The Making of the Indian Constitution

The constitution of a country, including India, is usually, framed by the people through their elected representatives. The Indian Constitution, framed by the Constituent Assembly as established through the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946, practically, represented all sections of the Indian people, though it was not formally an elected one. In fact, the very idea of having a constitution prepared by the people themselves was put forward by Gandhiji  himself as early as in 1922. M.N. Roy, the Marxist turned radical humanist, had sought a constituent assembly to frame the constitution of India in 1927 while Nehru articulated the idea in 1933. The Indian National Congress demanded a constituent assembly in the Faizpur session of the Congress in 1937, reiterating later in 1939 and in its Ramgarh session in 1940. The British Government accepted the demand for a constituent assembly in August, 1940 offer by Viceroy, Linlithgow. e Cripps Plan of 1942 promised such an assembly only after the World War II while the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946 recommended a constituent assembly to frame the Constitution.

The Constituent Assembly: Composition

The Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946, sent by the British Government to India, recommended a constitution—making body for India to frame the constitution. The constitution — making body was to consist of 389 members; though the term Constituent Assembly was not used by the 1946 proposals and was actually used in clause 8 of the Indian Independence Act, 1947. Out of 389 members, 292 were to be elected through the provincial legislative assemblies of British India and four from the chief commissioners’ territories while 93 members were to be nominated by the rulers of the princely states. With the partition of the country in 1947, the Constituent Assembly was bifurcated and the number of the Constituent Assembly of India was reduced to 299, 229 from British India and 70 from the princely states.

State-wise members of the Indian Constituent Assembly as on December 31, 1947 were:

  • British Indian Provinces: 226 : Madras 49, Bombay 21, West Bengal 19, United Provinces 55, East Punjab 12, Bihar 36, Central Provinces 17, Assam 8, Orissa 9 : Total 226.

Chief Commissioner’ Provinces :

  • Delhi 1, Ajmer— Merwar 1, Coorg 1 : Total : 3.

Princely States:

  • 70 : Mysore 7, Travancore 6; Gwalior, Western India States Group, Punjab States Group ‘I’ and the Residuary States Group, 4 each; Baroda, Jaipur, Eastern Rajputana States Group, Central India States, Punjab States Group II, and Eastern States Groups II, 3 each; Jodhpur, Patiala, Rewa, Udaipur, Gujarat States Group, Deccan and Madras States Group, 2 each while all the rest, one each—all totalling 70.

The Constituent Assembly, thus, represented all sections of the Indian society—including all religions, regions, races, classes—which included seasoned statesmen, experienced administrators, leading lawyers and reputed scholars. Gandhiji, however, chose to stay out. The Constituent Assembly met, for the first time, on December 9, 1946 under the temporary chairmanship of its oldest member Dr. Sachidananda Sinha while on December 11, 1946, the Assembly elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as its permanent chairman. The Constituent Assembly took almost three years (two years, eleven months and eighteen 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. A sum of ` 6,396, 273 was spent on the Assembly in the course of framing the Constitution.

The Draft Constitution had 315 articles and 13 schedules, while the Constitution, when adopted on November 26, 1949, had 395 articles, divided into 22 parts with 8 schedules. Over 7,000 proposals were made, but only 2,473 were considered. The Constitution was enacted on January 26, 1950.

The Constituent Assembly: Committees the Constituent Assembly worked through 22 committees. Of these, 10 committees were on procedural airs and 12 on substantive affairs. Some of the important committees with their chairmen are as under :

Committees of the Constituent Assembly

Name of the Committee Chairman
House Committee B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya
Order of Business Committee K.M. Munshi
Ad-hoc Committee on the National Flag Rajendra Prasad
Committee on the Functions of the Constituent Assembly G.V. Mavalankar
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. Kripalani
North-East Frontier Tribal Areas and Assam, Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas Sub-Committee Gopinath Bardoloi
Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas (Other than those in Assam) Sub-Committee A.V. ak  kar
Union Powers Committee Jawaharlal Nehru
Union Constitution Committee Jawaharlal Nehru
Drafting Committee B.R. Ambedkkar
Committee on the Rules of Procedure Rajendra Prasad
Steering Committee Rajendra Prasad
Finance and Staommittee Rajendra Prasad
Credential Committee Alladi Krishnaswami
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