Making Of The Constitution

Demand for Constituent Assembly

For the first time in the year 1934, M. N. Roy, a strong leader of the leftist movement, put forward the idea of ​​forming of Constituent Assembly in India. In 1935, the Indian National Congress for the first time officially demanded the formation of a Constituent Assembly to frame the Constitution of India. In 1938, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, on behalf of the Indian National Congress, announced that the constitution of independent India would be prepared by the Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of adult suffrage and there would be no outside interference.

Ultimately, the British government accepted this demand of Nehru in principle. This is known as the “August Offer” of 1940. In 1942, Sir Stafford Cripps, Cabinet Minister of the British Government and a member of the British Council of Ministers came to India with a bold proposal of the British Government for the formation of an independent constitution. This constitution was to be adopted after the Second World War but the Cripps proposal was rejected by the Muslim League. The demand of the Muslim League was that India should be divided into two autonomous parts, each with its own Constituent Assembly.  Eventually, a cabinet mission was sent to India by the British government. This mission turned down the demand for two Constituent Assemblies but it put forward a plan for the creation of such a Constituent Assembly, which satisfied the Muslim League to a great extent.

Constitution of Constituent Assembly

The Constituent Assembly was formed in November 1946 under the proposals suggested by the Cabinet Mission Plan. Elections to the Constituent Assembly were held in July-August 1946. In this election, Indian National Congress got 208 seats, Muslim League got 73, and small groups and independent members got 15 seats. However, the 93 seats allotted to the princely states could not be filled because they themselves had decided to keep the constitution separate from the Constituent Assembly.

Features

  • The total strength of the Constituent Assembly was to be 389. Of these, 296 seats were to be allotted to British India and 93 seats to the princely states. Of the 296 seats allotted to British India, 292 members were to be selected from the provinces of 11 governors and four chief commissioners from the provinces.
  • Seats were to be allotted to each province and princely state in proportion to their population. Broadly speaking, one seat was to be allotted for every one million people.
  • The seats allotted to each British province were to be determined in proportion to their population among the three major communities (Muslims, Sikhs, and general).
  • The representatives of each community were to be elected by the members of that community in the Provincial Assembly and voted in the manner of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote.
  • The representatives of the princely states were to be elected by the heads of the princely states.

Although the Constituent Assembly was not directly elected by the adult voters of India, representatives of each community got a place in it. Women were also included in this.

Functioning of the Constituent Assembly

The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly was held on 9 December 1946. The Muslim League boycotted the meeting and insisted on the demand for a separate Pakistan, so only 211 members attended the meeting. Like in France, Dr. Sachchidanand Sinha, the senior-most member in this assembly, was elected as the provisional president of the assembly.

Later, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected the permanent President of the Constituent Assembly. Similarly, Dr. H.C.Mukherjee and B.T. Krishnamachari were elected vice presidents of the Constituent Assembly. In other words, the Constituent Assembly had two Vice Presidents. 

Objectives Resolution

On 13 December 1946, Pandit Nehru introduced the historic “Objectives Resolution” in the assembly. It had a glimpse of the structure and philosophy of the constitutional structure. It said that:

  • This Constituent Assembly declares India as an independent, sovereign republic and declares the creation of a constitution to run its future administration.
  • All territories in British India, all territories included in the Indian states, and all such territories outside India and other territories as they may wish to join, shall be part of the Indian Union.
  • All the areas mentioned above and their boundaries will be determined by the Constituent Assembly. And for this, according to the later rules, if they wish, their residuary powers will be vested in them and for the conduct of administration, all those powers will be available to these states except those which will be vested in the Union.
  • The source of all the powers and authority of sovereign independent India, its integral parts and parts of government, shall be the people of India.
  • Justice, social, economic, and political freedom and security, equality of opportunity, equality before the law, freedom of thought and expression, belief, travel, freedom to form organizations, and establishment of public morality will be ensured for all the people of India.
  • Adequate security will be provided to the minorities, backward classes, and people of tribal areas.
  • The unity of the Union will be maintained intact and its land, sea, and air space will be protected according to the justice and law of all countries.
  • And this ancient land will be given its right and proper place in the world and its contribution towards promoting world peace and human welfare will be ensured.

This proposal was unanimously accepted on 22 January 1947. This influenced the nature of the constitution to a great extent. Its changed form became the preamble of the constitution.

Change by Indian Independence Act

Representatives of the princely states, who kept themselves separate from the Constituent Assembly, gradually started joining it. On 28 April 1947, six states had become members of the House of Representatives. On 3 June 1947, most of the representatives of other princely states took their seats in the assembly after accepting the Mountbatten Plan for the Partition of India. Members of the Indian part of the Muslim League also joined the meeting.

  • The assembly was made a fully sovereign body, which could make any constitution voluntarily. This act empowered the assembly to abolish or change any law made by the British Parliament in relation to India.
  • The Constituent Assembly also became a legislature. This Constituent Assembly became the first Parliament of independent India.
  • Members of the Muslim League broke away from the Constituent Assembly of India. Because of this, the total number of members fixed under the Mountbatten Plan in 1946 came down to 299 out of 389 seats. The number of Indian provinces increased from 296 to 229 and the number of princely states increased from 93 to 70. The State-wise membership as of 31st December 1947 is presented in Table No. 2.4.

other Works

  • India’s membership in the Commonwealth was verified in May 1949.
  • Adopted the national flag on 22 July 1947.
  • Adopted the national anthem on 24 January 1950.
  • On 24 January 1950, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the first President of India.

A total of 11 sittings of the Constituent Assembly were held in 2 years 11 months and 18 days. Constitution makers observed the constitution of about 60 countries and its commencement was considered for 114 days. A total of 64 lakh rupees were spent on the making of the constitution. The last meeting of the Constituent Assembly took place on 24 January 1950. Thereafter, the Assembly served as the Provisional Parliament of India from 26 January 1950 until the formation of a new Parliament after the general elections held in 1951–52.

To make it easier to understand, an example with the help of a table

Table No.2.1 (Allocation of seats in the Constituent Assembly of India (1946))

Sr.NoRegionSeats
1British Indian Territory292
2princely states93
3Chief Commissioner’s Province4
Total 389

Table No.2.2 (Results of the elections to the Constituent Assembly)

Sr.NoPartySeats Won
1congress208
2Muslim League73
3unionist party1
4Unionist Muslim1
5Unionist Scheduled Castes1
6Krishak Praja Party1
7Scheduled Caste Federation1
8Sikh (Non-Congress)1
9Communist Party1
10independents8
Total 296

Table No. 2.3 (Community-based representation in the Constituent Assembly of India, 1946)

Sr.NoCommunityPower
1Hindu163
2Muslim80
3Scheduled Tribe31
4Indian Christian6
5backward tribal6
6Sikh4
7Anglo-Indian3
8Parisyan3
Total 296

Table No. 2.4 (Rajya Sabha Membership in the Constituent Assembly of India on 31st December 1947)

Sr No.NameNumber of Members
A. Province (Indian Province) – 229  
1Madras49
2Bombay21
3West Bengal19
4United Provinces55
5East Punjab12
6Bihar36
7Central Provinces and Berar17
8Assam8
9Odisha9
10Delhi1
11Ajmer-Marwar1
12Coorg1
B. Indian states (princely states) – 703  
1Alwar1
2Baroda3
3Bhopal1
4Bikaner1
5Kochin1
6Gwalior4
7Indore1
8Jaipur3
9Jodhpur2
10Kolhapur1
11Kota1
12Mayurbhanj1
13Mysore7
14Patiala2
15Reva2
16Travancore6
17Udaipur2
18Sikkim and Berar Coorg Group1
19Tripura, Manipur and Khansi State Group1
20Uttar Pradesh State Group1
21Eastern State Group3
22Central India State Group3
23West India State Group4
24Gujarat State Group2
25Deccan and Madras State Group2
26Punjab State Group3
27Eastern States Group-14
28Eastern States Group-23
29Rest of the state group4
Total 299

Table No. 2.5 (Constituent Assembly e Session)

SessionDuration
First9-23 December 1946
Second20-25 January 1947
Third28 April – 2 May 1947
Fourth14-31 July 1947
Fifth14-30 August 1947
Sixth27 January 1948
Seventh4 November 1947 – 8 January 1949
Eighth16 May – 16 June 1949
Ninth30 July – 18 September 1949
Tenth6-17 October 1949
Eleventh16-26 November 1949

Gallery

Jawaharlal Nehru and other members taking pledge during the midnight session of the Constituent Assembly of India held on 14 and 15 August 1947.
Jawaharlal Nehru and other members took pledges during the midnight session of the Constituent Assembly of India held on 14 and 15 August 1947.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, chairman, with other members of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly of India, on 29 August 1947.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, chairman, with other members of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly of India, on 29 August 1947.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, chairman of the Drafting Committee, presenting the final draft of the Indian Constitution to Dr. Rajendra Prasad, President of constituent assembly on 25 November 1949.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, chairman of the Drafting Committee, presented the final draft of the Indian Constitution to Dr. Rajendra Prasad, President of the constituent assembly on 25 November 1949.
Constituent Assembly of India.
Constituent Assembly of India.
Jawaharlal Nehru addressing the constituent assembly in 1946.
Jawaharlal Nehru addressed the constituent assembly in 1946.