ROLE OF THE LEGISLATURE IN SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION
Evolution of legislature as a forum for social transformation
Historically, legislatures in various parts of the world have acted as a forum forspearheading stupendous social changes. The contributions of British Parliament, theNational Assembly of France and American Congress in protecting the society and statefrom executive tyranny and guaranteeing human rights and welfare have been enormous.In the Commonwealth and Communist countries, and in African and Asian countries,Legislature has donned the mantle of social transformation. Colonial India witnessedbusy law-making function of Central and Provincial Legislatures. Codification of criminal and civil law systematized the legal system. Social transformation was aimed atby passing legislation prohibiting the practice of sati, female infanticide and childmarriage; allowing widow remarriage; recognizing Hindu women's right to property andMuslim women's right to dissolve marriage; and introducing labour welfare measures.Earliest efforts of modernization were made in this period. The principles of Englishcommon law and statutes provided foundation for Indian statutes subject to adaptationsinto Indian conditions.
Drafting of the Indian Constitution was the biggest task handled by the ConstituentAssembly, which was a legislative body reset into its new role. Our Constitution, being aprogrammatic charter, requires extensive laws to activate the constitutional goals. This isthe third stage of building the Constitution on the central principle of justice, the formertwo being people's consensus in original position and the work of the Constitutional Hallto convert the consensus into the Constitution.
Since the Constitution is the heart andsoul of the contemporary legal system, filling its gaps through subordinate level policychoices and effectuating its intention calls for Legislature's transformation performance.
The Role of English Law in India
(The Hebrew University Press, Jerusalem 1966) at p. 36;M.C. Mehta,
The Common Law in India
(N.M. Tripathi, Bombay 1970) at p. 123.
for analysis of four-stage making of a constitution John Rawls,
A Theory of Justice
(1972) at pp.215-30; John Rawls,
(1993) at pp. 174-76; MDA Freeman,
Lloyd's Introduction to Jurisprudence
(7th Edn., Sweet & Maxwell, London 2001) at pp. 525-27, 577-81.