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Constitution of India - An Overview

Gowtham 
on 23 September 2014

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Indian judicial system came past a long path replete with experiences and tutoring before it ensconced with a proper constitutional framework in the year 1950. As it is widely known, the architecture of the constitution is made up of several adoptions from several judicial systems around the world.

From the British social structure, the factors of Parliamentary form of government, the position of speaker of the parliament have been adopted.

Fundamental rights, judicial independence from the executive and legislative wing, federal structure of governance are adopted from the constitution of United States.

One of the most special parts of the constitution of India the Directive principles of state policy is adopted from the Irish constitution.

The idea of the concurrent list is adopted from the Australian constitution.

The concept that the residuary powers not specified in any of the three lists - i.e. Union lists, State lists and Concurrent lists – rest with the centre is adopted from the Canadian constitution.

The concepts of Five year plan and Fundamental duties are adopted from the USSR.

Thus the constitution was designed with intent of endowing to the citizens of the nation a deeply contemplated version of a cherry picked legislative system.

History of the legal system

Naturally the evolution of the current legal system would find its graduation of maturity to the colonial British rule. In 1773, considering the mismanaged state of affairs of the English East India Company, the House of Commons mandated that the company shall be brought under the purview of parliament in order that its demand for loan be sanctioned. In pursuance to the decision of bringing the company under the purview of the parliament, the Regulating Act of 1773 was passed. Under the act, Lord Warren Hastings was appointed as the first Governor -General. It authorised the British crown to set up the Supreme Court at Calcutta. Lord Warren Hastings also instituted courts of appeals christened Sardar Diwani Adalat, in respect of civil matters and Sardar Nizamat Adalat and Sardar Faujidari Adalat in respect of criminal matters.

In 1800, a supreme court was established at the presidency of Madras. In 1823, another supreme court at the Presidency of Bombay was established. In the year 1833, Privy council of India was set up. It remained as the apex body for appeals until 1950.In the year 1861, Indian High courts act was passed. It replaced the supreme courts and the other aforesaid appeals courts namely Sardar Nizamat Adalat and Sardar Faujidari Adalat that existed till then at the three provinces with high courts.

In the year 1935, Government of India act was passed. It replaced the system of dyarchy at the provincial level. Dyarchy is a system where matters of governance are grouped into two buckets namely reserved list and transferred list. It was introduced by virtue of Government of India act, 1919.  Subjects covered under reserved list were retained by the British government for the purpose of administration whereas subjects covered under transferred list were placed under the purview of the elected parties in general elections. The Government of India Act, 1935 did away with the dyarchy system to give full control over subject matters of governance to the elected parties at the provincial level. It provided for the institution of the Federal court of India. Federal court’s germination was warranted to resolve the conflicts that arose between the central and state legislatures.

Indian constitution

At the Lahore session of the Indian National Congress in 1929, it was decided 26th January 1930 would be observed as the Poorna swaraj day. It is in remembrance of that date the Constitution of India was brought into force on 26th January.

The construction of constitution was done by the constituent assembly set up in the year 1946. Dr. Sachindananda sinha was the first president of the assembly. He was elected as  acting president to fill the void. Later Dr. Rajendra Prasad took over as president and a drafting committee was set up to draft the constitution. The committee comprised the following members:

1. Dr. Bheemrao Ramji Ambedkar (Chairman)

2. N. Gopalaswami Ayyar

3. K.M. Munshi

4. Syyed Mohd. Saadulla

5. N.Madhav Rao

6. D.P.Khaitan (T Krishnamachari, after Khaitan’s Death in 1948)

The constitution consists of 448 articles, 21 parts and 12 schedules. Though on the face, number of articles of the constitution would end at 395, the new articles appended to the original articles are done through alpha numeric numbering in order that the original numbering stays intact leaving the effective number of articles to 448.

Anatomy of the constitution –A Gist

Article

Subject

1

Name and territory of the union

13

Laws which are against the fundamental rights are invalid.

Fundamental rights of a citizen of India are describe by virtue of the following articles

14 to 18

Right to Equality

19 to 22

  • Right to freedom.
  • Freedom of speech and expression is encapsulated in Article 19.

23 to 24

Right against exploitation,,

25 to 28

Right to freedom of religion

29 to 30

  • Cultural and Educational rights.
  • Article 29 envisages the Protection of interest of minorities.
  • Article 32 provides the remedy for violation of fundamental rights of a person. In the case a citizen’s fundamental rights are violated he could take up the issue to the Supreme Court of India directly.

36 to 51

Directive principles of state policy

51A

Fundamental duties of the citizen of India

1. Toabide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National
Flag, National Anthem
2. To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for
freedom
3. To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India

4. To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do
5. To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the
people of India and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women
6. To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture
7. To protect and improve the natural environments including forests, lakes, rivers
and wildlife
8. To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform

9. To safeguard public property and not to use violence

10. To serve towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity.

  1. To provide opportunities for the education of his child/ward between the age of six and fourteen years.

80

Composition of Rajya sabha

81

Composition of Lok sabha

83

Duration of houses of parliament

112

Annual financial budget

123

Ordinance making powers of the president

124

Establishment of Supreme court

141

Decision of supreme court binding on all courts

148

Comptroller and Auditor General

149

Duties and Powers of CAG

153

Governors of state

213

Ordinance making powers of the Governor

214

High courts of state

243B

Constitution of Panchayats

266

Consolidated Fund of India

267

Contingency Fund of India

326

Elections to be conducted on the basis of Adult suffrage

352

National emergency

356

State emergency

370

Special provision for Jammu and Kashmir

371A

Special provision with respect to state of Nagaland

Constitution is the fundamental groundwork for the whole legal build up of the nation. A summary understanding of its structure is imperative for a citizen to be informed and to have a rational outlook on issues that hover in the nation.


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