Constitution of the Union of Burma

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Constitution of the Union of Burma  (1948) 
Constituent Assembly of Burma

Rangoon, Supdt, Govt. Printing and Stationery, Burma 1948.


WE, THE PEOPLE OF BURMA including the Frontier Areas and the Karenni States, Determined to establish in strength and unity a SOVEREIGN INDEPENDENT STATE, To maintain social order on the basis of the eternal principles of JUSTICE, LIBERTY AND EQUALITY and To guarantee and secure to all citizens JUSTICE social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, association and action; EQUALITY of status, of opportunity and before the law, IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this Tenth day of Thadingyut waxing, 1309 B.E. (Twenty-fourth day of September, 1947 A.D.), DO HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION. 5


Form of State

  1. Burma is a Sovereign Independent Republic to be known as “the Union of Burma.”
  2. The Union of Burma shall comprise the whole of Burma, including
    • (i) all the territories that were heretofore governed by HIS BRITANNIC MAJESTY through the Governor of Burma, and
    • (ii) the Karenni States.
  3. The sovereignty of the Union resides in the people.
  4. All powers, legislative, executive and judicial, are derived from the people and are exercisable on their behalf by, or on the authority of, the organs of the Union or of its constituent units established by this Constitution.
  5. The territories that were heretofore known as the Federated Shan States and the Wa States shall form a constituent unit of the Union of Burma and be hereafter known as “the Shan State.”
  6. The territories that were heretofore known as the Myitkyina and Bhamo Districts shall form a constituent unit of the Union of Burma and be hereafter known as “the Kachin State.”
  7. The territories that were heretofore known as the Karenni States, viz., Kantarawaddy, Bawlake and Kyebogyi shall form a constituent unit of the Union of Burma and hereafter known as “the Karenni State.”
  8. All powers, legislative, executive and judicial, in relation to the remaining territories of the Union of Burma shall, subject to the provisions of section 180, be exercisable only by, or on the authority of, the organs of the Union. 5


Fundamental Rights





18. Subject to regulation by the law of the Union trade, commerce and intercourse among the units shall be free:
Provided that any unit may by law impose reasonable restrictions in the interests of public order, morality, health or safety.







Relations of the State to Peasants and Workers


  • (1) The State is the ultimate owner of all lands.
  • (2) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, the State shall have the right to regulate, alter or abolish land tenures or resume possession of any land and distribute the same for collective or co-operative farming or to agricultural tenants.
  • (3) There can be no large land holdings on any basis whatsoever. The maximum size of private land holding shall, as soon as circumstances permit, be determined by law.

31. By economic and other measures the State may assist workers to associate and organize themselves for protection against economic exploitation.
The State shall protect workers by legislation intended to secure to them the right of association, to limit their hours of work, to ensure to them the right to annual holidays and to improve working conditions, and as soon as circumstances permit by promoting schemes for housing and social insurance. 5



201. Save as otherwise expressly provided in this Constitution or in any Act of Parliament made under section 199, every State shall have the right to secede from the Union in accordance with the conditions hereinafter prescribed.
202. The right of secession shall not be exercised within ten years from the date on which this Constitution comes into operation.


  • (1) Any State wishing to exercise the right of secession shall have a resolution to that effect passed by its State Council. No such resolution shall be deemed to have been passed unless not less than two-thirds of the total number of members of the State Council concerned have voted in its favour.
  • (2) The Head of the State concerned shall notify the President of any such

    resolution passed by the Council and shall send him a copy of such resolution certified by the Chairman of the Council by which it was


204. The President shall thereupon order a plebiscite to be taken for the purpose of ascertaining the will of the people of the State concerned.
205. The President shall appoint a Plebiscite Commission consisting an equal number of members representing the Union and the State concerned in order to supervise the plebiscite.
206. Subject to the provisions of this Chapter, all matter relating to the exercise of the right of secession shall be regulated by law. 5



Article 207. Any provision of this Constitution may be amended, whether by way of variation, addition, or repeal, in the manner hereinafter provided.

Article 208.

  • (1) Every proposal for an amendment of this Constitution shall be in the form of a Bill and shall be expressed as a Bill to amend the Constitution.
  • (2) A Bill containing a proposal or proposals for the amendment of the Constitution shall contain no other proposals.

Article 209.

  • (1) Such Bill may be initiated in either Chamber of Parliament.
  • (2) After it has been passed by each of the Chambers of Parliament, the Bill shall be considered by both Chambers in joint sitting.
  • (3) The Bill shall be deemed to have been passed by both Chambers in joint sitting only when not less than two-thirds of the then members of both Chambers have voted in its favour.
  • (4) A Bill which seeks to amend –
    • (a) the State Legislative List in the Third Schedule, or
    • (b) the State Revenue list in the Fourth Schedule, or
    • (c) an Act of the Parliament making a declaration under paragraph (iv) of sub-section (1) of section 74 removing the disqualification of any persons for membership of the Parliament as representative from any of the States, shall not be deemed to have been passed at the joint sitting of the Chamber unless a majority of the members present and voting, representing the State or each of the States concerned, as the case may be, have voted in its favour.
  • (5) A Bill seeks to abridge any special rights conferred by this Constitution on Karens or Chins shall not be deemed to have been passed by the Chambers in joint sitting unless a majority of the members present and voting, representing the Karens or the Chins, as the case may be, have voted in its favour.

Article 210. Upon the Bill being passed in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this Chapter, it shall be presented to the President who shall forthwith sign and promulgate the same.



211. The Union of Burma renounces war as an instrument of national policy, and accepts the generally recognized principle of international law as its rule of conduct in its relation with foreign States.
212. The Union of Burma affirms its devoting to the ideal of peace and friendly co-operation amongst nations founded on international justice and morality.


  • (1) Every international agreement to which the Union becomes a party shall be laid before the Parliament.
  • (2) No international agreement requiring or likely to require legislation in order to give effect thereto shall be ratified except with the approval of the parliament.
  • (3) No international agreement involving a charge upon the revenues of the Union shall be ratified unless the terms of the agreement shall have been approved by the Chamber of Deputies.

Explanation. – This section shall not apply to inter-governmental agreements or conventions of a technical or administrative character.

214. No international agreement as such shall be part of the municipal law of the Union, save as may be determined by the Parliament. 5



(See Section 72.)

I ..................... having been chosen a member of the Chamber of Deputies/Nationalities do solemnly swear (affirm) that I will maintain the Constitution of the Union and uphold its laws, and that I will faithfully discharge the duty upon which I am about to enter. 5



(See section 87)

Of the 125 seats in the Chamber of Nationalities –

  • (a) twenty-five seats shall be filled by representatives from the Shan State;
  • (b) twelve seats shall be filled by representatives from the Kachin State;
  • (c) eight seats shall be filled by representatives from the Special Division of the Chins;
  • (d) three seats shall be filled by representatives from the Karenni State;
  • (e) twenty-four seats shall be filled by representatives of Karens;
  • (f) fifty-three seats shall be filled by representatives form the remaining territories of the Union of Burma. 5



[See Section 96]

  1. Land Revenue:
    • (i) Land revenue proper.
    • (ii) Rents and fees of fisheries.
    • (iii) Royalty on petroleum.
    • (iv) Royalty on minerals and taxes on mineral rights.
    • (v) Royalty on rubber.
    • (vi) Capitation and Thathameda taxes.
  2. Duties of Excise on the following goods manufactured or produced in the State and countervailing duties at the same or lower rates on similar goods manufactured or produced elsewhere in the Union:
    • (i) Alcoholic liquors for human consumption
    • (ii) Opium.
    • (iii) Indian hemp and other narcotics; non-narcotic drugs.
    • (iv) Medicinal and toilet preparations containing alcohol or any substance included in item (ii) or (iii) above.
  3. Fees taken in Courts subordinate to the High Court.
  4. Forests.
  5. Registration.
  6. Taxes on trades and employments.
  7. Taxes on animals and boats.
  8. Taxes on entertainments, amusements, betting and gambling.
  9. Taxes under the State Motor Vehicles Taxation Acts.
  10. Irrigation dues.
  11. Interests on advances made from the State revenues and on State investment.
  12. Contributions from component parts to the State.
  13. Contributions from the Union.
  14. All fees, fines, sale proceeds and rents of property belonging to the State, recoveries of over-payments and payments for services rendered in connection with any or all matters enumerated above and also in connection with the following: -
    • (a) Administration of justice.
    • (b) Jails and convict settlements.
    • (c) Police.
    • (d) Education.
    • (e) Medical.
    • (f) Public health.
    • (g) Agriculture.
    • (h) Veterinary.
    • (i) Co-operative societies.
    • (j) Registration of births, deaths and marriages.
    • (k) Civil works.
    • (l) Receipts in aid of superannuation of State employees.
    • (m) Stationery and printing.
    • (n) Unclaimed deposits.
    • (o) Treasure trove.
    • (p) Tolls.
    • (q) Extraordinary receipts.

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