PAGES

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

SOME REPUBLIC DAY THOUGHTS

About 380 of the best and brightest minds assembled for nearly 3 years to discuss, debate and arrive at a consensus to draft for 'India that is Bharat' the longest written constitution in the world.

The draft was approved by the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949 and it was officially adopted on January 26, 1950.

However every time the rulers found a part of it inconvenient, they went about amending it with gay abandon.

The first amendment was enacted on June 18, 1951 that is within 18 months of adoption of the original document.

The modus for carrying out a Constitutional amendment was introduction of the amendment bill; first reading, second reading and third reading after which each clause was discussed, debated and voted. At least three fourths of the members of the house were to be present and two thirds of them should vote for it.

Fortunately for the first amendment, there was only one house then (the Constituent Assembly), as otherwise the process would have had to be repeated in the second house.

It was then sent to the states for approval by at least 50% of the them and Presidential approval.

Taking into consideration the entire process, the first amendment must have been introduced at least three to six months before its enactment in June 1951. This means it was introduced just twelve months after the adoption of the Constitution drafted by the best and brightest minds in the country.

What was the first amendment which was piloted by Jawaharlal Nehru himself? It was to place ‘reasonable’ restrictions on the freedom of speech. Thus was born Art. 19 (2).

It was all the precedence needed. After that, every time a Congress government felt inconvenienced by a provision in the Constitution or a court order, it went ahead and amended the Constitution.

In the last 70 years more than a 120 amendment bills were introduced and about 100 of them were actually enacted, most of them by the Congress governments. So what if Anantkumar Hegde proposed or envisaged some changes.

The Constitution is not etched in stone. It is a dynamic document (like the Manu Smriti) and can be changed or amended according to the needs of the time.

JAWAHARLAL NEHRU ADDRESSING THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY