This chapter focuses on the antecedents of the Indian Constitution. It first examines the various charters and laws that established the structure of power in colonial India from 1600 to 1947. It then considers the attempts by Indian groups during the freedom struggle to draw up constitutions or articulate claims against the State, before turning to a discussion of constitutional practice in colonial India. The article treats the Indian Constitution as a set of interactions between constitutional texts, constitutional aspirations, and the quotidian practice of constitutional law, rather than a succession of legislation. This approach shifts from the idea that the Constitution was a product of grand ‘consensus underwritten by nationalism’ to that of the Constitution as a product of a series of conflicts.
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