Sources of Indian Constitution

Many call Indian constitution a copy paste work and a glaring example of plagiarism. Most parts of it have been copied from Government of India Act 1935. The chairman of drafting committee Dr. Ambedkar had said in this regard that – “As to the accusation that the Draft Constitution has [re]produced 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….

Nobody holds copyright on ideas of constitution and our founding fathers chose to incorporate what they found most suitable in those days. The sources of various features in Indian Constitution are as follows:

Government of India Act 1935
  • Federal Scheme (also from constitution of Canada)
  • Office of Governor
  • Judiciary
  • Public Service Commission
  • Emergency Provisions
  • Administrative Details
British Constitution
  • Parliamentary form of government
  • The idea of single citizenship
  • The idea of the Rule of law
  • Institution of Speaker and his role
  • Lawmaking procedure
  • Procedure established by Law
United States Constitution
  • Preamble
  • Fundamental Rights
  • Federal structure of government
  • Electoral College
  • Independence of the judiciary and separation of powers among the three branches of the government
  • Judicial review
  • President as supreme commander of armed forces
  • Equal Protection under law
Irish Constitution
  • Directive principles of state policy {Ireland itself borrowed it from Spain}
Australian Constitution
  • Freedom of trade and commerce within the country and between the states
  • Power of the national legislature to make laws for implementing treaties, even on matters outside normal Federal jurisdiction
  • Concurrent List
French Constitution
  • Ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity
Canadian Constitution
  • A quasi-federal form of government — a federal system with a strong central government
  • Distribution of powers between the central government and state governments
  • Residual powers retained by the central government
Constitution of the Soviet Union
  • Fundamental Duties
Other Constitutions
  • Emergency Provision Under article 356 Weimar Constitution(Germany)
  • Amendment of Constitution, South Africa
  • Due Procedure of Law, Japan

Many of the features can be said to have sourced / influenced / borrowed from multiple sources. For example, India has a federal scheme with strong centre. This feature was in GOI Act 1935 and also in Constitution of Canada. Similarly, Fundamental rights were not only influenced from US constitution but also the Universal declaration of Human rights. Further, the Constitution Declares the Indian State to be sovereign, democratic, republic and from 1977 secular and socialist. Each of these concepts is intertwined with the social and political history of civilization, battle of ideas and system of Governance. The American Revolution, The French Revolution, The Russian Revolution and India’s own freedom struggle contributed to these concepts. The ideal of Republic cannot be said to be borrowed from any one constitution.

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