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The Saptha Rishees who authored Indian Constitution

Madabhushi Sridhar Acharyulu

Former Central Information Commissioner,

Professor of Constitution of India and

Dean, School of Law, Mahindra University, Hyderabad

14.4.2023

The common question was: who wrote the Constitution of India? The answer looks simple but very difficult, serious, complicated and explanation is needed. First of all, can we say that there are authors. It is not like a book or poetry that could be authored. There none could claim or ‘own’ as author of ‘Constitution of India”. But I can say every citizen or people who constitute those who lived earlier, living now and will live for coming generations should own the Constitution of India.

One should definitely claim that Dr B R Ambedkar is the chief architect of the Constitution of India. I should also say that he is more, over and above a designation than mere ‘author’.

The chief and other all architects of Indian Constitution are B.R. Ambedkar (chairman of the drafting committee), Surendra Nath Mukherjee (chief draftsman of the Constituent Assembly), and B.N. Rau (constitutional advisor to the Constituent Assembly). At the same time, one cannot ignore each and every person who were the signatoriesof the Constitution of India, numbering 284 members of the Constituent Assembly. The committee went back to its roots and referred to the Government of India Act, 1935.  It is largest written Constitution in the world, which took 2 years 11 months 18 days to prepare the Constitution of India. 141 days into working on it, a first draft of the constitution was submitted to the Assembly on November 4, 1947.

On the 125th birth anniversary of Dr Ambedkar, the Indian Union has recognized as 26 November as the Constitution Day to impart ‘constitutional values among the citizens. It is also called as National Law Day. Dr. Ambedkar was known as father of Constitution of India.

It was basically structured on the Government of India Act 1935, a significant federation consisting of several Indian territories, including provinces and princely states as units which divided the powers between centre and states. 

Paradise of Lawyers

It is also called as largest and most comprehensive and also complicated constitution. It was criticised by Sir Ivor Jennings as its demerit and paradise for lawyers.

It is the supreme law of India. The document lays down the framework determining the fundamental political code, structure, procedure, powers and duties of the government’s institutions. The constitution of India was adopted on November 26, 1949 and came into effect from January 26, 1950. It replaced the Government of India Act, 1935 as the country’s fundamental governing document, and the Dominion of India became the Republic of India. It also states the fundamental rights, principals and the duties of the citizens. It imparts Constitutional supremacy because it was created by the Constituent Assembly and was adopted by the ‘people of India’ with a declaration in its ‘preamble’. It declares India a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic, assuring that all citizens will get justice, equality, liberty and endeavours to promote fraternity. The original copy of the constitution is preserved in a helium filled case at the Parliament House in New Delhi. The words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ were added to the preamble in 1976 during the Emergency.

President of Constituent Assembly: One thing should be

remembered is that entire people were involved in making Indian nation as a Constitutional India. It was led by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, who was elected as the President of Constituent Assembly, under whom several committees were formed, one of them was the Constitution Drafting Committee of seven persons under the leadership of BR Ambedkar. One should not forget that the structuring the democratic Indian Constitution of Ambedkar.

Vice President: Harendra Coomar Mookerjee, a Christian from Bengal and former vice-chancellor of Calcutta University, was vice-president.

Chairman Minorities Committee: Mookerjee,  had additionally to chair the assembly’s Minorities Committee, was appointed governor of West Bengal after India became a republic.

  1. Drafting Committee – Bhimrao Ambedkar
  2. Union Power Committee – Jawaharlal Nehru
  3. Union Constitution Committee – Jawaharlal Nehru
  4. Provincial Constitution Committee – Vallabhbhai Patel
  5. Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas – Vallabhbhai Patel. This committee had the following subcommittees:

a) Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee – J. B. Kripalani

b) Minorities Sub-Committee – Harendra Coomar Mookerjee,

c) North-East Frontier Tribal Areas and Assam Excluded & Partially Excluded Areas Sub-Committee – Gopinath Bordoloi,

(d) Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas (Apart from those in Assam) Sub-Committee – A V Thakkar

  • Rules of Procedure Committee – Rajendra Prasad
  • States Committee (Committee for negotiating with states) – ⁣Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Steering Committee – Rajendra Prasad
  • Adhoc Committee on the National Flag[4] – Rajendra Prasad
  • Committee for the function of the Constitution Assembly – ⁣G V Mavlankar
  • House Committee – B Pattabhi Sitaramayya
  • Language Committee – Moturi Satyanarayana
  • Order of Business Committee – K M Munshi

The SapthaRishees of Bharath Constitution

The drafting committee of Constitution Assembly consists of seven members. They are:

Dr B R Ambedkar: Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was the major architect of the Constitution of India. He is also known as Babasaheb Ambedkar. He was jurist, economist, politician and social reformer who inspired the Dalit-Buddist movement who campaigned against social discrimination towards the untouchables. He was Independent India’s first Law and Justice Minister. Ambekar was a brilliant student – he had a doctorate in Economics from both Columbia University and the London School of Economics, and gained a reputation as a scholar for his research in Law, Economics and Political Science.In 1990, he received the Bharat Ratna – India’s highest civilian award. 

Dr. B. R Ambedkar,who chaired the constitution’s drafting committee. Dr Ambedkar said about that Sir AlladiKrishnaswaniAyyer’s contribution, “There were in the drafting committee men bigger, better and more competent as my friend Sir Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyer.”

Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar: A very important member of the Constituent Assembly of India was Dewan Bahadur Sir AlladiKrishnaswaniAyyer. Ayyar also served as an Advocate General of Madras State from 1929 to 1944. Ayyar was born in 1883 in the small village of Pudur in Madras State (now the Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh). He was born to Ekamra Sastry, who was a priest. He passed his matriculation examination in 1899 and entered the Madras Christian College to study History. Ayyar used his spare time to attend classes in law and passed the B.L exam and become one of the leading members of the bar. He was renowned as Dewan Bahadur in 1930. 

N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar: Dewan Bahadur Sir Narasimba Ayyangar Gopalaswami Ayyangar, was a proficient Member of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution. He was chosen to be the leader of the Rajya Sabha and a cabinet minister in the Government of India. He was selected as the first minister without a portfolio but he was intensely looking after Kashmir Affairs, and later was appointed the Railway Minister. In his Kashmir Affairs role, he represented India at the United Nation Security Council and later drafted Article 370 of the Indian constitution that granted autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir. Gopalaswami was born on March 31, 1882 in Tanjore District Madras. He studied at Wesley School, and then Presidency and Law College in Madras. He was also an Assistant Professor in Pachaiyappa’s college in 1904. 

K. M Munshi: Kanhaiyalal Maneklal Munshi also known as K.M Munshi, or by his pen name, Ghanshyam Vyas, was an brilliant Indian independence movement activist, politician, writer and educationist from Gujarat. He was a lawyer by profession, he later became an author and politician. He was a well-known name in Gujarati literature. He founded Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan an educational trust in 1938. Before the independence of India he was a part of Indian National Congress and after independence, he joined the Swatantra Party and Bharatiya Jana Sangh. Munshi held different posts – he was the member of Constituent Assembly of India, Minister of Agriculture and Food of India, and he was also the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. 

Mohammad Saadulla: Sir Syed Muhammad Saadulla, was the Prime Minister of Assam (British India). He was also a Chairman of Gauhati Municipality in 1919 and minister in charge of education and agriculture for Assam from 1924 to 1934. He got his education from the Cotton College, Guwahati and Presidency College, Calcutta. He was born on 21 May 1885 in Guwahati to an orthodox Assamese Muslim family. The Assam Legislative Assembly elected Syed Muhammad Saadulla to the Constituent Assembly of India in 1947 and later he was elected in the drafting committee as well. He was also an integral part in preparing the Constitution of the Republic of India. Saadulla was the only member from the North East to be elected into the Drafting Committee.  

B. L. Mitter: B.L Mitter worked with the Dewan of Baroda. Mitter is said to have made significant contributions to integration of the Princely States with India. He was later replaced by Madhav Rao on the drafting committee, who was the legal advisor to the Maharaja of Vadodara. 

D. P. Khaitan: D.P Khaitan, also known as Debi Prasad Khaitan, was the owner of Khaitan& co – one of the oldest working law firms in India. It had 530 fee earners and consultants including 115 partners and directors. Debi found this company in 1911 with the assistance of his brothers. He was a proficient member of the drafting committee including 6 others. 

Who drafted the Constitution? Jurist B. N. Rau prepared the original draft of the constitution and was later appointed a judge in the Permanent Court of International Justice in The Hague. Constitutional Adviser to the Assembly: Jurist B. N. Rau was appointed constitutional adviser to the assembly.  B. N. Rau prepared an initial draft based on the reports and his research into the constitutions of other nations.

The drafting committee, chaired by B. R. Ambedkar, presented a detailed draft constitution which was published for public discussion. The draft constitution was discussed, and amendments were proposed and enacted. The constitution was adopted, with a committee of experts led by the Congress Party (known as the Congress Assembly Party) played a pivotal role.

Only finally Ambedkar left in Committee

Then finally took the task of working on the drafting of the Constitution of India. It was B R Ambedkar. It was not me or any other writer, but it was TT Krishnamachary who explained how Ambedkar did the writing activity: “Mr. President, Sir, I am one of those in the House who have listened to Dr. Ambedkar very carefully. I am aware of the amount of work and enthusiasm that he has brought to bear on the work of drafting this Constitution. At the same time, I do realise that that amount of attention that was necessary for the purpose of drafting a constitution so important to us at this moment has not been given to it by the Drafting Committee”.

TT Krishnamachary said that four persons were not left in the Committee while it was left only to Ambedkar:

  • The House is perhaps aware that of the seven members nominated by you, one had resigned from the House and was replaced.
  • One died and was not replaced.
  • One was away in America and his place was not filled up and another person was engaged in State affairs, and there was a void to that extent.
  • One or two people were far away from Delhi and perhaps reasons of health did not permit them to attend.

He said: “So, it happened ultimately that the burden of drafting this constitution fell on Dr. Ambedkar and I have no doubt that we are grateful to him for having achieved this task in a manner which is undoubtedly commendable.”

What we took from Constitution of India

The Indian scholars and politician scientists have adopted some various characteristics of Constitutional nations as follows:

  • From UK: Parliamentary form of Government, Concept of single citizenship, Rule of Law, Speaker in Legislature, Legislative Procedure
  • From United States of America, Bill of Rights, Federal structure, Electoral college, Independent Judiciary and Separation of Powers, Judicial Review, President as Commander in chief of army, Equal protection under law
  • From Ireland from Directive Principles of State Policy
  • From France: Ideals of Liberte, egalite, fraternite
  • From Australia: Freedom of Trade between states, National legislative power to implement treaties, even on matters outside normal federal jurisdiction, Concurrent List, Preamble terminology
  • From Canada: Quasi Federal Government- with strong central government, Distribution of powers between the central and state governments, Residual powers, retained by the Central Government
  • From Soviet Union: Fundamental Duties, Mandated Planning Commission to supervise Economic Development
  • From Weimar Constitution the Emergency provisions
  • From South Africa the Amending power
  • From Japan the Due Process

What is Constituent Assembly?

The Constituent Assembly was established while India was still under British rule following negotiations between Indian leaders and members of the 1946 Cabinet Mission to India from the United Kingdom. Provincial assembly elections were held in early 1946. Constituent Assembly members were elected indirectly by members of the newly elected provincial assemblies, and initially included representatives for those provinces that formed part of Pakistan (some of which are now in Bangladesh). The Constituent Assembly had 389 representatives, including fifteen women.

Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and others signing the draft constitution,

This Constituent Assembly consisting of indirectly elected representatives. This was established to draft a constitution for India. The Assembly was not elected based on universal adult suffrage, and Muslims and Sikhs received special representation as minorities. The Muslim League boycotted the Assembly after failing to prevent its creation. The Assembly met for the first time in New Delhi on 9 December 1946, and its last session was held on 24 January 1950. The Interim Government of India was formed on 2 September 1946 from the newly elected Constituent Assembly. The Congress Party held a large majority in the Assembly (69 percent of the seats), and the Muslim League held nearly all the seats reserved in the Assembly for Muslims. There were also members of smaller parties, such as the Scheduled Caste Federation, the Communist Party of India and the Unionist Party.

On 15 August 1947 the Dominion of India and Dominion of Pakistan became independent nations, and members of the Constituent Assembly who had not withdrawn to Karachi became India’s Parliament. Twenty-eight members of the Muslim League joined the Indian Assembly, and 93 members were later nominated from the princely states.

Then, who is the author: The President or those who Presidents of committees including drafting committee, and finally who the chief architect? Answer is: Dr B R Ambedkar was the Chief Architect of Constitution of India.

Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Prof. M. Sridhar Acharyulu
Author is Dean, Professor of law at Mahindra University at Hyderabad and former Central Information Commissioner. He published a number books in English and Telugu.

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