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Constituent Assembly of India

Constituent Assembly

Before India gained independence, the Constituent Assembly was established as part of the Cabinet Mission Plan. The assembly’s elections followed a system of separate electorates based on communities, but even after these elections, it didn’t have full sovereignty. Its authority was restricted when it came to fundamental principles and procedures.

The Constituent Assembly was originally expected to operate within the framework of the Cabinet Mission plan. However, the Indian Independence Act of 1947 removed these limitations, granting the assembly the freedom to create any constitution it deemed appropriate. This marked a significant step toward India’s independence and self-governance.

Background of the Constituent Assembly of India

The following table lists the trail of the development of the constituent assembly of India:

  1. In 1934, M.N. Roy first put forward the notion of a constituent assembly.
  2. The Congress Party officially adopted this idea as a demand in 1935.
  3. This proposal found acceptance from the British government in the August Offer of 1940.
  4. As part of the Cabinet Mission plan of 1946, elections were conducted to establish the constituent assembly.
  5. The members of this assembly were indirectly elected by the provincial assemblies, using the single transferable vote method with proportional representation.
  6. The primary objective of the constituent assembly was to craft a constitution for a future independent India.

Committees of Constituent Assembly of India with their Chairman

Here are the key committees of the Constituent Assembly of India and their respective leaders:

  1. Drafting Committee – Led by Dr. B R Ambedkar.
  2. Union Constitution Committee – Headed by Jawaharlal Nehru.
  3. Union Powers Committee – Chaired by Jawaharlal Nehru.
  4. States Committee – Also under the leadership of Jawaharlal Nehru.
  5. Steering Committee – Led by Dr. Rajendra Prasad.
  6. Rules of Procedure Committee – Also overseen by Dr. Rajendra Prasad.
  7. Provincial Constitution Committee – Headed by Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
  8. Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, and Tribal and Excluded Areas:
    • Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee – Led by Acharya Kripalani.
    • Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas (Other than those in Assam) Sub-Committee – Led by A V Thakkar.
    • North-East Frontier Tribal Areas and Assam Excluded & Partially Excluded Areas Sub-Committee – Headed by Gopinath Bardoloi.
  • The Constituent Assembly of India first convened on December 9, 1946.
  • The Muslim League did not participate in the Constituent Assembly’s formation, as they had boycotted it due to their demand for partition.
  • The ‘Objective Resolution’ within the Constituent Assembly aimed to embody the constitution-makers’ aspirations and values, ensuring social, economic, and political justice, equality, and fundamental freedoms for the people of India. It was unanimously adopted on January 22, 1947, and the Constitution’s Preamble is based on it. Jawaharlal Nehru moved this resolution on December 13, 1946.
  • The National Flag of the Union was adopted on July 22, 1947.
  • The Constituent Assembly took 2 years, 11 months, and 17 days to frame the constitution, with an expenditure of Rs. 64 lakhs.
  • On January 24, 1950, ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was adopted as the national anthem.
  • The final Indian Constitution comprised 22 parts, 395 articles, and 8 schedules.
  • The Constituent Assembly held a total of 11 sessions.
  • The draft of the Indian Constitution was published in January 1948, and the public was asked for feedback within 8 months.
  • The last session of the Constituent Assembly occurred from November 14 to 26, 1949, during which the constitution was passed and adopted on November 26, 1949.
  • The Indian Constitution came into force on January 26, 1950, celebrated as Republic Day.

Criticism of the Constituent Assembly

The Constituent Assembly, though not directly elected by universal adult franchise, did have the support of the people’s leaders. Holding nationwide elections during a time of impending partition and communal tensions would have been challenging. Crafting the Indian Constitution took a considerable amount of time, given the nation’s diversity and intricacies.

While the Constituent Assembly wasn’t technically sovereign, it operated independently. Some critics found the constitution’s language to be overly literary and complex. The Congress Party held sway in the assembly, which was expected since it had a strong presence in provincial assemblies and represented various segments of Indian society. Claims of Hindu dominance stemmed from proportional community representation.

Read Also: Regulating Act of 1773: A Turning Point in British Governance

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