12 members.
THE INDIAN COUNCIL ACT, 1892
➤ Introduction of indirect elections for the non-official members of the Imperial and Provincial Legislative Councils.
➤ The councils at both levels were to have the power of discussing the Budget but not of voting.
THE MORLEY-MINTO REFORMS (THE INDIAN COUNCIL ACT, 1909)
➤ Provision of indirect elections to the legislative councils introduced.
➤ Additional members in Central Legislative increased to 60.
➤ The membership of the Legislative Councils of the different provinces enlarged.
➤ The members were given the right of discussion and asking supplementary questions.
➤ It introduced a system of communal representation for muslims by accepting concept of “Separate electorate”. Thus Lord Minto came to be known as the “Father of Communal Electorate”.
THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA ACT, 1919 (MONTAGUE-CHELMSFORD REFORMS)
➤ Dyarchy system introduced in the provinces.
➤ The Provincial subjects of administration were to be divided into ‘Transferred’ and ‘Reserved’ Subjects.
➤ Indian legislature became ‘bicameral’.
➤ Communal representation extended to Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians and Europeans.
➤ It provided for the establishment of a Public Service Commission.
➤ It separated, for the first time provincial budgets from the Central budget.
THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA ACT, 1935
➤ Dyarchy introduced at the centre.
➤ Provincial dyarchy replaced by provincial autonomy in provinces.
➤ Provision for the establishment of an All India Federation consisting of the British Provinces and Princely States as units.
➤ Three fold division of powers–Federal, Provincial and Concurrent Lists.
➤ It provided for the establishment of a Reserve Bank of India to control the currency and credit of the country.
Comparison 1909, 1919, 1935

190919191935
Non-official majority (elected)Only in provincesBoth centre as well as at provincesBoth centre as well as at provinces
Element of FederalismNoSeparation of the central and provincial subjects introducedAll-India Federation – three lists—Federal List (for Centre), Provincial List (for provinces) and the Concurrent List
Dyarchy at ProvincesNoYes, by transferred and Reserved SubjectsNo, Introduced provincial Autonomy instead
Dyarchy at CenterNoNOYes, federal subjects were divided into reserved subjects and transferred subjects
Direct ElectionsNoYesYes
Bicameralism at centreNoYesYes
Bicameralism at provincesNoNoYes

INDIAN INDEPENDENCE ACT, 1947
➤ The British P.M. was Clement Atlee and then Viceroy of India Lord Mountbatten, who had put forth the partition plan. Also became the first Governor General of free India.
➤ The executive council provided by the 1919 act continued to advice the Governor General till1947.
➤ It abolished the office of Viceroy. Also it abolished the office of secretary of state for India.
➤ It declares India as an Independent and sovereign state.
➤ Established responsible Governments at both the centre and the province.
➤ Designated the Governor General of India and the Provincial governors as the constitutional heads.
➤ It assigned dual functions to the constituent assembly and declared this dominion legislature as a sovereign body.

INTERIM GOVERNMENT (3 SEPTEMBER, 1946)

MembersPartyPortfolios Held
Jawaharlal NehruINCExternal Affairs and Commonwealth Relations.
Sardar Vallabhbhai PatelINCHome, Information & Broad casting
Dr. Rajendra PrasadINCFood and Agriculture
Dr. John MathaiINCIndustries and Supplies
Sardar Baldev SinghINCDefenc
Asaf AliINCRailways and Transport
Jagjivan RamINCLaboure
C.H. BhabhaINCWorks, Mines and Power
C. RajagopalachariINCEducation and Arts
I.I. ChundrigarAIMLCommerce
Ghaznafar Ali KhanAIMLHealth
Liaquat Ali KhanAIMLFinance
Abdur Rab NishtarAIMLCommunication (Posts and Air)
Joginder Nath MandalAIMLLaw

Note : The members of the interim government were members of the Viceroy’s Executive council.

FIRST CABINET OF FREE INDIA (1947) :

MembersPortfolios Held
Jawaharlal NehruPrime Minister, External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations, Scientific Research.
Sardar Vallabhbhai PatelHome, Information and Broadcasting, States
Dr. Rajendra PrasadFood and Agriculture
Maulana Abul Kalam AzadEducation
Dr. John MathaiRailways and Transport
R.K. Shanmugham ChettyFinance
Dr. B. R. AmbedkarLaw
Jagjivan RamLabour
Sardar Baldev SinghDefence
Rajkumari Amrit KaurHealth
C.H. BhabhaCommerce
Rafi Ahmed KidwaiCommunication
Dr. Shyam Prasad MukherjiIndustries and Supplies
V.N. GadgilWorks, Mines and Power.

IMPORTANT FACTS

➤ The Constitution of India was formally enacted on 26 November, 1949.
➤ The Constitution of India came into force on 26 January, 1950.
➤ There were 395 Articles and 8 Schedules in the Constitution when it was finally passed.
➤ At present the Constitution consists of 444 Articles and 12 Schedules.
➤ The constitution of India was framed and adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India.
➤ As per the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946, the Constituent Assembly was set up in November 1946.
➤ The members were elected indirectly by the Provincial Assemblies in the ratio of one member per one million population.
➤ There were a total of 389 members in the Constituent Assembly of which 296 were elected by the members of the Provincial Assemblies and the rest were nominated by the Princely States.
➤ The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly was held on 9th December, 1946 with Sachidanand Sinha as the interim President.
➤ Later Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the President of the Constituent Assembly on 11th December, 1946.
➤ The historic “Objective Resolution” was moved in the Constituent Assembly by Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru on 13th December, 1946 which ultimately became the Preamble of our Constitution.
➤ The Constituent Assembly formed 13 important committees for framing the Constitution.
➤ A drafting committee of 7 members was set up on 29th August, 1947

Important CommitteesChairman
Union Powers CommitteeJawaharlal Nehru
Union Constitution CommitteeJawaharlal Nehru
Provincial Constitution CommitteeSardar Patel
Drafting CommitteeDr. B.R. Ambedkar (Members)
N. Gopalaswamy Ayyangar
Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar
Dr. K.M. Munshi
Syed M. Sadullah
B.L. Mittar/N Madhava Rau (Replaced)
D.P. Khaitan/ T.T. Krishn- amachari (Replaced)
Advisory Committee on
Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas.
Sardar Patel
Rules of Procedure Committee— Dr. Rajendra Prasad
States Committee— Jawaharlal Nehru
Steering Committee— Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Ad-Hoc Committee on the National Flag— Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Special Credential Committee to Examine the Draft Constitution— Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer

➤ The Constituent Assembly worked in three phases.
(i) Ist Phase : As Constituent Assembly under the limitations of Cabinet Mission Plan-6th December, 1946 to 14th August, 1947.
(ii) 2nd Phase : As Constituent Assembly, a sovereign body + Provisional Parliament – 15th August, 1947 to 26th
(iii) 3rd Phase : As a Provisional Parliament– 27th November, 1949 to March, 1952.
➤ The Constituent Assembly took 2 years 11 months and 18 days to frame the Constitution.
➤ The design of the National Flag was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on July 22, 1947.
➤ The National Anthem was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on January 24, 1950.
➤ The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly was boycotted by the Muslim League.
➤ Shri B. N. Rau was appointed as the legal Advisor of the Constituent Assembly.
➤ The song ‘Jana-gana-Mana’ was adopted by the Constituent Assembly as the National Anthem on 24th January] 1950.

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