Making of the Constitution

  Making of the Constitution 

Demand for a Constituent Assembly

In 1934, for the first time the idea of a constituent Assembly for India was put forward by M. N. Roy, who was a pioneer of the communist movement in India. In 1935, for the first time the Indian National Congress (INC) officially demanded a Constituent Assembly to frame the constitution of India. In 1938, Pandit Nehru demanded a Constituent Assembly for India and proposed that the constitution of free India must be framed, without outside interference, by Constituent members elected on the basis of the adult franchise. This demand was reiterated by the Working Committee of the Congress in 1939.

However, this demand was resisted by the British Government until the outbreak of World War II. The demand of the Constituent Assembly was finally accepted by the British Government, though in an indirect way and with important reservations, in what is known as the “August Offer” of 1940. In 1942Sir Stafford Cripps, a member of the Cabinet, was sent to India by the British Government with a draft.

He represented the proposals of the British Government in front of two major political parties (Congress and the Muslim League). The proposals of Cripps Mission were given below.

1. The constitution of India was to be framed by an elected Constituent Assembly of the Indian people.

2. The constitution should give India Dominion status and equal partnership of the British Commonwealth of Nations.

3. There should be one Indian Union comprising all the provisions and Indian states, and if any province (or Indian state), which was not prepared to accept the constitution, would be free to retain its constitution position existing at that time.

But the two parties failed to come to an agreement to accept the proposals of the British Government due to the Muslim League demand. The demand of the Muslim League is given below.

1. India should be divided into two autonomous states on communal lines, one is India and the other is Pakistan.

2. Instead of one Constituent Assembly, there should be two Constituent Assembly, i.e., a separate Constituent Assembly for building Pakistan.

After the failure of the Cripps Mission, no steps were taken for the solution of the Indian constitutional problem until World War II came to an end in May 1945.

Composition of the Constituent Assembly

Finally, in 1946, the constitution of India was framed by a Constituent Assembly set up under the Cabinet Mission Plan. The features of the Cabinet Mission Plan were given below.

1. The total members of the Constituent Assembly were to be 389. Of these, 292 seats for British India93 seats for the princely states3 seats for the Chief Commissioner provinces and seat for Balochistan.

2.Each province and each princely state were allotted seats in proportion to their respective population. Roughly one seat was to be allotted for every million people.

3.The seats in each British province were to be divided among the three main communities, Muslim, Sikh and general (all except Muslims and Sikhs), in proportion to their population.

4.In the Provincial Legislative Assembly members of each community elected their own representatives by the method of proportional representation with single transferable vote.

5.The representatives of princely states were nominated by the heads of the states.

Thus, it was clear that the Constituent Assembly was to be a partly elected and partly nominated body. The elections for 296 seats to the Constituent Assembly were held in July-August 1946. In this election, 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 because they decided to stay away from the Constituent Assembly.

However, 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 such as Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis, Anglo-Indians, SCs, STs including women of all those sections. The Constituent Assembly included all the important personalities of India at that time, with the exception of Gandhi.

Working of the Constituent Assembly

The Constituent Assembly held its first meeting on December 9, 1946 and the oldest member of the Constituent AssemblyDr. Sachchidanand Sinha, was elected as the temporary president of the Constituent Assembly. This meeting was attended by only 211 members because the Muslim League members boycotted the meeting and insisted on a separate state of Pakistan.

On December 11,1946, the Constituent Assembly elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as the President of the Constituent Assembly and both H.C. Mukherjee and V.T. Krishnamachari was elected as the Vice-president of the Constituent Assembly. Hence, the Assembly had two Vice-Presidents. Sir B.N. Rau was appointed as the constitutional advisor to the Assembly.

The representatives of the princely states gradually joined the Constituent Assembly. After the acceptance of the Mountbatten plan of June 3,1947 for a partition of the country, the representatives of princely states, who had been away from the Constituent Assembly, joined it.

The Indian Independence Act of 1947 made the changes in the position of the Constituent Assembly. After the partition of the country, the Muslim League members withdrew from the Constituent Assembly. The total strength of the Constituent Assembly came down to 299. Now, the strength of the Indian provinces was 229 and the strength of the princely states were 70. The Constituent Assembly appointed twenty-two Committees to deal with different tasks of constitution making. Of these, eight were major committees and the other were minor committees. The names of these committees (Major and Minor) and the Chairmen are given below in the table.

Major Committees


Union Powers Committee

Jawaharlal Nehru


Union Constitution Committee

Jawaharlal Nehru


 Provincial Constitution Committee

Sardar Patel


Drafting Committee

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar


Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas

This committee had five sub-committees. 

Sardar Patel


Rules of Procedure Committee

Dr. Rajendra Prasad


States Committee

Jawaharlal Nehru


Steering Committee

Dr. Rajendra Prasad

Minor Committees


Finance and Staff Committee

Dr. Rajendra Prasad


Credentials Committee

Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar


House Committee

B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya


Order of Business Committee

Dr. K. M. Munshi


Ad-hoc Committee on the National Flag

Dr. Rajendra Prasad


Committee on the Functions of the Constituent Assembly 

G.V. Mavalankar


Ad-hoc Committee on the Supreme Court

S. Varadachari

(Not an Assembly Member) 


Committee on Chief Commissioners Provinces

B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya


Expert Committee on the Financial Provisions of the Union Constitution 

Nalini Ranjan Sarkar

(Not an Assembly Member)


Linguistic Provinces Commission

S. K. Dar

(Not an Assembly Member) 


Special Committee to Examine the Draft Constitution 

Jawaharlal Nehru


Press Gallery Committee

Usha Nath Sen


Ad-hoc Committee on Citizenship

S. Varadachari

 On the basis of the reports of these committees, a draft of the constitution was prepared by a seven-member drafting committee, and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was the Chairman of the Drafting committee. The Drafting Committee was set up on August 29, 1947.

The draft committee members names are shown below in the table.


Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (Chairman)


N Gopalaswamy Ayyangar


Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar


Dr. K M Munshi


Syed Mohammad Saadullah


N Madhava Rao (He replaced B L Mittar who resigned due to ill-health)


T T Krishnamachari (He replaced D P Khaitan Who Died in 1948)

 In January 1948, the first draft of the constitution was published and people were given eight months to discuss the draft and propose amendments. After that, the draft was discussed by the press, the people, the provincial assembly and the Constituent Assembly. Then the Drafting Committee prepared a second draft, which was published in October 1948. After that, Ambedkar introduced the final draft of the Constitution in the Assembly on November 4, 1948. The Assembly had a general discussion on it till November 9, 1948. The second reading of the draft started on November 15, 1948 and ended on October 17, 1949. During this time, 7653 amendments were proposed and 2473 were actually discussed in the Assembly. The third reading of the draft started on November 14, 1949 and Dr B. R. Ambedkar moved a motion— ‘the Constitution as settled by the Assembly be passed‘. The motion on the draft constitution was passed on November 26,1949, and signed by the President of the Constituent Assembly. On November 26,1949, the Constitution of India was adopted, it contained a Preamble395 Articles and 8 Schedules. The Preamble was enacted after the entire Constitution was already enacted. However, the members of the constituent assembly appended their signatures to the constitution on 24 January 1950. Thus, it took the constituent assembly 11 sessions and one special session for signature over 2 years11 months and 18 days to complete the task for making the India constitution.

Below the table shows the 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

16May – 16 June, 1949

Ninth Session

30 July -18 September, 1949

Tenth Session

6-17 October, 1949

Eleventh Session

14-26 November, 1949

A special session for signatures of members on the Constitution of India

24 January, 1950

 However, some provisions of the constitution such as the 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 with immediate effect from November 26,1949 itself and the remaining provisions 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 the Republic Day.



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