Updated July 31, 2022
The Constituent Assembly of India was formed for framing the Constitution of Independent India. Interestingly, this assembly also served as the first Parliament of an independent nation. In 1934, M N Roy first proposed the idea of a constituent assembly. It became an official demand of the Indian National Congress in 1935 and was accepted by the British in August 1940.
The actual Constituent Assembly was constituted on 9th December 1946. The establishment of the Constituent Assembly was the result of negotiations between the leaders of the Indian independence movement and members of the British Cabinet Mission.
Forming Constituent Assembly & Functioning
Members of the Constituent Assembly were elected by the Provincial Legislative Assemblies. The total members were 389 in which 93 members were from the Princely States and 296 From British India.
The seats to the British Indian provinces and princely states were allotted in the proportion of its population, roughly in the ratio of one to a million. Seats so ascertained were distributed among Muslims, Sikhs, and General. Interestingly, all the sections of Indian society got representation in the Constituent Assembly in spite of limited suffrage.
After 15 August 1947, the Constituent Assembly of India started functioning as India’s Parliament. The Constitution of India was drafted by the B. R. Ambedkar in conjunction with the necessary deliberations and debates in the Constituent Assembly.
Then, the constituent Assembly approved the Constitution on November 26, 1949. But it came into effect on January 26, 1950 — a day, we commemorate as Republic Day of India. The Constituent Assembly also became the Provisional Parliament of India after the constitution came into effect.
Making of the Indian Constitution: The Stages
(a) The total number of members of the Constituent Assembly was 385, of whom 93 were representatives from the Indian states and 292 from the provinces (British India).
(b) After the partition of India, the number of members of the Constituent Assembly came to 299, of whom 284 were actually present on the 26th November 1949 and signed on the final approved Constitution of India. The Constituent Assembly, which had been elected before the partition of India, held its first meeting on December 9, 1946, and reassembled on August 14, 1947, as the sovereign Constituent Assembly for the domination of India.
(c) After getting an impression from the different sources of constitutions, the constituent Assembly took two years, eleven months, and eighteen days to finalize the constitution.
(d) The first session of the Constituent Assembly was held in on December 13, 1946, in which the objective resolution was moved in. Later, it was adopted after considerable deliberation and debate in the Assembly on 22 January 1947. The following objectives were embodied in the resolution:
(i) To promote the unity of the nation and to ensure its economic and political security, to have a written Constitution, and to officially announce India as the Sovereign Democratic Republic.
(ii) To have a federal form of Government with the distribution of powers between the center and states.
(iii) To guarantee and secure justice, equality, freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, association, and action to all the people of India.
(iv) To provide adequate safeguards for minorities, backward and tribal areas, and depressed and other backward classes.
(v) To maintain the integrity of the territory of the republic and its sovereign rights on land, sea, and air according to justice and the law of civilized nations.
(vi) To attain a rightful and honored place in the world and make its full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind.
(e) The principles of the constitution were outlined by various committees of the Assembly, and there was a general discussion on the reports of these committees. The Constituent Assembly appointed the Drafting committees with Dr. B.R. Ambedkar as the Chairman on August 29, 1947, to scrutinize the draft of the text of the constitution of India prepared by the constitutional adviser Benegal Narsing Rao.
(f) The Drafting Committee, headed by DR. B.R. Ambedkar, submitted a Draft Constitution of India to the president of the Assembly on February 21, 1948.
(g) The members of Drafting Committee were N.Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar, Dr.K.M. Munshi, Syed Mohammad saadullah, B.L. Mitter (later replaced by N. Madhava Rao), Dr. D.P. Khaitan (replaced on death in 1948 by T.T. Krishnamachari).
(h) The third and final reading on the draft was completed on November 26, 1949. On this date, the signature of the President of the Assembly was appended to it and the Constitution was declared as passed.
(i) The provisions relating to citizenship, elections, and provisional parliament, etc were implemented with immediate effect, that is, from the 26th November 1949. The rest of the provisions of the constitution came into force on January 26, 1950, and this date is referred to in the Constitution as the date of its commencement.
(k) 26th November is observed as ‘Constitution day’ to celebrate the 125th birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the Government of India decided to observe ‘Constitution day’ on 26th November w.e.f 2015.
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