The Constituent Assembly of India was elected to frame the Constitution of India. It was elected by the 'Provincial Assembly'. Following India's independence from the British Government in 1947, its members served as the nation's first Parliament as the 'Provisional Parliament of India'.
Constituent Assembly of India
|Disbanded||25 January 1950|
|Preceded by||Imperial Legislative Council|
|Succeeded by||Parliament of India (1950)|
Constituent Assembly of Pakistan (1947)
Chairman of the Drafting Committee
|Seats||389 (Dec. 1946-June 1947)|
299 (June 1947-Jan. 1950)
INC: 208 seats
AIML: 73 seats
Others: 15 seats
Princely States: 93 seats
|Single transferable vote|
|House of Parliament, New Delhi|
The idea for a Constituent Assembly was proposed in 1934 by M. N. Roy, a pioneer of the Communist movement in India and an advocate of radical democracy. It became an official demand of the Indian National Congress in 1935. The Indian National Congress held its session at Lucknow in April 1936 presided by Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru. The official demand for Constituent Assembly was raised and Government of India Act, 1935 was rejected as it imposed the Constitution which was against the will of the Indians. C. Rajagopalachari voiced the demand for a Constituent Assembly on 15 November 1939 based on adult franchise, and was accepted by the British in August 1940.
On 8 August 1940, a statement was made by Viceroy Lord Linlithgow about the expansion of the Governor-General's Executive Council and the establishment of a War Advisory Council. This offer, known as the August Offer, included giving full weight to minority opinions and allowing Indians to draft their own constitution. Under the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946, elections were held for the first time for the Constituent Assembly. The Constitution of India was drafted by the Constituent Assembly, and it was implemented under the Cabinet Mission Plan on 16 May 1946. The members of the Constituent Assembly were elected by the provincial assemblies by a single, transferable-vote system of proportional representation. The total membership of the Constituent Assembly was 389 of which 292 were representatives of the provinces, 93 represented the princely states and four were from the chief commissioner provinces of Delhi, Ajmer-Merwara, Coorg and British Baluchistan.
The elections for the 296 seats assigned to the British Indian provinces were completed by August 1946. Congress won 208 seats, and the Muslim League 73. After this election, the Muslim League refused to cooperate with the Congress and the political situation deteriorated. Hindu-Muslim riots began, and the Muslim League demanded a separate constituent assembly for Muslims in India. On 3 June 1947 Lord Mountbatten, the last British Governor-General of India, announced his intention to scrap the Cabinet Mission Plan; this culminated in the Indian Independence Act 1947 and the separate nations of India and Pakistan. The Indian Independence Act was passed on 18 July 1947 and, although it was earlier declared that India would become independent in June 1948, this event led to independence on 15 August 1947. The Constituent Assembly met for the first time on 9 December 1946, reassembling on 14 August 1947 as a sovereign body and successor to the British parliament's authority in India.
As a result of the partition, under the Mountbatten plan, a separate Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was established on 3 June 1947. The representatives of the areas incorporated into Pakistan ceased to be members of the Constituent Assembly of India. New elections were held for the West Punjab and East Bengal (which became part of Pakistan, although East Bengal later seceded to become Bangladesh); the membership of the Constituent Assembly was 299 after the reorganization, and it met on 31 December 1947. The constitution was drafted by 299 delegates from different caste, region religion, gender etc. These delegates sat over 114 days spread over 3 years (2 years 11 months and 18 days to be precise) and discussed what the constitution should contain and what laws should be included. The Drafting Committee of the Constitution was chaired by B. R. Ambedkar.
The Constituent Assembly of India, consisting of indirectly elected representatives, was established to draft a constitution for India (including the now-separate countries of Pakistan and Bangladesh). It existed for approx three years, the first parliament of India after independence in 1947. The Assembly was not elected based on universal adult suffrage, and Muslims and Sikhs received special representation as minorities. The Muslim League boycotted the Assembly after failing to prevent its creation. Although a large part of the Constituent Assembly was drawn from the Congress Party in a one-party environment, the Congress Party included a wide diversity of opinions—from conservative industrialists to radical Marxists, to Hindu revivalists.
The Assembly met for the first time in New Delhi on 9 December 1946, and its last session was held on 24 January 1950. The hope of the Assembly was expressed by Jawaharlal Nehru:
The first task of this Assembly is to free India through a new constitution, to feed the starving people, and to clothe the naked masses, and to give every Indian the fullest opportunity to develop himself according to his capacity. This is certainly a great task. Look at India today. We, are sitting here and there in despair in many places, and unrest in many cities. The atmosphere is surcharged with these quarrels and feuds which are called communal disturbances, and unfortunately we sometimes cannot avoid them. But at present the greatest and most important question in India is how to solve the problem of the poor and the starving. Wherever we turn, we are confronted with this problem. If we cannot solve this problem soon, all our paper constitutions will become useless and purposeless. Keeping this aspect in view, who could suggest to us to postpone and wait?— Jawaharlal Nehru, Constituent Assembly Debates (Proceedings), Vol. II
India was still under British rule when the Constituent Assembly was established, following negotiations between Indian leaders and members of the 1946 Cabinet Mission to India from the United Kingdom. Provincial assembly elections were held in early 1946. Constituent Assembly members were elected indirectly by members of the newly elected provincial assemblies, and initially included representatives for those provinces that formed part of Pakistan (some of which are now in Bangladesh). The Constituent Assembly had 389 representatives, including fifteen women.
The Interim Government of India was formed on 2 September 1946 from the newly elected Constituent Assembly. The Congress Party held a large majority in the Assembly (69 percent of the seats), and the Muslim League held nearly all the seats reserved in the Assembly for Muslims. There were also members of smaller parties, such as the Scheduled Caste Federation, the Communist Party of India and the Unionist Party.
In June 1947 delegations from Sindh, East Bengal, Baluchistan, West Punjab and the North West Frontier Province withdrew to form the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, meeting in Karachi. On 15 August 1947 the Dominion of India and Dominion of Pakistan became independent nations, and members of the Constituent Assembly who had not withdrawn to Karachi became India's Parliament. Twenty-eight members of the Muslim League joined the Indian Assembly, and 93 members were later nominated from the princely states; the Congress Party secured a majority of 82 percent.
At 11 AM on 9th December 1946 the Assembly began its first session, with 211 members attending. By early 1947, representatives of the Muslim League and princely states joined, and the Assembly approved the draft constitution on 26th November 1949. On 26th January 1950, the constitution took effect (commemorated as Republic Day), and the Constituent Assembly became the Provisional Parliament of India (continuing until after the first elections under the new constitution in 1952).
Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the president and Its vice-president was Harendra Coomar Mookerjee, a Christian from Bengal and former vice-chancellor of Calcutta University. Also chairing the assembly's Minorities Committee, Mookerjee was appointed governor of West Bengal after India became a republic. Jurist B. N. Rau was appointed constitutional adviser to the assembly; Rau prepared the original draft of the constitution and was later appointed a judge in the Permanent Court of International Justice in The Hague.
The assembly's work had five stages:
The Constituent Assembly appointed a total of 22 committees to deal with different tasks of constitution-making. Out of these, Nine were major committees and the others were minor committees.
The constitution has been, in more recent times, critiqued on the basis of the fact that the members of the Constituent Assembly were not truly chosen by universal suffrage, but rather were elected by provincial assemblies that themselves were not elected by universal suffrage. It has been argued that the Congress party did not seek to completely dismantle British power, but rather transfer its power into its own hands. In his book The Constitution of India: Miracle, Surrender, Hope, Rajeev Dhavan has argued that the Indian people did not have much say in the making of the Constitution which was they had no choice but to accept.
|Madras||O. V. Alagesan, Ammu Swaminathan, M. Ananthasayanam Ayyangar, Moturi Satyanarayana, Dakshayani Velayudhan, G. Durgabai, Kala Venkatarao, N. Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, D. Govinda Das, Jerome D'Souza, P. Kakkan, T. M. Kaliannan, K. Kamaraj, V. C. Kesava Rao, T. T. Krishnamachari, Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, L. Krishnaswami Bharathi, P. Kunhiraman, Mosalikanti Thirumala Rao, V. I. Munuswamy Pillai, M. A. Muthiah Chettiar, V. Nadimuthu Pillai, S. Nagappa, P. L. Narasimha Raju, B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya, C. Perumalswamy Reddy, T. Prakasam, S. H. Prater, Raja Swetachalapati, R. K. Shanmukham Chetty, T. A. Ramalingam Chettiar, Ramnath Goenka, O. P. Ramaswamy Reddiyar, N. G. Ranga, Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, Sheik Galib Sahib, K. Santhanam, B. Shiva Rao, Kallur Subba Rao, U. Srinivas Mallya, P. Subbarayan, C. Subramaniam, V Subramaniam, M. C. Veerabahu Pillai, P. M. Velayudapani, A. K. Menon, T. J. M. Wilson, M. Muhammad Ismail, K. T. M. Ahmed Ibrahim, Mahboob Ali Baig Sahib Bahadur, B. Pocker Sahib Bahadur, V. Ramaiah, Ramakrishna Ranga Rao|
|Bombay||Balchandra Maheshwar Gupte, Hansa Mehta, Hari Vinayak Pataskar, Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Joseph Alban D'Souza, Kanayalal Nanabhai Desai, Keshavrao Jedhe, Khandubhai Kasanji Desai, B. G. Kher, Minoo Masani, K.M. Munshi, Narahar Vishnu Gadgil, S. Nijalingappa, S. K. Patil, Ramchandra Manohar Nalavade, R. R. Diwakar, Shankarrao Deo, G. V. Mavalankar, Vallabhbhai Patel, Abdul Kadar Mohammad Shaikh, Abdul Kadir Abdul Aziz Khan|
|Bengal||Mono Mohan Das, Arun Chandra Guha, Lakshmi Kanta Maitra, Mihir Lal Chattopadhyay, Satis Chandra Samanta, Suresh Chandra Majumdar, Upendranath Barman, Prabhudayal Himatsingka, Basanta Kumar Das, Renuka Ray, H. C. Mookerjee, Surendra Mohan Ghose, Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Ari Bahadur Gurung, R. E. Platel, K. C. Neogy, Raghib Ahsan, Somnath Lahiri, Jasimuddin Ahmad, Naziruddin Ahmad, Abdul Hamid, Abdul Halim Ghaznavi|
|United Provinces||Maulana Hifzur Rahman Seoharwi, Ajit Prasad Jain, Rai Bahadur Raghubir Narain Singh, Algu Rai Shastri, Balkrishna Sharma, Banshi Dhar Misra, Bhagwan Din, Damodar Swarup Seth, Dayal Das Bhagat, Dharam Prakash, A. Dharam Dass, R. V. Dhulekar, Feroz Gandhi, Gopal Narain, Krishna Chandra Sharma, Govind Ballabh Pant, Govind Malviya, Har Govind Pant, Harihar Nath Shastri, Hriday Nath Kunzru, Jaspat Roy Kapoor, Jagannath Baksh Singh, Jawaharlal Nehru, Jogendra Singh, Jugal Kishore, Jwala Prasad Srivastava, B. V. Keskar, Kamla Chaudhry, Kamalapati Tripathi, J. B. Kripalani, Mahavir Tyagi, Khurshed Lal, Masuriya Din, Mohanlal Saksena, Padampat Singhania, Phool Singh, Paragi Lal, Purnima Banerjee, Purushottam Das Tandon, Hira Vallabha Tripathi, Ram Chandra Gupta, Shibban Lal Saxena, Satish Chandra, John Matthai, Sucheta Kripalani, Sunder Lall, Venkatesh Narayan Tiwari, Mohanlal Gautam, Vishwambhar Dayal Tripathi, Vishnu Sharan Dublish, Begum Aizaz Rasul, Hyder Hussain, Hasrat Mohani, Abul Kalam Azad, Nawab Mohammad Ismail Khan, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai, Z H Lari|
|Punjab (Now East Punjab)||Bakshi Tek Chand, Jairamdas Daulatram, Thakur Das Bhargava, Bikramlal Sondhi, Yashwant Rai, Ranbir Singh Hooda, Lala Achint Ram, Nand Lal, Baldev Singh, Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir, Sardar Hukam Singh, Sardar Bhopinder Singh Mann, Sardar Rattan Singh Lohgarh Chaudhry Suraj Mal, Begum Aizaz Rasul|
|Bihar||Amiyo Kumar Ghosh, Anugrah Narayan Sinha, Banarsi Prasad Jhunjhunwala, Bhagwat Prasad, Boniface Lakra, Brajeshwar Prasad, Chandika Ram, K. T. Shah, Devendra Nath Samanta, Dip Narain Sinha, Guptanath Singh, Jadubans Sahay, Jagat Narain Lal, Jagjivan Ram, Jaipal Singh Munda, Kameshwar Singh of Darbhanga, Kamaleshwari Prasad Yadav, Mahesh Prasad Sinha, Krishna Ballabh Sahay, Raghunandan Prasad, Rajendra Prasad, Rameshwar Prasad Sinha, Ramnarayan Singh, Sachchidananda Sinha, Sarangdhar Sinha, Satyanarayan Sinha, Binodanand Jha, P. K. Sen, Sri Krishna Sinha, Sri Narayan Mahtha, Syamanandan Mishra, Hussain Imam, Syed Jafar Imam, S. M. Latifur Rahman, Mohd Tahir Hussain, Tajamul Hussain, Choudhry Abid Hussain, Hargovind Mishra.|
|Central Provinces and Berar||Ambica Charan Shukla, Raghu Vira, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Bhagwantrao Mandloi, Brijlal Biyani, Thakur Cheedilal, Seth Govind Das, Hari Singh Gour, Hari Vishnu Kamath, Hemchandra Jagobaji Khandekar, Ghanshyam Singh Gupta, Laxman Shrawan Bhatkar, Panjabrao Deshmukh, Ravi Shankar Shukla, R. K. Sidhva, Dada Dharmadhikari, Frank Anthony, Kazi Syed Karimuddin, Ganpatrao Dani|
|Assam||Nibaran Chandra Laskar, Dharanidhar Basu-Matari, Gopinath Bardoloi, J. J. M. Nichols-Roy, Kuladhar Chaliha, Rohini Kumar Chaudhury, Muhammad Saadulla, Abdur Rouf|
|Orissa||Bishwanath Das, Krishna Chandra Gajapati Narayana Dev, Harekrushna Mahatab, Laxminarayan Sahu, Lokanath Mishra, Nandkishore Das, Rajkrishna Bose, Santanu Kumar Das|
|Ajmer-Merwara||Mukut Bihari Lal Bhargava|
|Coorg||C. M. Poonacha|
|Mysore||K.C. Reddy, T. Siddalingaya, H. R. Guruv Reddy, S. V. Krishnamoorthy Rao, K. Hanumanthaiya, H. Siddhaveerappa, T. Channiah|
|Jammu and Kashmir||Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, Motiram Baigra, Mirza Afzal Beg, Maulana Mohammad Sayeed Masoodi|
|Travancore-Cochin||Pattom A. Thanu Pillai, R. Sankar, P. T. Chacko, Panampilly Govinda Menon, Annie Mascarene, P. S. Nataraja Pillai, K.A. Mohamed, P.K.Lekshmanan|
|Madhya Bharat||Vinayak Sitaram Sarwate, Brijraj Narain, Gopikrishna Vijayavargiya, Ram Sahai, Kusum Kant Jain, Radhavallabh Vijayvargiya, Sitaram Jajoo|
|Saurashtra||Balwantrai Mehta, Jaisukhlal Hathi, Amritlal Vithaldas Thakkar, Chimanlal Chakubhai Shah, Samaldas Gandhi|
|Rajputana||V. T. Krishnamachari, Hiralal Shastri, Sardar Singhjhi of Khetri, Jaswant Singhji, Raj Bhadur, Manikya Lal Varma, Gokul Lal Asava, Ramchandra Upadhyaya, Balwant Singh Mehta, Dalel Singh, Jainarain Vyas|
|Patiala and East Punjab States Union||Ranjit Singh, Sochet Singh Aujla, Kaka Bhagwant Roy|
|Bombay States||Vinayakrao Balshankar Vaidya, B.N. Munavalli, Gokulbhai Bhatt, Jivraj Narayan Mehta, Gopaldas Ambaidas Desai, Paranlal Thakurlal Munshi, Balasaheb Hanumantrao Khardekar, Ratnappa Kumbhar|
|Orissa States||Lal Mohan Pati, N. Madhava Rau, Raj Kunwar, Sarangadhar Das, Yudhishthir Misra|
|Central Provinces States||Ratanlal Kishorilal Malviya, Kishori Mohan Tripathi, Thakur Ramprasad Potai|
|United Provinces States||Bashir Hussain Zaidi, Krishna Singh|
|Madras States||V. Ramaiah|
|Vindhya Pradesh||Avdesh Pratap Singh, Shambu Nath Shukla, Ram Sahai Tiwary, Manoolal Dwivedi|
|Cooch Behar||Himmat Singh K. Maheshwari|
|Tripura and Manipur||Girija Shankar Guha|
|Kutch||Bhavanji Arjan Khimji|
|Himachal Pradesh||Yashwant Singh Parmar|
|Bengal (Now East Bengal)||Abdullah al Mahmood, Maulana Mohammad Abdullah el Baqui, Abdul Hamid, Abdul Kasem Khan, Mohammad Akram Khan, Azizuddin Ahmad, Muhammad Habibullah Bahar, Prem Hari Barma, Raj Kumar Chakraverty, Sris Chandra Chattopadhyaya, Abdul Matin Chaudhary, Murtaza Raza Choudhry, Hamidul Haq Chowdhury, Akhay Kumar Das, Dhirendra Nath Datta, Bhupendra Kumar Datta, Ebrahim Khan, Fazlul Huq, Fazlur Rahman, Ghayasuddin Pathan, Begum Shaista Suhrawardy Ikramullah, Liaquat Ali Khan, Mafizuddin Ahmad, Mahmud Hussain, Jnanendra Chandra Majumdar, A. M. Malik, Birat Chandra Mandal, Jogendra Nath Mandal, Mohammed Ali, Khwaja Nazimuddin, M.A.B.L. Nur Ahmed, Nurul Amin, Ishtiaq Hussain Qureshi, Sri Dhananjoy, B.L. Roy, Maudi Bhakesh Chanda, B.L. Serajul Islam, Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Osmani, Shahabudin Khwaja, H.S. Suhrawardy, Harendra Kumar Sur, Tamizuddin Khan, Kawivi Kerwar Datta, Ghulam Mohammed|
|Punjab (Now West Punjab)||Mumtaz Daultana, Ganga Saran, Zafarullah Khan, Iftikhar Hussain Khan, Mian Muhammad Iftikharuddin, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Sheikh Karamat Ali, Nazir Ahmad Khan, Sardar Abdur Rab Nistar, Feroz Khan Noon, Omar Hayat Malik, Shah Nawaz Begum Jahan Ara, Sardar Shaukat Hyat Khan,|
|Northwest Frontier||Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Sardar Bahadur Khan, Sardar Asad Ullah Jan Khan|
|Sind||Abdus Sattar Abdur Rahman, Alhajj Muhammad Hashim Gazder, M.A. Khuhro|
|Balochistan||S. B. Nawab Mohammad Khan Jogezai|
Jawaharlal Nehru and other members taking pledge during the midnight session of the Constituent Assembly of India held on 14 and 15 August 1947.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, chairman, with other members of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly of India, on 29 August 1947.
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, chairman of the Drafting Committee, presenting the final draft of the Indian Constitution to Dr. Rajendra Prasad on 25 November 1949.
Constituent Assembly of India.
Jawaharlal Nehru addressing the constituent assembly in 1946.