The longest Constitution in the world is that of the Republic of India. This Constitution was adopted on November, 26th 1949 and came into force on January, 26th 1960. Before its inception, the country was governed by the Government of India Act of 1935.
The Original Constitution
The very first Indian constitution was handwritten in calligraphy by renowned Indian artists. The wording is in Hindi, and is well calibrated in an artistic, ancient manner to capture its heritage. It is being preserved in cases made of helium in the Parliament House in New Delhi.
In August 1947, two years before adoption of this Constitution, a drafting committee was constituted. It constituted seven members. Dr. B.R Ambedkar was the chief editor plus six other members; Pandit Pant, Kanaiyalal Maneklal, Alladi Krishnaswamy, Gopalaswami Ayengar, B. L Mitter and, D.P. Khaitan.
The draft constitution was submitted on November 1947 for debating and review. It went through over 2000 amendments over the two-year period before finally being adopted in November, 26th 1949. This date was marked as a national holiday to commemorate these events.
India is a sovereign, socialist democratic republic hence, the constitution outlines the country’s political principles, procedures to be followed, and powers vested in government. The Constitution begins with a preamble, then divided into Parts I to XXII. It has 12 Schedules, 5 Appendices making a total of 146,385 words.
As at July 2017, parts IVA, IXA and XIVA were added, bringing the total parts to 25. Generally, there have a total of 118 amendments done since its inception. Currently, the total number of Articles is 449.
The Constitution of India is referred to as a “Bag of Borrowings”. Just like every other Constitution, it borrowed a number of concepts from various jurisdictions. For example, the principles of liberty and equality were borrowed from the French Constitution, and socio-economic rights enshrined in Part III was borrowed from Ireland. The outlined laws that govern the Supreme Court of India were adopted from Japan and America. It follows a British parliamentary pattern with a lower and upper house. The fundamental rights embodied under Part III are similar to the Bill of Rights provided by the American constitution
In addition, certain principles were also borrowed from the major philosophers of India. The Constitution’s Preamble is basically the legacy of Lord Buddha about the divine life of society. Distribution of Power in different levels of State is legacy of Raja Bali. Other philosophers whose legacies were used in drafting the Constitution are; Mahatma Phule, Shahu Maharaj and, Rajya Shivaji Maharaj.
Amending the Constitution
This Constitution can only be amended with a quorum voting panel constituting of more than half of members of each house. The majority votes have to be more than two-thirds of the total votes. So far, it is the most frequently amended Constitution in the world with the first amendment done only a year after adoption. Since then, it has undergone at least two amendments every year since 1950.