Almost all countries in the world have a constitution; either written or unwritten. A constitution is a set of laws or fundamental principles that help govern a state or an organization. When these laws and principles are collectively written down into a single document, the document is said to be containing a written constitution. Some countries such as the United Kingdom do not have a single written constitution. However, the fundamental principles are written in several fundamental Acts of the legislature, treaties, and court rulings. The shortest constitution in the world is that of Monaco while the longest written constitution in the world is that of India.
Constitution of India
The Constitution of India is the highest authority in India. It details the country’s political code, duties, and structure of the various government bodies, and the fundamental rights and duties of the citizens. The Constitution of India is the longest written country’s constitution in the world. However, some US states such as Alabama have longer constitutions than the Indian constitution. The English version of the Indian constitution is approximately 145,000 words long, almost one-third the length of the constitution of Alabama. It contains a preamble and 448 articles in 25 parts, 12 schedules, and 5 appendices. The constitution contains 101 amendments with the latest amendments taking effect on July 1, 2017.
Drafting the Constitution
The Constitution of India came into effect in parts on November 26, 1949, with the adoption of Articles 5-9, 60, 324, 366, 367, 379, 380, 388, and 391-394 while the rest of the articles became effective on January 26, 1950. The content of the constitution was drawn from numerous sources, putting into consideration the conditions and needs of Indians. Some of the sources included the Indian Council Act of 1861, the Indian Independent Act of 1947, and the Government of India Act of 1858. The drafting of the constitution was undertaken by a 389-member Constituent Assembly elected by the members of the provincial assemblies. The members of the assembly were reduced to 229 following the partitioning of India. A drafting committee which was made up of 8 members was chaired by BR Ambedkar. The assembly took almost three years to develop a draft.
Bag of Borrowing
The Constitution of India, just like most constitutions around the world, was influenced by and borrowed a number of concepts from other constitutions. For instance, the concept of single citizenship and the legislative procedure are borrowed from the United Kingdom while the bill of rights, Electoral College, and judicial review are borrowed from the United States. The Indian constitution has also borrowed from the constitutions of Ireland, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Japan, and France.
Amendment to the Constitution
As of 2018, a total of 124 amendment bills have been presented to the Parliament for consideration. However, only 101 amendment bills have become Amendment Acts, making it one of the most frequently amended national documents in the world. According to Article 368 of the Indian constitution, the amendment bill must be supported by at least two-thirds majority in each of the houses of Parliament. The first amendment to the constitution was done barely a year after its adoption.