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Constituent Assembly of India – History & Formation

Constituent Assembly of India

Constituent Assembly of India – History and Formation

  • In 1934, M N Roy, a pioneer of the Communist movement in India was the first person who proposed the idea of a constituent assembly.
  • There was a session held by the Indian National Congress presided by Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru in April 1935 at Lucknow. During this session, the members of Congress raised an official demand for the Constituent Assembly. Although this demand was rejected.
  • In 1938, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru made an impactful statement regarding the Constitution and Assembly, ‘The constitution of free India must be framed, without outside interference, by a constituent assembly elected based on adult franchise’.
  • Later on, C. Rajagopalachari who was an independence activist raised his voice for the making of Constituent Assembly of India on 15 November 1939.
  • The British gave their formal acceptance for the forming the Constituent assembly of India on 8 Aug 1940 in the August Offer.
  • Under the Cabinet Mission plan, 1946, elections were held for the formation of the constituent assembly.
  • The members of this assembly were elected indirectly, i.e., by the members of the provincial assemblies by the method of a single transferable vote of proportional representation.
  • The constituent assembly was formed for the purpose of writing a constitution for independent India.

Composition of the Assembly

Some of the important aspects related to this are –

  • Total strength of the assembly – 389 (296 seats for British India and 93 seats to princely states)
  • 292 seats allocated for British India were to be from 11 governor’s provinces and 4 from Chief Commissioner’s provinces, 93 were from princely states, and four from provinces of Delhi, Coorg, Ajmer and Baluchistan (one each).
  • Seats were allocated based in proportion to their respective population.
  • Seats allocated to each British province were to be decided among the three principal communities- Muslims, Sikhs and general.
  • Representatives of each communities were to be elected by members of that community in the provincial legislative assembly and voting was to be by the method of proportional representation by means of single transferrable vote.
  • Representatives of princely states were to be nominated by head of these princely states.
  • Remember: Some observations regarding the composition:
    • Partly elected and partly nominated
    • Indirect election by provincial assemblies who themselves were elected on a limited franchise
    • Though indirect mode of election, it included representatives from all sections of the society

Important Members of Constituent Assembly of India

  • B. N. Rau – Diplomat and constitutional advisor, had key role in drafting committee.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru – later elected as Prime Minister of India.
  • Vallabh Bhai Patel – later served as Deputy Prime Minister and Home minister in first cabinet.
  • B. R. Ambedkar – chairman of drafting committee, later worked as first law minister
  • Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad – later served as first cabinet minister for education
  • Rajendra Prasad – served as first President of India
  • C Rajagopalachari – served as first and last Governor General of free India.
  • Sarat Chandra Bose – Barrister and freedom fighter, elder brother of Subhash Chandra Bose
  • Krishna Sinha – later worked as first Chief Minister of Bihar
  • Anugrah Narayan Sinha – known as Bihar Vibhuti, served as deputy CM and finance minister of Bihar
  • N Gopalaswami Ayyangar – instrumental in creating and implementing Article 370
  • Rafi Ahmad Kidwai – socialist and activist, later served as first cabinet minister of communication
  • Shyam Nandan Prasad Mishra – freedom fighter turned politician, served as minister for planning
  • Asaf Ali – freedom fighter, later served as first ambassador to US from India.
  • Syama Prasad Mukherjee – served as minister for Industries in first Nehru cabinet. Left Congress due to differences with Nehru and established Bhartiya Jan Sangha in 1951.
  • Moturi Satyanarayana – member of drafting committee, instrumental in making Hindi as official language
  • Amrit Kaur – freedom fighter and social activist, first cabinet health minister, first woman minister of India.
  • Hansa Mehta – writer and social activist, became Vice Chairman Human Rights commission in UN in 1950
  • Kailashnath Katju – famous lawyer, freedom fighter, worked as CM of MP, union minister at various posts
  • John Mathai – economist, served as first railway minister, later as finance minister
  • S. Radhakrishnan – philosopher and thinker, first vice president of India
  • Some other important members of Constituent Assembly were – Binodanand Jha, N G Ranga, Deep Narayan Singh, Gopinath Bordoloi, Sir Syed Muhammad Saadulla, T T Krishnamachari, Rameshwar Prasad Sinha, K M Munshi, C Subramaniam, Durgabai Deshmukh, Krishna Ballabh Sahay, Frank Anthony, Pratap Singh Kairon, P Subbarayan.

Female Members of Constituent Assembly

  • There were total 15 female members among total 389 elected members of constituent assembly. These female members were –
      • Durgabai Deshmukh
      • Rajkumari Amrit Kaur
      • Hansa Mehta
      • Begum Aizaz Rasul
      • Ammu Swaminathan
      • Sucheta Kriplani
      • Dakshayani Velayudhan
      • Renuka Ray
      • Purnima Banerjee
      • Annie Mascarene
      • Kamla Chaudhri
      • Leela (Nag) Roy
      • Malati Choudhury
      • Sarojini Naidu and
      • Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit.

Constituent Assembly of India, History, Importance, important members, important committees, Working, Objective resolution, Criticism

Important Members from Muslim League

  • These members later withdrew their candidature after separation of Pakistan.
  • Md. Ali Jinnah, Abdul Hamid, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, Md. Akram Khan, Ebrahim Khan, Fazlur Rahman, Beghum Sahaista, Liaqat ali Khan, Khwaja Nazimuddin, Ghulam Mohammad, Mian Mumtaz Mohammad, Zafarullah Khan, Iftikhar Hussain Khan, Feroz Khan Noon, Beghum Jahan Ara, Abdus Sattar, S.B Nawab Mohammad Khan Jogezai.
  • The only member representing Baluchistan was S.B Nawab Mohammad Khan Jogezai.

Important Committees of Constituent Assembly

  • There were total 23 different small and big committees for creating constitution.
  • The eight major committees are enlisted as follows –






Drafting Committee

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar


Union Powers Committee

Jawaharlal Nehru


Union Constitution Committee

Jawaharlal Nehru


Provincial Constitution Committee

Vallabhbhai Patel


Advisory committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities, Tribal areas

(It had following sub-committees)

Vallabhbhai Patel


Fundamental Rights sub committee

J B Kriplani


Minorities Sub committee

H.C Mukherjee


North East Tribal areas sub committee

Gopinath Bordoloi


Excluded and partially excluded areas sub committee

A V Thakkar


Rules of Procedure committee

Dr. Rajendra Prasad


States committee

Jawaharlal Nehru


Steering committee

Dr. Rajendra Prasad



  • Following Minor Committees were also formed –



Minor committees



Committee on the functions of the constituent Assembly

GV Mavalankar


Order of Business committee

Dr KM Munshi


House committee

B Pattabhi Sitaramayya


Ad-hoc committee on the National flag

Dr Rajendra Prasad


Special committee to examine the draft constitution

Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar


Objectives Resolution

  • It was moved by Jawahar Lal Nehru in December 1946.
  • Objective Resolution enshrined the aspirations and values of the constitution makers. Under this, the people of India were guaranteed social, economic and political justice, equality and fundamental freedoms. It laid down the fundamentals and philosophy of the constitutional structure.
  • The resolution highlighted the following objectives –
    • Free India will be nothing but a republic
    • The ideal of social, political and economic democracy would be guaranteed to all people
    • The republic would grant Fundamental rights
    • The state would safeguard the rights of the minorities and backward classes
  • Constituent assembly acted as the temporary legislature until a new one was to be constituted. Some of the functions it performed at this stage were –
    • Ratification of India’s membership of the commonwealth
    • It adopted the national flag
    • It adopted the national anthem
    • Adoption of National song
    • Electing Dr Rajendra Prasad as the first President of India

Working of the Constituent Assembly

  • First meeting was held on December 9, 1946.
  • Muslim league did not participate in the first meeting.
  • Temporary president in the first meeting was Dr. Sachchidanand Sinha.
  • After elections were held, Dr Rajendra Prasad and HC Mukherjee were elected as the President and Vice-President of the Assembly respectively.
  • Sir BN Rau was appointed as the constitutional advisor of the assembly.
  • Once the Mountbatten plan was passed even members of Muslim league who were part of Indian Territory participated in the proceedings of the council.
  • Members of princely states who had stayed away from the proceedings initially also participated.
  • Constituent assembly held 11 sessions over 2 years, 11 months and 18 days.
  • Last session of the constituent assembly was held on January 24, 1950.

Key Facts about Constituent Assembly of India

  • Constitution of India was framed by Constituent Assembly which consisted of 389 members, out of which 292 were from Provinces, 93 from Princely states, 3 from Chief Commissioner Provinces and 1 from Baluchistan.
  • Constituent assembly held its first meeting on Dec 9, 1946 and elected Dr Sachhidanand Sinha, the oldest member of assembly as the provisional President.
  • On Dec 11, 1946 the assembly elected Dr Rajendra Prasad as its Chairman and Dr H.C. Mukherjee as vice president. B.N. Rau was appointed as constitutional adviser.
  • Strength of the assembly was reduced to 299 (229 representing Provinces and 70 representing Princely States) following withdrawal of Muslim League Members after partition of country.
  • There were 15 female members of constituent assembly. Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Hansa Mehta, Durgabai Deshmukh, Dakshayani Velayudhan and G. Durgabai were the prominent one.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru presented an objective resolution on 13 Dec 1946 in the assembly. This resolution served as the guideline for framing up the constitution. Later this resolution was accepted as preamble to Indian Constitution.
  • B.N. Rau made the first initial draft constitution based on his research of different countries constitution.
  • The Constituent Assembly set up 13 committees for framing the constitution. On the basis of reports of these committees, a detail draft of the constitution was prepared by a seven member Drafting Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr B R Ambedkar.
  • Constituent assembly prepared first draft constitution on 26 Nov 1949.
  • The draft constitution was published in Jan 1948 and people were given 8 months to discuss the draft and propose amendments.
  • After discussions and suggestions received the same was finally adopted on Nov 26, 1949. Though the major part of constitution came into effect on Jan 26, 1950, Provisions related to Election, Citizenship, Provisional Parliament etc. came into effect on Nov 26, 1949.
  • Constituent assembly finalised the constitution and made it to effect on 26 Jan 1950. This day is better remembered as Republic day of India. Constituent assembly itself became the provisional parliament of India and continued working till the first general elections were held in year 1952.

Enactment and Enforcement

  • Final draft of the constitution was introduced in the assembly in 1948.
  • After subsequent readings, the constituent assembly adopted, enacted and gave to themselves the constitution on November 26, 1949.
  • Some provisions of the constitution came into force on the above mentioned date. However, most provisions came into force on January 26th, 1950. This date is referred to in the constitution as the ‘date of its commencement’. This day is celebrated as ‘Republic day’ every year.
  • This day was chosen by the constitution-makers to pay homage to the ‘Purna Swaraj’ which started on January 26th, 1930.

Criticism of the Constituent Assembly

  • Not a representative body since members were not directly elected. Direct elections by the universal adult franchise at that time when the country was on the brink of partition and amidst communal riots would have been impractical.
  • The constituent assembly was not a sovereign body since it was created by the British. However, it worked as a fully independent and sovereign body.
  • The makers took a long time in framing the constitution. However, keeping in mind the complexity and the distinctiveness of the diverse and large Indian nation, this was reasonable.
  • It was dominated predominantly by congress party. But the party dominated the provincial assemblies and this was natural. Moreover, it was a heterogeneous party with members from almost all sections of Indian society.
  • It was dominated by lawyer-politician to a greater degree. The language of the constitution was criticised for being literary and complicated.
  • It was dominated by Hindus predominantly. This was again because of proportional representation from communities.

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