Article 3 in the Constituent Assembly of India Debates (Proceedings): Volume VII – November 17 and 18, 1948
The Constituent Assembly drafted the Constitution of India from 1946-1950. It sat for the first time on December 6, 1946, and in two years and 11 months, it met for 11 sessions spread over 165 days. On November 26, 1949, the Assembly adopted the Constitution, which came into effect on January 26, 1950.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad was the chairman of the Assembly and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was the chairman of the Drafting Committee. A majority of the Assembly’s deliberations were debates on the Draft Constitution, which was presented for discussion on November 4, 1948. Over the next year, Assembly members debated each clause in detail and proposed amendments that were either adopted or rejected by a majority vote.
The Assembly debated Article 3 on November 17 and 18, 1948. The Article discusses the “formation of new States and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing States.” It also says that only the president can recommend that a bill for this purpose be introduced in either house of Parliament, unless the president has referred the bill to the legislature of a state for its views about the proposed changes in its area, boundary or name. During the debate on this Article, Assembly members discussed how the bill should be introduced in Parliament and the extent to which the states should be involved.
What does Article 3 of the Constitution of India say?
Article 3 says: “Parliament may by law:
(a) form a new State by separation of territory from any State or by uniting two or more States or parts of States or by uniting any territory to a part of any State
(b) increase the area of any State
(c) diminish the area of any State
(d) alter the boundaries of any State
(e) alter the name of any State: provided that no Bill for the purpose shall be introduced in either House of Parliament except on the recommendation of the President and unless, where the proposal contained in the Bill affects the area, boundaries or name of any of the States, the Bill has been referred by the President to the Legislature of that State for expressing its views thereon…”
Further, the Constitution provides two explanations: first, in clauses (a) to (e) “State” includes a union territory except in certain cases and second, under (a) the Parliament can form a new state by integrating a part of any state or union territory with any other state or UT.
Which amendments did the Assembly members propose?
Assembly member K.T. Shah’s amendment proposed that every bill to increase or diminish the area of a state or alter its name or boundaries must originate in the legislature of that state. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s amendment proposed that any such bill should be introduced in Parliament only if it is recommended by the president. It also said that if the boundaries or name of a 'sovereign state' are to be altered, its 'consent' needs to be taken whereas in the the case of a 'province' (a state that is not 'sovereign'), the views of its legislature can be ascertained by the president. In response to Dr. Ambedkar’s amendment, Assembly member Hriday Nath Kunzru proposed that the views of both the sovereign states and the provinces be taken before the bill is introduced in Parliament.
What arguments did Assembly members make for these proposals?
K.T. Shah said that in a democracy the people affected by the change in the name, area or boundary of a state should be consulted and the change “should not come from the authority or power at the Centre.” This was important because the Centre may not be familiar with local conditions and because “the majority has not the monopoly of being always right and still less to be always just.” However, some members found Shah’s amendment (that the bill must originate in the state legislature) restrictive because it did not allow a motion to be moved by an authority other than the government of India or a private member.
Dr. Ambedkar said that the states were sovereign, whereas the provinces were not, and therefore, the government was not required to take the consent of the provinces to change their boundaries.
H.N. Kunzru stated that Ambedkar’s proposal to differentiate between the provinces and Indian states was inconsistent with several articles of the Draft Constitution. He said that there was no reason why states should have the right to veto their territorial re-organisation, but not provinces. Several members of the Assembly agreed with Kunzru and felt that the distinction between states and provinces was unnecessary and discriminatory.
Why did the Assembly members accept Dr. Ambedkar’s amendment?
Most Assembly members were in favour of Ambedkar’s amendment because they found more comprehensive than K.T. Shah’s. In addition, Dr. Ambedkar was given the chance to address the issues raised with respect to his amendment. For instance, he refuted Kunzru’s claim that the amendment was inconsistent with several articles of the Draft Constitution and explained the necessity of distinguishing between the provinces and the states.
Were any other amendments discussed during this debate?
Assembly member K. Santhanam suggested that in clause (a) of Article 3 of the Draft Constitution, the following words be added at the end: “or by addition of other territories to States or parts of States.” Dr. Ambedkar requested that the language of K. Santhanam’s amendment be altered to “or by uniting any territory to a part of any State.” Assembly members agreed and the amendment was adopted.
Focus and Factoids compiled by Keiu Kikas.
Constituent Assembly of India
Government of India, New Delhi
17 Nov, 1948