Friday, March 19, 2010

Right of Indians to draft their own constitution

British policy, until almost the end of the British Raj , was that the timing and nature of Indian constitutional development was to be decided exclusively by the British Parliament though , it was assumed that Indians would be consulted as appropriate. This was formally stated in the Government of India Act 1919 and reiterated in Lord Irwin's announcement of the appointment of the Simon Commission . The British only conceded the right of Indians' to frame their own constitution in the 1942 Cripps declaration. Indian unhappiness with this paternal approach described by Mehrota  -
   " All political parties in India in the twenties recognized the lesgislative supremacy of the Imperial Parliament . Even the Congress , which took its stand on the princple of self-determination , bowed to the soverign and and ultimate authority of Parliament . What it challenged was the assertion contained in the preamble to the act of 1919 that the the time and manner of each advance can be determined only by Parliament." Now, that it is a proposition , said Motilal Nehru , which we cannot accept ..., Liberals, independents, and Muslim leaguers all alike claimed that Indians should have an equal voice in framing the future constitution for their country , however much they might have differed from Congressmen in the manner of asserting that claim. The recent example of Ireland and the remarks made by Imperial Statesmen justifying the procedure followed in her case only strengthened  the claim of Indian nationalists.