Enactment of Constitution:
Dr BR Ambedkar introduced the final draft of the Constitution in the Assembly on November 4, 1948 (first reading). The Assembly had a general discussion on it for five days (till November 9, 1948).
The second reading (clause by clause consideration) started on November 15, 1948 and ended on October 17, 1949. During this stage, as many as 7653 amendments were proposed and 2473 were actually discussed in the Assembly.
The third reading of the draft started on November 14, 1949. Dr BR Ambedkar moved a motion- “the Constitution as settled by the Assembly be passed”. The motion on Draft Constitution was declared as passed on November 26, 1949, and received the signatures of the members and the president.
Out of a total 299 members of the Assembly, only 284 were actually present on that day and signed the Constitution. This is also the date mentioned in the Preamble as the date on which the people of India in the Constituent Assembly adopted, enacted and gave to themselves this Constitution.
The Constitution as adopted on November 20, 1949, contained a Preamble, 395 Articles and 8 Schedules. The Preamble was enacted after the entire Constitution was already enacted.
Dr BR Ambedkar, the then Law Minister, piloted the Draft Constitution in the deliberations of the Assembly. He was known for his logical, forceful and persuasive arguments on the floor of the Assembly.
Dr BR Ambedkar is recognised as the ‘Father of the Constitution of India’. He took of India were given eight months to discuss the draft and propose amendments.
This brilliant writer, constitutional expert, undisputed leader of the scheduled castes and the ‘Chief architect of the Constitution of India’ is also known as a ‘Modern Manu’.
Enforcement of the Constitution:
Some provisions of the Constitution pertaining to citizenship, elections, provisional parliament, temporary and transitional provisions, and short title contained in Articles 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 60, 324,366,367, 379, 380, 388, 391. 392 and 393 came into force on November 26, 1949 itself.
The remaining provisions (the major part) of the Constitution came into force on January 26, 1950. This day is referred to in the Constitution as the date of its commencement, and celebrated as the Republic Day.
January 26 was specifically chosen as the date of commencement of the Constitution because of its historical importance. It was on this day in 1930 that Purna Swaraj day was celebrated, following the resolution of the Lahore Session (December 1929) of the INC.
With the commencement of the Constitution, the Indian Independence Act of 1947 and the Government of India Act of 1935, with all enactments amending or supplementing the latter Act, were repealed. The Abolition of Privy Council Jurisdiction Act (1949) was however continued.
Criticism of the Constituent Assembly:
The critics have criticised the Constituent Assembly on various grounds. These are as follows :
- Not a Representative Body : The critics have argued that the Constituent Assembly was not a representative body as its members were not directly elected by the people of India on the basis of universal adult franchise.
- Not a Sovereign Body : The critics maintained that the Constituent Assembly was not a sovereign body as it was created by the proposals of the British Government. Further, they said that the Assembly held its sessions with the permission of the British Government.
- Time Consuming : According to the critics, the Constituent Assembly took unduly long time to make the Constitution. They stated that the framers of the American Constitution took only four months to complete their work. In this context, Naziruddin Ahmed, a member of the Constituent Assembly, coined a new name for the Drafting Committee to show his contempt for it. He called it a “Drifting Committee”.
- Dominated by Congress : The critics charged that the Constituent Assembly was dominated by the Congress party. Granville Austin, a British Constitutional expert, remarked : “The Constituent Assembly was a one – party body in an essentially one – party country. The Assembly was the Congress and the Congress was India
- Lawyer – Politician Domination : It is also maintained by the critics that the Constituent Assembly was dominated by lawyers and politicians. They pointed out that other sections of the society were not sufficiently represented. This, to them, is the main reason for the bulkiness and complicated language of the Constitution.
- Dominated by Hindus : According to some critics, the Constituent Assembly was a Hindu dominated body. Lord Viscount Simon called it ‘ a body of Hindus ‘. Similarly, Winston Churchill commented that the Constituent Assembly represented only one major community in India ‘.