Making of the Constitution

Table of Contents

1 Cabinet Mission Plan 1946

1.1 Recommendations

  • federation of provinces and princely states
  • Constituent Assembly would represent every community
    • seats to be divided among hindus, muslims, sikhs in proportion of their population (1 seat = 1 million people)

2 The Constituent Assembly

The Constituent Assembly was established in 1946 after the elections.

Elections were conducted to elect the people who then elected the Constituent Assembly. In these provincial elections:

  • INC won 208 seats
  • Muslim league won 73
  • Others & Independents won 15 seats

The Assembly comprised:

  • 389 seats in total
    • 296 indirectly elected (by a system of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote_
      • 292 to provinces
      • 4 to Chief Commissioner's provinces (Ajmer, Coorg, Sindh-Baluchistan, Delhi)
    • 93 nominated by princely states

After partition, only 299 members were left in India.

2.1 Important Facts

  • Hansa Mehta is considered to be representatives of women in the Constituent Assembly.
  • Dr. Sachinanand Sinha was the first president of Constituent Assembly.
  • Dr. Rajendra Prasad was the second and permanent president of the Constituent Assembly.
  • Dr. H. C. Mukherjee was the vice president of the Constituent Assembly.

2.2 Indian Independence Act 1947

It came into being along the lines of Mountbatten Plan or 3rd June Plan. Prime Minister Clement Attlee and Governor General Lord Mountbatted formulated this Act.

It came into effect on the midnight stroke of 15th of August, 1947. Some its provisions were:

  • divided the country into India & Pakistan
  • it provided for the division of Punjab and Bengal among the two new states
  • abolished the authority of the British Parliament and Crown paramountcy over Indian – full sovereignty to new dominions and end of British suzerainty over princely states
  • abolished the office of Secretary of State for India (no longer responsible for administration in India)
  • Governor General and Governors rendered as mere constitutional heads without any discretion
  • Constituent Assembly of India and Paksitan to double as respective dominion legislatures until the duly elected Parliament is constituted.
  • Removal of "Emperor of India" from the title of the British Monarch.

All the above provisions came into effect on 15th August, 1947.

The division of India and Pakistan was decided by the Boundary Commission. Referendums were conducted in the NWFP and Sylhet district of Assam to decide their fate; both chose Pakistan.

2.3 Boundary Commission

The Boundary Commission headed by Sir Cyril Radcliffe was given 5 weeks to hastily draw a boundary line.

There were in reality 2 Boundary Commissions, one for Punjab and the other for Bengal. Each had Radcliffe as the common chairman and 4 other members – 2 nominated by Muslim Leage and 2 by Congress.

The members of the Boundary Commission for Punjab were:

  1. Sir Cyril Radcliffe
  2. Justice Mehar Chand Mahajan
  3. Justice Teja Singh
  4. Justice Din Mohammad
  5. Justice Muhammad Munir

3 The Making of the Constitution

The first draft prepared by Advisory Branch headed by Sir B. N. Rau in October 1947. It was sent to scrutiny of the Drafting Committee which had recently been constituted. After a detailed study it was laid before the Constituent Assembly on 21 February, 1948 for deliberations.

After thorough deliberations, another draft was laid before the assembly on 26 October, 1948. This draft was criticized for being a borrowed bag. This draft was put through 3 readings in the Constitution:

  1. 1st reading: Over in Oct 1949
  2. 2nd reading: Over on 16 Nov, 1949
  3. 3rd reading: Over on 26 Nov, 1949

On 26 November, 1949, the Constitution was adopted, enacted and givent by the people of India unto themselves.

There were 22 Committees in the Constitutent Assembly which can be clubbed into a few categories.

3.1 Committees of the Assembly

3.1.1 Committees of Proecedural Affairs

Name of the Committee Name of the Chairman
Steering Committee Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Committee on Rules of Procedure Dr. Rajendra Prasad
Committee on Urdu Translation Syed Sadullah
Committee on Hindi Translation Raghuvira

3.1.2 Committees on Substantive Affairs

Name of the Committee Name of the Chairman
Drafting Committee Dr. B. R. Ambedkar
Union Powers Committee Jawaharlal Nehru
Union Constitution Committee Jawaharlal Nehru
Provincial Constitution Committee Sardar Patel
Committee to Negotiate with Princely States Sardar Patel (Dr. Rajendra Prasad too)
Committee on Fundamental Rights & Minorities Sardar Patel
Committee to examine draft constitution Dr. Alladi Krishnaswami Iyer
Committee on Structuring Judiciary Dr. Alladi Krishnaswami Iyer
Committee on Linguistic Provinces S. K. Dhar

3.2 Members of the Drafting Committee

7 members of the Drafting Committee:

  1. B. R. Ambedkar
  2. K. M. Munshi (Gujarat)
  3. Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer (Madras) – structure of the judiciary
  4. Gopalaswamy Ayangar
  5. S. M. Sadullah (Assam) – Muslim League
  6. Madhav Rao
  7. T. T. Krishnamcharya

4 Post 1950

The Constituent Assembly remained intact until the 1st Lok Sabha took over the reins in 1952. It served as a legislature. At the same time it elected the first president in the absence of a Parliament as early as 24 Jan 1950, who was again elected in 1952 when Lok Sabha came into effect.

Other events related to the Constituent Assembly:

  1. Ratified India's membership to the Commonwealth of Nations (1949)
  2. Adopted the National Flag – 22 July 1947
  3. Adopted the National Anthem & National Song – 24 Jan 1950
  4. Elected the 1st President of India – 24 Jan 1950.

Author: likeaflower

Created: 2018-05-12 Sat 17:15

Emacs 24.5.1 (Org mode 8.2.10)