Conquest of India
BRITISH ADMINISTRATION
Early Resistance to British Rule
Nationalism in India
Indian Freedom Struggle Under Gandhiji
Social Reforms in British India
Partition of India
Other Important Topics

37. Evolution of the Indian Constitution

Background

  • In 1934, M N Roy first proposed the idea of a constituent assembly.
  • The demand was taken up by the Congress Party in 1935 as an official demand.
  • The British accepted this in the August Offer of 1940.
  • Under the Cabinet Mission plan of 1946, elections were held for the formation of the constituent assembly.
  • The members of this assembly were elected indirectly, i.e., by the members of the provincial assemblies by the method of a single transferable vote of proportional representation.
  • The constituent assembly was formed for the purpose of writing a constitution for independent India.

Read more about:- Historical Background of Indian Constitution

Composition of Indian Constituent Assembly and other details

Facts

  • Initially, the number of members was 389. After that partition, some of the members went to Pakistan and the number came down to 299. Out of this, 229 were from the British provinces and 70 were nominated from the princely states.
  • Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha was the first temporary chairman of the Indian Constitution Assembly. Later, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the President and its Vice President was Harendra Coomar Mookerjee. B N Rau was the constitutional advisor.
  • The assembly first met on 9 December 1946. The Muslim League had boycotted this meeting because of citing their demand for partition at that time.
  • On 13 December, Jawaharlal Nehru moved the ‘Objective Resolution’. This resolution enshrined the aspirations and values of the Indian Constitution makers. Under this, the people of India were guaranteed social, economic and political justice, equality and fundamental freedoms. This resolution was unanimously adopted on 22 January 1947 and it became the Preamble to the Indian Constitution.
  • The National Flag of the Union was adopted on 2 July 1947.
  • The time taken by the assembly to frame the constitution: 2 years, 11 months and 18 days. Money spent in framing the constitution: Rs.64 lakhs.

On 24 January 1950, ‘Jana Gana Mana’ was adopted as the national anthem.

  • The final document had 22 parts, 395 articles and 8 schedules.
  • The assembly had met for 11 sessions.
  • The draft was published in January 1948 and the country’s people were asked for their feedback and inputs within 8 months.
  • The last session was held during 14 – 26 November 1949. The Indian constitution was passed and adopted by the assembly on 26 November 1949.
  • The Indian Constitution came into force on 26 January 1950 (which is celebrated as Republic Day).

Committees And their chairmen Of Indian Constitution

  • Drafting Committee: Dr. B R Ambedkar
  • Union Constitution Committee: Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Union Powers Committee: Jawaharlal Nehru
  • States Committee: Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Steering Committee: Dr. Rajendra Prasad
  • Rules of Procedure Committee: Dr. Rajendra Prasad
  • Provincial Constitution Committee: Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
    Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas: Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee: Acharya Kripalani
  • Minorities Sub-Committee: H C Mookerjee
  • Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas (Other than those in Assam) Sub-Committee: A V Thakkar
  • North-East Frontier Tribal Areas and Assam Excluded & Partially Excluded Areas Sub-Committee: Gopinath Bardoloi

Criticism of the Constituent Assembly

  • It was not a representative body since the members were not directly elected by adult franchise. However, the leaders had enjoy popular support from the people. Direct elections by the universal adult franchise at that time when the country was on the brink of partition and amidst communal riots would have been impractical.
  • It was said that the makers took a long time in framing the Indian Constitution. However, keeping in mind the complexity and the peculiarities of the diverse and large Indian nation, this can be understood.
  • The constituent assembly was not a sovereign body since it was created by the British. However, it worked as a fully independent and sovereign body.
  • The language of the Indian Constitution was criticized for being literary and complicated.
  • The assembly was dominated by the Congress Party. But the party dominated the provincial assemblies and this was natural. 

Act for better governance of india,1857

1. The control of the British government in India was transferred to the British crown.
2. The proclamation was promised to respect the rights of the Indian princess and disclaimed any intention of extending British conquests in India.
3. Promised to pay due regard to the ancient rights, by usages and customs of the people and follow a policy of justice, by benevolence and religious toleration.
4. Proclamation was further declared that all will be qualified to enter the administrative services on the basis of their education and ability irrespective of race and creed.

Indian Council Act, 1861

1. The three separate presidencies (Madras, Bombay and Bengal) were brought into a common system.

2. The Act was added to the Viceroy’s Executive Council a fifth member – a jurist.

3. At first Viceroy’s Executive Council was expanded by the additionally of not less than six and not more than 12 additional members for the purposes of legislation.

4. The legislative power was to be restored to the Council of Bombay and Madras, after that Councils were allowed to be established in other Provinces in Bengal in 1862 and North West Frontier Province (NWFP) in 1886, Burma and Punjab in 1897.

5. Canning was introduced the Portfolio system in 1859

Act of 1892

1. The number of non-official members was increased, both in Central and Provincial legislatures also.
2. Introduces the Principle of Representation.
3. This act was Allowed the councils to discuss each year’s annual financial statement.
4. The numbers of the Additional Members of the provincial councils were also raised, for Bengal it was 20 and 15 for the Awadh.

Indian Council Act, 1909

1. Act enlarged the Councils were enlarged and introduced direct elections.

2. An Indian was to be appointed a member of the Governor General’s executive council. 5 was nominated by Governor-General.

27 elected which was consisted of: (2 by special electorates, 13 by general electorates, 12 by class electorates consisting of

(a) 6 was elected by landholders and

(b) 6 was elected by Muslim constituencies.

3. Satyendra Prasad Sinha was became the first Indian to join the Viceroy’s Executive Council’.

4. The separate electorate was introduced. Lord Minto has been known as ‘Father of Communal Electorate’.

Montague-Chelmsford Reform (Government of India Act), 1919

1. Act introduced by the Diarchy That was rule of two which means executive councilors and popular ministers. Governor was to be the head of provincial administration.

2. Subject was segregated into two parts- ‘reserve list’ and ‘transfer list’.

3. Legislature: It was expanded- 70% of the members were to be elected. Basically The system of class electorates, as well as communal class, was consolidated.

4. As a result Women were given voting rights equally.

Government of India Act, 1935

1. Act was ended the system of diarchy.
2. The structure for “Federation of India” was established for British India and some or all of the “princely states”.
3. The introduction of direct elections, thus increasing the franchise from seven million to thirty-five million people.
4. A partial reorganization of the provinces.
Sind was separated from Bombay.
5. Bihar and Orissa were split into separate provinces of Bihar and Orissa.
6. Burma was completely separated from India.
7. Aden was also detached from India, and established as a separate colony.
8. Membership of the provincial assemblies was altered so as to include more elected Indian representatives, who were now able to form majorities and be appointed to form governments.
9. It was The establishment of a Federal Court.