Constitution Day (National Law Day): A Glimpse

Indians celebrate many days and dates of national and international importance but few of us celebrate or even talk about 26 November, which is an important date for all as on 26 November 1949 the Constitution of India was passed and adopted by the Constituent Assembly. The Government of India declared 26 November as Constitution Day on 19 November 2015 through gazette notification. This Day is also known as National Law Day/ Samvidhan Divas. The logic is that in 2015 with full gaiety, 125 birth anniversary of Dr B.R. Ambedkar saheb was celebrated and in commemoration of his contribution towards the framing of our Constitution (as he had chaired the drafting committee of the Constituent Assembly and played a pivotal role in the drafting the Constitution), the Day (26 November) is celebrated as Constitution day.

In this context, few lines from the Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, and Government of India’s notification dated 23 November 2015 may be quoted “The Government has decided to observe 26th November as ‘Constitution Day’. On the day in 1949, the constitution was adopted which came into force on January 26, 1950 marking the beginning of a new era in the history of India.  This year, the country is celebrating 125th birth Anniversary of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar. The ‘Constitution Day’ will be a part of these year-long nationwide celebrations. This will be a tribute to Dr. Ambedkar, who played a seminal role in the framing of the Indian Constitution as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of Constituent Assembly Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is the Nodal Ministry for celebration of Constitution Day. A number of activities will be taken up by other Ministries/Departments which include:-

  • Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Human Resource Development has informed that following activities are proposed to be undertaken by all schools under the CBSE, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS), Central Tibetan School Administration (CTSA), and Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE) and those under the State Governments and UTs on the occasion of the first ‘Constitution Day’-
  1. Preamble to the Constitution (as it exists on date) to be read out in

school assembly on 26th November 2015 by all students.

  1. One period to be devoted on 26th November, 2015 for a talk on the salient features of the Constitution of India and its making, by a guest speaker or one of the teachers.

iii. Essay competitions and quizzes to be organized on the theme of the Constitution.

  1. An online Essay competition to be also organized on the theme of the Constitution by all CBSE affiliated schools”.

The judiciary is the final intermediary of the Constitution. Its duty is to act as a watchdog, preventing any legislative or executive act from overstepping constitutional limits.  The judiciary protects the fundamental rights of the people.

Mr. Granville Seward Austin (1927 –2014) an American historian who thoroughly studied  Indian Constitution was awarded Padma Shri award as he is the author of two seminal political histories of the Constitution of India, “The Indian Constitution: Cornerstone of a Nation” and “Working a Democratic Constitution: The Indian Experience”. According to him, “The Indian constitution is first and foremost a social document, and is aided by its Parts III & IV (Fundamental Rights & Directive Principles of State Policy, respectively) acting together, as its chief instruments and its conscience, in realising the goals set by it for all the people.” It has to be admitted that we have got an ideal Constitution.

Before winding up, few points from Kesavananda Bharati vs. State of Kerala, case may be referred. The Supreme Court ruled that an amendment cannot destroy what it seeks to modify; it cannot tamper with the Constitution’s basic structure or framework, which are unchallengeable. The Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala decision laid down the Constitution’s basic structure:

  • Supremacy of the constitution
  • Republican, democratic form of government
  • Its secular nature
  • Separation of powers
  • Its federal character

It is evident that Parliament can only amend the Constitution to the limit of its basic structure. The Supreme Court or a high court may declare the amendment null and void if this is violated, after a judicial review.

Dr Shankar Chatterjee
Former Professor & Head (CPME),NIRD & PR ( Govt. of India), Hyderabad,  India
Former Associate Professor, Eritrea

Former Assistant Prof, Govt. Degree College, Tripura, India
Former Senior Planning Officer, Govt of Assam, India