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The constitutional history of India under the British Rule shows gradual development from a highly centralized government (Charter Act, before 1857), then Government of India Act, 1919 to Provincial Authority enacted by the Government of India Act, 1935 and lastly Transfer of Power in 1947. Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar (1891 - 1956) was one of the few statesmen of India who took part in all the Constitutional deliberations right from the Southborough Committee on Franchise (1918) to Cabinet Mission Plan (1947). He not only represented the community he belonged to but also made various important recommendations for constitutional changes. By his dint of profound knowledge of constitutional matters, he played an important part in the Constitutional development in pre-independent India and in the making of the Constitution of free India. The world had seen a visionary in Dr. Ambedkar, under whose chairmanship, the longest written constitution in the world was drafted.

Untouchability in India meant pollution by touch. From the disgrace, discrimination and severe social handicap that Dr. Ambedkar suffered right from his early life for being born to a so called untouchable family, he came determined to liberate the depressed classes of the Hindu society from this inhuman social system and unending saga of misery till the last breath of his life. Ambedkar wanted to annihilate the castes in order to equality of social status for his community. While Gandhiji and others were taking a religious-political approach to the problem and tried to bring about a change of heart by appeal and persuasion among the so called upper caste members, Ambedkar wanted specific legal protection and safeguards to make members belonging to the untouchable community to get education, change the hereditary occupations and raise their standard of living.

Overcoming numerous social and financial obstacles, Ambedkar became one of the first man from untouchable community to obtain a college education in India. Eventually earning law degree and doctorates for his study and research in law, economics and political science from Columbia University and the London School of Economics, Ambedkar gained a reputation as a scholar and practiced law for a few years, later campaigning by publishing journals advocating political rights and social freedom for India's untouchables. Ambedkar had been invited to testify before the Southborough Committee, which was preparing the Government of India Act 1919. He was appointed to the Bombay Presidency Committee to work with the all- European Simon Commission in 1925. He was elected as a member of the Constituent Assembly of India in 1946.

Preceding his role as Chairman as Drafting Committee of Constituent Assembly from 1947, in 1932 Dr. Ambedkar and Gandhiji entered into an agreement by which the separate electorate for Depressed Classes like Muslims, Sikhs were done away and there was joint electorate. This is very popularly known as Poona Pact. 1 The Pact reached contained that there shall be seats

1 Poona Pact, AMBEDKAR.ORG, (last visited August 12, 2013).

reserved for the Depressed Classes out of general electorate seats in the provincial legislatures, election to these seats shall be by joint electorates subject, however, to the following procedure

All members of the Depressed Classes registered in the general electoral roll of a constituency will form an electoral college which will elect a panel of four candidates belonging to the Depressed Classes for each of such reserved seats by the method of the single vote and four persons getting the highest number of votes in such primary elections shall be the candidates for election by the general electorate. And the representation of the Depressed Classes in the Central Legislature shall likewise be on the principle of joint electorates and reserved seats by the method of primary election in the manner provided for in clause above for their representation in the provincial legislature.

It became an important milestone for the Constitutional development of India.

According to him democracy meant fundamental changes in the social and economic life of people and acceptance of those changes without resorting to violence and bloodshed. For the successful working of democracy he suggested conditions such as absence of glaring inequalities in society, no privileged classes, existence of a strong opposition, equality before the law and administration, no tyranny of the majority order of the society and observance of constitutional morality and public conscience. Minorities must have certain safeguards, so that they feel secure and comfortable and be able to exercise their rights freely.

Ambedkar recognized nationalism as one of the most dynamic forces of modern history. It started with a different cause which was concentrated with the welfare of the lower strata of the society. He thought not only of political freedom but also of social and economic freedom.

The Drafting Committee was appointed by a resolution of Constituent Assembly of India passed on 29 th August 1947, entrusted with the duty of preparing a Draft Constitution and Dr. Ambedkar remained its Chairman. Under the craftsmanship of Dr. Ambedkar the Draft Constitution was prepared from basic principles passed by Constituent Assembly as Objectives Resolutionon 13 December 1946, so as to proclaim India as an Independent Sovereign Republic, define power and authority of the Sovereign Independent India, its constituent parts and organs of government, safeguards for minorities, backward and tribal areas, and depressed and other backward classes, to maintain the integrity of the territory of the Republic, to make full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind and its sovereign rights on land, sea, and air according to justice and the law of civilized nations etc. The Drafting Committee prepared the Draft Constitution by 4 th November 1948 consisting of 315 Articles and 8 Schedules. The Draft Constitution was prepared assimilating the reports of the various committees appointed by the Constituent Assembly such as The Union Powers Committee, Union Constitution Committee, Provincial Constitution Committee, Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities, Tribals etc.

The Constitution prepared by Dr. Ambedkar was founded upon ideas for the emancipation of the depressed classes, his advocacy of social justice and related subjects. He realized from his own bitter experience that without proper constitutional safeguards in the favour of the poor and the downtrodden cannot eat the fruits of freedom. This realization coupled with his rare

understanding of constitutional matters made him a social visionary and constitutional expert moulded in one.

Several members of the Constituent Assembly, as well as countrymen described Ambedkar as modern Manu, the framer of laws for the society according to Hindu mythology. Even former chief Justice of India, Shri PB Gajendragadkar said at Aurangabad in a public meeting, there is a poetic justice in it. He became the law giver of the 20 th Century the Modern Manu. It was further said that unlike the Law of Manu under which there was never a prosperity, the Constitution prepared by Ambedkar will make India virtually a paradise by removing the inequalities based on caste and the bane of untouchability.


The first and foremost Article in the Fundamental Rights Chapter of our Constitution is right to equality before the law and equal protection of law (Art. 14). The principle of guaranteeing to every person equality before the law and equal protection of laws was first included in the Draft submitted to the Sub Committee on Fundamental Rights by Ambedkar and Munshi. It said that -

All persons within the Union shall be equal before the law; and

No person shall be denied the equal protection of laws within the territories of the Union. There shall be no discriminated against any person on grounds of religion, race, caste, language, or sex.

Further any existing enactment, regulation, judgment, order or custom or interpretation of laws by which any penalty or disadvantage or disability imposed upon or discrimination made against any citizen shall cease to have effect.

According to Article 15 of the Draft, regarding prohibition of discrimination, it was mentioned that

All persons irrespective of religion, race, colour, caste, language or sex are equal before the law and entitled to the same rights and subject to the same duties.

In the explanatory note, Ambedkar observed that discrimination was a menace to be guarded against if the fundamental rights were to be real. In India, it is possible for discrimination to be practised on a vast scale and in a relentless manner, fundamental rights could have no meaning unless provision was made for protection against discrimination on the ground of race or creed or social status.

After discussions, the following was added to the clause 5.

In particular

(i) prohibition of discrimination against any person on any of the above grounds particularly in regard to the use of public wells, tanks, roads, schools and places of public resort;

(ii) equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters of public employment, or in the exercise or carrying on of any occupation, trade, business or profession; and for prohibition of discrimination against any citizen in the matter of appointment to public office or of acquiring or holding or disposing of property of carrying on any occupation, trade, business or profession within the Union. The clause also declared that all-preexisting discriminatory laws, regulations etc would cease to have effect on commencement of the constitution. 2

In the long discussions of the Constituent Assembly after the Draft was presented it was decided that the clauses intended to provide equality in various spheres should be incorporated in separate Articles so that there is more clarity regarding the same when the Constitution commences and the people are able to enjoy its benefits. The above clauses were incorporated as Article 15 - prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth and equality of opportunity in matters of public employment (Article 16).

Clause I of Article II (Section 1) of Ambedkar‟s Draft had laid down that any privilege or disability arising out of rank, birth, person, family, religion or religious usages or custom is abolished. This was incorporated in the Constitution as Article 18. (1) which says - No title, not being a military or academic distinction, shall be conferred by the State.

It was added that untouchability shall be an offence and punishable by law to provide teeth to the provisions and bring an end to the age-long practice prevalent in India. This was incorporated in the Constitution as Article 17, which starts by saying “Untouchability” is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden.

For whatever upliftment the people belonging to untouchable community has experienced, the credit goes to Ambedkar for his crusade to provide justice to the people depressed for centuries by enactment of Constitutional provisions for their protection.

In the draft prepared by Ambedkar prescribed that every citizen should have, within the limits of and in accordance with the laws of the Union, several personal rights safeguarded to him, including rights of freedom of speech and expression of opinion, of free association and combination, of assembling peaceably and without arms, of secrecy of correspondence and of free movement and trade. The freedom of the press was also to be guaranteed, subject only to such restrictions, imposed by law of the Union as might be necessary in the interests of public order or morality. It also said that no law shall be made abridging the freedom of speech, of the press, of association, and of assembly except for the considerations of public order and morality. It also laid down every citizen‟s right to reside and, subject to permission of the state, to settle in any part of India.

AMBEDKAR ON ARTICLE 21 Due process of law v. Procedure established by law

2 Draft Constitution prepared by Dr. Ambedkar from Dr. Subhash C Kashyap, “The Framing of India‟s Constitution- Select Documents”, Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi, 2010 p 248.

The most significant part of the Draft prepared by Ambedkar was that the state should not deprive any person of life, liberty or property without the due process of law. These were adopted from the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of United States. Forty percent of litigation in the United States Supreme Court during the preceding half-century had centered round the interpretation of the expression, “due process” of which it had been said that in the last analysis it meant exactly what the courts said it meant in any particular case. No other definition was possible.

Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar explained the uncertainties of interpretation to which the phrase “due process of law” would probably give rise. The expression was taken from American law where it had a chequered history. Originally it was confined to matters of procedure. Later it was expanded to substantive rights and when judges changed, they gave different interpretation to the phrase. He added that since the American Courts have not given unanimous interpretation to the phrase at one time confirming it to matters of procedure and at another stage, extending it to rights, and at a third stage saying that it would be subject to public utility, the sub-committee had assumed that Indian courts would follow the expression. But all the same he cautioned against the danger of it standing in the way of what might be called ex-propriatory legislation.

Goving Ballabh Pant who said that the expression should be avoided as it was ambiguous and capable of divergent interpretation: its retention might mean that the future of the country might be determined not by collective wisdom of the representatives of the people but by the whims and vagaries of the lawyers elevated to the judiciary.

BN Rau, during his visit to the United States of America and other countries, had discussions with Justice Frankfurter of the U S Supreme Court who was of the opinion that power of review implied in the “due process” was not only undemocratic (because it gave a few judges the vetoing legislation enacted by elected representatives of the nation), but also threw an unfair burden on the judiciary. 3 This view was communicated by B.N. Rau to the Drafting Committee which introduced a far reaching change in the clause by replacing the expression “without due process of law” by the expression “except according to procedure established by law”. Later during the debates about twenty amendments were moved each to replace the former phrase by later and later by the former. It was also said that such provision would strip power of the court to look into the merits and demerits of the ground on which the person was deprived of his life and personal liberty. 4

At this stage Dr. Ambedkar added, “I myself cannot altogether omit the possibility of a legislature packed by party men making laws which may abrogate or violate what we regard as certain fundamental principles affecting life and liberties of an individual. At the same time, I do not see how five or six gentlemen sitting in the Federal or Supreme Court could examine the laws made by the legislature and by dint of their own individual conscience or their bias or their

3 Subhash C Kashyap, “Framing of India‟s Constitution- Select DocumentsReport of the Constitutional Advisor on his visit to USA., Universal Law Publication Company, New Delhi 2010, p. 489.

4 Publications Division, Government of India, Constitutional Assembly Debates, Vol. VII p. 843

prejudices be trusted to determine which law is good and which law is bad. It is rather a case where a man has to sail between Chaybdis and Scylla and therefore I would not say anything.5

When the Final text of the Constitution was adopted, the text of Article 21 contained - No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

This Article after the commencement of the Constitution had a fascinating journey worthy to be mentioned. The concept of „personal liberty‟ first came up for consideration of the Supreme Court in A.K. Gopalan‟s case 6 . In this case, the Petitioner had been detained under Preventive Detention Act, 1950. He argued that the words „personal liberty‟ include the freedom of movement also and therefore the Preventive Detention Act, 1950 must also satisfy the requirements of Art. 19(5). It was further argued that Art. 21 and Art. 19 should be read together as Art. 19 laid out the substantive rights while Art. 21 provided procedural rights. It was also argued that the words “procedure established by law” actually meant “due process of law” from the American Constitution which includes principles of natural justice and the impugned law does not satisfy that requirement. Rejecting both the contentions, Supreme Court, by the majority, using the meaning given to the phrase „personal liberty‟ by Dicey, held that the phrase „personal liberty‟ in Art. 21 meant nothing more than the liberty of the physical body, that is, freedom from arrest and detention without the authority of law. According to majority the term law‟ as „State made law‟ and rejected the plea that the term „law‟ in Art. 21 meant jus naturale or principles of natural justice. Thus the Article could provide protection from executive arbitrariness but not from the legislative arbitrary actions, however unfair it might be.

This interpretation was followed for nearly next twenty seven years in many cases including the important case of habeas corpus 7 (Shivakant Shukla) during national Emergency (1975-77). But this interpretation was changed in the case of Maneka Gandhi 8 , which had overruled the former decision of A K Gopalan case. In this case, the petitioner‟s passport had been impounded by the Central Government u/s 10(3)(c) of the Passport Act, 1967. Here, the Supreme Court not only overruled A.K. Gopalan‟s case but also widened the scope of words „personal libertyconsiderably. Bhagwati, J. observed:

The expression „personal liberty‟ in Article 21 is of widest amplitude and it covers a

variety of rights which go to constitute the personal liberty of man and some of them have raised to the status of distinct fundamental rights and given additional protection under

Article 19

procedure. It cannot be howsoever arbitrary or fanciful, prescribed by law before a person can be deprived of his personal liberty. The procedure must satisfy certain requisites in the


21 does not merely require that there must be some semblance of

sense that it must be fair and reasonable.

Thus Article 21 was interpreted to contain the principles of natural justice as one of the components of law and American concept of „due process of law‟ crept into our Constitution.

5 Ibid. at p. 1000-1001.

6 A.K. Gopalan v. State of Madras, (1950) S.C.R. 88

7 Additional District Magistrate, Jabalpur v. Sivakant Shukla, AIR 1976 SC 1207

8 Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, (1978) 2 S.C.R. 621

The vision of Dr. Ambedkar regarding due process of law was fulfilled. This provides a guarantee against not only the arbitrary actions of the legislations but also when legislations are unreasonable, unfair and violative of natural justice. This has ushered in a new era of interpretation regarding fundamental rights and many ideals such as right to education 9 , right against inhuman treatment 10 , right to pollution free environment 11 , right to privacy 12 etc were said to be implied in Article 21. If such rights are to be enumerated it forms an unending list so as to enable the citizens to enjoy the various rights granted to them by the Constitution.

Ambedkar‟s Memorandum and Draft Articles on The Rights of States and Minorities (March 24, 1947), contained provision that subjecting a person to forced labour or to involuntary servitude shall be an offence. 13 Later it was agreed to provide for the abolition for abolition of slavery, traffic in human beings, beggar, and for the prohibition of the employment of children of child below the age of fourteen years in mines, factories and in other hazardous occupations.

The guarantee of religious freedom was contained in the Draft Articles formulated by Ambedkar. Each individual should have freedom to preach and convert, and further every religious association would be free to regulate and administer its affairs within the limits of law applicable to all. 14 Notable among these clauses was that expressly enjoining the State not to recognize any religion as state religion”. Similarly, Ambedkar was instrumental in liberating the untouchables from being denied access to temples. It was to ensure that freedom of religious practice did not come in the way of laws for throwing open Hindu religious institutions of public characters, especially temples, to all classes and Sections of the Hindus. These rights have been incorporated in Article 25 of the Constitution.

On the significance of incorporating the writ remedies in the Constitution, as provided under Article 32 right to move Supreme Court for enforcement of fundamental rights, Ambedkar observed that in a sense the writs were not new. Habeas corpus existed in the Code of Criminal Procedure; mandamus found a place in the Specific Relief Act; and other writs were mentioned in various laws. The essential difference in the position was that these laws could be amended and the safeguards taken away without difficulty by a legislature which happened to have a majority and that majority happened to be a single minded majority. In future it would not be possible for any legislature to take away the writs mentioned in this Article unless and until the Constitution itself was amended. This as claimed by Ambedkar was the greatest safeguard that could be provided for safety and security of the individual. He summed up the importance and significance of the Article thus:

“If I were asked to name any particular article in the Constitution as the most important – an article without which the constitution would be rendered nullity- I could not refer to

9 Unnikrishnan v. State of Andhra Pradesh, AIR 1993 SC 2178

10 Sunil Batra v. Delhi Administration AIR 1978 SC 1675

11 Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India, AIR 1996 SC 2715

12 Govind v. State of Madhya Pradesh, AIR 1975 SC 1378

13 Ambedkar‟s Memorandum and Draft Articles on The Rights of States and Minorities, Art 9 from Dr. Subhash C Kashyap, “The Framing of India‟s Constitution- Select Documents”, Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd, New Delhi, 2010, p. 584.

14 Ibid., Art II(1), (14), (15), (19) and (20).

any other article except this one. It is the very soul of the Constitution and the very heart of it. 15


Dr. B.R. Ambedkar had been the emancipator of the millions including Indian women. It is a matter of fact that the Indian custom had for the past centuries, denied the women rights equal to men be it social, proprietary, political or economical. It was partly a global phenomenon prevailing at that time. Many Indian laws, be it the religious personal laws enforced customarily or laws enacted by the colonial legislature, women were considered a chattel, under the guardianship of father before marriage, under husband after marriage and under son in her old age. For Ambedkar whose mission for his whole life had been to bring equality in the society and to end all discrimination based on grounds of caste, race, religion or sex, could not remain silent on the issue of equal status for women. He had very progressive thoughts for bringing equality for equality among all humans including women. During his tenure as Member of Executive Council of the Governor General, he had raised the issue of equal pay for equal work and for bringing necessary changes in the labour laws. These ideas were considered to be too radical at that time that these were not accepted. During the visit of the Southborough Committee on franchise, he raised the issue of equal franchise for men and women.

He laid down the foundation of concrete and sincere efforts by codifying the common Civil Code for the Hindus and the principle is capable of extension to other sections of the Indian society. The reforms introduced by Dr. Ambedkar through "Hindu Code Bill" have been adhered to and have been accepted by and large. He, by codifying Hindu Law in respect of marriage, divorce and succession, rationalized and restored the dignity to women. Prior to the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 and Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, the Hindu Law was uncodified in a large measure, though Hindu Women's Right to Property Act, 1937 was the subject legislative intervention. The Sharda Act is also worth mentioning. It has set the seal of authority upon that piece of social reforms, which the heads of orthodoxy were, imposing and impending.

In Hindu Code Bill, the principles of codification covered right to property, order of succession to property, maintenance, marriage, divorce, adoption, minority and guardianship. Needless to say, the Bill was a part of social engineering via law. It was by any standard of any time a revolutionary measure. It was really a first step towards the recognition and empowerment of women in India. Under these revolutionary measures, a woman will have property in her own right and be able to dispose of her property. Due to his differences with the then government led by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, whom Ambedkar felt was not eager to clear the Hindu Code Bill, tendered his resignation as Law Minister but continued to participate in the Parliamentary debates on the request of the Prime Minister.

15 Publications Division, Government of India, Constitutent Assembly Debates Vol. VII, December 9 1948, p. 950.

The credit largely goes to Ambedkar for equal status provided to women in the Constitution, be it in matters of equality before the law (Art 14), public educational institutes (Art 15), public employment (Art 16), right to be elected to legislature (for Parliament as well as the states), right to vote (Art 325).

Due to the untiring efforts of Dr. Ambedkar, India is among the list of progressive countries that had granted equal franchise based on universal suffrage based on adult franchise as early as 1950 when the Constitution of India came into force. Listed here is the year in which such rights to women were granted in European and American countries - France till 1945, Italy in 1945, Belgium in 1948, Switzerland in 1971, United States in 1920 the 19th Amendment extended the franchise to women. However, many Southern States pro-actively disenfranchised black voters through poll taxation, literacy tests and bureaucratic loopholes and full enfranchisement was realized in 1965.


Minorities are groups held together by ties of common descent, language, or religious faith or feelings. On the consciousness of difference the minorities base certain political claims, either equality with majority, or for special treatment based upon the recognition of these differences, or for autonomy.

Dr. Ambedkar was very particular on the issue of the rights of minorities. He felt minorities needed special provisions for their protection, representation, growth, education & development. He felt that the minorities should have reservations in public employment as well as in the legislature in proportion to their population. In his documents submitted to the Constituent Assembly he had raised issue of setting up a Commission for Minorities. The Commission shall be submitting annual report to the Parliament regarding the development status of the minorities, the levels of economic development, plan special schemes for their welfare etc and the status of the Commissioner shall be similar to the Attorney General. Though these suggestions were not considered when the Constitution was finally adopted but the Union government had created the National Commission for Minorities in the year 1993 vide The National Commission for Minorities Act, 1992. 16

The Constitution of India does not define the word „Minority‟ and only refers to „Minorities‟ and speaks of those „based on religion or language‟. For the minorities, special provisions are contained in the fundamental rights chapter that includes -

i. right of „any section of the citizens‟ to „conserve‟ its „distinct language, script or culture‟; [Article 29(1)]

16 Act XIX of 1992 of Parliament of India, passed on 17.5.1992, enforced with effect from 17.5.1993


restriction on denial of admission to any citizen, to any educational institution maintained or aided by the State, „on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them‟; [Article 29(2)]

iii. right of all Religious and Linguistic Minorities to establish and administer educational institutions of their choice;[Article 30(1)]

iv. freedom of Minority-managed educational institutions from discrimination in the matter of receiving aid from the State;[Article30(2)].

Dr. Ambedkar considered the depressed classes (referring to the untouchables among the Hindu community) to be minority and sought for applicability of the above provisions on them. He believed that the members of the depressed classes had always been discriminated and decried upon by the upper members of the Hindu community. He considered this to be responsible for their miserable life, illiteracy, poverty, backwardness. Thus the members of the depressed classes cannot co exist with the upper caste people in the same religious set-up and thus they should be given the status of minorities as separate from Hindu community and entitle them to benefits of reservation. But the Constituent Assembly referred to the depressed classes as Scheduled Castes in the Constitution and relevant provisions were prepared for their betterment.


Reservation of seats for the depressed class was absolutely necessary in the legislatures and other offices. Social and economic condition of the depressed classes prevented them from competing with the caste-Hindus, and without reservation they would not get any place anywhere. Seats reserved for the Depressed Classes would definitely be filled up by the members of the community, and they would be in a position to do something to safeguard their own interests of the fellow-beings as well as raise themselves to higher levels of thinking and living. They would be able to receive technical and professional education which should get them good jobs and gradually they would gain general respect and equal status. As members of the legislature and the executive they would be able to raise their voice against the situation in which they had been living for centuries.

It was the result of unrelenting efforts of Dr. Ambedkar that from the Poona Pact between him and Gandhiji (1932), we have Part XVI of the Constitution regarding Special provisions relating to certain classes. Whereas Article 330 provides for reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the House of the People, Article 332 is for reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Legislative Assemblies of the States. This was done so as to maintain proportionate representation from the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. There was an apprehension that such people, if not provided with adequate safeguards, could never get representation in the legislature as they are not forming majority and upper caste people would never allow them to get elected.

The Constitution had from the very beginning contained Article 16 clause (4), for making provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favour of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State. Later by First Amendment to the Constitution 1951, clause 4 to Article 15 was inserted which was meant for making special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

Ambedkar had passionately said that political tyranny is nothing compared to the social tyranny and a reformer who defies society is a more courageous man than a politician who defies Government.

Chapter V of the Constitution provides for the Comptroller and Auditor General of India. Dr. Ambedkar made a remark on the crucial importance of Comptroller and Auditor General of India, by saying in the Constituent Assembly that the duties of this functionary are even more important than those of the judiciary. The status and independence of the CAG is ensured through a variety of provisions, which need not be detailed here. An important point to bear in mind is that the CAG, at the time of appointment, takes an oath similar to that taken by the judges of the Supreme Court, that is to say, to “uphold the Constitution and the laws”, whereas a Minister has to swear an oath only to act “in accordance with the Constitution.”


Dr. Ambedkar in his speech on 4 th November 1948 dealt at length the salient features of the proposed federation. He said that the Draft Constitution embodied an undoubtedly federal constitution in as much as it sought to establish a dual polity consisting of the Union at the Centre and the State at its periphery, each endowed with its sovereign powers to be exercised in their respective fields. It had certain distinctive features differentiating it from other federations. Thus the Draft Constitution made it possible for the proposed Indian Federation to be converted into a unitary state in times of war or of grave emergency. Again the proposed Constitution provided a number of devices some taken from Australian Constitution while others were new- for overcoming the rigidity of inherent in federalism. These were inter alia, vesting the exclusive powers of legislation in Parliament over a wide range of matters; placing fundamental laws, civil as well as criminal, under current jurisdiction to ensure uniformity in all basic matters; a comparatively easy amending process; and the power given to Parliament to legislate, subjects even in normal times. Other special features were a single judiciary, certain common All India Civil Services, and a single Indian citizenship.

Refuting the criticism that the Centre had been made too strong, Ambedkar maintained that the Draft Constitution had struck a fair balance between the claims of the Centre and the units. While the Centre was not given more responsibilities and power than were strictly necessary,

conditions in the modern world rendered the centralization of power inevitable and the trend was bound to operate in India, irrespective of the provisions of the Constitution. 17

Part XVIII of the Constitution from Article 352 to 360 contains the provision for emergency situations including provisions for national emergency, emergency for states in case of failure of constitutional machinery and financial emergency. The founders of the Constitution were very much concerned about these provisions as it provided for rule by the President over the state (under Article 356 when situation arises that the state cannot be carried on in accordance with the Constitution) and thus feared it would lead to the breakdown the federal character of our constitution. They hoped that this would never be called into operation.

Quoted here is the historical speech of Dr. Ambedkar which he delivered at the time when many Members of Constituent Assembly had opposed this Article. At that time Dr. Ambedkar had said-

"I share the sentiments that such articles will never be called into operation and that they remain a dead letter. If at all they are brought into operation, I hope the President who is endowed with these powers will take proper precaution before actually suspending the administration of the Province. I hope the first thing he will do would be to issue a mere warning to a Province that has erred that things were not happening in the way they were intended to happen in the Constitution. If that warning fails, the second thing for him to do will be to order an election allowing the people of the Province to settle matters by themselves. It is only when these two remedies fail that he should resort to this Article." 18


The contribution of Dr. Ambedkar towards making of the Constitution of India just cannot be measured. At a time when India was passing through epoch-making events, Dr. Ambedkar had become one of the potent forces to reckon with whether in office or out of it. Endowed as he was with a towering personality, erudition, deep insight into constitutional law, with a firm grip on the intricacies of administration, indomitable courage and fearlessness, said Dr. Zakir Hussain, Former President of India.

When the Constitution was adopted, it was the largest Constitution of the world by its size. It is not only a legal document for ruling the country but a socio-political instrument that has paved the way for all-round development of the millions of the downtrodden people, chained by poverty, illiteracy, discriminatory social systems. The Constitution has provided the way forward for these people to be unshackled from those terrible conditions by providing them with certain fundamental rights. From his far-sightedness and statesmanship, today we can see these people

17 Publications Division, Government of India, Constitutent Assembly Debates Vol. VII, p. 33-37 and 42-43.

18 Publications Division, Government of India, Constitutional Assembly Debates, Vol. VII Dated August 4, 1949 p.


are knocking the doors of the court and getting their fundamental rights enforced, wherever the legislative and the executive has failed to do so.

Ambedkar knew that India being a very large and diverse country cannot be ruled unitarily but decentralization of power is needed so that at regional level, the problems of the people are solved and region-specific welfare schemes can be made for them. Thus he made the constitution federal in structure. From that he hoped, it shall satisfy the aspirations of the people to have a government at regional level and the diversity of the people on various lines such as region, area, language shall be respected.

Ambedkar was concerned not only about the community he belonged to but for all the victims of inequality in our country prevailing due to socio-economic conditions. Once Ambedkar had remarked about the rights of women by saying “I measure the progress of a community by the degree of progress which women have achieved”. “Ambedkar had visions of not only a casteless society, but one in which there was gender justice, labor justice, economic justice an equal distribution of opportunities. He stood not just for the Dalits, but for all victims of inequity. He had introduced gender justice in the Constitution something which even the United States Constitution does not have till then” once said Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, former Chief Justice of India.