The Constitution of India, as framed and adopted by the Constituent Assembly of India, has been criticized on the following grounds:
- Borrowed Constitution
The critics opined that the Indian Constitution contains nothing new and original. They described it as a ‘borrowed Constitution’ or a ‘bag of borrowings’ or a ‘hotch-potch Constitution’ or a ‘patchwork’ of several documents of the world constitutions. However, this criticism is unfair and illogical. This is because, the framers of the Constitution made necessary modifications in the features borrowed from other constitutions for their suitability to the Indian conditions, at the same time avoiding their faults.
While answering the above criticism in the Constituent Assembly, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the Chairman of the Drafting Committee, said: “One likes to ask whether there can be anything new in a Constitution framed at this hour in the history of the world. More than hundred years have rolled over when the first written Constitution was drafted. It has been followed by many countries reducing their constitutions to writing. What the scope of a Constitution should be has long been settled. Similarly, what are the fundamentals of a Constitution are recognized all over the world. Given these facts, all Constitutions in their main provisions must look similar. The only new things, if there can be any, in a Constitution framed so late in the day are the variations made to remove the faults and to accommodate it to the needs of the country. The charge of producing a blind copy of the Constitutions of other countries is based, I am sure, on an inadequate study of the Constitution”.
- Carbon Copy of the 1935 Act
The critics said that the framers of the Constitution have included a large number of the provisions of the Government of India Act of 1935 into the Constitution of India. Hence, they called the Constitution as a “Carbon Copy of the 1935 Act” or an “Amended
Version of the 1935 Act”. For example, N. Srinivasan observed that the Indian Constitution is “both in language and substance a close copy of the Act of 1935”. Similarly, Sir Ivor Jennings, a British Constitutionalist, said that “the Constitution derives directly from the Government of India Act of 1935 from which, in fact, many of its provisions are copied almost textually”.
Further, P.R. Deshmukh, a member of the Constituent Assembly, commented that “the Constitution is essentially the Government of India Act of 1935 with only adult franchise added”.
The same Dr. B.R. Ambedkar answered the above criticism in the Constituent Assembly in the following way: “As to the accusation that the Draft Constitution has reproduced a good part of the provisions of the Government of India Act, 1935, I make no apologies. There is nothing to be ashamed of in borrowing. It involves no plagiarism. Nobody holds any patent rights in the fundamental ideas of a Constitution. What I am sorry about is that the provisions taken from the Government of India Act, 1935, relate mostly to the details of administration”.
- Un-Indian or Anti-Indian
According to the critics, the Indian Constitution is ‘un-Indian’ or ‘anti-Indian’ because it does not reflect the political traditions and the spirit of India. They said that the foreign nature of the Constitution makes it unsuitable to the Indian situation or unworkable in India. In this context, K. Hanumanthaiya, a member of the Constituent Assembly, commented: “We wanted the music of Veena or Sitar, but here we have the music of an English band. That was because our Constitution-makers were educated that way”. Similarly, Lokanath Misra, another member of the Constituent Assembly, criticized the Constitution as a “slavish imitation of the west, much more – a slavish surrender to the west”. Further, Lakshminarayan Sahu, also a member of the Constituent Assembly, observed: “The ideals on which this draft Constitution is framed have no manifest relation to the fundamental spirit of India. This Constitution would not prove suitable and would break down soon after being brought into operation”.
- An Un-Gandhian Constitution
According to the critics, the Indian Constitution is un-Gandhian because it does not contain the philosophy and ideals of Mahatma
Gandhi, the father of the Indian Nation. They opined that the Constitution should have been raised and built upon village panchayats and district panchayats. In this context, the same member of the Constituent Assembly, K. Hanumanthaiya, said: “That is exactly the kind of Constitution Mahatma Gandhi did not want and did not envisage”. T. Prakasam, another member of the Constituent Assembly, attributed this lapse to Ambedkar’s non-participation in the Gandhian movement and the antagonism towards the Gandhian ideas.
- Elephantine Size
The critics stated that the Indian Constitution is too bulky and too detailed and contains some unnecessary elements. Sir Ivor Jennings, a British Constitutionalist, observed that the provisions borrowed were not always well-selected and that the constitution, generally speaking, was too long and complicated.
In this context, H.V. Kamath, a member of the Constituent Assembly, commented: “The emblem and the crest that we have selected for our assembly is an elephant. It is perhaps in consonance with that our constitution too is the bulkiest that the world has produced”. He also said: “I am sure, the House does not agree that we should make the Constitution an elephantine one”.
- Paradise of the Lawyers
According to the critics, the Indian Constitution is too legalistic and very complicated. They opined that the legal language and phraseology adopted in the constitution makes it a complex document. The same Sir Ivor Jennings called it a “lawyer’s paradise”.
In this context, H.K. Maheswari, a member of the Constituent Assembly, observed: “The draft tends to make people more litigious, more inclined to go to law courts, less truthful and less likely to follow the methods of truth and non-violence. If I may say so, the draft is really a lawyer’s paradise. It opens up vast avenues of litigation and will give our able and ingenious lawyers plenty of work to do”.
Similarly, P.R. Deshmukh, another member of the Constituent Assembly, said: “I should, however, like to say that the draft of the articles that have been brought before the House by Dr. Ambedkar seems to my mind to be far too ponderous like the ponderous tomes of a law manual. A document dealing with a constitution hardly uses so much of padding and so much of verbiage. Perhaps it is difficult for them to compose a document which should be, to my mind, not a law manual but a sociopolitical document, a vibrating, pulsating and life-giving document. But, to our misfortune, that was not to be, and we have been burdened with so much of words, words and words which could have been very easily eliminated.”
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