Indian Polity

Making of the Constitution (Part 2)

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MAKING OF CONSTITUTION (Part 2)

MAKING OF THE CONSTITUTION

  • The Assembly included all important personalities of India at that time, with the exception of Mahatma Gandhi and M. A. Jinnah.
  • Although the Constituent Assembly was not directly elected by the people of India on the basis of adult franchise, it comprised representatives from all sections of Indian Society – Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis, Anglo-Indians, Indian Christians, SCs and STs including women from all these sections.
  • There were 17 woman members in the Constituent Assembly.
  • Dr. Ambedkar represented the depressed class, , Maharaja Darbhanga represented the landlords of India, Shyama Prasad Mookherji represented Hindu Maha Sabha, Frank Anthony represented Anglo Indians and H C Mookherji represented Indian Christians.
  • There were 17 Malayalees, including three women in the Constituent Assembly. Out of these seventeen, 9 were from Madras, 6 from Travancore and 1 from Kochi. The other one Malayalee member was actually the representative of United Province (Uttar Pradesh).
  • The Malayalee who represented Kochi in the Constituent Assembly was Panampilly Govinda Menon
  • The Malayalee who represented United Province was Dr. John Mathai.
  • Annie Mascrene (from Travancore), Ammu Swaminathan and Dakshayani Velayudhan(both from Malabar) were the three Malayalee women in Constituent Assembly.

Working Of the Constituent Assembly

  • The Constituent Assembly held its first meeting on December 9, 1946 in the Constitution Hall which is now known as the “Central Hall of Parliament House”.
  • Two hundred and seven representatives, including nine women were present on the first day of meeting
  • The inaugural session began at 11 a.m. with the introduction of Dr. Sachchidanand Sinha, the temporary Chairman of the Assembly, by Acharya Kripalani.

Acharya J B Kripalani was the first person to address Constituent Assembly. He represented United Province in Constituent Assembly.

  • Later, on December 11, 1946, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and H. C. Mukherjee were elected as the President and Vice President of the assembly respectively.
  • B.N. Rau was appointed as the Constitutional Advisor to the assembly.
  • S. N. Mukherjee was the Chief Draftsman of the Constitution who put complex proposals in legal language.
  • On December 13, 1946 Jawaharlal Nehru moved the ‘Objective Resolution’ in the Assembly.
  • The Resolution was unanimously adopted by the Assembly on January 22, 1947. Its modified version forms the Preamble of the present Constitution.

POST INDEPENDENCE

  • The Indian Independence Act of 1947 made the following three changes in the position of the Assembly:
  • The Assembly was made a fully sovereign body, which could frame any Constitution it pleased.
  • The Assembly also became a legislative body. In other words, two separate functions were assigned to the Assembly i.e., making of a constitution for free India and enacting of ordinary laws for the country.
  • Consequently, the members of the Constituent Assembly representing those areas which were to be included in Pakistan, East Bengal, North West frontier Province(NWFP), West Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan & Sylhet district of Assam, were no more members of the Constituent Assembly.
  • NWFP & Sylhet decided through a referendum to remain with Pakistan.
  • After partition, the strength of the Indian provinces was reduced to 229 from 296 and of those of the princely states from 93 to 70.  Thus the total was reduced to 299.
  • On 29 August, 1947, the Constituent Assembly set up a Drafting Committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to prepare a ‘Draft Constitution’ for India.
CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY : NOTED PERSONALITIES
President Rajendra Prasad
Interim – President Sachidananda Sinha
Vice-President H. C. Mookerji
Constitutional Advisor B. N. Rau
Secretary General H. V. R. Iyengar
Chief Draftsman S. N. Mukherjee

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar is known as the architect of Indian Constitution. Jawaharlal Nehru is known as architect of Preamble. Sardar Vallabhai Patel is known as the architect of fundamental rights in India.

VARIOUS COMMITTEES IN CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

  • The Constituent Assembly at various points during the constitution making process, appointed a number of Committees on different aspects of the Constitution to conduct preliminary research and deliberations within smaller groups.
  • These Committees submitted their reports before Constituent assembly after long deliberations.
  • Decision making in the committees was on the basis of a majority vote and members could record their dissents to decisions taken if they wished.
  • The Constitutional Adviser, B.N Rau compiled reports of various committees and prepared a Draft Constitution which he submitted to the Drafting Committee.
  • The following were crucial committees set up by the Constituent Assembly: Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights and Minority Rights, Union Powers Committee, Union Constitution Committee, Provincial Constitution Committee and Drafting Committee.
ORGANISATIONAL COMMITTEES
Committee Term Chairman
Rules of Procedure Committee December 11, 1946 – 20 Dec. 1946 Rajendra Prasad
Steering Committee January 21, 1947 – till the end Rajendra Prasad
Staff and Finance Committee December 23, 1946 – till the end Rajendra Prasad
Credentials Committee December 23, 1946 – till the end A.K. Ayyar
Order of Business Committee January 25, 1947 – July 14, 1947 K.M. Munshi
States (Negotiating) Committee December 21, 1946 – June 5, 1947 J.L. Nehru
Flag Committee June 23, 1947 – July 22, 1947 Rajendra Prasad
Committee on Functions of Constituent Assembly August 20, 1947 – August 25, 1947 G.V. Mavlankar
PRINCIPAL COMMITTEES
Committee Term Chairman
Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities, Tribal Areas and Excluded Areas 24 Jan 1947 – 26 May 1949 Sardar Vallabhai Patel
Union Powers Committee 25 Jan 1947 – 26 Aug 1947 J.L. Nehru
Union Constitution Committee 4 May 1947 – 31 July 1947 J.L. Nehru
Provincial Constitution Committee 4 May 1947 – 21 July 1947 Sardar Vallabhai Patel
Drafting Committee 29 Aug 1947 – 17 Nov 1949 Dr. B R. Ambedkar
OTHER MINOR COMMITTEES
Committee Chairman
Ad-hoc Committee on Citizenship S. Varadachariar
Experts Committee on Financial Provisions of Constitution N.R. Sarkar
Sub-Committee on Minority safeguards for West Bengal and East Punjab Sardar Vallabhai Patel
Sub-committee on Fundamental Rights J. B. Kripalani
Sub- Committee on Minorities H. C. Mookherjee
North-East Frontier Tribal Areas

and Assam Excluded & Partially

Excluded Areas Sub-Committee

Gopinath Bardoloi
Excluded and Partially Excluded

Areas (Other than those in Assam)

Sub-Committee

A.V. Thakkar
Ad-hoc committee on the Supreme court S.Vardhachariar
Committee on chief commissioners provinces B.Pattabhi Sitaramaiah

Some Other Committees were:

  • Hindi Translation Committee
  • Urdu Translation Committee
  • Press Gallery Committee
  • Committee to Examine the Effect of Indian Independence Act of 1947
  • Expert Committee on Financial Provisions

Drafting Committee

  • Among all the committees of the Constituent Assembly, the most important committee was the ‘Drafting Committee’ set up on August 29, 1947.
  • It was this committee that was entrusted with the task of preparing a draft for the new Constitution. It consisted of seven members namely- Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (Chairman), K. M. Munshi, N. Gopalaswamy Ayyangar, Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar, Syyed Mohammed Sadulla, B. L. Mitter (replaced by N. Madhava Rao) and D. P. Khaitan (owing to his death, T.T. Krishnamachari was chosen in 1948).
  • The Draft Constitution as prepared by the Constitutional Advisor as a text for the Draft Committee to work upon, consisted of 243 articles and 13 Schedules.
  • The Drafting Committee, after taking into consideration the proposals of the various committees, prepared the first draft of the Constitution of India
  • The first Draft Constitution presented by the Drafting Committee to the Constituent Assembly contained 315 articles and 8 Schedules which was published in February 1948.
  • At the end of the consideration stage, the number of articles in the Draft Constitution increased to 386. In its final form, the Draft Constitution contained 395 articles and 8 Schedules.

ENACTMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION

  • Dr. B. R. Ambedkar introduced the final draft of the Constitution in the Constituent Assembly on November 4, 1948. It is called ‘first reading’. The assembly had a general discussion on it for five days.
  • The ‘second reading’ started on November 15, 1948 and ended on October 17, 1949.
  • While deliberating upon the Draft Constitution, the Assembly moved, discussed and disposed of as many as 2,473 amendments out of a total of 7,635 tabled.
  • The ‘third reading’ of the Draft Constitution started on November 14, 1949. Dr. Ambedkar moved a motion: ‘The constitution as settled by the Assembly be passed.’
  • The Constitution was declared as passed on November 26, 1949 by the President of the Constituent Assembly. This date is enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution.
  • The Constitution of India was adopted on 26 November, 1949. This is called Date of Adoption of Indian Constitution.
  • The provisions related to citizenship, elections, provisional parliament, temporary and transitional provisions and some other articles came into force on November 26th, 1949 itself.

The members of the Constituent Assembly once again assembled to append their signatures to the Constitution on 24 January, 1950. In all, 284 members actually signed the Constitution. All members signed three copies of the Constitution namely, the English print version and the calligraphic version in English and Hindi. Nehru was the first and Rajendra Prasad was the last to sign these copies.

  • The Constitution in its final form consisted of a Preamble, 395 Articles, divided into 22 parts and 8 schedules.
  • The Constitution of India came into force on 26 January, 1950. This date is referred to in the Constitution as the date of commencement and celebrated as the Republic Day.
  • 26th January is chosen as Republic Day to commemorate the Poorna Swaraj Day, celebrated on January 26, 1930 following the resolution of the Indian National Congress in Lahore Session of 1929.

SESSIONS OF Constituent Assembly

  • In all, the Constituent Assembly had 11 sessions over 2 years, 11 months and 17 days.
  • Out of these 11 sessions, the first six were spent in passing the Objectives Resolution and in considering the Reports of Committees on Fundamental Rights, on Union Constitution, on Union Powers, on Provincial Constitution, on Minorities and on the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes.
  • The seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth and the eleventh sessions were devoted to the consideration of the Draft Constitution.
  • Out of total 165 days convened by Constituent Assembly, 114 days were spent on the consideration of the Draft Constitution.

First Session : 9-23 December, 1946

Second Session : 20-25 January, 1947

Third Session : 28 April – 2 May, 1947

Fourth Session : 14-31 July, 1947

Fifth Session : 14-30 August, 1947

Sixth Session : 27 January, 1948

Seventh Session : 4 Nov1948 – 8Jan 1949

Eighth Session : 16 May – 16 June, 1949

Ninth Session : 30 July – 18 Sep 1949

Tenth Session : 6-17 Oct, 1949

Eleventh Session : 14-26 November, 1949

The Assembly met once again on 24 January, 1950, when the members appended their signatures to the Constitution of India.

 

ROLES OF Constituent Assembly

  • After Independence Constituent Assembly became the supreme Sovereign body which was empowered to frame the constitution according to its choice and to abrogate or alter any law made by the British parliament in relation to India.
  • The Constituent assembly also became a legislative body which can make ordinary laws for the country apart from the constituent functions.
  • On November 17, 1947 the Constituent Assembly for the first time met as a Legislative Assembly. It elected G. V. Mavlankar as the speaker of the assembly.
  • Since then Dr. Rajendra Prasad chaired as president of the constituent assembly when it was performing constitution making functions and Dr. G.V.Mavlankar chaired as the Speaker of the assembly when it was performing ordinary legislative functions.
  • After the enactment of Constitution on January 26, 1950, the Assembly ceased to exist, transforming itself into the Provisional Parliament of India until a new Parliament was constituted in1952
  • Constituent Assembly also performed the following functions:
    • It ratified the India’s membership of commonwealth in May 1949.
    • It adopted the National Flag on 22nd July 1947.
    • It adopted the National Anthem on 24th January 1950.
    • It elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as the first president of India on 24th January, 1950.
    • It adopted Hindi written in Devanagari script as the official language of the Republic of India on 14 September 1949. Every year Hindi Divas is celebrated on 14 September.

CONSTITUTION: SOME FACTS

  • While deliberating upon the draft Constitution, the Assembly moved, discussed and disposed of as many as 2,473 amendments out of a total of 7,635 tabled.
  • United Province had largest number of representatives in the Constituent Assembly (55 members out of 229 after partition).
  • Mysore is the princely state having largest number of representatives in the Constituent Assembly (7 out of 70 members).
  • The Constitution-makers had gone through the constitutions of about 60 countries and borrowed necessary provisions from them.
  • The total expenditure incurred on making the Constitution amounted to Rs 64 lakhs.
  • The front cover of the Indian Constitution was designed by the renowned Bengali painter, Nandalal Bose.
  • The original Constitution was handwritten and calligraphed by Prem Behari Narain Raizada.
  • A Non-Party Conference, group consisted of individuals who represented a variety of interests except those of the Indian National Congress, Muslim League and the Communist Party appointed a committee in 1944 under the chairmanship of Tej Bahadur Sapru to draft a constitution. This committee of 30 members submitted their report in 1945.
  • The Socialist Party of India drafted a constitution based on its own principles in 1948. It had 318 articles and the provisions for the state “regulate, limit and expropriate private property by law if common interests of the people require it”
  • Dr. Ambedkar wrote a document titled ‘State and Minorities’ and submitted to the Fundamental Rights Sub Committee, of which Ambedkar was a member in 1947.

 

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