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indian constitution in brief





What is Constitution?


According to Wade and Philips, "Constitution means a document having a special legal sanctity which sets out the framework and the principal functions of the organs of the Government of a State and declares the principles governing the operation of those organs.


What is special about the Constitution of India?


Indian Constitutions is not the product of any revolution but of the research and deliberations of a body of eminent representatives of the people who sought to improve upon the existing systems of administration, makes a retrospect of the constitutional development indispensable for a proper understanding of this Constitution.


The Government of India Act, 1935 inter alia provided for Provincial Legislatures in the British Provinces. Legislatures of Bombay, Bengal, Madras, Bihar, Assam and the United Provinces & 5 other provinces. Composition of Assembly varied from Province to Province.


Cripps Mission, 1942 (Sir Stafford Cripps) suggested for the settlement of the Indian problem suggested that (a) immediately after the end of the World War II steps shall be taken to set up in India an elected body for framing a new Constitution of India; (b) Provision shall be made, as asset out below for participation of Indian States in the Constitution-making body; (c) Constitution-making body shall be composed of persons elected Provincial Legislatures and nominated by the Indian Princes unless the leaders of Indian origin of the principal communities agreed upon some other form before the end of hostilities….

The Indian leaders found in it the seed of partition of the country and rejected.








The Cabinet Mission, 1946 (came to Indian on 4.3.1946) consisting 3 British Cabinet Ministers – Lord Pethic Lawrence, Sir Stafford Cripps and Mr. Alexander. The Mission suggested that –


1.      There should be a Union of India embodying both British India and the States and with exception of certain reserved subjects, all subjects were to be retained by the States.


2.      The paramountcy of Crown was to lapse.


3.      For the purpose of framing a new Constitution, a Constituent Assembly was to be elected.


4.      An interim Govt. was to be set up having the support of major political parties.


The proposals were accepted and n July 1946 elections to Constituent Assembly took place.


The Indian Independence Act, 1947:


·         The Act provided for creation of two independent Dominions. India and Pakistan from 15th August, 1947.


·         Each Dominion was to have a Governor-General who was to be appointed by the King.


·         The Constituent Assemblies of both Dominions were empowered to frame laws for their respective territories till the new Constitution came into force.


·         After August 15, 1947 the British Govt. was not to control the Dominion or the Provinces.


·         .


Framing of the new Constitution (1947-1950)


India opted for a sovereign democratic republic form of Government. The Constituent Assembly came into being in November, 1946 and its members were elected by the Provincial Assembly by indirect election. Out of 296 seats for British India, the Congress captured 211 seats and Muslim League 73 seats. The rest were not filled up. According to the Indian Independence Act, 1947, the Constituent Assembly (a creation of Cabinet Mission Plan) became a sovereign body and free to frame any Constitution it pleased.


First meeting of the Constituent Assembly was held on 9.12.1946

Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected its Permanent Chairman on 11.12.1946.

Though the Muslim League boycotted the Assembly, the Assembly made a substantial progress and adopted the "Objective Resolution" which later became the Preamble of the Constitution.

The Assembly appointed various Committees to deal with different aspects of the Constitution.

The report of the Committees formed the basis on which the first draft of the Constitution was prepared.


On 29.8.1947, a Drafting Committee of 7 members was set up under the Chairmanship of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar.


The Draft Constitution was published in January, 1948. The people of India were given 8 months to discuss the draft and propose amendments. As many as 7,635 amendments were proposed and 2,473 were actually discussed.


The Constituent Assembly held 11 sessions.

The Draft Constitution was considered for 114 days. In all the Constitutent Assembly sat for 2 years, 11 months and 18 days.


The New Constitution of India was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26th November, 1949 and signed by the President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. 15 Articles (5,6,7,8,9,60,324,366,367,372, 380, 388, 391,392 and 393) came into force at once.


The remaining provisions of the Constitution came into force on 26th January, 1950 which is the date of the commencement of the Constitution.





"We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizen –


Justice – social, political and economic

Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship

Equality of status and of opportunity

And to promote among them all

Fraternity assuring dignity of the individual and unity and integrity of the nation.


IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty sixth day of November, 1949 do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this Constitution."



Arrangement of constitution


·         Contains 395 Articles divided into XXII Parts

·         12 Schedules

·         2 Appendix


Part / Schedule



Subject matter




The Union and its Territory








Fundamental Rights




Directive Principles of State Policy




Fundamental Duties




The Union




The Executive – The President and Vice President, Council of Ministers, The Attorney-General for India, Conduct of Government Business, Duties of Prime Minister as respects the furnishing of information to the President etc.,




Parliament, Conduct of business, Disqualifications of Members, Legislative procedure etc.




Legislative powers of the President




The Union Judiciary




Comptroller and Auditor-General of India




The States








The Executive - The Governor, Council of Ministers, The Advocate-General for the State, Conduct of Government business, Duties of Chief Minister as respects the furnishing of information to Governor, etc.




The State Legislature, Disqualification of Members, Legislative Procedure, etc.




Legislative power of the Governor




The High Courts in the States




Subordinate Courts








The Union Territories – administration, High Courts for Union Territories etc.




The Panchayats




The Municipalities




The Scheduled and Tribal Areas




Relations between the Union and the States




Legislative Relations – distribution of legislative powers, residuary powers of legislation, etc.




Administrative Relations




Finance, Property, Contracts and Suits




Finance – taxes, grants, finance commission, recommendations of finance commission, exemption from taxes etc.




Borrowing – by the Government of India and by States.




Property, Contracts, Rights, Liabilities, Obligations and Suits and proceedings




Right to Property




Trade, Commerce and Intercourse within the territory of India




Services under the Union and the States




Services – recruitment and conditions of service of persons serving the Union or State,




Public Service Commissions












Special Provisions relating to certain Classes- Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in House of the People etc., Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes




Official Language




Language of the Union




Regional Languages




Language of the Supreme Court, High Court etc.




Special Directives




Emergency Provisions




Miscellaneous – protection of President, Governors and Rajpramukhs, abolition of privy purses, special provisions as to major ports and aerodromes etc.




Amendment of the Constitution - Power of Parliament and procedure therefore




Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions 




Short Title, Commencement, Authoritative text in Hindi and Repeals




No. of Schedule

Subject matter


        I.            The States

     II.            The Union Territories


Part A: Provisions as to the President and the Governors

Part B: Omitted

Part C: Provisions as to Speaker, Deputy Speaker etc.

Part D: Provisions as to the Judges of SC and HC

Part E: Provisions as to Comptroller and Auditor-General of India


Forms of Oaths or Affirmations


Allocation of seats in the Council of States


Provisions as to the Administration and Control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes (contains Parts A, B, C and D)


Provisions as to Administration of Tribal Areas in the States of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram


List I : Union List (97 subjects)

List II : State List (66 subjects)

List III : Concurrent List (47 subjects)


Languages (18 languages


Validation of Acts and Regulations though inconsistent with Part III of the Constitution.


Provisions as to Disqualification on Ground of Defection.


Powers, Authority and Responsibilities of Panchayat


Powers, Authority and Responsibilities of Municipality







The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 1954


Re-statement, with reference to the present text of the Constitution, of the exceptions and modifications subject to which the Constitution applies to the State of Jammu and Kashmir






·         Framers of Constitution took inspiration from Bill of Rights in the American Constitution and incorporated a full chapter (III) dealing with Fundamental Rights in the Constitution of India.


·         These Rights are fundamental because they are most essential for the attainment by the individual of his full intellectual, moral and spiritual status.


·         Fundamental Rights are the basic tenets of democracy envisages certain fundamental rights regarding right to life, liberty, freedom of speech, faith etc. invoilable under any conditions.


·         Cosntitution is given by the people themselves and no authority constituted under the Constitution should encroach upon the givers of authority notwithstanding the representative character of political instruments.


·         In Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India case, Justice Bhagwati observed: "These fundamental rights represent the basic values cherished by the people of this country since the Vedic times and they are calculated to protect the dignity of the individual and create conditions in which every human being can develop his personality to the fullest extent. They weave a "pattern of guarantee" on the basic structure of human rights, and impose negative obligations on the State not to encroach on individual liberty in its various dimensions."


·         Seeks to striking balance between individual liberty and social need.




Fundamental Right

Relevant Article Nos.


Right to Equality

14 – 18


right to freedom

19 – 22


right against exploitation

23 – 24


right to freedom of religion

25 – 28


cultural and educational rights

29 – 30


right to property

31a – 31-d [19(1)(f) and 300-A also]


right to constitutional remedies

32 – 35

Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India, AIR 1978 SC 597 (passport case)


Maneka Gandhi was the daughter-in-law of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, the then PM. Maneka Gandhi was leader of Janata Party. To harass her, the Central Govt. impounded her passport without showing any valid reasons. The Supreme Court held that the passport was the property of the petitioner. The Central Govt. could not impound her passport simply to harass her. It could do so for the "public purpose" but here "public purpose" was not seen.





[Articles 36 to 51 of the Constitution of India in Chapter IV]


·         Unlike Fundamental Rights in Chapter III [Articles 14 to 35], the Directive Principles of State Policy are not justiciable. They are guideline directives in framing suitable legislation to ensure a Welfare State.


·         Article 37: Application of the principles: The provisions contained in this Part shall not be enforceable by any court, but the principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country and shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws.

·         Aims to supplement the Fundamental Rights in achieving a Welfare State.


Some of the important Directive Principles of State Policy:


·         Article 38: State to secure a social order for the promotion of welfare of the people: State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of the national life.

The State shall, in particular, strive to minimise the inequalities in income, and endeavour to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities, not only amongst individuals but also amongst groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations.


·         Article 39: Certain principles of policy to be followed by the State:


The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing –


1.      that the citizen, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood;


2.      that the ownership and control of the material resources of the community are so distributed as best to subserve the common good;


3.      that the operation of the economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment;


4.      that there is equal pay for equal work for both men and women;


5.      that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength;


6.      that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.



·         Article 39A: (w.e.f. 3.1.1977 – 44th amendment): Equal justice and free legal aid:


The State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities. (right conferred by Section 304 of Cr.PC, 1973 also)


·         Article 40: Organisaton of village panchayats :


The State shall take steps to organise village panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self-government.


·         Article 41: Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases.


The State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.


·         Article 42: Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief.


·         Article 43: The State shall endeavour to secure … living wage, etc. for workers.

The State shall endeavour to secure, by suitable legislation or economic organisation or in any other way, to all workers, agricultural, industrial or otherwise, work, a living wage, conditions of work ensuring a decent standard of life and full enjoyment of leisure and social and cultural opportunities and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to promote cottage industries on an individual or co-operative basis in rural areas.


·         Article 43A: Participation of workers in management of industries in any industry.


·         Article 44: Uniform Civil Code for the citizens through out the territory of India.


·         Article 45: Provision for free and compulsory education for children until they complete the age of 14 years.


·         Article 46: Promotion of educational and economic interests of SC, ST and other weaker sections and protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.


·         Article 47: Duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health.


·         Article 48: Organization of agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines, improving the breeds, and prohibiting slaughter, of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.


·         Article 48A: Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wild life. ( w.e.f. 3.1.1977 – 42nd amendment)


·         Article 49: Promotion of monuments and places and objects of national importance


·         Article 50: Separation of judiciary from executive in the public services of the State.


·         Article 51: Promotion of international peace and security, maintain just and honourable relations between nations, foster respect for international law and treaty obligations in the dealings of organised people with one another; and encourage settlement of international disputes by arbitration.




(A) Power of Supreme Court:

Article 32: Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by Part III


1.      The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part (III) is guaranteed.


2.      The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part.


3.      Without prejudice to the powers conferred on the Supreme Court by clauses (1) and (2), the Parliament may by law empower any other court to exercise within the local limits of its jurisdiction all or any of the powers exercisable by the Supreme Court under clause (2).


4.      The right guaranteed by this article shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution.


2.      Power of High Courts to issue certain writs:

Article 226:

1.      Notwithstanding anything in article 32, every High Court shall have power, throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction, to issue to any person or authority, including the appropriate cases, any Governemnt, within those territories directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, or any of them, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III and for any other purpose.


2.      The power conferred by clause (1) to issue directions, orders or writs to any Govt. authority or person may also be exercised by any High Court exercising jurisdiction in relation to the territories within which the cause of action, wholly or in part, arises for the exercise of such power, notwithstanding that the seat of such Govt. or authority or the residence of such person is not within those territories.


3.      Where any party against whom an interim order, whether by way of injunction or stay or in any other manner is made on, or in any proceedings relating to, a petition or stay or in any other manner is made on, or in any proceedings relating to, a petition under clause (1), without –


1.      furnishing to such party copies of such petition and all documents in support of the plea for such interim order; and


2.      giving such party an opportunity of being heard,


makes an application to the High Court for the vacation of such order and furnishes a copy of such application to the party in whose favour such order has been made or the counsel of such party, the High Court shall dispose of the application within a period of two weeks from the date on which it is received or from the date on which the copy of such application is so furnished, whichever is later, or where the High Court is closed on the last day of that period, before the expiry of the next day afterwards on which the High Court is open; and if the application is not so disposed of, the interim order shall on the expiry of that period, or, as the case may be, the expiry of the said next day, stand vacated.


(4) The power conferred on a High Court by this article shall not be in derogation o the power conferred on the Supreme Court by clause (2) of article 32.



(under Article 32 and Article 226)


Meaning of "Writ":


Tomlins Law Dictionary: A "writ" is said to be a formal letter of the king's sealed with a seal, directed to some judge, officer, or minister, etc. at the suit or plaint of a subject, requiring to have a thing done, for the cause briefly expressed, which is to be discussed in the proper court, according to law.


Generally, a "writ" means a written command, precept (rule of action), or formal order issued by a court, directing or enjoining the person or persons to whom it is addressed to do or refrain from doing some act specified therein.


Writs are issued by HC or SC as extraordinary remedies in cases where there was either no remedy available under the ordinary law or the remedy available was inadequate.


Writ jurisdiction emantes from one of the Fundamental Rights i.e. Article 32: "Right to Constitutional Remedies" directly to approach Supreme Court and also from Article 226 where High Courts have the power to issue certain writs, directions, orders.



ARTICLE 32: Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by this Part (III of the Constitution of India)


1.      The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part (III) is guaranteed.


2.      The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part (III).


3.      Without prejudice to the powers conferred on the Supreme Court by clauses (1) and (2), Parliament may by law empower any other court to exercise within the local limits of its jurisdiction all or any of the powers exercisable by the Supreme court under clause (2).


4.      The right guaranteed by this article shall not be suspended except as otherwise provided for by this Constitution."





1.      Notwithstanding anything contained in article 32, every High Court shall have powers, throughout the territories in relation to which it exercises jurisdiction, to issue to any person or authority, including in appropriate cases, any Government, within those territories directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, or any of them, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by this Part (III) and for any other purpose.



(4) …………………………"







1.      HAEBEAS CORPUS (have the body)


Writ of habeas corpus: A writ to a jailor to produce a prisoner in person and to state the reasons of detention.


·         An effective remedy available to a person to ensure personal liberty.


·         Cases of illegal detention without legal justification are covered.


·         An order to let the Court know on what ground he has been confined and to set him free if there is no justification for his detention.


·         The applicant can be the prisoner himself or any person on his behalf to safeguard his liberty approach Court for issue the writ of habeas corpus.


·         Disobedience to this writ is met with punishment for contempt of Court under the Contempt of Courts Act.



2.      MANDAMUS (the order/command)


·         A command issued to direct any person, corporation, inferior court, or Govt. requiring him to do a particular thing therein specified which pertains to his or their office and is further in the nature of a public duty.


·         Can be issued against any public authority. It commands activity.


·         Used for securing judicial enforcement of public duties.


·         The applicant must have a legal right to the performance of a legal duty by the person against whom the writ is prayed for.


·         Writ of Mandamus is not issued if the authority has a discretion.


·         Article 361 excludes President or the Governor from writ of mandamus.


·         It is a discretionary power of the Courts, which may refuse if alternative remedy exists except in case of infringement of fundamental rights.


·         It does not lie against private individuals or body except where the State is in collusion with such private party in the matter of contravention of any provision of the Constitution or a Statute.




·         Writ of Prohibition is issued by the Superior Court to an Inferior Court preventing the latter from abusing or usurping jurisdiction which is not legally vested in it.


·         It compels Courts to act within their jurisdiction.


·         When a tribunal acts without or in excess of jurisdiction, or in violation of rules or law, a writ of prohibition can be asked for. It is generally issued before the trial of the case.


·         It is available only against judicial or quasi judicial authorities and is not available against a public officer who is not vested with judicial functions.


·         If abuse of power is apparent, this writ may be of right remedy and not a matter of discretion.


·         This writ is available during the pendency of the proceedings and before the order is made.


4.      QUO WARRANTO (what is your authority?):


A writ calling upon one to show by what warrant he holds or claims a franchise or office.


·         Enables enquiry into the legality of the claim which a person asserts to an office or franchise and to oust him from such position if he is an usurper.

·         The holder of the office has to show to the Court under what authority he holds office


·         Based on the principle that the public has an interest to see that an unlawful claimant does not usurp a public office. Examples of Offices of PM, CM, Speaker, Advocate General, Judge, President of Zilla Parishad, etc.


5. CERTIORARI: (to be certified)


HC or SC can issue Writ of Certiorari when the subordinate judicial authority acts –


1.      without or in excess of jurisdiction; or

2.      in contravention of the rules of natural justice; or

3.      commits an error apparent on the face of the record.


Writ of Certiorari is issued after authority has exercised its powers whereas a Writ of Prohibition is issued during the pendency of the matter to prevent it from further proceeding.



Dear Ramesh,

     Good gist of Constitution!!




Good compilation but is it available in soft copy also.


 VERY GOOD.......




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