Idea for a Constituent Assembly for drafting a constitution for India was first provided by Bal Gangadhar Tilak in 1895.
The elections for the first Constituent Assembly were held in July 1946. Initially it had 389 members, but later the reformed Assembly had 324 members.
The State of Hydrabad did not participate in elections to the Constituent Assembly.
The first meeting of Constituent Assembly was held on December 9, 1946— its president was Dr Sacchidanand Sinha.
The second meeting was held on December 11, 1946. Its president was Dr Rajendra Prasad.
The Objectives Resolution was passed under chairmanship of J.L. Nehru.
The Draft of Indian Constitution was presented in October 1947. President of the Drafting Committee was Bhim Rao Ambedkar.
The Flag Committee worked under J.B. Kripalani.
The total time consumed to prepare the draft was 2 years, 11 months, 18 days. Total 11 meetings were held for this.
The Indian Constitution was enacted on November 26, 1946 and put into force on January 26, 1950.
The Constitution today has 444 Articles and 12 schedules. Originally there were 395 Articles and 8 schedules.
SOCIALIST, SECULAR, INTEGRITY—these words were added to the Preamble later, through the 42nd Amendment, 1976.
The Preamble contains aims and objectives of our Constitution.
Fundament Rights are contained in Part III— called “Magna Carta” of the Constitution. The idea was borrowed from USA. Initially there were 7 fundamental rights, now there are only 6. (The Right to Property was deleted by the 44th amendment in 1978. It is now a judicial right—it has been moved to Article 300(A).)
The Supreme Court judgement in Keshwanand Bharti vs Kerala case provided that Fundamental Rights can be altered by the Parliament as long as the basic structure of the Constitution remains intact.
The Minerva Mills case ruling of the Supreme Court, however, ruled that Fundamental rights are basic part of the Constitution. The power to alter them was snatched away.
Fundamental Right of Equality provides for:
—Equality in government jobs (Article 16).
—No discriminations (Article 15).
—No untouchability (Article 17).
—Abolition of titles (Article 18).
The important freedoms granted are:
—Against exploitation (Article 23).
—Against child labour (Article 24).
The Right to Constitutional Remedies is provided under Article 32.
The Constitution provides that High Courts and the Supreme Court can issue various writs (written orders) to safeguard freedom of an individual. There are five types of writs:
Habeas Corpus—“may I have the body”—it orders to present reasons as well as physical presence of a body in court, within 24 hours of arrest.
Mandamus—issued to person, office or court—to enforce duties—also called “Param Aadesh”.
Prohibition—issued to inferior courts, by superior courts—it prohibits (stops) action of acts outside their jurisdiction.
Quo Warranto—it asks how one has gained unauthorised office.
Certiorari —Higher Court takes over case from lower courts.
Dr Ambedkar has called this article as “soul” of the Constitution.
Directive Principles of State Policy act as guidelines or morals for the government. They are contained in Part IV of the Constitution. They were borrowed from Ireland. Some important directive principles are:
—Gram Panchayats (Article 40).
—Uniform civil code (Article 44).
—Free and compulsory education (Article 45).
Fundamental duties are contained in part IV(A). There are ten fundamental duties listed in the Constitution. This idea was borrowed from Russia.
The Vice President is the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha. However, he is not a member of any House.
If a member is found sitting in another House of Parliament, of which he is not a member, he has to pay a fine of Rs 5000.
Rajya Sabha has 250 members—238 elected and 12 nominated by the President. Uttar Pradesh elects maximum number of members for the Rajya Sabha (34), followed by Bihar (22) and Maharashtra (19).
In one year time, the President must hold at least two meetings of the Rajya Sabha.
If a state of Emergency is declared, the Lok Sabha is dissolved, but not the Rajya Sabha (It is a permanent House).
Lok Sabha has 547 members—545 elected and 2 nominated from the Anglo-Indian Community.
During a state of emergency, the tenure of Lok Sabha can be extended by a maximum of one year.
Maximum number of members of Lok Sabha are elected from Uttar Pradesh (80 members), followed by Bihar (54) and Maharashtra (48).
Minimum age for becoming member of Lok Sabha is 25 years and Rajya Sabha is 30 years.
Minimum age to be eligible for the post of the President is 35 years.
The President is elected by members of both Houses of Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies.
The Vice President is elected by all members of the Parliament.
To discuss an important topic, the normal procedure of the Parliament is stopped under the Adjournment motion.
Decision about whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not is taken by the Lok Sabha Speaker.
The first High Courts in India were established at Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras, in 1862. Allahabad and Delhi were established next in 1866.
Maximum age to remain a High Court judge is 62 years and maximum age to remain a Supreme Court judge is 65 years.
The process for removal of Comptroller and Auditor General of India is same as that of judges of the Supreme Court.
Attorney General is the law expert to government. He can participate and speak in both Houses of Parliament, but is not allowed to vote.
The idea of having a Lokpal to check corruption at the highest level has been borrowed from “Ombudsman” of Sweden. In the States, we have the Lok Ayukta.
There are three types of Emergencies that can be proclaimed by the President. Emergency under Article 352—due to war or internal rebellion. (Implemented three times (1962, 71, 75).)
Emergency under Article 356—Constitutional problems. (Implemented many times, in various States like J&K, Punjab, etc.)
Emergency under Article 360—Financial Emergency. (Not implemented so far).
The Constitution initially recognised 14 National Languages. Later, four more were added. These were: Sindhi (21st amendment), Nepali, Konkani and Manipuri (71st amendment).
To gain the status of a National Party, a political party must be recognised in four or more States, attaining at least 4% votes on national scale and 9% in each State.
The flag of the Congress party was accepted as the National Flag (with few changes) on July 22, 1947.
The new Flag Code of India gives freedom to individuals to hoist the flag on all days, but with due respect to the flag.
The Question hour in the Parliament is observed from 11 am to 12 noon. The Zero hour is observed from 12:00 noon to 1:00 pm.
Balwant Rai Mehta Committee suggested a three-tier structure for Panchayati Raj—Gram Panchayat village level, Panchayat Samiti at block level and Zila Parishad in districts.
First Constitutional Amendment—1951—put a ban on propagating ideas to harm friendly relations with foreign countries.
Planning Commission is only an advisory and specialist body. Its chairman is the Prime Minister.
National Development Council is the main body concerned with the actual planning process. Its chairman is also the Prime Minister.
The first leader of the Opposition was Ram Subhag Singh, in 1969.
The shortest Lok Sabha span was 13 days (12th Lok Sabha in 1998).
Although the Parliament can pass impeachment motion against judges, their conduct cannot be discussed by it.
There are at present 18 High Courts in India.
Article 370 gives special status to Jammu & Kashmir.
The Indian Constitution was the first of the preceding two centuries which was not imposed by an imperial power, but was made by the people themselves, through representatives in a Constituent Assembly.
The Preamble of the Indian Constitution is not enforceable in a court of law. It states the objects which the Constitution seeks to establish.
The Indian Constitution endows the Judiciary with power of declaring a law as unconstitutional if it is beyond the competence of the Legislature according to the distribution of powers provided by the Constitution, or if it is in contravention of the fundamental rights or of any other mandatory provision, e.g. Articles 286, 299, 301 and 304.
As part of the integration of various Indian States into the Dominion of India a three-fold process of integration, known as the Patel Scheme, was implemented.
(i) 216 States were merged into the respective Provinces, geographically contiguous to them. These merged States were included in the territories of the States in Part B in the First Schedule of the Constitution. The process of merger started with the merger of Orissa and Chattisgarh States with the then province of Orissa, on January 1, 1948. The last instance was merger of Cooch-Behar with West Bengal in January 1950.
(ii) 61 States were converted into Centrally-administered areas and included in Part C of the First Schedule.
(iii) The third form was consolidation of groups of States into new viable units, known as Union of States. The first Union formed was the Saurashtra Union on February 15, 1948. The last one was Union of Travancore-Cochin on July 1, 1949. As many as 275 States were integrated into five Unions—Madhya Bharat, Patiala and East Punjab States Union, Rajasthan, Saurashtra and Travancore-Cochin. These were included in Part B of the First Schedule. Besides, Hyderabad, J&K and Mysore were also included in Part B.
At the time of accession to the Dominion of India, the States had acceded only on three subjects (Defence, Foreign Affairs and Communications). Later, revised Instruments of Accession were signed by which all States acceded in respect of all matters included in Union and Concurrent Lists, except only those relating to taxation.
The process of integration culminated in the Constitution (7th Amendment) Act, 1956, which abolished Part B States as a class and included all the States in Part A and B in one list.