The document containing laws and rules which determine and describe the form of the
government, the relationship between the citizens and the government, is called a
As such a constitution is concerned with two main aspects: the relation between the different
levels of government and between the government and the citizens.
A constitution is the basic fundamental law of a State. It lays down the objectives of the
State which it has to achieve. It also provides for the constitutional framework that is,
various structures and organs of the governments at different levels. In addition, it describes
the rights and duties of the citizens. It is, therefore, considered to be the basis for the
governance of the country both in terms of goals and objectives as also their structures
The Constituent Assembly:
The Constitution of India was framed by the Constituent Assembly. The Assembly was
constituted in 1946.
The members of the Constituent Assembly were indirectly elected by the members of the
existing Provincial Assemblies. In addition, there were members nominated by the rulers
of the Princely States. With Independence of India, the Constituent Assembly became a
fully sovereign body.
The Constituent Assembly, following the partition of the country in 1947, consisted of 299
members as on 31st December 1947. Of these 229 members were elected by the provincial
assemblies and the rest were nominated by the rulers of the princely states. Majority of
the members in the Constituent Assembly belonged to the Congress party. All prominent
leaders of the freedom movement were members of the Assembly.
Princely States: During the British Rule there were about 560 areas which were not
directly under the control of the British. These were Kingdoms or ‘Riyasats’ under
Indian rulers or Princes. These were called ‘Princely States’. To name a few, Kashmir,
Patiala, Hyderabad, Mysore, Baroda were some of the princely states.
The Constituent Assembly was chaired by the President of the Assembly. Dr. Rajendra
Prasad was elected as the President of the Assembly. The Assembly worked with the
help of a large number of committees and sub-committees. The committees were of two types : (a) relating to matters concerning with procedures, and (b) concerning important
issues. In addition there was an Advisory Committee primarily advised from outside. The
most important committee was the Drafting Committee. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was the
Chairman of the Drafting Committee. The task of the Committee was to prepare the draft
of the Constitution.
The Constitutent Assembly met for 166 days spread over a period of 2 years 11months and 18 days.
Conscious efforts were made to have consensus on different issues and principles and
thereby avoid disagreement. The consensus came in the form of the ‘Objectives Resolution’ moved by Jawahar Lal Nehru in the Constituent Assembly on December 17, 1946 which was almost unanimously adopted on January 22, 1947.
In the light of these ‘Objectives’ the Assembly completed its task by November 26, 1949. The constitution was enforced with effect from January 26, 1950. From that day India became a Republic.
Exactly twenty years before the first independence day was celebrated on Jan. 26, 1930 as decided by the Lahore session of the Congress on Dec. 31, 1929. Hence, January 26, 1950 was decided as the day to enforce the constitution.
It provides the guidelines of the Consitution.
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to
constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the
unity and integrity of the Nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENTASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of
November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO
OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
The objectives, which are laid down in the Preamble, are:
i) Description of Indian State as Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic.
(Socialist, Secular added by 42nd Amendment, 1976).
ii) Provision to all the citizens of India i.e.,
a) Justice social, economic and political
b) Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship
c) Equality of status and opportunity
d) Fraternity assuring dignity of the individual and unity and integrity of the
Sovereignty is one of the foremost elements of any independent State. It means absolute
independence, i.e., a government which is not controlled by any other power : internal or
The word socialist was not there in the Preamble of the Constitution in its original form. In
1976, the 42nd Amendment to the Constitution incorporated ‘Socialist’and ‘Secular’, in the
Preamble. The word ‘Socialism’ had been used in the context of economic planning. It means commitment to attain ideals like removal of inequalities, provision of minimum basic necessities to all, equal pay for equal work.
In the context of secularism in India, it is said that ‘India is neither religious, nor irreligious
nor anti-religious.’ It implies that in India there will be no ‘State’ religion – the ‘State’ will not support any particular religion out of public fund. This has two implications, a) every individual is free to believe in, and practice, any religion he/ she belongs to, and, b) State will not discriminate against any individual or group on the basis of religion.
The Preamble also declares India as a Republic. It means that the head of the State is the
President who is indirectly elected and he is not a hereditary ruler as in case of the British
Justice promises to give people what they are entitled to in terms of basic rights to food,
clothing, housing, participation in the decision-making and living with dignity as human
beings. The Preamble covers all these dimensions of justice – social, economic and political.
The Preamble also mentions about liberty of thought and expression. These freedoms
have been guaranteed in the Constitution through the Fundamental Rights.
All citizens of India should be treated equally and extended equal protection of law without any discrimination based on caste, creed, birth, religion, sex etc. Similarly equality of opportunities implies that regardless of the socio-economic situations into which one is born, he/she will have the same chance as everybody else to develop his/ her talents and choose means of livelihood.
Egalitarian: A society, which feels concerned for meeting the needs of all its
members, is known as egalitarian society. An egalitarian state is expected to reduce
inequalities among citizens and fulfill minimum requirements of all.
The Indian constitution is the lengthiest in the world. The original constitution had 395 Articles and 8 Schedules, while, the constitution of USA has only 7 Articles.
Fundamental Rights are one of the important features of the Indian Constitution. The
Constitution provides for six Fundamental Rights about which you will read in the following
lesson. Fundamental Rights are justiciable and are protected by the judiciary. In case of
violation of any of these rights one can move to the court of law for their protection.
Fundamental Duties were added to our Constitution by the 42nd Amendment. It lays down a list of ten Fundamental Duties for all citizens of India. While the rights are given as
guarantees to the people, the duties are obligations which every citizen is expected to