“Constitution is not a mere lawyer’s document, it is a vehicle of Life, and its spirit is always the spirit of Age”.
~B. R. Ambedkar
Wikipedia says, “The Constitution of India is the supreme law of India”. But for the people of India, it is a book of faith. We all believe, if there’s anything politically and legally wrong in the country, just pick up the Constitution, it’s gonna be our savior. But all that we have today and all that we aspire to have tomorrow has gone through and will continue to go through a long journey. From the big broad pages illustrated and handwritten by Prem Behari Narain Raizada to the pocket Constitution today, it has traveled for over 7 decades. So let’s unravel the clock of time and see what all it has to go through to come to us in its present form.
It took almost three years( 2 years 11 months and 17 days) for the Constituent Assembly to complete the historic task of drafting the Constitution for Independent India. And when it finally came into effect on 26th January 1950, India ceased to be a dominion of the British Crown. The 299 members of the Drafting Committee, chaired by B.R. Ambedkar, discussed for 165 days in 11 sessions to give the Constituent Assembly the first draft.
The Constitution was drafted into two language scripts, Devnagari and Roman, with 117, 369 words in the Roman script.
And since then, the Indian Constitution has gone through 101 amendments, the most famous being the 42nd Amendment of 1976, also known as the mini Constitution. It is the second-longest active Constitution, after Alabama.
The task of writing down the whole Constitution by hand was given to Prem Behari Narain Raizada. A total of 254 pen holder-nibs of no 303 were used to pen down the Constitution. He was allotted a room in the Constitution House to work on the sacred texts. And as a fee for his 6 months’ hard work, Mr. Raizada asked for the permission to inscribe on each page of the Constitution and also the name of his grandfather (with his) on the last page. And the artistic ingenuity of the Constitution was the flair of Acharya Nandalal Bose of Shantiniketan and his students and the Preamble enriched by Beohar Rammanohar Sinha.
The original handwritten copy of the Constitution is kept in specially designed helium cases in the Parliament of India Library.
For 25 years after the adoption of the Constitution, there was no clarity to the question, whether the Preamble is a part of the Constitution or not? And hence some important judgments were made to with respect to the Preamble
•Berubari Union Advisory Opinion Case of 1960: This case specified that Preamble can not be treated as a part of the Constitution.
•Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala Case of 1973: During this case, the Supreme Court altered the opinion and pronounced Preamble as a part of the Constitution.
•LIC of India Case of 1995: The Supreme Court again held the previous opinion.
Our Constitution is a bag of borrowing. Here is a list of excerpts taken from all the Other Constitution:
•“Parliamentary form of Government, Rule of Law, Lawmaking procedure, Single Citizenship, Institution of Speaker, Doctrine of pleasure tenure of civil servants”- British Constitution
•“Judicial System, Fundamental Rights”- American Constitution
•”Federal System with strong central authority, Residual powers, center-state Relation”- Canadian Constitution
•“Directive Principles, Elections of the President of India”- Irish Constitution
•“Concurrent list, Freedom of Trade and Service within Country”- Australian Constitution
•“Emergency Provision”- Weimar Constitution
•“Five Year Plans, Fundamental Duties”- Soviet Constitution
•”Amendment of Constitution”- South African Constitution
•“Office of the Governor, Powers of the federal jury”- Govt. of India Act 1935.