Making of the Constitution Assembly


The Indian National Congress had officially, for the first time, demanded a Constituent Assembly in 1935, the idea was the brainchild of M. N. Roy.

The British government accepted the demand in the ‘August Offer’ of 1940 and finally ‘the Cripps Proposal’ on the framing of Constitution came out in 1942.

Under the ‘Cabinet Mission Plan’ the Constituent Assembly came into existence in November, 1946.

Its main features were:

  1. Total strength=389. Out of these 296 were allotted to British-India and 93 to Princely states.
  2. Every province and Princely state was allotted seats in proportion to their population.
  3. The seats for British were divided among Muslims, Sikhs and General.
  4. The representatives from each community were elected by voting in the provincial legislative assembly.
  5. The heads of Princely states nominated their members. The elections were held in July-Au-gust, 1946.

The first meeting was held on December 9, 1946 with only 211 members (Muslim league boycotted).

Princely states decided to stay away so their seats remained vacant.

However, after the acceptance of Mountbatten plan on June 3, 1947 most of the Princely states joined. The other significant changes were declaring the assembly to be a fully sovereign body and also a legislative body.

Functions

The Constituent Assembly drafted the Constitution and also:

  • Ratified India’s membership of the Commonwealth in May 1949.
  • Adopted the National Flag on July 22, 1947. It was designed by Pingali Venkiah.
  • Adopted the National song on January 24, 1950.
  • Adopted the National anthem on January 24, 1950.
  • Elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as the first President of India on January 24, 1950.

Drafting committee

The Constituent Assembly contained many committees for various purposes such as House committee, Rules of Procedure committee etc. but the most important of these was the Drafting Committee.

It was set up on August 29, 1947 and was tasked with preparing a draft of the new Constitution.

The seven members of the Committee were:

  1. Dr. B R Ambedkar (Chairman)
  2. N Gopalaswamy Ayyangar
  3. Dr. K M Munshi
  4. T. T. Krishnamachari
  5. Syed Mohammmad Sadullah
  6. N. Madhav Rau
  7. Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar

The first draft of the Constitution was published in February, 1948. The people had eight months to discuss the draft. After discussions, suggestions and proposed amendments were considered and a second draft was prepared by the Assembly. The second draft was published in October, 1948. The Drafting Committee met for a total of 141 days and took less than six months to prepare its draft.

Enactment of Constitution

  • Enactment and enforcement of the Constitution took place on November 26, 1949 and January 26, 1950, respectively. However,some parts had come into force on 26 November, 1949 itself with the passing of the motion ‘the Constitution as settled by the Assembly be passed’.
  • In all 284 of the Assembly signed the official copies of the Indian Constitution which came into effect on Jan 26, 1950.
  • The Constitution adopted on Nov. 26, 1949, contained a Preamble, 395 Articles and 8 Schedules.
  • The Constituent Assembly took 2 years 11 months and 18 days to complete the Constitution.