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The cabinet mission plan provided a framework for the formation of constituent assembly, which was established in 1946 to draft India's constitution. The Constituent Assembly is a democratically elected body entrusted with creating a constitution. The legislature is dissolved after the constitution is finalized. Because members of the constituent assembly are elected or unelected representatives, it is considered a kind of representative democracy.
How was the Constituent Assembly of India formed?
The Constituent Assembly of India was initially constituted to draft the Indian Constitution. This committee was chosen by the Provincial Assembly. M. N. Roy, a Communist movement pioneer in India, was the first to suggest the notion of a Constituent Assembly in 1934. The Indian National Congress later suggested this proposal in 1935.
In April 1935, the Indian National Congress met in Lucknow, presided over by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. During this session, Congress members made an official request for the Constituent Assembly. Despite the fact that this demand was refused.
"The constitution of free India must be established, without outside intervention, by a constituent assembly chosen on the basis of adult franchise," said Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in 1938.
Later, C. Rajagopalachari, an independence campaigner as well as an Indian statesman, writer, and lawyer, advocated for the formation of the Constituent Assembly of India on November 15, 1939.
Through their "August offer" of 1940, the British accepted the desire for a Constituent Assembly. Under the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946, elections for the Assembly were held for the first time. The Constituent Assembly created the Indian Constitution and put it into effect on May 16, 1946, to achieve its mission.
Composition of Constituent Assembly
Initially, there were 389 members. Following partition, several members moved to Pakistan, bringing the total to 299 people. There were 229 nominations from British provinces and 70 from princely kingdoms.
The first temporary chairman of the Constituent Assembly was Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha. Later, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was chosen president, and Harendra Coomar Mookerjee was appointed vice president. BN Rau served as the constitutional advisor.
Functions of the Constituent Assembly of India
Major functions of the constituent assembly were −
Create the Indian Constitution and ensure that everyone in the country has equal rights and opportunities.
On July 22, 1947, the legislature adopted the national flag.
Enact the laws.
The legislature accepted India's admission to the British Commonwealth in May 1949.
Through this committee, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was chosen the first President of India on January 24, 1950.
On January 24, 1950, the National Anthem and the National Song were adopted.
How were members of the Constituent Assembly Elected?
The members of the Constituent Assembly of India were chosen by the Provincial Assembly using a single, transferable vote system. The total number of Assembly members was 389. The provinces were represented by 292 members, the princely states by 93, and the chief commissioner provinces by four: Delhi, British Baluchistan, Coorg, and Ajmer-Merwara.
The elections for the 296 seats given to the British Indian provinces were finished by August 1946. The majority of seats in this election were gained by Congress: 208. The Muslim League, on the other hand, had only gained 73 seats. As a result of their defeat in this election, the Muslim League refused to cooperate with Congress, worsening the political situation. The Hindu-Muslim riots started, and Muslims requested their own Constituent Assembly.
The Constituent Assembly of India met for the first time on December 9, 1946. Later, on August 14, 1947, they reconvened as a sovereign body.
As a result of the partition of India and Pakistan, a separate constituent assembly of Pakistan was established on June 3, 1947. Since the formation of a new assembly, new elections for West Punjab and East Bengal have been held. West Punjab was annexed by Pakistan, and East Bengal was annexed by Bangladesh.
The Constituent Assembly had 299 members after this rearrangement, and they drafted the Indian Constitution. These delegates met on December 9, 1946, for 2 years, 11 months, and 18 days to consider what items and provisions should be included in the Constitution. The Constituent Assembly met 11 times in these two years. B. R. Ambedkar presided over this committee.
Committees of the Constituent Assembly
Several committees were formed to carry out the different responsibilities related to the constitution's creation. The following are some of the major and minor constituent assembly committees −
J. Nehru headed the Union Powers Committee.
The president of the Union Constitution Committee is J. Nehru.
S. Patel chairs the provincial constitution committee.
BR Ambedkar presided over the drafting committee. S. Patel presided over the advisory group on fundamental rights, minorities, tribal groups, and excluded areas. It was divided into the following subcommittees:
JB Kripalani is a member of the FR subcommittee.
Subcommittee on Minorities: HC Mukherjee
Sub-committee on North-East Frontier Tribal Areas and Assam's Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas: Gopinath Bardoloi
Subcommittee on excluded and partially excluded areas: AV Thakkar
Rajendra Prasad serves on the Rules and Procedures Committee.
J Nehru chairs the states committee for negotiating with states.
Rajendra Prasad is on the steering committee.
Committee on Constituent Assembly Functions: GV Mavalankar
KM Munshi chairs the Order of Business Committee.
B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya of the House Committee
Rajendra Prasad chairs the National Flag Ad Hoc Committee.
Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar will chair a special committee to review the draft constitution.
It was regarded as the constituent assembly's most significant committee.
It was presided over by BR Ambedkar.
He was instrumental in the development of the constitution as well as its passage in the legislature.
In February 1948, the group issued the first draft of the constitution. In October 1948, the second draft was issued following adjustments recommended by the public.
Criticism of the Constituent Assembly of India
The main complaint levelled at India's Constituent Assembly was that it was not elected by universal suffrage. Many people believe it was dominated by members of Congress and lawyer-politicians. There were charges that the Constituent Assembly was not a sovereign assembly because it was created during the British regime. The group took an inordinate amount of time to draft the Constitution. The majority of the committee members were Hindus.
Are all of these critiques true? Absolutely not! The constituent assembly was made up of people from various faiths, castes, and civilizations in the community. This means that everyone has an equal chance. Because India is a large country with people from various walks of life, the time it took the Constituent Assembly to draft the Constitution was appropriate.
The secular sections of the Constitution demonstrate that the Constitution guarantees equal rights and opportunities to all citizens, regardless of caste or religion.
The Constituent Assembly was formed because India desperately needed a body that could formulate and pass legislation. The assembly took many outstanding steps and passed legislation ensuring equal respect for everybody. The creation of the Constituent Assembly was fraught with challenges.
But, in the end, the parliament was constituted thanks to the backing of all Indians and the prime minister. The Constituent Assembly was made up of people from various walks of life. They were instrumental in the development of the Constitution.
Q1. When was the Constituent Assembly formed in India?
Ans. The Constituent Assembly was founded in India in 1946 to draft the Indian Constitution. M.N. Roy initially proposed it in 1934, and it was based on the Cabinet Mission Plan.
Q2. Who was the President of the Constituent Assembly of India?
Ans. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was the President of India's Constituent Assembly.
Q3. What was the role of the Constituent Assembly in India?
Ans. The Constituent Assembly of India was elected to draft the Indian Constitution. The Constituent Assembly drafted the Constitution, which was approved by the Cabinet Mission Plan.
Q4. How many members did the Constituent Assembly of India have?
Ans. The Constituent Assembly of India had 389 representatives, including fifteen women.
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