Making of the Constitution
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Making of the Constitution

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Polity

Making of the Constitution

CONSTITUTION:

  • The constitution is the supreme law of the land.
  • It sets out the framework and the principal functions of various organs of the government, i.e., Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary.

Making of the Constitution:

  • The idea of a Constituent Assembly for India was put forward by M.N. Roy.
  • The Constituent Assembly was set up under the Cabinet Mission (1946) proposal to draft a Constitution for
    independent India.  

Composition of the Constituent Assembly:

  • The total strength of the Constituent Assembly was to be 389. Of these, 296 seats (292 from eleven governor’s provinces and 4 from four chief commissioner’s provinces) were allotted to British India and 93 seats to the Princely States.
  • Each province and princely state were to be allotted seats in proportion to their population. 
  • Seats allocated to each British province were to be decided among the three communities- Muslims, Sikhs, and general, in proportion to their population.
  • The representatives of each community were to be elected by members of that community in the provincial legislative assembly and voting was to be done by the method of proportional representation using single
    transferable vote.
  • The representatives of princely states were to be nominated by the heads of the princely states.
  • The Indian National Congress won 208 seats, the Muslim League 73 seats, and the small groups and independent got the remaining 15 seats. The 93 seats allotted to the princely seats were not filled as they stayed away from the Constituent Assembly.
  • The Constituent Assembly included all important leaders of that time except Mahatma Gandhi and MA Jinnah. 

Working of the Constituent Assembly:

  • The first meeting was held on December 9, 1946.
  • The Muslim League boycotted the meeting and insisted on a separate state of Pakistan. Only 211 members attended the meeting.
  • Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha, the oldest member, was elected as the temporary President of the Assembly.
  • Later, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and H.C. Mukherjee were elected as the President and Vice-President of the Assembly respectively.
  • Sir BN Rau was appointed as the Constitutional advisor to the Assembly.

Objectives Resolution:

  • On December 13, 1946, Jawaharlal Nehru moved the ‘Objectives Resolution’ in the Assembly.
  • It laid down the fundamentals and philosophy of the constitutional structure.
  • Its modified version forms the Preamble of the Constitution. 

It read:

“This Constituent Assembly declares its firm and solemn resolve to proclaim India as the Independent Sovereign Republic and to draw up for her future governance a Constitution:

1. Wherein the territories that now comprise British India, the territories that now form the Indian States, and
such other parts of India as are outside India and the States as well as other territories as are willing to be constituted into independent sovereign India shall be a Union of them all; and 

2. 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 Government 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 

3. Wherein all power and authority of Sovereign Independent India, its constituent parts and organs of Government are derived from the people; and

4. 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 the law and public morality; and

5. Wherein adequate safeguards shall be provided for minorities, backward and tribal areas, and depressed and other backward classes; and

6. Whereby shall be maintained the integrity of the territory of the Republic and its sovereign rights on the land, sea, and air according to justice and the law of civilized nations; and

7. This ancient land attains its rightful and honored place in the world and makes its full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind.”

Changes by the Independence Act:

  • After the acceptance of the Mountbatten Plan of June 3, 1947, for a partition of the country, the representatives of most of the other princely states took their seats in the Assembly. The members of the Muslim League from the Indian Dominion also entered the Assembly.
  • The Assembly was made a fully sovereign body, which could frame any constitution it wanted.
  • The Assembly also became a legislative body. It was assigned 2 tasks of making a constitution for free India and enacting ordinary laws for the country, to be done on separate days. When the Assembly met as the Constituent body, it was chaired by Dr. Rajendra Prasad and when it met as the legislative body, it was chaired by GV Mavlankar.
  • The Muslim League members (from the areas of Pakistan), withdrew from the Constituent Assembly for India. The total strength of the Assembly came down to 299 (229 Indian provinces, 70 princely states).

Other Functions Performed:

  • It ratified India’s membership of the Commonwealth in May 1949.
  • It adopted the national flag on July 22, 1947.
  • It adopted the national anthem on January 24, 1950.
  • It adopted the national song on January 24, 1950.
  • It elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as the first President of India on January 24, 1950.

Note: The Constituent Assembly had 11 sessions over 2 years, 11 months, and 18 days. 

Committees of the Constituent Assembly: There were 8 major committees and other minor committees. Most important was the Drafting Committee.

Drafting Committee:

  • It was entrusted with the task of preparing a new draft of the new Constitution. It consisted of 7 members:
    1. Dr. BR Ambedkar (Chairman)
    2. N Gopalaswamy Ayyangar
    3. Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar
    4. Dr. KM Munshi
    5. Syed Mohammad Saadullah
    6. N Madhava Rau (He replaced BL Mitter who resigned due to ill-health.)
    7. T T Krishnamachari (He replaced DP Khaitan who died in 1948.) 

Union Powers Committee- Jawaharlal Nehru

Union Constitution Committee- Jawaharlal Nehru

Provincial Constitution Committee- Sardar Patel

Drafting Committee- Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

Rules of Procedure Committee- Dr. Rajendra Prasad

States Committee (Committee for Negotiating with States)- Jawaharlal Nehru

Steering Committee- Dr. Rajendra Prasad

Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas- Sardar Patel. This committee had the following sub-committees:

Fundamental Rights Sub-committee- J. B. Kripalani

Minorities Sub-Committee- H.C. Mukherjee

North-East-Frontier Tribal Areas and Assam Excluded & Partially Excluded Areas Sub-Committee- Gopinath Bardoloi

Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas (other than those in Assam) Sub-Committee- A.V. Thakkar

Committee on the Functions of the Constituent Assembly- G. V. Mavlankar

Order of Business Committee- Dr. K. M. Munshi

House Committee- B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya

Ad-hoc Committee on the National Flag- Rajendra Prasad

Special Committee to Examine the Draft Constitution- Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar

Credentials Committee- Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar

Finance and Staff Committee- Dr. Rajendra Prasad

Hindi Translation Committee

Urdu Translation Committee

Press Gallery Committee

Committee to Examine the Effect of the Indian Independence Act of 1947

Committee on Chief Commissioner’s Provinces- B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya

Committee on Linguistic Provinces

Expert Committee on Financial Provisions

Ad-hoc Committee on the Supreme Court- S. Varadachariar

Enactment of the Constitution:

  • Dr BR Ambedkar (Father of the Constitution of India or Modern Manu) introduced the final draft for first reading in the Assembly.
  • After general discussion in the first reading for 5 days, clause by clause consideration in the second reading in which many amendments were proposed and discussed and after the third reading of the draft, Dr. BR Ambedkar moved a motion “the Constitution as settled by the Assembly be passed”. 
  • The motion was declared as passed on November 26, 1949, and received the signatures of the members (284 present) and the President.
  • The Constitution as adopted on November 26, 1949, contained a Preamble, 395 Articles, and 8 Schedules.

Enforcement of the Constitution:

  • January 26 was chosen as the ‘date of commencement’ of the Constitution because of its historical importance. It was on this day in 1930 that Purna Swaraj day was celebrated, following the resolution of the Lahore Session (December 1929) of the INC. 

Criticism of the Constituent Assembly:

  • It was not a representative body as its members were not directly elected by the people of India based on
    Universal Adult Franchise.
  • It was not a sovereign body as it was created by the proposals of the British Government and held its sessions with the permission of the British Government. 
  • It took a long time to make the Constitution.
  • It was dominated by the Congress.
  • It was dominated by lawyers and politicians and other sections of the society were not properly represented.
  • It was a Hindu dominated body and represented only one major community in India.