• It was in 1934 that the idea of a Constituent Assembly for India was put forward for the first time by M.N.Roy, a pioneer of communist movement in India and an advocate of radical democratism. In 1935, the Indian National Congress (INC), first time, officially demanded a Constituent Assembly to frame the Constitution of India. In 1938, Jawaharlal Nehru,on behalf the INC declared that ‘the Constitution of free India must be framed.
  • The demand was finally accepted in principle by the British Government in what is known as the ‘August Offer’ of 1940.


  • The Constituent Assembly was constituted in November 1946 under the scheme formulated by the Cabinet Mission Plan. The features of the scheme were:
  • The total strength of the Constituent Assembly was to be 389. Of these, 296 seats were to be allotted to British India and 93 seats to the Princely States.
  • The representatives of each community were to be elected by members of that community in the provincial legislative assembly and voting was to be by the method of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote.
  • The representatives of princely states were to be nominated by the heads of the princely states.

It is thus clear that the Constituent Assembly was to be a elected and partly nominated body. Moreover, the members were to be indirectly elected by the members of the provincial assemblies.


  • The Constituent Assembly held its first meeting on December 9, 1946. The Muslim League boycotted the meeting and insisted on a separate state of Pakistan. The meeting was thus attended by only 211 members. DrSachchidanand Sinha, the oldest member, was elected as the temporary President of the Assembly, following the French practice.
  • Later, on December 11, 1946, DrRajendra Prasad and H.C.Mukherjee were elected as the President and Vice-President of the Assembly respectively. Sir B.N.Rau was appointed as the Constitutional advisor to the Assembly.

Objectives Resolution

  • On December 13, 1946 Jawaharlal Nehru moved the historic ‘Objectives Resolution’ in the assembly. It laid down the fundamentals and philosophy of the constitutional structure. This resolution was unanimously adopted by the Assembly on January 22, 1947.

Changes by the Independence Act

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. The act empowered the Assembly to abrogate or alter any law made by the British Parliament in relation to India.
  • The Assembly also became a legislative body. Two separate functions were assigned to the Assembly. Whenever the Assembly met as the Constituent body it was chaired by Dr.Rajendra Prasad and when it met as the legislative body, it was chaired by G.V.Mavlankar.
  • Muslim League withdrew from the Constituent Assembly. Consequently, the total strength of the Assembly came down to 299 as against 389 originally fixed in 1946.

Other Functions Performed

  1. It ratified the India’s membership of the Commonwealth in May 1949.
  2. It adopted the national flag on July 22, 1947
  3. It adopted the national anthem on January 24, 1950
  4. It adopted the national song on January 24, 1950
  5. It elected Dr.Rajendra Prasad as the first president of India on January 24, 1950.
  • In all, the Constituent Assembly had 11 sessions over two years, 11 months and 18 days. The Constitution makers had gone through the constitutions of about 60 countries, and the Draft Constitutions was considered for 114 days. The total expenditure incurred on making the Constitution amounted to Rs.64 lakhs.
  • On January 24, 1950, the Constituent Assembly held its final session. It, however, did not end, and continued as the provisional parliament of India from January 26, 1950 till the formation of new parliament after the first general elections in 1951-52.


Major Committees

  1. Union Powers Committee – Jawaharlal Nehru.
  2. Union Constitution Committee – Jawaharlal Nehru
  3. Provincial Constitution Committee – Sardar Patel
  4. Drafting Committee – Dr.B.R.Ambedkar
  5. Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights and Minorities – Sardarpatel.

This Committee had two sub-committees:

a)Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee – J.B.Kripalani

(b)Minorities Sub-Committee – H.C.Mukherjee

  1. Rules of procedure committee – Dr.Rajendra Prasad
  2. States Committee (Committee for Negotiating with states) – Jawaharlal Nehru
  3. Steering Committee – Dr.Rajendra Prasad.

Drafting Committee

  • Drafting committee set up on August 29, 1947
  1. Dr.B.R.Ambedkar (Chairman)
  2. N.GopalaswamyAyyangar
  3. AlladiKrishnaswamyAyyar
  4. Dr.K.M.Munshi
  5. Syed Mohammad Saadullah
  6. N.Madhava Rau (he replaced B.L.Mitter who resigned due to ill-health)
  7. T.T.Krishnamachari (He replaced D.P.Khaitan who died in 1948)


  • B.R.Ambedkar introduced the final draft of the Constitution in the Assembly on November 4, 1948.
  • The motion on Draft Constitution was declared as passed on November 26, 1949, and received the signatures of the members and the president. Out of a total 299 members of the Assembly, only 284 were actually present on that day and signed the Constitution.
  • The Constitution as adopted on November 26, 1949, contained a Preamble, 395 Articles and 8 Schedules. Dr. B.R.Ambedkar, ‘Father of the Constitution of India’, ’Modern manu’.


  • Some provisions of the Constitution pertaining to citizenship, elections, provisional parliament, temporary and transitional provisions, and short title contained in Articles 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,60, 324,366, 367, 379, 380, 388, 391,392 and 393 came into force on November 26, 1949 itself.
  • January 26 was specifically chosen as the ‘date of commencement’ of the Constitution because of its historical importance. It was on this day in 1930 that Purna Swaraj day was celebrated, following the resolution of the Lahore Session (December 1929) of the INC.
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