This book provides an overview of the content and functioning of the Indian Constitution, with an emphasis on the broader socio-political context. It focuses on the overarching principles and the main institutions of constitutional governance that the world's longest written constitution inaugurated in 1950. The nine chapters of the book deal with specific aspects of the Indian constitutional tradition as it has evolved across seven decades of India's existence as an independent nation. Beginning with the pre-history of the Constitution and its making, the book moves onto an examination of the structural features and actual operation of the Constitution's principal governance institutions. These include the executive and the parliament, the institutions of federalism and local government, and the judiciary. An unusual feature of Indian constitutionalism that is highlighted here is the role played by technocratic institutions such as the Election Commission, the Comptroller and Auditor General, and a set of new regulatory institutions, most of which were created during the 1990s. A considerable portion of the book evaluates issues relating to constitutional rights, directive principles and the constitutional regulation of multiple forms of identity in India. The important issue of constitutional change in India is approached from an atypical perspective.
The book employs a narrative form to describe the twists, turns and challenges confronted across nearly seven decades of the working of the constitutional order. It departs from conventional Indian constitutional scholarship in placing less emphasis on constitutional doctrine (as evolved in judicial decisions delivered by the High Courts and the Supreme Court). Instead, the book turns the spotlight on the political bargains and extra-legal developments that have influenced constitutional evolution.
Written in accessible prose that avoids undue legal jargon, the book aims at a general audience that is interested in understanding the complex yet fascinating challenges posed by constitutionalism in India. Its unconventional approach to some classic issues will stimulate the more seasoned student of constitutional law and politics.
Arun K Thiruvengadam is a Professor of Law at the School of Policy and Governance, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru, India.
INTRODUCTION I. The Constitution of India and Its Special Significance II. Approach and Orientation of the Book III. Brief Outline of Chapters 1. ORIGINS AND CRAFTING OF THE CONSTITUTION I. Introduction II. The Mughals and the East India Company (1550-1857) III. The British Raj and Colonial Forms of Constitutional Government (1858-1947)-A Bird's Eye View IV. The Nationalist Movement and the Build-up of Attempts at Constitution Making (1895-1947)-A Worm's Eye View V. Crafting a Constitution for Independent India: The Work of the Constituent Assembly VI. Conclusion Further Reading 2. THE EXECUTIVE AND PARLIAMENT I. Introduction II. Brief Overview of Relevant Constitutional Provisions III. Pre-history, Colonial Experiences and Debates within the Constituent Assembly IV. Brief Overview of Evolution of the Indian Political Landscape through the Prism of Electoral Results and Party Politics V. The Changing Role of Parliament in Indian Constitutional Democracy VI. Significant Judicial Pronouncements on Constitutional Provisions Relating to the Executive and Parliament VII. Conclusion Further Reading 3. FEDERALISM AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT I. Introduction II. The Colonial Period and Its Influence on Later Constitutional Developments Relating to Federalism and Local Government III. Understanding the Centralising Bias within the Constituent Assembly IV. The Structure and Content of Provisions in the Indian Constitution on Federalism and their Evolution Over Time V. The Structure and Content of Provisions in the Indian Constitution on Local Government and their Evolution Over Time VI. Conclusion Further Reading 4. FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS, DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES AND THE JUDICIARY I. Introduction II. Relevant Constitutional Provisions: Textual Categorisation and Analysis III. The Constitutional History of Provisions Relating to Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles and the Judiciary IV. The Supreme Court and Its Role as Guardian of the Rights Provisions (1950-2016) V. The Crisis of Backlog and Delay in the Indian Judiciary VI. Conclusion Further Reading 5. TECHNOCRATIC CONSTITUTIONAL INSTITUTIONS I. Introduction II. Reflecting on the Motivations of the Framers for Entrenching Technocratic Constitutional Institutions III. The Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General IV. The Election Commission of India V. The Introduction of New Regulatory Institutions in the Aftermath of the Constitutional Moment of 1991 VI. Conclusion Further Reading 6. CONSTITUTIONAL REGULATION OF INDIA'S MULTIPLE IDENTITIES I. Introduction II. Relevant Constitutional Provisions III. Relevant Constitution-making History IV. Post-independence Evolution of the Law on the Markers of Indian Identity V. Conclusion Further Reading 7. CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE I. Introduction II. Relevant Constitutional Provisions and Constitutional History III. Constitutional Practice in Relation to the Amending Power in India: An Overview and Analysis of Trends (1950-2016) IV. Constitutional Interpretation as a Source of Constitutional Change V. Constitutional Change through Constitutional Moments VI. Conclusion Further Reading CONCLUSION I. Introduction II. A Brief Overview of Prime Minister Modi's Tenure (2014-17) through a Constitutional Lens III. Assessing India's Constitutional Trajectory Across Seven Decades (1947-2017) IV. Concluding Reflections Further Reading