The Indian Constituent Assembly
BY Prof. M. VENKATA RANGAIYA M.A.
In commending to the All-India Congress Committee the ratification of the acceptance of the Cabinet Plan by the Working Committee, Mahatma Gandhi observed thus: “The proposed Constituent Assembly is not a free Assembly. There are many defects in the scheme, but since we have been fighting for the last so many years, why should we be afraid of defects?” In winding up the proceedings of the All-India Congress Committee on 8th July, Pandit Nehru stated as follows: “If I am asked to give my own point of view, I would say it (the Assembly) is not obviously something which we have desired and worked for. There are many difficulties and snags, and the scales are weighted against us. On the other hand, it is obvious also that it is not so bad....When India is free, India will do just what she likes….I do think that sometime or other in the future, we may have to summon our own proper revolutionary Constituent Assembly. That does not mean we should not take advantage of this and work it out to our own advantage.” It is clear from observations like these that, in the opinion of our national leaders, the Assembly in its present form and structure is rather defective and that we have to accept it only as a compromise, as we are at present not strong enough to dictate to all the parties concerned and get the kind of Assembly which we really need. In order to clarify this point a few observations may be made on the nature of the Constituent Assembly that is now meeting for framing the future constitution of the country.
1. This Assembly is something different from the kind of Constituent Assembly that has all along been demanded by the Congress–the only organization in the country that has been insisting on the right of India to have her constitution framed through such an Assembly. Twelve years ago in June 1934, the Working Committee resolved thus: “The only satisfactory alternative to the White Paper is a Constitution drawn up by a Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of adult suffrage or as near it as possible, with the power if necessary, to the important minorities to have their representatives elected by the electors belonging to such minorities.” At Tripuri the Congress resolved as follows in 1939: “The Congress declares afresh its resolve to achieve independence for the nation and to have a constitution framed for a free India through a Constituent Assembly, elected by the people on the basis of adult franchise and without any interference by a foreign authority. No other Constitutions or attempted solutions of the problem can be accepted by the Indian people.” In November 1939, the Working Committee passed the following Resolution. “The Committee wish to declare again that the recognition of India’s independence and of the right of her people to frame their constitution through a Constituent Assembly, is essential in order to remove the taint of imperialism from Britain’s policy and to enable the Congress to consider further co-operation……The Constituent Assembly should be elected on the basis of adult suffrage……” The resolution of the Working Committee on Cripps’ proposals in 1942 stated thus: “Even the constitution-making body is so constituted that the people’s right to self-determination is vitiated by the introduction of non-representative element. The complete ignoring of the ninety millions of the people of the Indian States and their treatment as commodities at the disposal of their rulers is a negation of both democracy and self determination. While the representation of an Indian State in the constitution-making body is fixed on a population basis, the people of the States have no voice in choosing those representatives, nor are they to be consulted at any stage while decisions really affecting them are being taken.”
It is clear from these resolutions that the Congress has all along been demanding a Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of adult suffrage by all the people of the country–in British India as well as in the States. It has always argued that it is the only democratic method of electing a constitution-making body and that only a body so elected would frame a democratic constitution for the country. The Assembly that has now been constituted is not elected by all adults. They have been elected indirectly by that small body of voters forming about 15% of the total population of British India enjoying franchise under the Government of India Act of 1935. And it is not known whether the people of the States will have any voice in choosing the States representatives. Even the Cabinet Delegation recognised the propriety of having the Assembly elected by adult suffrage in the following observations it made: “In forming any Assembly to decide a new constitutional structure the first problem is to obtain as broad-based and accurate a representation of the whole population as is possible. The most satisfactory method obviously would be by election based on adult franchise but any attempt to introduce such a step now would lead to a wholly unacceptable delay in the formulation of the new Constitution.” It is to avoid delay that Provincial Legislative of Assemblies had to be utilised as electing bodies. Perhaps, it is for the same reason that the Congress also accepted this mode of election and abandoned an important democratic principle. It remains to be seen whether the body thus elected will frame a really democratic constitution, especially when it has among its members the representatives of the Muslim League which does not believe in democracy being a suitable form of government for India, and the representatives of the States who are mostly nominated by the rulers.
2. The Indian Constituent Assembly is wanting in homogeneity. It contains within it a number of heterogeneous elements and some of these have a distinctly communal outlook. Communalism has been the bane of Indian politics ever since the introduction in 1909 of separate or communal electorates. The essence of communalism consists in the preference shown by an individual to the interests of his community over the interests of the nation, and in elections to any office being determined not by the personal merits of the candidates concerned but by the communities to which they belong. In a vast country like India with a population of four hundred millions, there is nothing surprising in people being divided by differences of race, religion, language and culture into numerous communities. But the mistake lies in regarding these communities as having no common political interest and taking them as units for determining the composition and structure of political institutions. It is now a matter of common knowledge that this was deliberately done by the British as a part of their policy of ‘Divide and Rule’. It took the form of communal electorates which were originally restricted to the Muslims but subsequently extended to the Sikhs, the Indian Christians, the Anglo-Indians and the Scheduled classes (in a modified form) even though, all along, the British authorities have been condemning them as undemocratic. The British should have realised by this time that genuine democracy would not be possible unless the system of communal electorates is abandoned. The Cabinet Delegation really showed a good deal of boldness in not including the Christians, the Anglo-Indians, the Scheduled classes and the aborigines among the ‘main’ communities and in merging them in the ‘General’ community. As Mahatma Gandhi pointed out, this was really an advance on the policy traditionally followed by the British. But the Delegation had not the courage to merge the Muslims also in the ‘General’ community for political purposes and to recognise, what almost every political thinker now recognises, that it is best that the distinction between ‘Nation’ as a cultural group and ‘Nation’ as a political group is observed. By such merging the real interests of the Muslims would not have suffered at all. The system of proportional representation would have secured to them their full quota of representatives. Now that they have been returned only by the members of their own community, there is no moral necessity for them to look at questions coming before the Assembly from the stand-point of non-Muslims also. They become a separate section and will fight for their separate interests. In this connection it is well to remember that the communal outlook has become so all-pervasive that even the Congress which claims to be a national body finds it impossible to completely ignore it. In all the resolutions passed by it on the subject of the Constituent Assembly, it expressed itself in favour of separate electorates in the case of communities that demanded them. And in the directive which the Working Committee issued to the Premiers in the Congress Provinces regarding the selection of candidates to the Constituent Assembly, it called on them to give consideration to the special claims of minorities like the Harijans, the Indian Christians, the Anglo-Indians and women. The result is that, in the actual choice of candidates, communal considerations played a much more important part than the personal merits of the candidates or their services to the country. Even the Congress, therefore, should be prepared to rise above these communal considerations. Otherwise there is a great danger of communalism creeping into the constitution that the Assembly has to frame. One of the most important questions that the Assembly will have to solve is that of Joint versus Separate Electorates. It is only a robust national outlook that will give a right solution to this question.
The presence of a number of nominated representatives of the States is another factor that makes the Constituent Assembly heterogeneous in its character. On many questions of fundamental importance their outlook is different from that of the representatives elected by the people of British India. This adds to the complexity of the situation. To add further to this complexity, there are several individual members on the Constituent Assembly who do not technically belong to any of the major or parties, even though they secured their election through the support of these parties. Many of them are eminent as jurists and as administrators and scholars of wide experience. But the defect with such eminent people is that they may not be prepared to easily surrender their individual convictions to the demands of party discipline, and a great deal of skill has to be shown by party leaders in handling them.
3. It is considered to be a merit of the Constituent Assembly that it consists of only Indians. There are no British or any other non-Indian members on it. In this respect it is an improvement on the Round Table Conference. But it is only physically that the British are out of the Assembly. Politically they are in it and they are bound to exercise a large amount of influence on its deliberations and decisions. This is due to the fact that, while the Assembly is sitting and carrying on its work, the British will continue to be the sovereign rulers of the country. All Governmental power will be in their hands, and who can deny the scope that is always open to those in power to do good or evil? One should not forget in this connection that the British will continue to exercise the rights of paramountcy over the Indian States during the interim period. This means that through the Residents they can influence the opinions of the rulers of the States and their nominees on the Assembly. Very many of these nominees will serve as mouthpieces for the British. Moreover, among the Dewans of Indian States there are several who in their political and official career have so completely identified themselves with the British authorities that it will be difficult for them now to look at things from a non-British and nationalistic standpoint. No man can completely get rid of his past. It follows him like his own shadow, however unconscious he might be of it. This is not to question the patriotism or the sincerity of the representatives of the States, but to remind ourselves that an Assembly consisting only of Indians need not necessarily be free from British influence under existing circumstances.
4. The Constituent Assembly is not constructed so as to facilitate quick decisions. This is due to the presence of heterogeneous elements on it and to the fact that no one element commands a working majority on it. It is true that, at the start, the Congress party will be in a majority, if by that time the representatives of the States do not join the Assembly. In a situation like this, it may become difficult to achieve agreement on the kind of constitution to be framed for the Indian Union, the Congress and the League being generally in mutual opposition, with the States’ representatives trying to hold the balance between them. Of course, there is less of this danger in the framing of Constitutions for the Provinces and for the Groups, as at that stage the work is done not by the Assembly as a whole but by the members of each section sitting separately. In sectional meeting the Congress will have a majority in Section A, while the League has a majority in Sections B and C.
The danger of prolonged debates and discussions leading perhaps even to stalemates and deadlocks looks to be all the greater owing to the particular procedure that the Cabinet Delegation has laid down in advance for the Assembly. The Statement of May 16th issued by the Delegation says thus in Para 19. VII: “In the Union Constituent Assembly resolutions varying the provisions of paragraph 15 (containing the basic provisions for the future Government of India) above or raising any communal issue shall require a majority of the representatives present and voting of each of the two major communities. The Chairman of the Assembly shall decide which (if any) of the resolutions raise major communal issues and shall, if so requested by a majority of the representatives of either of the major communities, consult the Federal Court before giving his decision.” The Cabinet Delegation was not prepared to agree to the view of the Congress Working Committee that the above procedure should be followed only in respect of major communal discuss. The provisions of para 15 relate to a number of questions on which acute controversies have already arisen. Among them are the questions relating to the powers of the Indian Union, and the grouping of Provinces. The Congress and the League are diametrically opposed to each another in regard to these questions. The condition that they can be decided only by the votes of the majority of each of the communities will surely result in inordinate delay. And in respect of what a major communal issue is references to the Chairman and to the Federal Court will be inevitable and will also result in delay. Not that delay is bad in itself: hurried discussions may be more dangerous. But the danger to be apprehended is that even prolonged discussions may not lead to final decisions. The kind of stalemate that characterised the talks at Simla in 1945 and 1946 may overtake the deliberations of the Assembly. This danger appears to be all the greater, as some parties in the Assembly may be led to expect that the British, who will still be in power in the country, will intervene, and resolve the deadlock by issuing awards.
It is not merely the procedure laid down by the Cabinet Delegation and the party alignments in the Assembly that may stand in the way of speedy disposal of business. The attitude of the Indian States towards the decision of questions coming up for consideration also leads to the same conclusion. It appears to be the view of the States that any major issue specially affecting them should be decided by a majority not of the Assembly as a whole but of the representatives of the States present and voting. The difficulty here as well as in the case of major communal issues is in drawing a clear line of distinction between what affects the nation as a whole and what affects the particular community or the States. But if such a procedure is insisted upon by the States, it may take several years for the Constituent Assembly to complete its work.
The truth of the matter is that rules of procedure like these transform the Assembly into a bicameral or a tricameral chamber–the Muslim section forming one House, the General Section another, and the States a third. It is only in name that the Assembly will be a single Assembly; in practice it will have to work in three sections. To insist on the securing of unanimity among them all, before major decisions are arrived at, is to encourage deadlocks. No Constituent Assembly so far known to history has this bicameral or tricameral character about it. Different parties are bound to exist in every assembly, but no great harm arises out of it so long as decisions are ultimately arrived at by the normal democratic procedure of ‘one man, one vote’. The working of the ‘Double Majority’ principle even in matters of ordinary legislation produced disastrous results in Canada in those days when the French and the English were regarded as two distinct communities and experience taught them to abandon that principle. It is well to recall in this connection the fact that the first great revolutionary act in France during the Revolution of 1789 was the decision of the States General which consisted of three separate houses or ‘orders’ to vote as one single National Constituent Assembly in which each question should be decided by a majority of such votes. It is this decision that made possible the framing of a new Constitution.
5. In almost all cases where Constituent Assemblies were convened to frame new constitutions, there was (1) the conquest of power from the authority that previously held it, and (2) setting up next of a provisional government with complete control over the administration of the State. It is such provisional governments that made arrangements for the calling of Constituent Assemblies and for their effective functioning. In respect of the Indian Constituent Assembly the process is exactly the reverse. There is first the Assembly convened by the very authority from which power has to be captured. The Interim Government is not a provisional government; it is not a government fully sovereign and responsible to an elected legislature but to the Governor-General under the Government of India Act of 1935. The actual transfer of power is to come last when the Assembly frames the Constitution and a new government is set up in accordance with that Constitution.
In all the resolutions so far passed by the Congress on the Constituent Assembly the process contemplated was the one that was followed in all other countries. The famous resolution–the ‘Quit India’ resolution–passed on 8th August, 1942 is clear on this point. It states: “The A.I.C.C. repeats with all emphasis the demand for the withdrawal of British Power from India. On the declaration of India’s independence a Provisional Government will be formed……The Provisional Government will evolve a scheme for a Constituent Assembly which will prepare a constitution for the government of India acceptable to all sections of the people.” The present Constituent Assembly is not the outcome of the process contemplated in this resolution.
It may be asked whether the absence of a Provisional Government holding real power makes any difference to the effective functioning of the Assembly. It does make a good deal of difference. It has already been pointed that the nature of power is such that those who wield it are in an indisputable position to bring under their influence several sections of the people of the country and, through them, several members of the Assembly itself. Men are not entirely rational. They are not always swayed by the highest ethical considerations. Many of them easily succumb to power. And this is the danger arising out of the continuance of British power while the Assembly is sitting. Unconsciously, and perhaps unintentionally, the British will continue to pursue their old policy of ‘Divide and Rule’ and put from behind the wires of the Assembly. A Provisional Government is absolutely necessary to prevent all this. Moreover, the revolutionary atmosphere surrounding to be deliberations of the Assembly and the excitement caused by the course of discussions and debates in it may even provoke disturbances outside. The task of maintaining peace and order will then fall on British authorities. A situation may arise–as it did in many other countries of the world–when the alternative is to suspend the meetings of the Assembly or to use a great deal of force to suppress disorders. In such an intriguing situation the presence of a Provisional Government with real authority and commanding the confidence of the people will be of the greatest service. Otherwise, the very existence of the Assembly may be in jeopardy.
One other point may be noted in this connection. No assembly can function unless there is a steering committee to guide its deliberations and take the initiative in putting forward desirable proposals. The body that is most suited for a purpose like this is the Provisional Government. This is just what happened in the case of several constituent assemblies elsewhere. The Provisional Government should occupy the same position in relation to the Constituent Assembly as the British Cabinet does in relation to Parliament. Otherwise, it will be difficult to obtain complete co-ordination of work. In several countries the Assemblies even appointed Provisional Governments before they took to constitution-making. Without such a government backing it, the Assembly may turn out to be a glorified debating society.
6. The question is often asked whether the Indian Constituent Assembly is a sovereign body. Different opinions have been expressed on this point, though in discussions like these it is best to avoid terms like ‘sovereign’ and, ‘sovereignty’, which are vague and ambiguous. What exactly the framers of this question have in their minds is whether the Assembly is free to frame any constitution it likes and put it automatically into effect. One has to say in answer to this that the freedom of the Assembly is not complete and that it is restricted in a number of ways. In the first place, the basic principle on which the Assembly has to frame the constitution have been laid down by the British Cabinet Delegation in the Statement which it issued on May 16th, 1946. The Statement says, for instance, that (1) There should be a union of India embracing both British India and the States: (2) The Union should deal with the subjects of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Communications (only): (3) It should have the powers necessary to raise the finances required for the above subjects: (4) The Union should have an Executive and a Legislature Constituted from British Indian and States representatives: (5) Any question raising a major communal issue in the Legislature (of the future) should require for its decision a majority of the representatives present and voting: (6) All subjects other than the Union subjects and all residuary powers should vest in the Provinces: (7) The States will retain all subjects and powers other than those ceded to the Union: (8) Provinces should be free to form Groups with executives and legislatures. (9) Each group could determine the provincial subjects to be taken in common. (10) The Constitution of the Union and of the Groups should contain a provision whereby any Province could, by a majority vote of its Legislative Assembly, call for a reconsideration of the terms of the Constitution after an initial period of ten years and at ten yearly intervals thereafter. These principles should form, in the opinion of the Cabinet Delegation and the British Government, the broad basis of the future Constitution of the Country.
Besides this the Cabinet Delegation’s Statement has laid down the procedure that has to be adopted by the Constituent Assembly, in carrying out its work. (1) The representatives chosen to the Assembly shall meet at New Delhi. (2) A preliminary meeting will be held at which the general older of business will be decided, a Chairman and other officers elected, and an advisory committee on the rights of citizens, minorities, and tribal and excluded areas set up. (3) Thereafter the provincial representatives will divide up into three sections. (4) These sections shall proceed to settle the Provincial Constitutions for the Provinces included in each section. (5) They shall also decide whether any Group Constitutions shall be set up for those Provinces, and, if so, with what Provincial subjects the Group should deal. (6) The representatives of the sections and the Indian States shall re-assemble for the purpose of settling the Union Constitution. (7) In the Union Constituent Assembly resolutions varying the basic principles of the Constitution noted in the paragraph above or raising any major communal issue shall require a majority of the representatives present and voting of each of the two major communities. (8) The Chairman of the Assembly shall decide which (if any) of the resolutions raise major communal issues and shall, if so requested by a majority of the representatives of either of the major communities, consult the Federal Court before giving this decision.
In addition to all this a special direction is given in regard to the future relations between Provinces and groups. The Statement lays down that as soon as the new Constitutional arrangements have come into operation, it shall be open to any Province to elect to come out of any Group in which it has been placed and that such a decision shall be taken by the new Legislature of the Province after the first general Election under the new Constitution.
In explanation of the Statement of May 16th the Cabinet Delegation issued another Statement on May 25th in which they observed thus: “The authority and the functions of the Constituent Assembly, and the procedure which it is intended to follow are clear from the Cabinet Delegation’s Statement. Once the Constituent Assembly is formed and working on this basis, there is no intention of interfering with its discretion or questioning its it labours.” The implication of this observation is that the Assembly has no right to proceed with its work on any other basis than that laid down in the Statement of May 16th. If it rejects this basis the British Authorities reserve to themselves the right of interfering with its work whatever this ‘interference’ may mean. Mahatma Gandhi also expressed the opinion that this view of the matter was the correct one, in the sense that those who became delegates to the Assembly well knowing the contents of the Statement of May 16th were expected by the authors to abide by the basis unless it was duly altered by the major parties. The proposals in this Statement should be looked at as constituting an award, although some of the members of the Delegation declared them to be recommendations. The Constitution which the Assembly has to frame should be in strict accordance with the Nine Principles referred to above, and the procedure it has to adopt should be in conformity with the procedure laid down for it by the Cabinet Delegation. As if to remove all doubts on this question the Secretary of State for India observed as follows in the Statement he made in the House of Lords on 18th July: “Having regard to the Statement of May 16th and the Constituent Assembly elected in accordance with it, they (the Indian Parties) cannot, of course, go outside the terms of what has been agreed to. That would not be fair to the other parties who go in, and it is on the basis of that agreed procedure that the British Government has said they will accept the conclusions of the Constituent Assembly”. It may frame supplementary Rules of procedure but no Rule that it frames should be opposed to that laid down by the Delegation. From this stand-point one has to conclude that the Assembly is not a sovereign body. It is not free to frame any kind of Constitution it likes or adopt any kind of procedure it wishes.
It has, however, to be pointed out that it is open to the Constituent Assembly to alter the fundamental proposals and the procedure laid down in the Statement of May 16th if the two major communities are agreed on such alteration. If such an agreement is forthcoming, it will be possible, for instance, to increase the number of subjects falling within the jurisdiction of the Union or do away with Sectional Meetings of the Assembly. But the question is whether there are any prospects of such agreement in the Assembly with its present composition and structure. The prospects are rather remote. The factors that stood in the way of agreement during the Simla talks in 1945 and 1946 are still in operation. It, therefore, follows that the Assembly’s right and power to alter the proposals and the procedure contained in the Statement of May 16th are only of a theoretical character. They will not be of much use in practice. The Assembly’s freedom is rather a restricted one.
This freedom is restricted not only in respect of the Constitution it has to frame but also in regard to putting into effect the Constitution which it frames. This Constitution does not come automatically into operation. The transfer of power by the British to the New Government that will be set up under this Constitution is subject to at least two conditions. The Cabinet Delegation’s Statement of May 25th says thus: “His Majesty’s Government will recommend to Parliament such action as may be necessary for the cession of sovereignty to the Indian people, subject only to two matters which are mentioned in the Statement (of May 16th) and which we believe are not controversial, namely, adequate provision for the protection of the minorities and willingness to conclude a treaty with His Majesty’s Government to cover matters arising out of the transfer of power”. This implies that until and unless the British are satisfied that adequate provision is made in the Constitution for the protection of minorities and unless the Constituent Assembly agrees to the terms of a treaty which is considered satisfactory from the British stand-point, the Constitution will not come into operation. This gives to the British a veto on the Constitution as a whole. Though there may not be any Britishers sitting in the Constituent Assembly, the imposition of these two conditions gives them effective power to shape the future Constitution. By the Statement of May 16th they have already taken the initiative in framing India’s Constitution, and by laying down these conditions they will influence the actual framing of it. Both these place limits on India’s weight to self-determination. At a Press Conference on July 10th Pandit Nehru is reported to have stated as follows: “If the British Government presumes to tell us that they are going to hold anything of India (and not build up) because they do not agree either regard to the minorities or in regard to the Treaty, we shall not accept that position. It will become a casus belli……In regard to the minorities, it is our problem, and we shall, no doubt, succeed in solving it. We accept no outside interference in it–certainly, not the British Government’s interference in it–and, therefore these two limiting factors to the sovereignty of the Constituent Assembly are not accepted by us.” It remains to be seen in what was these rival views can be reconciled.
The conditions imposed by the British are not the only obstacles in the way of the constitution framed by the Constituent Assembly coming into effect. Even if Muslim representatives belonging to the League agree to participate in the Constituent Assembly, their acceptance of the Constitution as it finally emerges from the Assembly is conditional. The resolution passed by the League on June 6th says: “The ultimate attitude of the Muslim league will depend on the final outcome of the labours of the Constitution-making body and on the final shape of the Constitutions which may emerge from the deliberations of that body, jointly and separately in its three sections.” There is a likelihood of a similar attitude being adopted by the Indian States. Their representatives may take part in the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly, but the accession of the States to the Union is not automatic. It is subject to negotiation separately by each State. When circumstances like these are taken into consideration, there seems to be some justification for the apprehension entertained in certain quarters that, though the Assembly may succeed in framing a constitution, its labours may meet with the same fate as those of the Frankfurt Assembly which framed a Constitution for Germany in 1848-49.
It is thus seen that the Constituent Assembly that is to function differs from the Assembly that has all along been demanded by the Congress. It is elected not by adult franchise. It is not free from the influence of the British. It consists of a number of heterogeneous elements. It is not organised to facilitate speedy action. It has some of the evils of bicameralism. It has not behind it the support of a genuine and powerful Provisional Government. It is not free to frame any kind of Constitution it likes or to adopt any procedure it considers desirable. There is also no guarantee that the Constitution it frames will automatically come into operation. These are some of the defects that the critics of the Cabinet Delegation’s plan have in mind, and perhaps these are also the defects which Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru had in mind when they referred to the Constituent Assembly during the deliberations of the All India Congress Committee on July 7th and 8th. It may be that the Assembly will be able somehow to get over these defects and that everything may end well at last. But all this shows that heroic efforts are necessary if the Assembly is to become a real success. It should also be realised by all the critics that if we have not been able to cure a better type of Assembly at present the reason for it is our own weakness. It is this truth that is enjoyed by Mahatma Gandhi in the following words of his: “If then the Constituent Assembly fizzles out, it will not be because the British are wicked every time; it will be because we are fools, or shall I say, even wicked. Whether we are fools or wicked or both, I am quite clear that we must look for danger from within, not fear the danger from without. The first corrodes the soul; the second polishes.” We have now got the kind of Assembly which we deserved, and the wisest course is to make the best use of it. It is up to the members of the Assembly to transform it into a really sovereign and independent body if the spirit that animates them is that which animated the members of the States General of France of 1789, a spirit which made them take the famous Tennis-Court Oath that they would not separate until they had drawn up a constitution for their country.
29th November, 1946.