Constitution of India

Article 147:- Interpretation – In this Chapter and in Chapter V of Part VI, references to any substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution shall be construed as including references to any substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Government of India Act, 1935

The Constitution of India is the fountainhead from which all our laws derive their authority and force. This is next Article in the series on constitutional provisions in order to aid our readers in understanding them.


147. Interpretation.—In this Chapter and in Chapter V of Part VI, references to any substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution shall be construed as including references to any substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Government of India Act, 1935 (including any enactment amending or supplementing that Act), or of any Order in Council or order made thereunder, or of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, or of any order made thereunder.


In the earlier stages of Constitution-making, no specific attention was paid to interpretational provisions. Neither the Draft Constitution prepared by the Constitutional Adviser in 1947 nor that prepared by the Drafting Committee in 1948 contained any specific provision regarding interpretation of the Constitution.

During discussions in the Constituent Assembly on 6 June, 1949, Dr. Tek Chand Bakshi moved an amendment to introduce a new draft article 122A with regard to the interpretation of the Constitution as under:

‘122A. In this Chapter, references to any substantial question of law as to the interpretation of this Constitution shall be construed as including references to any substantial question of law as to the interpretation of the Government of India Act, 1935, or of any Order in Council or order made thereunder, or of the Indian Independence Act, 1947, or of any order made thereunder.’

After discussion, the motion was adopted by the Constituent Assembly and the new article 122A was added to the Constitution.

The interpretational provision came up for discussion again nearly four months later, on 16 October, 1949. T. T. Krishnamachari moved the following amendment:
“That in article 122A, after the words ‘In this Chapter’, the words and figures ‘and in Chapter V of Part VI of this Constitution’ be inserted.”

The amendment moved by Krishnamachari was adopted and draft article 122A, as amended, added to the Constitution.

Draft Constitution as revised by the Drafting Committee (November, 1949) renumbered draft article 122A as article 147 of the Constitution in its present form.

The marginal heading of article 147 is somewhat misleading. The article does not lay down any principles, rules or guidelines for the interpretation of the Constitution by the Supreme Court or otherwise. The very limited purpose of article 147 is to clarify that reference to any substantial question of law as to interpretation of the Constitution covers interpretation of the Government of India Act 1935, the Indian Independence Act 1947 or any orders made thereunder. However, article 395 repealed the Government of India Act 1935 and the Indian Independence Act 1947.

Source: Subhash C Kashyap, Constitutional Law of India, Universal Law Publishing

Leave a Comment