ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Making of the Indian Constitution

A People’s Constitution: The Everyday Life of Law in the Indian Republic by Rohit De, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2018; pp ix + 296, £35.


The Indian Constitution making project has been described in diverse ways. Some commentators saw the aim of the Constitution to be social revolution. Others saw it as a political project, an expression of the fact that India was now sovereign and taking its rightful place amongst the countries of the free world. It is often forgotten that the drafting process started when the country was yet a colony. Moreover, the constituent assembly itself was in many ways a creation of the British. When first convened, it was criticised by some as a “revolution by consent.” Even M K Gandhi went to the extent of saying that “it was no use declaring somebody else’s creation a sovereign body.

The members of the assembly knew of the country’s desire for a “home-made” Constitution. Though convened under conditions of limited franchise and sovereignty, the constituent assembly was quick to brand itself as “Indian.” The objectives resolution described the assembly as one which derived all its power and authority from the people. Despite these grand resolutions, the Constitution continued with many features of its colonial past. M nanthasayanam Ayyangar admitted that there was “some truth in remark” that the Constitution was “a mere copy of the 1935 Government of India Act.” In fact, the provisions were considered so similar to the ones left behind/enacted by the British that K Hanumanthaiah famously remarked: “We wanted the music of veena or sitar, but here we have the music of an English Band.”

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Updated On : 10th Dec, 2019


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