Formation of Constituent Assembly
The Constituent Assembly was constituted in November 1946 under the scheme formulated by the Cabinet Mission Plan. The features of the scheme were:
- The total strength of the Constituent Assembly was to be 389. Of these, 296 seats were to be allotted to British India and 93 seats to the Princely States. Out of 296 seats allotted to the British India, 292 members were to be drawn from the eleven governors’ provinces and four from the four chief commissioners’ provinces, one from each.
- Each province and princely state (or group of states in case of small states) were to be allotted seats in proportion to their respective population. Roughly, one seat was to be allotted for every million population.
- Seats allocated to each British province were to be divided among the three principal communities—Muslims, Sikhs and general (all except Muslims and Sikhs), in proportion to their population.
- The representatives of each community were to be elected by members of that community in the provincial legislative assembly and voting was to be by the method of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote.
- The representatives of princely states were to be nominated by the heads of the princely states.
It is thus clear that the Constituent Assembly was to be a partly elected and partly nominated body. Moreover, the members were to be indirectly elected by the members of the provincial assemblies, who themselves were elected on a limited franchise.
Evaluation of the Constitution of India
The Constitution of India as framed and adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India has been criticized on the following grounds:
The critics opined that the Indian Constitution contains nothing new and original. They described it as a ‘borrowed constitution’ or a ‘bag of borrowings’ or a ‘hotch-potch constitution’ or a ‘patchwork’ of several documents of the world constitutions.
the framers of the constitution have included a large number of the provisions of the Government of India Act of 1935 into the Constitution of India. Hence, they called the constitution as a “Carbon Copy of the 1935 Act” or an “amended version of the 1935 Act”.
According to the critics, the Indian Constitution is ‘un-Indian’ or ‘anti-Indian’ because it does not reflect the political traditions and the spirit of India. The critics stated that the Indian Constitution is too bulky and too detailed and contains some unnecessary elements.
Indian Constitution is unique in its contents and spirit. Though borrowed from almost every constitution of the world, the constitution of India has several salient features that distinguish it from the constitutions of other countries.
However, criticisms are unfair and illogical. This is because, the framers of the constitution made necessary modifications in the features borrowed from other constitutions for their suitability to the Indian conditions, at the same time avoiding their faults. It should also be noted at the outset that a number of original features of the Constitution (as adopted in 1949) have undergone a substantial change, on account of several amendments, particularly 7th, 42nd, 44th, 73rd, 74th and 97th Amendments. In fact, the 42nd Amendment Act (1976) is known as ‘Mini-Constitution’ due to the important and large number of changes made by it in various parts of the Constitution. However, in the Kesavananda Bharati case1 (1973), the Supreme Court ruled that the constituent power of Parliament under Article 368 does not enable it to alter the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.
|Paper||APPSC Group 1 Mains 2020 – Paper III: Polity, constitution, Governance, Law, and Ethics|
|Question||1 (a). How was the Constituent Assembly formed that framed the Indian constitution? Critically evaluate the Constitution of India as framed by the Constituent Assembly.|
|Source||Indian Polity by M Laxmikanth|
|Chapters||Making of the Constitution|
Salient Features of the Constitution
The question has two parts – Constituent Assembly Formation and Evaluation of the Constitution of India. Since the word ‘Critically’ is used, write more criticisms on Constitution of India. But you also should highlight that not all criticisms are valid. That’s what the last para of the answer proved.