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Historical documents

57 High Commission in New Delhi to Department of External Affairs

Cablegram 95 NEW DELHI, 26 February 1948

The draft constitution published today describes India as a
sovereign republic but in a footnote, (which seems to be intended
to obtain public reactions), the draft constitution explains that
the future relationship between the republic and the British
Commonwealth remains to be decided subsequently.

Other features of the draft are:-

(1) India is described as a Union of States divided into three
classes corresponding to the existing Governor's provinces, the
existing Chief Commissioner's provinces and the Indian states
which have acceded. Kashmir and the United States of Kathiawar are
specifically listed.

(2) Indian territory includes the Andamans and Nicobar Islands,
and 'any other territory which may be acquired'.

(3) There is a provision for Indian citizenship which appears to
be designed inter alia to confer citizenship on overseas Indians
who settled abroad before 1st April, 1947.

(4) Fundamental rights including those of equality, religion and
property are guaranteed. Untouchability is abolished.

(5) All executive power is vested in a President but this will be
exercised on the advice of a Council of Ministers, which, under
the Prime Minister is responsible to the House of the People.

There will be a Council of States.

(6) A Supreme Court of India will exercise original appellate and
advisory jurisdiction. It may be only accidental that the
provisions in the draft dealing with the cessation of Privy
Council appeals incorporates a specific reference to 'His Majesty
in Council'; the draft contains nothing else which suggests
continued association with the British Commonwealth except,
perhaps, two clauses which permit the retention under certain
circumstances of laws now in force.

(7) For ten years seats are reserved for the Muslim community, the
scheduled castes and tribes and Christians.

(8) Relations between the Centre and the States are defined. Under
certain circumstances the centre may legislate with respect to any
listed State power, e.g. those which assume national importance.

Essential supplies and displaced persons are on the concurrent
list for five years.

No date has been specified for the coming into operation of the

The draft will probably be debated in May. Copy by bag.

[AA: A5009/2, A/6/1/1]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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