In this Chapter and in Chapter V of Part VI, references to any substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution shall be construed as including references to any substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Government of India Act, 1935 (including any enactment amending or supplementing that Act), or of any Order in Council or order made thereunder, or of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, or of any order made thereunder.

Debate Summary

Draft Article 122A (Article 147) was not included in the Draft Constitution of India, 1948. A member moved the following amendment:

122-A. Interpretation. In this Chapter, references to any substantial question of law to the interpretation of this Constitution shall be construed as including references to any substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Government of India Act, 1935, or of any Order in Council or order made thereunder or of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, or of any order made thereunder.'

 

Draft Article 122A was debated on 6th June 1949 and 16th October 1949. It stipulated that references to substantial questions of law involving 'the interpretation of this Constitution’ should be construed to include cases involving the interpretation of the Government of India Act, 1935 and the Indian Independence Act, 1947.

 

The proposing member argued if the scope of the expression ‘as to the interpretation of this Constitution’ was not expanded, pending cases which involved the interpretation of the 1935 and 1947 Acts could no longer be heard on appeal. The existing law allowed cases being heard in the Privy Council to be automatically transferred to the Supreme Court once the Constitution came into force. However, pending cases in the High Courts involving similar issues could only be heard on appeal by the Federal Court, which would cease to exist after the Constitution came into force. This amendment received the support of the Chairman of the Drafting Committee.

 

One member argued that the 1935 and 1947 Acts would lapse on the date that the Constitution came into force, and that it was improper to force the courts to interpret dead constitutions.  A member of the Drafting Committee responded that the proposed Draft Article would not impact the validity of the new Constitution. Citing instances where the legality of deeds executed by the Mughal courts arose years after lapsing, he argued that such a provision protected the interests of persons involved in disputes arising under the old constitutions.

 

Draft Article 122A was accepted by the Assembly and adopted on 6th June 1949.

 

Subsequently, the Draft Article was amended to apply to cases being referred for appeal to the High Courts. This amendment was adopted on 16th October 1949.