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LAW & CONSTITUTION- Evolution of the Indian Constitution

India, the largest democracy in the world, gained its independence from British colonial rule in 1947. In 1950, the Constitution of India came into effect, forming the basis of the governance of the country. The Constitution draws on the rich heritage of Indian politics and thought and reflects the historical experience of the country. Henceforth, the formation of the Constitution is an amalgamation of politics.

The East India Company, which came to India in the 1600s, took control of many administrative powers in 1765 (after the Battle of Buxar, the British received taxes and civil rights in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa). The trading company since then consolidated its power in such a way as to reach the nooks and corners of our country. During the Company’s Rule (1753-1858), the British Parliament passed several Acts to control, regulate and monitor the activities of the East India Company (EIC). The company decides to change and amend the terms and conditions of this statute every 20 years. The Sepoy Rebellion caused the British Parliament to put an end to the activities of the East India Company. Later, the power, lands and revenues of the Indian government were transferred to the British Crown (1858-1947). During this period of roughly 200 years, a plethora of Acts were passed to regulate the functions of the country which laid the foundation stone on which our constitution was built.

The idea of a Constituent Assembly was put forward for the first time by MN Roy. In 1935, the Indian National Congress, for the first time, officially called for a Constituent Assembly to frame a Constitution for India. The demand for a Constituent Assembly was accepted for the first time by the British through their ‘August offer’ of 1940. Eventually, a constituent assembly was established under the provisions of the Cabinet Mission Plan(1946).

The Constituent Assembly of India, which had its first meeting on 1st December 1946, was again reassembled on 14th August 1947 and started the process of framing a new Constitution for India on the basis of complete independence. It appointed a large number of committees such as the Union Constitution Committee, the Union Powers Committee, and the Committee on Fundamental Rights etc. and discussed the reports of these Committees thoroughly. On 29th August 1947, it appointed a Drafting Committee under the chairmanship Dr B. R, Ambedkar, which came out with the Draft Constitution of India in February 1948. The Constituent Assembly next met in November 1948 to make a clause- by-clause analysis of the Draft Constitution. The second reading of the clauses was completed by 17th October 1949 and the third reading by 26th November 1949 when the Constitution was adopted. The Constitution then finally came into force on 26th January 1950.

The historical underpinnings of the Indian Constitution reflect India's diverse social and political experiences. The Constitution draws on India’s indigenous traditions, colonial experiences, and Western political thought, and to this day has evolved through amendments to reflect changing aspirations and challenges.

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