Constituent Assembly of India

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
First day (9 December 1946) of the Constituent Assembly. From right: B. G. Kher and Sardar Vallabhai Patel; K. M. Munshi is seated behind Patel

The idea of a Constituent Assembly for India was put forward for the first time in 1934 by Manabendra Nath Roy, a pioneer of the communist movement in India and an advocate of radical democracy. However, it became an official demand of the Indian National Congress in 1935. The demand was accepted by the British in August 1940. On 8 August 1940, a statement was made by the Viceroy, Lord Linlithgow, on the expansion of the Governor-General's Executive Council and the establishment of a War Advisory Council. This offer, also known as the "August Offer of 1940", also included giving full weight to minority opinions and allowing the Indians to form their own constitution. Under the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946, elections were held for the first time for the Constituent Assembly. The Constitution of India was drafted by the Constituent Assembly, and it was set up under the Cabinet Mission Plan on 16 May 1946. The members of the Constituent Assembly were elected by the Provincial assemblies by means of a single transferable vote system of proportional representation. Total membership of the Constituent Assembly was 389, of which 292 were representatives of the states, 93 were representatives of princely states, and 4 were from the chief commissioner provinces of Delhi, Ajmer-Mewar, Coorg and British Baluchistan. The elections for the 296 seats assigned to the British Indian provinces were completed by July-August 1946. Congress won 208 seats and the Muslim League won 73 seats. After this election, the Muslim League refused to cooperate with the Congress. The political situation got worse and Hindu-Muslim riots started. The Muslim League demanded a separate constituent assembly for Muslims in India. On 3 June 1947, Lord Mountbatten, the last British Governor-General of India, announced his intention of scrapping the Cabinet Mission Plan; this later culminated in the Indian Independence Act and the separate nations of India and Pakistan. The Indian Independence Act was passed on 18 July 1947. It had earlier been declared that India would get its independence in June 1948, but this event led to early independence on 15 August 1947. The Constituent Assembly which was elected for an undivided India met for the first time on 9 June 1946. It reassembled on 14 August 1947 as a sovereign body and successor to the British parliament's plenary authority and power in India. As a result of the partition, under the Mountbatten plan a separate constituent assembly was set up for Pakistan on 3 June 1947. The representatives of the areas incorporated in Pakistan ceased to be members of the Constituent Assembly of India. Fresh elections were held for West Punjab and East Bengal, which were now in Pakistan. The membership of the Constituent Assembly became 299 after this reorganization, and it met on 31 December 1947.

Nature of the Assembly[edit]

The Constituent Assembly, consisting of indirectly elected representatives, was set up for the purpose of drafting a constitution for India (including what are now the separate countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh). In the event, it remained in being for almost three years, acting as the first parliament of India after independence in 1947. The Assembly was not elected on the basis of universal adult suffrage; also Muslims and Sikhs were given special representation as "minorities". The influential Muslim League initially boycotted the Assembly after having failed to prevent its creation. While a large proportion of the Constituent Assembly was drawn from the Congress Party in a one-party political environment, it is also important to note that at that point in history, the Congress Party included a wide diversity of opinions, from conservative industrialists and radical Marxists to Hindu revivalists, all of whom participated in the process.

The Assembly met for the first time in New Delhi on 9 December 1946. The last session of the Assembly was held on 24 January 1950.[1] Over the course of this period (two years, eleven months and eighteen days), the Assembly held eleven sessions, sitting on a total of 166 days.[2] The hope behind the Assembly was expressed by Jawaharlal Nehru: "The first task of this Assembly is to free India through a new constitution, to feed the starving people, and to clothe the naked masses, and to give every Indian the fullest opportunity to develop himself according to his capacity."

Background and election[edit]

The Constituent Assembly was set up while India was still under British rule, following negotiations between Indian leaders and members of the 1946 Cabinet Mission to India from the United Kingdom. The provincial assembly elections had been conducted early in 1946. The Constituent Assembly members were elected indirectly by the members of these newly elected provincial assemblies, and initially included representatives for those provinces which came to form part of Pakistan, some of which are now within Bangladesh. The Constituent Assembly had 299 representatives, including nine women.

The Interim Government of India was formed on 2 September 1946 from the newly elected Constituent Assembly.

The Congress held a large majority in the Assembly, with 69 percent of all of the seats, while the Muslim League held almost all of the seats reserved in the Assembly for Muslims. There were also some members from smaller parties, such as the Scheduled Caste Federation, the Communist Party of India, and the Unionist Party.

In June 1947, the delegations from the provinces of Sindh, East Bengal, Baluchistan, West Punjab, and the North West Frontier Province withdrew, to form the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, meeting in Karachi.

On 15 August 1947, the Dominion of India and Dominion of Pakistan became independent nations, and the members of the Constituent Assembly who had not withdrawn to Karachi became India's Parliament. Only 28 members of the Muslim League finally joined the Indian Assembly. Later, 93 members were nominated from the princely states. The Congress thus secured a majority of 82%.

Constitution and elections[edit]

See Also: Constitution of India

At 11 AM on 9 December 1946, the Assembly began its first session, with 207 members attending. By early 1947, representatives of the Muslim League and princely states joined. The Assembly formally approved the draft Constitution on 26 November 1949. On 26 January 1950, the Constitution took effect, a day now commemorated in India as Republic Day. At this point, the Constituent Assembly became the Provisional Parliament of India, which continued in existence until after the first elections under the new Constitution took place in 1952.

Organization[edit]

Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha was the first president (temporary chairman) of the Constituent Assembly when it met on 9 December 1946. Dr. Rajendra Prasad then became the President of the Constituent Assembly, and would later become the first President of India. The Vice-President of the Constituent Assembly was Professor Harendra Coomar Mookerjee, a former Vice-Chancellor of Calcutta University and a prominent Christian from Bengal, who also served as the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly's Minorities Committee; he was appointed Governor of West Bengal after India became a republic. The eminent bureaucrat and jurist Sir Benegal Narsing Rau was appointed as the Constitutional Adviser to the Constituent Assembly. He prepared the original draft of the constitution and was later appointed a judge in the Permanent Court of International Justice, The Hague.

The Assembly's work was organised into five stages: (1) committees were asked to present reports on basic issues; (2) the constitutional adviser, B.N. Rau, prepared an initial draft on the basis of these committees and his own research into the constitutions of other countries; (3) the drafting committee, chaired by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, presented a detailed draft constitution that was published for public discussion and comments; (4) the draft constitution was discussed and amendments were proposed and enacted; (5) the constitution was adopted. A committee of experts led by the Congress Party, called the Congress Assembly Party, played a critical role.[3]

9 December 1946 : The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly was held in the constitution hall (now 'Central Hall of Parliament House'). Demanding a separate state, the Muslim League boycotted the meeting. Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha was elected as temporary President of the Assembly following the French practice.

11 December 1946 : Dr. Rajendra Prasad and H.C.Mukherjee elected as the President and Vice-President of the Assembly respectively. Sir B. N. Rau appointed as Constitutional advisor to the Assembly.

13 December 1946 : 'Objective Resolution' was introduced by Jawaharlal Nehru. Underlying principles of the Constitution were laid down by Objective Resolution.

22 January 1947: Objective Resolution unanimously adopted.

May 1949: India's membership of the Commonwealth ratified.

22 July 1947: National flag adopted.

24 January 1950: Jana Gana Mana adopted as the national anthem and Vande Mataram as the national song. Dr. Rajendra Prasad elected as the first president of India.

The Assembly was chaired by Dr. Rajendra Prasad whenever it met as a Constituent body and by G. V. Mavlankar when it met as a legislative body. The Constituent Assembly completed the task of drafting a Constitution in 2 years, 11 months and 18 days. The total expenditure incurred was Rs. 6.4 million.

Important Committees and their Chairmen[edit]

Name of the Committee Chairman
Committee on the Rules of Procedure Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Steering Committee Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Finance and Staff Committee Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Credential Committee Alladi Krishnaswami Aiyyar
House Committee B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya
Order of Business Committee K.M. Munshi
Ad Hoc Committee on National Flag Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Committee on Functions of Constituent Assembly G.V. Mavlankar
States Committee Jawaharlal Nehru
Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas Vallabhbhai Patel
Minorities Sub-Committee H.C. Mookherjee
Fundamental Rights Sub Committee J.B. Kriplani
North-East Frontier Tribal Areas and Assam Excluded & Partially Excluded Areas Sub-Committee Gopinath Bardoloi
Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas (Other than Those in Assam) Sub-Committee A.V. Thakkar
Union Powers Committee Jawaharlal Nehru
Union Constitution Committee Jawaharlal Nehru
Drafting Committee B.R. Ambedkar

Members of the Indian Constituent Assembly[edit]

Indian National Congress

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, 1st Prime Minister

Members of the Indian Constituent Assembly (by province/state)[edit]

Madras O. V. Alagesan, Mrs. Amma Swaminathan, M. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar, Moturi Satyanarayana, Mrs. Dakshayani Velayudhan, Mrs. G. Durgabai, Kala Venkatarao, N. Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, D. Govinda Das, Revd. Jerome D'Souza, P. Kakkan, T.M. Kaliyannan Gounder, K. Kamaraj, V. C. Kesava Rao, T. T. Krishnamachari, Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer L. Krishnaswami Bharathi, P. Kunhiraman, Mosalikanti Thirumala Rao, V. I. Munuswamy Pillai, M. A. Muthiah Chettiar, V. Nadimuthu Pillai, S. Nagappa, P. L. Narasimha Raju, B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, C. Perumalswamy Reddy, T. Prakasam, S. H. Prater, Raja Swetachalapati Ramakrishna Renga Roa of Bobbili, R. K. Shanmukham Chetty, T. A. Ramalingam Chettiar, Ramnath Goenka, O. P. Ramaswamy Reddiar, N. G. Ranga, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, Sri Sheik Galib Sahib, K. Santhanam, B. Shiva Rao, Kallur Subba Rao, U. Srinivasa Mallya, P. Subbarayan, C. Subramaniam, V Subramaniam, M. C. Veerabahu Pillai, P. M. Velayudapani, A. K. Menon, T. J. M. Wilson, Mohamed Ismail Sahib, K. T. M. Ahmed Ibrahim, Mahboob Ali Baig Sahib Bahadur, B. Pocker Sahib Bahadur

Bombay Balchandra Maheshwar Gupte, Hansa Mehta, Hari Vinayak Pataskar, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Joseph Alban D'Souza, Kanayalal Nanabhai Desai, Keshavrao Marutirao Jedhe, Khandubhai Kasanji Desai, Bal Gangadhar Kher, M.R. Masani, K.M. Munshi, Narahar Vishnu Gadgil, S. Nijalingappa, S. K. Patil, Ramchandra Manohar Nalavade, R. R. Diwakar, Shankarrao Deo, G. V. Mavalankar, Vallabhbhai Patel, Abdul Kadar Mohammad Shaikh, A. A. Khan

West Bengal Monomohan Das, Arun Chandra Guha, Lakshmi Kanta Maitra, Mihir Lal Chattopadhyay, Satis Chandra Samanta, Suresh Chandra Majumdar, Upendranath Barman, Prabhudayal Himatsingka, Basanta Kumar Das, Mrs. Renuka Ray, H. C. Mukherjee, Surendra Mohan Ghose, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Ari Bahadur Gurung, R. E. Platel, K. C. Neogy, Raghib Ahsan, Somnath Lahiri, Jasimuddin Ahmad, Naziruddin Ahmad, Abdul Hamid[disambiguation needed], Abdul Halim Ghuznavi

United Provinces Ajit Prasad Jain, Algu Rai Shastri, Balkrishna Sharma, Banshi Dhar Misra, Bhagwan Din, Damodar Swarup Seth, Dayal Das Bhagat, Dharam Prakash, A. Dharam Dass, R. V. Dhulekar, Feroz Gandhi, Gopal Narain, Krishna Chandra Sharma, Govind Ballabh Pant, Govind Malaviya, Har Govind Pant, Harihar Nath Shastri, Hriday Nath Kunzru, Jaspat Roy Kapoor, Jagannath Baksh Singh, Jawaharlal Nehru, Jogendra Singh, Jugal Kishore, Jwala Prasad Srivastava, B. V. Keskar, Mrs. Kamala Chaudhry, Kamalapati Tiwari, J. B. Kripalani, Mahavir Tyagi, Khurshed Lal, Masurya Din, Mohan Lal Saksena, Padampat Singhania, Phool Singh, Paragi Lal, Mrs. Purnima Banerjee, Prurshottam Das Tandon, Hira Vallabha Tripathi, Ram Chandra Gupta, Shibban Lal Saxena, Satish Chandra, John Matthai, Mrs. Sucheta Kripalani, Sunder Lall, Venkatesh Narayan Tivary, Mohanlal Gautam, Vishwambhar Dayal Tripathi, Vishnu Sharan Dublish, Begum Aizaz Rasul, Hyder Hussain, Hasrat Mohani, Abul Kalam Azad, Muhammad Ismail Khan, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, Mohd. Hifzur Rahman, Z H Lari

East Punjab Bakshi Tek Chand, Jairamdas Daulatram, Thakurdas Bhargava, Bikramlal Sondhi, Yashwant Rai, Ranbir Singh, Lala Achint Ram, Nand Lal, Sardar Baldev Singh, Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir, Sardar Hukam Singh, Sardar Bhopinder Singh Mann, Sardar Rattan Singh Lohgarh Chaudhry Suraj Mal

Bihar Amiyo Kumar Ghosh, Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Banarsi Prasad Jhunjhunwala, Bhagwat Prasad, Boniface Lakra, Brajeshwar Prasad, Chandika Ram, K. T. Shah, Devendra Nath Samanta, Dip Narain Sinha, Guptanath Singh, Jadubans Sahay, Jagat Narain Lal, Jagjivan Ram, Jaipal Singh, Kameshwar Singh of Darbhanga, Kamaleshwari Prasad Yadav, Mahesh Prasad Sinha, Krishna Ballabh Sahay, Raghunandan Prasad, Rajendra Prasad, Rameshwar Prasad Sinha, Ramnarayan Singh, Sachchidananda Sinha, Sarangdhar Sinha, Satyanarayan Sinha, Binodanand Jha, P. K. Sen, Sri Krishna Sinha, Sri Narayan Mahtha, Syamanandan Sahaya, Hussain Imam, Syed Jafar Imam, Latifur Rahman, Mohammad Tahir, Tajamul Hussain, Choudhry Abid Hussain. Pt Hargovind Mishra.

Central Provinces and Berar Raghu Vira, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, B.A. Mandloi, Brijlal Nandlal Biyani, Thakur Cheedilal, Seth Govind Das, Hari Singh Gour, Hari Vishnu Kamath, Hemchandra Jagobaji Khandekar, Ghanshyam Singh Gupta, Lakshman Shrawan Bhatkar, Panjabrao Shamrao Deshmukh, Ravi Shankar Shukla, R. K. Sidhva, Shankar Trimbak Dharmadhikari, Frank Anthony, Kazi Syed Karimuddin, Ganpatrao Dani

Assam Nibaran Chandra Laskar, Dharanidhar Basu-Matari, Gopinath Bardoloi, J. J. M. Nichols-Roy, Kuladhar Chaliha, Rohini Kumar Chaudhury, Muhammad Saadulla, Abdur Rouf

Orissa Biswanath Das, Krishna Chandra Gajapati Narayana Dev, Harekrushna Mahatab, Laxminarayan Sahu Lokanath Mishra, Nandkishore Das, Rajkrishna Bose, Santanu Kumar Das, Yudhishir Mishra

Delhi Deshbhandhu Gupta

Ajmer-Merwara Mukut Bihari Lal Bhargava

Coorg C. M. Poonacha

Mysore K.C. Reddy, T. Siddalingaiya, H. R. Guruv Reddy, S. V. Krishnamurthy Rao, K. Hanumanthaiya, H. Siddaveerappa, T. Channiah

Jammu and Kashmir Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, Motiram Baigra, Mirza Mohmmad Afzal Beg, Maulana Mohammad Sayeed Masoodi

Travancore-Cochin Pattom A. Thanu Pillai, R. Sankar, P. T. Chacko, Panampilly Govinda Menon, Annie Mascarene, P.S.Nataraja Pillai, K.A. Mohamed

Madhya Bharat Vinayak Sitaram Sarwate, Brijraj Narain, Gopikrishna Vijayavargiya, Ram Sahai, Kusum Kant Jain, Radhavallabh Vijayavargiya, Sitaram S. Jajoo

Saurashtra Balwant Rai Gopalji Mehta, Jaisukhlal Hathi, Amritlal Vithaldas Thakkar, Chimanlal Chakubhai Shah, Samaldas Laxmidas Gandhi

Rajasthan V. T. Krishnamachari, Hiralal Shastri, Sardar Singhjhi of Khetri, Jaswant Singhji, Raj Bhadur, Manikya Lal Varma, Gokul Lal Asava, Ramchandra Upadhyaya, Balwant Sinha Mehta, Dalel Singh, Jainarain Vyas

Patiala and East Punjab States Union Ranjit Singh, Sochet Singh, Bhagwant Roy

Bombay States Vinayakrao Balshankar Vaidya, B. N. Munavalli, Gokulbhai Daulatram Bhatt, Jivraj Narayan Mehta, Gopaldas A. Desai, Paranlal Thakurlal Munshi, B. H. Khardekar, Ratnappa Bharamappa Kumbhar

Orissa States Lal Mohan Pati, N. Madhava Rau, Raj Kunwar, Sarangadhar Das, Yudhishthir Mishra

Central Provinces States R. L. Malaviya, Kishorimohan Tripathi, Ramprasad Potai

United Provinces States B. H. Zaidi, Krishna Singh

Madras States V. Ramaiah, Ramakrishna Ranga Rao

Vindhya Pradesh Avdesh Pratap Singh, Shambu Nath Shukla, Ram Sahai Tiwari, Mannulalji Dwidedi

Cooch Behar Himmat Singh K. Maheshwari

Tripura and Manipur Girja Shankar Guha

Bhopal Lal Singh

Kutch Bhawani Arjun Khimji

Himachal Pradesh Yashwant Singh Parmar

Sessions[edit]

The Constituent Assembly of India met for 12 sessions on the following dates.[3]

Session Dates
I 9–23 December 1946
II 20–25 January 1947
III 28 April to 2 May 1947
IV 14–31 July 1947
V 14–30 August 1947
VI 27 January 1948
VII 4 November 1948 to 8 January 1949
VIII 16 May to 16 June 1949
IX 30 July to 18 September 1949
X 6–17 October 1949
XI 14–26 November 1949
XII 24 January 1950

Debates[edit]

Constituent Assembly Debates were the discussions, arguments etc. that took place in order to write the Constitution of India. These discussions occurred between the elected members of the assembly who later served as the nation's First Parliament.

It is said that only 28% of the total population were eligible to vote at that time, so only this percentage of people participated in the elections for the assembly.

The English translation of the debates is available for viewing here.

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ M. Lakshmikanth, Indian Polity for Civil Services Examinations, 3rd ed., (New Delhi: Tata McGraw Hill Education Private Limited, 2011), p. 2.3
  2. ^ Parliament, Indian. "Some facts [about the Constitutive Assembly]". Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  3. ^ a b http://parliamentofindia.nic.in/ls/debates/facts.htm
  4. ^ http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/714184/C-Subramaniam

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Austin, Granville. The Indian Constitution, Cornerstone of a Nation. New Delhi: OUP India, 1999. ISBN 0-19-564959-1
  • Bipan Chandra, Mridula Mukherjee, and Aditya Mukherjee. India Since Independence, Revised Edition. New Delhi: Penguin Books India, 2008.