Chapter 2: MAKING OF THE CONSTITUTION
The demand that India's political destiny should be determined by the Indians themselves had been put forward by Mahatma Gandhi as early as in 1922
"Swara] will not be a free gift of the British Parllament; it
will be a declaration of Indla's full self-expression. That it will be expressed through
an Act of Parliament Is true but it will be merely a Courteous ratification of the
declared wish of the people of India even as it was in the case of the Union of South
Africa." - M. K. Gandhi
The failure of the Statutory Commission and the Round Table
Conference which led to the enactment of the Govemment of India Act,
1935, to satisfy Indian aspirations accentuated demand for a Constitution
made by the people of India without outside Interference, which was
officlally asserted by the National Congress in 1935.
This demand was, however, resisted by the British Government until
the outbreak of World War II when external circumstances forced them to realise the urgency of solving the Indian constitutional
In 1940, the Coalition Government in
England recognised the principle that Indians should themselves frame a
new Constitution for autonomous India, and in March 1942, when the
Japanese were at the doors of India, they sent Sir Stafford Cripps, a member
of the Cabinet, with a draft declaration on the proposals of the British
Govenrment which were to be adopted (at the end of the War) provided the
two major political parties (Congress and the Muslim League) could come
to an agreement to accept them :
This agreement included :
that the Constitution of India was to be framed by an elected
Constituent Assembly of the Indian people;
that the Constitution should give India Dominion Status, equal
partnership of the British Commonwealth of Nations;
that there should be one Indian Union comprising all the Provinces
and Indian States; but
that any province or Indian State which was not prepared to
accept the Constitution would be free to retain its constitutional position
existing at that time and with such non-acceding Provinces the British
Government could enter into separate constitutional arrangements.
But the two parties failed to come to an agreement to accept the
proposals. and the Muslim League urged-
that India should be divided Into two autonomous States on communal
lines, and that some or the Provinces, earmarked by Mr. Jinnah. should form an
independent Muslim State to be known as Pakistan
that Instead of one Constituent Assembly there should be two Constituent
Assemblies, a separate Constituent Assembly for building Pakistan.
After the rejection of the Cripps proposals (followed by the dynamic
'Quit India' campaign launched by the Congress), various attempts to reconcile the two parties were made including the
Simla Conference held at the instance of the
Governor-General, Lord Wavell. These having failed, the British Cabinet
sent three of Its own members including Cripps himself to make another
serious attempt. But the Cabinet Delegation, too, failed in making the two
major parties come to any agreement and were accordingly obliged to put
forward their own proposals, which were announced stmultaneously in India
and in England on the 16th May, 1946.
The proposals of the Cabinet Delegation sought to effect a compromise
between a Union of India and its division. While the Cabinet Delegation
definitely rejected the claim for a separate Constituent Assembly and a separate state for the muslims,the scheme which they recommended
involved a virtual acceptance of the principle underlying the
The broad features of the scheme were :-
There would be a Union of India, comprising both British India
and the States, and having jurisdiction over the subjects of Foreign Affairs,
Defence and Communications. All residuary powers wouJd belong to the
Provinces and the States.
The Union would have an Executive and a Legislature consisting of
representatives of the Provinces and States. But any question raising a major
communal issue in the Legislature would require for its decision a majority
of the representatives of the two major communities present and voting as
well as a majority of all the members present and voting.
The Provinces would be free to form Groups with executives and
legislatures, and each Group would be competent to determine the
provinclal subjects which would be taken up by the group organisation.
The scheme laid down by the Cabinet Mission was, however,
recommendatory, and it was contemplated_by the Mission that it would be adopted oy agreement between the two major parties. A curious situation, however, arose after an election
election for forming the Constituent Assembly was held.
Muslim League joined the election and its candidates
were returned. But a difference of opinion had in the meantime arisen
between the Congress and the League regarding the interpretation of the Group1ng- clauses of the proposals of the Cabinet Mission. The British
Government intervened at this stage, and explained to the leaders in
London that they upheld the contention of the League as correct.
For the first time, the british accepted the possibility of two separate states and two separate assemblies. The result was that on December 9, 1946 when the constituent assembly first met, the muslim league members did not attend and the constituent assembly functioned with its non muslim members.
The muslim league next urged the british government to dissolve the constituent assembly claiming it did not represent all sections of India. But the british in their statement on 20 Feb, 1947 declared that the british rule in India would end on June 1948 and power will be transferred to Indian hands. If the constituent assembly failed to work out a constitution in accordance with the cabinet missions plan then the british government would transfer power to the center or a provincial government or both as it may seem fit
However, the league refused to participate in the constituent assembly and continued to demand a separate assembly for a muslim state
The british replaced Lord Wavell with Lord Mountbatten to expediete the transfer of power to India.
"The Provincial LegiSlative Assemblies of Bengal and the Punjab (excluding
European members) will, therefore, each be asked to meet In two parts, one
representing the Muslim majority districts and the other the rest of the Province ....
The members of the two parts of each Legislative Assembly sitting separately will
be empowered to vote wbether or not the Province should be partitioned. If a
simple majority of either Part decides in favour of Partition, division will take place
and arrangements will be made accordingly. If partition were decided upon, each
part of the Legislative Assembly would decide, on behalf of the areas it
represented, whether it would join the existing or a new and separate Constituent
Thus, Mountabatten succeeded in giving the league a separate state for muslims. He advocated a referendum in the assemblies of Punjab and Bengal on different dates.
It was also proposed that there would be a referendum in the North Western Frontier Province and in the Muslim majority district of Sylhet as to
Whether they would join India or Pakistan. The Statement further declared
Britishs intention to introduce legislation during the current session for the
transfer of power this year on' a Dominion Status basis to one or two
successor authorities according to decisions taken as a result of the
The result of the vote according to the above Plan was a foregone
conclusion as the representatives of the Muslim majority areas of the Provinces (i.e., West Punjab and East Bengal) voted for partition and for
joining a new Constituent Assembly. The referendum in the North Western
Frontier and Sylhet was in favour of Pakistan.
On the 26th July 1947 the governor general announced setting up of a separate constituent assembly for Pakistan. The Plan of June 3,
1947, having been carried out, nothing stood in the way of effecting the
transfer of power by enacting a statute of the British Parliament in
accordance with the declaration.
It must be said to the credit of the British Parliament that in no time the Indian Independence Bill was drafted upon the basis of the above Plan and this Bill
was passed and placed on the Statute Book, as the Indian Independence Act, 1947 with amazing speed. The Bill, which was
introduced in Parliament on July 4:, received the Royal Assent on July 18
1947, and came into force from that date.
The most outstanding characteristics of the Indian Independence Act
was that while other Acts of Parliament relating to the Government of India
(such as the Government of India Acts from 1858 to 1935) sought to lay
down a Constitution for the governance of India by the legislative will of the
British Parliament, this Act of 1947 did not lay down any such constitution.
The Act provided that as from the 15th August, 1947 in the place of India as defined in the government of India Act, 1935; there would be setup two independent
dominions India and Pakistan. Their constituent assemblies shall have unlimited power to frame and
adopt any constitution and to repeal any Act of the British Parliament,
including the Indian Independence A
Under the Act, the Dominion of India got the residuary territory of
India excluding the Provinces of, Sind, Baluchistan, West Punjab, East
Bengal, and the North Western Frontier Province and the district of Sylhet in
Assam (which had voted in favour of Pakistan at a referendum, before the
Act came into force).
The Constituent Assembly, which bad been elected for undivided India and held its first sitting on
the 9th December, 1946, reassembled on the 14th
August, 1947, as the sovereign Constituent Assembly for the Dominion of
Each province and each Indian State or group of States were
allotted the total number of seats proportional to their respective
populations roughly in the ratio of one to a million. As a result, the
Provinces were to elect 292 members while the Indian States were
allotted a minimum of 93 seats.
The seats in each province had been divided amongst muslims, sikhs and general in accordance to their population. Members of each community elected their representatives by the method of proportional representation on the basis of a single transferable vote.
The method of deciding the representatives of the princely states was to be decided by consultations.
As a result of the partition under the 3rd june 1947 plan the strength of the constituent assembly fell and re-elections had to held in provinces of west bengal and east punjab. The members of the newly formed constituent assembly of pakistan ceased to be members of India.
M. N. Roy first put forth the idea
of a Constituent Assembly. Congress demanded it officially
in 1935. The demand
was met in principle in August Offer, 1940. Cripps
proposal for constituent
assembly was rejected as Muslim league wanted two separate
However the Cabinet Mission plans of a single
was accepted by congress and Muslim league.
This was the executive council of
viceroy. Viceroy was the head and J Nehru was the
Vice-president as he was head
of the interim government.
Composition of the constituent assembly
Members of the constituent
assembly came from provincial assembly [direct election,
representation], princely state [nominated by princes].
Princely states did not
send members to the constituent assembly. Sachindanand
Sinha was elected as
temporary president of the constituent assembly. Later, Rajendra
Prasad and HC
Mukherjee became President and vice president of
Objective resolution by Nehru was
adopted unanimously and later was modified and adopted as
the preamble. By 42nd
amendment secular, socialist and integrity were added.
Members of the princely states
and Muslim league [ML] gradually participated in the
assembly but ML members
left after the Indian independence act, 1947. The
constituent assembly adopted
national flag, anthem, song, accepted membership to the
elected Rajendra prasad as first president of India. The
continued as the provincial parliament of India till the
Constitution Drafting committee:
Drafting committee of the
constitution consisted of seven members: BR Ambedkar
Ayyangar, Madhav Rau [replaced BL Mitter], Saadullah, KM
Munshi and TT Krishnamachari
Constitution was adopted on 26
November 1949; some provisions came into effect on same
day. Other provisions
are enforced from 26 Jan 1950 “date of commencement”. This
day was chosen as it
was the Purna Swaraj day, currently the republic day. BR
Ambedkar was the
father of the constitution.
of constituent assembly:
- Not a representative body [no direct
- Not a sovereign body [created under British
- Dominated by congress
- Time consuming
- Hindu dominated
- Lawyer-Politician dominated.
Q. Democracy’s superior virtue lies in the fact that it calls into activity (UPSC CSAT-2017)
the intelligence and character of ordinary men and women
the methods for strengthening executive leadership.
a superior individual with dynamism and vision.
a band of dedicated party workers
Ans . A
It is the decision of people that creates a democratic government and decides about its functioning.
Q. One of the implications of equality in society is the absence of (UPSC CSAT-2017)
Ans . A
First step towards bringing about equality is of course ending the formal system of inequality and privileges.
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