The Bold Voice of J&K

Those questing wisdom/democratic spirits of pre 1947 ‘Leader’ w.r.t Drafting COI need revisiting ‘Events’

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One may come across some Indian citizens so critically questioning the skills and wisdom of those who drafted the constitution of India , they would be mostly belonging to those political opinion makers who do not immediately belong to those who directly rode in the streams of socio-political movement against the foreign rule and the chains of depressed socio – economic local environment or are from those generation that has not lived in pre 1947 times..One who may have independent vision would on the other hand first wonder how our ‘elders’ could come up with such a comprehensive and detailed written voluminous Constitution ( COI) comprising of 395 articles worth taking care of the interests of vast variety of sects/regions/ faiths/ castes/ creeds / economic disparities / dents caused by centuries of feudal/Rajshahi & foreign rules and the skinned economy handed over by the retreating British Crown & the local rulers of Princely states outside British India ( Indian Princes ruled something ‘like’ their own States/Countries which could be defined as protectorate / sangrakshitrajay of the British where British held the total control/ responsibility as regards their defence from any external aggressions , foreign affairs and like and the King/ ruler there held control over all local matters I,e Britain was the sovereign ‘State’ which had Suzerainty over these states ) just in so short a period from 21-02-1948 Feb to November 1949. Keeping in view principles enshrined in the Constitution of India , the COI could be rated as a very considerate and well meaning document that anyone could possibly draw with the limited experience resources in hand and the socio -political environment that prevailed from 1947 through 1949 to give people of India , that is Bharat, a meaningful safe rightful environment of Independent Democratic Socialist Republic with ‘parliamentary’ system of governance wherein although the power to amend the constitution rests in Parliament through constituent power enshrined in Art-368 but still that was/ is not / cannot be taken as ultimate by the Parliament which too is constituted under the provisions of Constitution (1949) .
No doubt The Cabinet Mission’s (sent by Clement Richard Attlee in Feb 1946 , the Labour Party leader, after he became Prime Minister of United Kingdom ) proposals of May 1946 though did not find total acceptance by the then prime Indian leadership but principal spirit lying in ‘transfer of power’ to Indians did set its roots, Elections were held for a Constituent Assembly of India to frame the constitution for ‘free’ India even before Indian Independence Act 1947 of Parliament of United Kingdom ( Britain) was passed in July 1947. For Constituent Assembly of free India of future, members were chosen by indirect election by the members of the Provincial Legislative Assemblies in terms of a single transferable vote of proportional representation (according to the scheme recommended by the Cabinet Mission).
In the first meeting on 09 Dec 1946 of the Constituent Assembly at New Delhi ( Muslim League boycotted demanding partition of India) Dr Sachidanand eldest member was elected interim President. On December 11, 1946, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the President and H.C. Mukherjee as the Vice-President On 13 December, 1946, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru moved the Objectives Resolution that among others included ::”This Constituent Assembly declares its firm and solemn resolve to proclaim India as an Independent Sovereign Republic and to draw up for her future governance a Constitution;. Wherein the territories that now comprise British India, the territories that now form the Indian States, and such other parts of India as are outside British India and the States as well as such other territories as are willing to be constituted into the Independent Sovereign India, shall be a Union of them all; and ..” The Resolution was unanimously adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 22 January 1947.
It was in June 1947 that British Parliament finally enacted Indian Independence Act 1947 which was assented by the British Crown (King of Britain) on 18-07-1947 laying down “An Act to make provision for the setting up in India of two independent Dominions, to substitute other provisions for certain provisions of the Government of India Act, 1935, which apply outside those Dominions, and to provide for, other matters consequential on or connected with the setting up of those Dominions “Where Section-1 of the Act said ” 1.-(i) As from the fifteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and forty-seven, two independent Dominions shall be set up in India, to be known respectively as India and Pakistan. (2) The said Dominions are hereafter in this Act referred to as the new Dominions “, and the said fifteenth day of August is hereafter in this Act referred to as ” the appointed day “.
” Where Section-1 of the Act said ” 1.-(i) As from the fifteenth day of August, nineteen hundred and forty-seven, two independent Dominions shall be set up in India, to be known respectively as India and Pakistan. (2) The said Dominions are hereafter in this Act referred to as the new Dominions “, and the said fifteenth
Section-7.–(1) of Indian Independence Act 1947 said As from the appointed day- (a) His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom have no responsibility as respects the government of any of the territories which, immediately before that day, were included in British India ; (b) the suzerainty of His Majesty over the Indian States lapses, …… and (c) there lapse also any treaties or agreements in force at the date of the passing of this Act between His Majesty and any persons having authority in the tribal area… The Constituent Assembly had made ( On 29 August, 1947 ) 17 committees including the one as Drafting Committee for constitution with Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar as Chairman Based on detailed studies of world democracies and governments like Great Britain (The Constitution of the United Kingdom or British)/ US /USSR/ etc , the reports / suggestions from different committees the Constituent Assembly Secretariat under the guidance of B N Rau ICS 1909 (Mr. B N Rau , was a very experienced civil servant during British times and had also wide experience of governance /needs of Indian communities, ofcourse he was not made the member of constituent Assembly but was retained as Constitutional Advisor ) had prepared the draft sketch of the constitution by Oct 1947 for further action by the Drafting Committee / core committee of experts which was submitted to President of the Constituent Assembly on 21-02-1948 for final actions/ modifications / structuring by the Drafting Committee headed by Dr B.R Ambedkar and discussions/ debates / modifications / approvals by the Constituent Assembly . Two hundred and seventy nine representative members including nine women were there in the Constituent

To be continued

(The writer is a Sr coloumnist of Kashmir affairs and a social activist [email protected]).

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