Sixteen Stormy Days
- Author: Tripurdaman Singh
- Publisher: Penguin Random House
- ISBN: 9780670092871
Sixteen Stormy Days tells the story of the first amendment of the Constitution of India, passed in June 1951 in the face of tremendous opposition within and without the Parliament, and the subject of some of Independent India's fiercest parliamentary debates. It was a pivotal moment in Indian constitutional and political history. The first amendment broke new ground to curb the freedom of speech-public order, the interests of the security of the state and relations with foreign states; enabled caste-based reservations in education by restricting freedom against discrimination; circumscribed the right to property; validated zamindari abolition; and, finally, created a special schedule where laws could be placed to make them immune to judicial challenge even if they violated fundamental rights. How did fundamental rights-the heart and soul of the Constitution-so ceremoniously and pointedly given in 1950, become the lacunae in the same Constitution and the cause of grave difficulties by 1951? What led to the leading framers of the Constitution turning on their own creation within fifteen months, and to the Government of India and the Congress party taking the extraordinary step of radically amending the Constitution they had piloted in 1950? Who got up to defend the newly granted fundamental rights when the moment came, and how did this climactic battle unfold? And, finally, what were the consequences? Were there lacunae in the Constitution, as Jawaharlal Nehru believed, or was man (and the government) 'vile', as B.R. Ambedkar had asserted before the constituent assembly? These are the questions this book seeks to explore, and within them lies the story it seeks to tell.