Making of Indian Constitution

Demand For as Constitution Assembly

Who was and when first-time demand constituent assembly?

Dear reader for finding the answer to this question I searched many sources to give you the correct information. After reading six to seven sources all of them are correct in their view.

In 1895 Bal Gangadhar Tilak demanded the constituent assembly in the ‘Swarajya Bill’.

In 1922, Mahatma Gandhi expressed the idea of a Constituent Assembly. According to him, the constitution of India should be according to the will of the people of India.

In 1922, a proposal was made by Mrs. Annie Besant to organize a conference for the making of the constitution in the joint meeting of both houses of the Central Legislature at Shimla.

First Attempt of Constitution Making

On April 24, 1923, the Commonwealth of India Bill was drafted in a national convention held at the court by Tej Bahadur Sapru.

The same bill was introduced in January 1925 in a meeting presided over by Gandhi in Delhi. The same bill was sent to the Parliament of Britain, but with the defeat of the Labor Party government, the bill had no future.

A resolution was presented by Motilal Nehru at the Bombay session of the Congress on 17 May 1927.

In which constitution-making was called for. A committee was formed under the chairmanship of Motilal Nehru.

This committee presented the Nehru Report on 10 August 1928, which was the first attempt at constitution-making. The Nehru Report is called the ‘blueprint’ of the Constitution.

Official Demand Of Constituent Assembly

The idea of a Constituent Assembly was first formally introduced in 1934 by Manvendranath Roy (MN Roy).

The constitution of a Constituent Assembly was first demanded by the Indian National Congress in 1935 to frame the Constitution of India.

(Note For Student: In any exam paper-setter also know all of this that’s why they set accordingly. They don’t give you confusing options.)

In 1938, Jawaharlal Nehru, on behalf of the INC declared that ‘the Constitution of free India must be framed, without outside interference, by a Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of the adult franchise’.

The demand was finally accepted in principle by the British Government in what is known as the ‘August Offer’ of 1940.

In 1942, Sir Stafford Cripps, a member of the cabinet, came to India with a draft proposal of the British Government on the framing of an independent Constitution to be adopted after World War II.

The Cripps Proposals were rejected by the Muslim League which wanted India to be divided into two autonomous states with two separate Constituent Assemblies.

Finally, a Cabinet Mission was sent to India. While it rejected the idea of two Constituent Assemblies, it put forth a scheme for the Constituent Assembly which more or less satisfied the Muslim League.

Composition of The Constituent Assembly

If you feel hard to read this topic I write one more simple article on it. Read the composition of the constituent assembly in the table and simplify the format here.

The Constituent Assembly was constituted in November 1946 under the scheme formulated by the Cabinet Mission Plan. The features of the scheme were:

  1. 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. Out of 296 seats allotted to British India, 292 members were to be drawn from the eleven governors’ provinces and four from the four chief commissioners’ provinces, one from each.
    • Chief Commissioners’ provinces include Delhi, Ajmer-Merwara, Coorg, And British Baluchistan.
  2. Each province and princely state (or group of states in the case of small states) were to be allotted seats in proportion to their respective population. Roughly, one seat was to be allotted for every million population.
  3. Seats allocated to each British province were to be divided among the three principal communities Muslims, Sikhs, and general (all except Muslims and Sikhs), in proportion to their population.
  4. The representatives of each community were to be elected by members of that community in the provincial legislative assembly and voting was to be by the method of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.
  5. The representatives of princely states were to be nominated by the heads of the princely states.

It is thus clear that the Constituent Assembly was to be a partly elected and partly nominated body.

Moreover, the members were to be indirectly elected by the members of the provincial assemblies, who themselves were elected on a limited franchise.

The elections to the Constituent Assembly (for 296 seats allotted to the British Indian Provinces) were held in July-August 1946.

The Indian National Congress won 208 seats, the Muslim League 73 seats, and the small groups and independents got the remaining 15 seats.

However, the 93 seats allotted to the princely states were not filled as they decided to stay away from the Constituent Assembly.

Although the Constituent Assembly was not directly elected by the people of India on the basis of adult franchise, the Assembly comprised representatives of all sections of Indian Society-Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis, Anglo-Indians, Indian Christians, SCs, STs including women of all these sections.

The Assembly included all important personalities of India at that time, with the exception of Mahatma Gandhi.

Working of The Constituent Assembly

The Constituent Assembly held its first meeting on December 9, 1946. The Muslim League boycotted the meeting and insisted on a separate state of Pakistan.

The meeting was thus attended by only 211 members(Laxmikant Book).

(some source says members are 207, 208, and 210. I tried to find the accurate answer but didn’t get it, One government magazine says members are 210) (Here you can go with 210 or 211)

Dr. Sachchidanand Sinha, the oldest member, was elected as the temporary President of the Assembly, following the French practice.

Later, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the President of the Assembly.

Similarly, both H.C. Mukherjee and V.T. Krishnamachari were elected as the Vice-Presidents of the Assembly. In other words, the Assembly had two Vice-Presidents.

  1. Who was the temporary president(Pro-Tem Speaker) of the constituent assembly?

    Dr. Sachchidanand Sinha (Oldest Member of the Assembly).

  2. Concept of Pro-Tem Speaker take from which country?

    The pro-tem speaker takes from French constitutional practice.

  3. Who was the president of the constitutional assembly?

    Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as president

  4. Who was the vice president of the constitutional assembly?

    Two vice presidents, H.C. Mukherjee, and V.T. Krishnamachari

Objectives Resolution

On December 13, 1946, Jawaharlal N ehru moved the historic ‘Objectives Resolution’ in the Assembly. It laid down the fundamentals and philosophy of the constitutional structure. It read:

  1. “This Constituent Assembly declares its firm and solemn resolve to proclaim India as an Independent Sovereign Republic and to draw up for her future governance a Constitution:
  2. Wherein the territories that now comprise British India, the territories that now form the Indian States, and such other parts of India as are outside India and the States as well as other territories as are willing to be constituted into independent sovereign India, shall be a Union of them all; and
  3. wherein the said territories, whether with their present boundaries or with such others as may be determined by the Constituent Assembly and thereafter according to the law of the Constitution, shall possess and retain the status of autonomous units together with residuary powers and exercise all powers and functions of Government and administration save and except such powers and functions as are vested in or assigned to the Union or as are inherent or implied in the Union or resulting therefrom; and
  4. wherein all power and authority of Sovereign Independent India, its constituent parts, and organs of Government are derived from the people; and
  5. wherein shall be guaranteed and secured to all the people of India justice, social, economic, and political; equality of status of opportunity, and before the law; freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, association and action, subject to the law and public morality; and
  6. wherein adequate safeguards shall be provided for minorities, backward and tribal areas, depressed and other backward classes; and
  7. whereby shall be maintained the integrity of the territory of the Republic and its sovereign rights on land, sea, and air according to justice and the law of civilized nations; and
  8. This ancient land attains its rightful and honored place in the world and makes its full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind.”

This Resolution was unanimously adopted by the Assembly on January 22, 1947. It influenced the eventual shaping of the Constitution through all its subsequent stages. Its modified version forms the Preamble of the present Constitution.

Changes By the Independence Act

The representatives of the princely states, who had stayed away from the Constituent Assembly, gradually joined it.

On April 28, 1947, representatives of the six states were part of the Assembly.

After the acceptance of the Mountbatten Plan of June 3, 1947, for a partition of the country, the representatives of most of the other princely states took their seats in the Assembly.

The members of the Muslim League from the Indian Dominion also entered the Assembly.

The Indian Independence Act of 1947 made the following three changes in the position of the Assembly:

  1. The Assembly was made a fully sovereign body, which could frame any Constitution it pleased. The act empowered the Assembly to abrogate or alter any law made by the British Parliament in relation to India.
  2. The Assembly also became a legislative body. In other words, two separate functions were assigned to the Assembly, that is, making a constitution for free India and enacting ordinary laws for the country. These two tasks were to be performed on separate days. Thus, the Assembly became the first Parliament of free India (Dominion Legislature). Whenever the Assembly met as the Constituent body it was chaired by Dr. Rajendra Prasad and when it met as the legislative body, it was chaired by G V Mavlankar. These two functions continued till November 26, 1949, when the task of making the Constitution was over.
  3. The Muslim League members (hailing from the areas included in Pakistan) withdrew from the Constituent Assembly for India. Consequently, the total strength of the Assembly came down to 299 as against 389 originally fixed in 1946 under the Cabinet Mission Plan. The strength of the Indian provinces (formerly British Provinces) was reduced from 296 to 229 and those of the princely states from 93 to 70. The state-wise membership of the Assembly as on December 31, 1947.

Table 5: Sessions Of The Constituent Assembly At A Glance

First Session9-23 December 1946
Second Session20-25 January 1947
Third Session28 April – 2 May 1947
Forth Session14-31 July 1947
Fifth Session14-30 August 1947
Sixth Session27 January 1948
Seventh Session4 November 1948 – 8 January 1949
Eighth Session16 May- 16 June 1949
Ninth Session30 July – 18 September 1949
Tenth Session6-17 October 1949
Eleventh Session14-26 November 1949

Other Functions Performed

In addition to making the Indian Constitution and enacting ordinary laws, the Constituent Assembly also performed the following functions:

  1. It ratified India’s membership of the Commonwealth in May 1949.
  2. It adopted the national flag on July 22, 1947.
  3. It adopted the national anthem on January 24, 1950.
  4. It adopted the national song on January 24, 1950.
  5. It elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as the first President of India on January 24, 1950.

In all, the Constituent Assembly had 11 sessions over two years, 11 months, and 18 days.

The Constitution makers had gone through the constitutions of about 60 countries, and the Draft Constitution was considered for 114 days.

The total expenditure incurred on making the Constitution amounted to 64 lakhs.

On January 24, 1950, the Constituent Assembly held its final session.

It, however, did not end and continued as the provisional parliament of India from January 26, 1950, till the formation of a new Parliament after the first general elections in 1951-52.

Committees of The Constituent Assembly

The Constituent Assembly appointed a number of committees to deal with different tasks of constitution-making. Out of these, eight were major committees and the others were minor committees. Read Here Major And Minor Committees of Constituent Assembly

Must read: Drafting Committee

Enactment of The Constitution

Dr. BR Ambedkar introduced the final draft of the Constitution in the Assembly on November 4, 1948 (first reading). The Assembly had a general discussion on it for five days (till November 9, 1948).

The second reading (clause-by-clause consideration) started on November 15, 1948, and ended on October 17, 1949. During this stage, as many as 7653 amendments were proposed and 2473 were actually discussed in the Assembly.

The third reading of the draft started on November 14, 1949. Dr. BR Ambedkar moved a motion-‘the Constitution as settled by the Assembly be passed.

The motion on Draft Constitution was declared as passed on November 26, 1949, and received the signatures of the members and the president.

Out of a total of 299 members of the Assembly, only 284 were actually present on that day and signed the Constitution.

This is also the date mentioned in the Preamble as the date on which the people of India in the Constituent Assembly adopted, enacted, and gave to themselves this Constitution.

The Constitution as adopted on November 26, 1949, contained a Preamble, 395 Articles, and 8 Schedules.

The Preamble was enacted after the entire Constitution was already enacted.

Dr. BR Ambedkar, the then Law Minister, piloted the Draft Constitution in the Assembly. He took a very prominent part in the deliberations of the Assembly.

He was known for his logical, forceful, and persuasive arguments on the floor of the Assembly.

He is recognized as the ‘Father of the Constitution of India’.

This brilliant writer, constitutional expert, the undisputed leader of the scheduled castes, and the ‘chief architect of the Constitution of India’ is also known as a ‘Modern Manu’.

Enforcement Of The Constitution

Some provisions of the Constitution pertaining to citizenship, elections, provisional parliament, temporary and transitional provisions, and short title contained in Articles 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 60, 324, 366, 367, 379, 380, 388, 391, 392 and 393 came into force on November 26, 1949, itself.

The remaining provisions (the major part) of the Constitution came into force on January 26, 1950. This day is referred to in the Constitution as the ‘date of its commencement’, and celebrated as Republic Day.

January 26 was specifically chosen as the ‘date of commencement’ of the Constitution because of its historical importance. It was on this day in 1930 that Purna Swaraj Day was celebrated, following the resolution of the Lahore Session (December 1929) of the INC.

With the commencement of the Constitution, the Indian Independence Act of 1947 and the Government of India Act of 1935, with all enactments amending or supplementing the latter Act, were re- pealed. The Abolition of Privy Council Jurisdiction Act (1949) however continued.

Criticism Of The Constituent Assembly

The critics have criticized the Constituent Assembly on various grounds. These are as follows:

  1. Not a Representative Body
  2. Time-Consuming
  3. Dominated by Congress
  4. Lawyer-Politician Domination
  5. Dominated by Hindus

Read Constituent Assembly criticism in detail

Important Facts

  1. The elephant was adopted as the symbol (seal) of the Constituent Assembly.
  2. Sir B.N. Rau was appointed as the constitutional advisor (Legal advisor) to the Constituent Assembly.
  3. H.V.R. Iyengar was the Secretary to the Constituent Assembly.
  4. S.N. Mukherjee was the chief draftsman of the constitution in the Constituent Assembly.
  5. Prem Behari Narain Raizada was the calligrapher of the Indian Constitution. The original constitution was handwritten by him in a flow- anning italic style.
  6. The original version was beautified and decorated by artists from Shantiniketan including Nand Lal Bose and Beohar Rammanohar Sinha.
  7. Beohar Rammanohar Sinha illuminated, beautified, and ornamented the original Preamble calligraphed by Prem Behari Narain Raizada.
  8. The calligraphy of the Hindi version of the original constitution was done by Vasant Krishan Vaidya and elegantly decorated and illuminated by Nand Lal Bose.

Drafting Committee Final Draft of the Constitution

Each member of the Constituent Assembly has signed two copies of the newly made Indian Constitution, one in Hindi and the other in English.

The original constitution is hand-written, with each page decorated by renowned artists from Shantiniketan including Beohar Rammanohar Sinha and Nandalal Bose. Its calligrapher was Prem Behari Narain Raizada.

The Constitution of India was published in Dehradun and photolithography was done at the Survey of India.

Production of the original Indian Constitution took nearly five years.

The estimated cost of the Constituent Assembly was ₹64 Lakhs. The Constitution has had more than 100 amendments since has been enacted.

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