Chapter 1. Constitution : Why and how?

Function of Constitution
• first function of a Constitution is to provide a set of basic rules that allow for minimal coordination amongst members of society.
• second function of a Constitution is to specify who has power to make decisions in a society. It decides how government will be constituted.
• third function of a Constitution is to set some limits on what a government can impose on its citizens. These limits are fundamental in sense that government may never trespass on them.
• fourth function of a Constitution is to enable government to fulfil aspirations of a society and create conditions for a just society.

Fundamental Identity of a People
• A Constitution expresses fundamental identity of a people. This means people as a collective entity come into being only through basic Constitution.
• By agreeing to certain basic norms and principles, one constitutes one’s basic political identity.
• Constitutional norms are overarching framework within which one pursues individual aspirations, goals & freedoms. Constitution sets authoritative constraints upon what one may or may not do. It defines fundamental values that we may not trespass. So, Constitution gives one a moral identity.

Indian Constitution
• Constitution was made by Constituent Assembly which had been elected for undivided India. It held its first sitting on 9 December 1946; and reassembled as Constituent Assembly for divided India on 14 August 1947. Its members were chosen by indirect election by members of Provincial Legislative Assemblies that had been established under Government of India Act, 1935. Constituent Assembly was composed roughly along lines suggested by plan proposed by Committee of British Cabinet, called Cabinet Mission.
• number of members in Assembly was 299. Constitution was adopted on 26 November 1949. 284 members were present on 24 January 1950 and appended their signature to Constitution as finally passed. Constitution came into force on 26 January 1950.
• Assembly met for one hundred and sixty-six days, spread over two years and eleven months.
• Objective Resolution that defined aims of Assembly was moved by Jawaharlal Nehru in 1946. Based on this resolution, our Constitution gave institutional expression to these fundamental commitments: equality, liberty, democracy, sovereignty and cosmopolitan identity.

Provisions adapted from Constitutions of different countries
British Constitution
• First Past Post
• Parliamentary Form of Government
• idea of rule of law
• Institution of Speaker and her/his role
• Law-making procedure
Canadian Constitution
• A Quasi-Federal Form of Government [a federal system with a strong Central Government]
• idea of Residual Powers
United States Constitution
• Charter of Fundamental Rights
• Power of Judicial Review and independence of judiciary
French Constitution
• Principles of Liberty, Equality & Fraternity
Irish Constitution
• Directive Principles of State Policy

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