The Constituent Assembly

Demand for a constituent assembly

The idea for a constituent assembly for India was given first by M.N Roy in 1934. Officially the demand for a constituent assembly was raised by the Indian National Congress in 1935 for framing the Constitution of India.

In 1938- Jawaharlal Nehru declared that the Indian Constituent Assembly would be elected by the adult franchise to frame the constituent of free India. This demand was accepted by the British Government in the ‘August Offer’ of 1940 the British rule provided the provision of the constitution made by Indians themselves.

In 1942, Sir Stafford Cripps, a cabinet member, came to India with a draft proposal of the British Government on the framing of an independent constitution to be adopted after World War II. However, the Cripps Proposals were rejected by the Muslim league. Finally, the Cabinet Mission put forth a scheme for the constituent assembly.

Composition of Constituent Assembly

The constituent Assembly was constituted in November 1946 under the Scheme of the Cabinet Mission. The features of the scheme were:

  • The total strength of the assembly was 389 out of which 296 were allotted to British India, and 93- to princely states.
  • The elections for 296 seats allotted to British Indian Provinces were held in July- August 1946.
  • Out of 296 seats, The Indian National Congress won 208 seats, the Muslim League- had 73 seats, and other independent groups- had 15 seats.
  • Princely states of 93 seats were not filled as they decided to not be involved in the constituent assembly.
  • In the first meeting of the constituent assembly held on December 9, 1946, the Muslim league boycotted and insisted on the formation of Pakistan.
  • 211 members participated in the meeting, and Dr. Schchidanand Sinha was elected as the Temporary President of the Assembly.
  • Later Rajendra Prasad was elected as president of the assembly, and two vice presidents– H.C. Mukherjee and V.T. Krishnamachari.
  • Mountbatten’s plan for the partition of the country was accepted on 28 April 1947.

The first cabinet of India after freedom (1947)

Ministry and members of the first cabinet of India after freedom are given in the table:

S. No. Position/ ministry Members
1. Prime minister, External Affairs and Commonwealth Relations, Scientific research Jawaharlal Nehru
2. Home, Information, and the Broadcasting States Sardar vallbha Bhai Patel
3. Food and Agriculture Dr. Rajendra Prashad
4. Education Maulana Abulkalam Azad
5. Railway and Transport Dr. Jhon Mathai
6. Finance R.K Sanmugham Chetty
7. Law Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
8. Labour Jagjivan ram
9. Defense Sardar Baldev Singh
10. Health Rajkumari Amrit Kaur
11. Commerce C.H. Bhabha
12. Communication Rafi Ahmed Kidwai
13. Industries and supplies Dr. Shyam Prasad Mukherji
14. Work, Mines, And Power V.N. Gadgil

Additional functions performed by the constituent assembly

The National Flag was adopted on 22nd July 1947, the National Anthem was adopted on 24 January 1950, and the National Song was also adopted on 24th January 1950.

  • Rajendra Prasad was elected as the first President of India on 24 January 1950.
  • The constituent assembly held 11 sessions in two years 11 months and 18 days.

Major committees and presidents under constituent assembly:

For the different tasks of constitution-making, many functional committees were appointed. Out of them, 8 were major committees and presidents were–

  • Union power committee- Jawaharlal Lal Nehru
  • union Constitution committee- Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Provincial Constitution Committee- Sardar Patel
  • Drafting Committee- Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
  • Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas- Sardar Patel.
  • Rules of Procedure Committee- Dr. Rajendra Prasad
  • State Committee- Jawahar Lal Nehru.
  • Steering committee- Dr. Rajendra Prasad.

Drafting Committee

The most important was the Drafting Committee with seven members-

  • B.R.Ambedkar (Chairman)
  • Gopalaswami Ayyangar
  • Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar
  • K.M.Munshi
  • Sayed Muhhamad Saudullah
  • Madhav Rao (Initially B.N.Mittal, resigned due to health issues)
  • T Krishnamacharya (After the death of DP Khaitan in 1948)

The constitution was adopted on 26 November 1949, consisting of a Preamble, 395 Articles, and 8 Schedules.

26 January was celebrated as Republic Day as the date of commencement of the constitution having its historical importance- On 26 January 1930 was celebrated as Purna Swaraj (resolution of Lahore session December 1929)

Ambedkar was called “The Father of the Indian Constitution”.

Some important facts about the Constituent Assembly:

  • The elephant was a symbol of the constituent assembly.
  • N Rao was the constitutional advisor of the constitutional assembly
  • V.R. Iyenger was secretary of the constitutional assembly.
  • N. Mukherjee was the chief Draftsman of the constitution of the constituent assembly.
  • The original constitution was handwritten in italic style by Prem Behari Narayan, the calligrapher of the Indian constitution.


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