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Enactment and Enforcement of the Constitution

The Constituent Assembly which had been elected for making the constitution of undivided India held its first meeting on 9th December, 1946 in the Constitution Hall (now known as the Central Hall of Parliament House). The members were chosen by indirect election by the members of the Provincial Legislative Assemblies. The total membership of the Assembly thus was to be 389. However, due to the partition under the Mountbatten Plan of 3 June, 1947, a separate Constituent Assembly was set up for Pakistan and representatives of some Provinces ceased to be members of the Assembly. As a result, the membership of the Assembly was reduced to 299.

Enactment and enforcement of the constitution

The Constituent Assembly reassembled on 14th August, 1947 as the sovereign Constituent Assembly for the Dominion of India. On 29 August, 1947, the Constituent Assembly set up a Drafting Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to prepare a Draft Constitution for India.

Enactment of the Constitution:

• The salient principles of the proposed Constitution had been provided by various committees of the Assembly such as Union Powers Committee, Union Constitution Committee.

Committees of the Constituent Assembly

• The Drafting Committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Ambedkar published ‘Draft Constitution of India’ in February, 1948.

• On 4th November, 1948, Dr B R Ambedkar introduced the final draft of the Constitution or the first reading in the Assembly.

• The second reading or clause by clause consideration) started on November 15, 1948 and ended on October 17, 1949. While deliberating upon the draft Constitution, the Assembly moved, discussed and disposed of as many as 2,473 amendments out of a total of 7,635 tabled.

• The third reading of the draft started on November 14, 1949. Dr B R Ambedkar moved a motion ‘the Constitution as settled by the Assembly be passed’. The motion on Draft Constitution was declared as passed on November 26, 1949 and the hon’ble members appended their signatures to it on 24 January, 1950. In all, 284 members actually signed the Constitution.

• The Constitution as adopted on November 26, 1949, contained a Preamble, 395 Articles and 8 Schedules. The Preamble was enacted after the entire Constitution was already enacted.

• Dr B R Ambedkar, the then Law Minister, piloted the Draft Constitution in the Assembly. He took a very prominent part in the deliberations of the Assembly. He was known for his logical, forceful and persuasive arguments on the floor of the Assembly.

Enforcement of the Constitution:

• The Constitution of India came into force on 26 January, 1950. On that day, the Assembly ceased to exist, transforming itself into the Provisional Parliament of India until a new Parliament was constituted in 1952.

• The date of 26th January was chosen to commemorate the historical day as on this day in 1930 that Purna Swaraj day was celebrated and the tricolour flag of Indian independence was unfurled following the resolution of the Lahore
Session (December 1929) of the Indian National Congress .

• Some provisions of the Constitution pertaining to citizenship, elections, provisional parliament, temporary and transitional provisions, and short title contained in Articles 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 60, 324, 366, 367, 379, 380, 388, 391, 392 and 393 came into force on November 26, 1949 itself.

• The remaining provisions (the major part) of the Constitution came into force on January 26, 1950. This day is referred to in the Constitution as the ‘date of its commencement’ and celebrated as the Republic Day.

• With the commencement of the Constitution, the Indian Independence Act of 1947 and the Government of India Act of 1935, with all enactments amending or supplementing the latter Act, were repealed. The Abolition of Privy Council Jurisdiction Act (1949) was however continued.

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