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Constituent Assembly



The present constitution of India was framed by the Constitution Assembly of India setup under Cabinet Mission Plan of May 16, 1946.

Composition of Constituent Assembly:-
  • The Constituent Assembly consisted of 385 members, of which 292 were elected by he elected members of the Provincial Legislative Assemblies while 93 members were nominated by the Princely States. To these were to be added a representative each from the four Chief Commissioners Provinces of Delhi, Ajmer-Marwar, Coorg and British Baluchistan.
  • Each Province and each Indian State or group of States were allotted the total number of seas proportional to their respective population roughly in the ration of one to a million.
  • B N Rao was appointed the Constitutional Advisor of the Assembly.
  • The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly took place of Dec 9, 1946 with Dr. Sachidanand Sinha as its interim President. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as its President n Dec 11, 1947.
  • The Assembly framing the Constitution.had 13 Committees.
  • The all-important Drafting Committee, which bore the responsibility of drafting the Constitutional document during the recess of the Constitutent Assembly, from July 1947 to September 1948, was formed on August 29, 1947. Its members were:
    1. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
    2. N. Gopalaswami Ayyar
    3. K.M. Munshi
    4. Syyed Mohd. Saadulla
    5. N.Madhav Rao
    6. D.P.Khaitan (T Krishnamachari, after Kahitan’s Death in 1948)
  • It was finally passed and accepted on Nov 26, 1949. The session of the Assembly was held on Jan 24, 1950, which unanimously elected Dr, Rajendra Prasad as the President of India. In all the 284 members of the Assembly signed the official copies of the Indian Constitution which came into effect on Jan 26, 1950, known and celebrated as the Republic Day of India. 
 
 

Background and election

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 Assembly members were elected to it indirectly by the members of the individual provincial legislative 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 217 representatives, including 15 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 per cent 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, in order to form the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, meeting in Karachi.
On August 15, 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%.
 

Working of Constituent Assembly[4]

December 9,1946 : The first meeting of 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.Sanchidanand Sinha was elected as temporary President of Assembly following the French practice.
December 11,1946 : Elected Dr.Rajendra Prasad and H.C.Mukherjee as the President and Vice-President of the Assembly respectively.Appointed Sir B.N.Rau as Constitutional advisor to the Assembly.
December 13,1946 : 'Objective Resolution' was introduced by Jawaharlal Nehru.Underlying principles of Constitution were laid by Objective Resolution.
January 22,1947: Unanimously adopted the Objective Resolution.
May 1949: It ratified India's membership of the Commonwealth
July 22,1947: Adopted the national flag
January 24,1950: Adopted the national anthem,national song.Elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as the first president of India
Assembly was chaired by Dr. Rajendra Prasad whenever it met as Constituent body and by G.V.Mavlankar when it met as the legislative body. Constituent Assembly completed the task of drafting Constitution in 2 years,11 months and 17 days. The total expenditure incurred was Rs.64 lakh.

Committees under the Constituent Assembly

 
 
 
SOME FACTS
The Constituent Assembly took almost three years (two years, eleven months and seventeen days to be precise) to complete its historic task of drafting the Constitution for Independent India. During this period, it held eleven sessions covering a total of 165 days. Of these, 114 days were spent on the consideration of the Draft Constitution.
As to its composition, members were chosen by indirect election by the members of the Provincial Legislative Assemblies, according to the scheme recommended by the Cabinet Mission. The arrangement was: (i) 292 members were elected through the Provincial Legislative Assemblies; (ii) 93 members represented the Indian Princely States; and (iii) 4 members represented the Chief Commissioners' Provinces. The total membership of the Assembly thus was to be 389. However, as a result of the partition under the Mountbatten Plan of 3 June, 1947, a separate Constituent Assembly was set up for Pakistan and representatives of some Provinces ceased to be members of the Assembly. As a result, the membership of the Assembly was reduced to 299.
On 13 December, 1946, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru moved the Objectives Resolution

1.This Constituent Assembly declares its firm and solemn resolve to proclaim India as an Independent Soverign 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 fo India as are outside British India and the States as well as such other territories as are willing to be constituted into the Independent Soverign 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 goverrnment 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 the Soverign 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 law and public morality; and
6.WHEREIN adequate safeguards shall be provided for minorities, backward and tribal areas, and depressed and other backward classes; and
7.WHEREBY shall be maintained the integrity of the territory of the Republic and its soverign rights on land, sea, and air according to justice and the law of civilized nations; and
8.this ancient land attains its righful and honoured placed in the world and make its full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind.
This Resolution was unanimously adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 22 January 1947.
Late in the evening of 14 August, 1947 the Assembly met in the Constitution Hall and at the stroke of midnight, took over as the Legislative Assembly of an Independent India.
On 29 August, 1947, the Constituent Assembly set up a Drafting Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to prepare a Draft Constitution for India. While deliberating upon the draft Constitution, the Assembly moved, discussed and disposed of as many as 2,473 amendments out of a total of 7,635 tabled.
The Constitution of India was adopted on 26 November, 1949 and the hon'ble members appended their signatures to it on 24 January, 1950. In all, 284 members actually signed the Constitution. On that day when the Constitution was being signed, it was drizzling outside and it was interpreted as a sign of a good omen.
The Constitution of India came into force on 2 6 January, 1950. On that day, the Assembly ceased to exist, transforming itself into the Provisional Parliament of India until a new Parliament was constituted in1952
  Sessions of the Constituent Assembly

    First Session:          9-23 December, 1946
                
                 Second Session:         20-25 January, 1947
               
                 Third Session:          28 April - 2 May, 1947
            
                 Fourth Session:         14-31 July, 1947
                 
                 Fifth Session:          14-30 August, 1947
                
                 Sixth Session:          27 January, 1948
               
                 Seventh Session:        4 November,1948 - 8 January, 1949
                 
                 Eighth Session:         16 May - 16 June, 1949
                 
                 Ninth Session:          30 July - 18 September, 1949
                 
                 Tenth Session:          6-17 October, 1949
                 
                 Eleventh Session:       14-26 November, 1949
    
    
    [The Assembly met once again on 24 January, 1950, 
    
    when the members appended their signatures
    
    to the Constitution of India] 
    
    
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