Constituent Assembly - Making of the Indian Constitution

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Constituent Assembly - Making of the Indian Constitution-Image




GS-II: Polity

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Prelims: Indian Polity and Governance-Constitution, Political System, Panchayati Raj, Public Policy, Rights Issues, etc.

Mains:  Indian Constitution—historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions, and basic structure.

What is a Constituent Assembly? 

  • The Constituent Assembly is an institution specifically conceived for the creation or modification of a Constitution. The Constituent Assembly has the power to dictate or change the norms that will govern the functioning of the political and social system of a territory. 
  • The Constituent Assembly's objective was drafting and formulating the Constitution of India because that was the only way the self-determination concept could be implemented in India. 


What is the historical background of the Constituent Assembly in India?

1934The idea of a Constituent Assembly for India was put forward for the first time by M.N.Roy, a pioneer of the communist movement in India.
1935Indian National Congress first demanded a Constituent Assembly to frame the Constitution of India.  
1938J.L. Nehru declared that the Constitution of free India must be framed, without outside interference, by a Constituent Assembly elected based on Adult Franchise
1940First time in principle, the demand for a Constituent Assembly was accepted by the British in the August offer of 1940.
1942Sir Stafford Cripps came to India with a draft proposal to frame an independent Constitution, which was rejected by the Muslim League.
1946Cabinet Mission was sent to India, which rejected the idea of two Constituent assemblies. Hence, Elections were held as per the Cabinet Mission plan of 1946 to establish the Constituent Assembly.



What was the composition of the Constituent Assembly? 

  • The Constituent Assembly comprised members who were partly elected and partly nominated. The elected members were indirectly elected by members of the provincial legislative Assembly, who were elected on the limited franchise. 

                    Total Strength of the Constituent Assembly (389)

British India (296)

Note: Members of the Muslim League who were originally from Pakistani territory withdrew from the Indian Constituent Assembly. As a result, strength decreased from 296 to 229.


Princely states (93)

Note: The strength of the princely kingdoms decreased from 93 to 70 when members of the Muslim League withdrew from the Indian Constituent Assembly. 

  • From 11  governors’ provinces. (292)
  • From the four Chief Commissioners’ provinces, one from each. (4) 


  • Seats allocated to each British province were divided among three principal communities- Muslims, Sikhs, and General, in proportion to their population.
  • The representatives of each community were elected by members of that community in the provincial legislative Assembly, and voting was Proportional Representation through SingleTransferable Vote.
  • Representatives of Princely states were to be nominated by their respective h eads.


What were the developments during the making of the Indian Constitution?

The Indian Constitution was made by the Constituent Assembly, which came into existence as per the provisions of the Cabinet Mission of May 1946. Its task was to formulate a Constitution for facilitating the appropriate transfer of sovereign power from British authorities to Indian hands. 

  • 9 December 1946: The Constituent Assembly sat for the first time.
  • 11 December 1946: Rajendra Prasad as President, Harendra Coomar Mookerjee and V.T. Krishnamachari as the Vice Presidents were elected, and B. N. Rau as Constitutional legal advisor was appointed.
  • 13 December 1946:  Jawaharlal Nehru introduced the famous "Objective Resolution" in the Assembly, which laid down the philosophy of the Constitution of India.
    • It is geared toward fostering economic and political security in India through a written Constitution and declaring India a Sovereign, Democratic Republic.
    • It fostered the formulation of a federal with the even-handed distribution of powers between the Centre and the states.
    • It strives to secure equality, justice, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, association, and associated action for each subject of the country.
    • It is geared toward providing necessary protection to the minority and backward section of society.
    • It strives to secure the integrity of the territory of the Indian republic and follow the law of any civilized nation to secure rights on land, sea, and air.
  • 22 January 1947: The Resolution was unanimously adopted by the Assembly. 


July 1947- Indian Independence Act, 1947:  The Act made the following changes in the position of the Constituent Assembly:

  • The Assembly was given complete autonomy and the power to draft any Constitution it chose. 
  • The Act gave the Assembly the authority to annul or amend any law passed by the British Parliament regarding India.
  • The Assembly was also given legislative authority. As a result, the Assembly was elected as India's first free Parliament (Dominion Legislature). Dr. Rajendra Prasad presided over meetings of the Assembly as the Constituent body, and G.V. Mavlankar presided over those of the Assembly as the Legislative body.
  • July - October 1947: Preparation of the first draft by the Constitutional advisor, Constitutional Advisor started putting together the first draft of the Constitution by aligning the reports already discussed and adopted.
  •  22 July 1947: The Constituent Assembly adopted the National flag.
  • October 1947- February 1948: Deliberations in Drafting Committee and resultant draft Constitution, Drafting committee produced the draft Constitution by February 21, 1948, which contained 315 Articles and 8 Schedules. 
  • 4 November 1948 - 9 November 1948 (First reading): Drafting committee published the draft Constitution of India in February 1948. The draft was introduced in the Assembly in November 1948. 
  • 15 November 1948 – 17 October 1949 (Second reading): Clause-by-clause draft discussion was conducted in the Assembly.
  • May 1949: The Constituent Assembly accepted and approved India's membership of the British Commonwealth
  • 14 November 1949 - 26 November 1949 (Third reading): The Assembly finished the third reading.
  • 26 November 1949: The Constituent Assembly passed and adopted the Constitution of India. 
  • 24 January 1950: The Constituent Assembly elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as the first President of India and, adopted the National anthem and National song




When did the Constitution come into force?

  • As per the provisions in the Constitution, it formally commenced on January 1950, bringing it into force in its entirety. This date was chosen to commemorate the declaration of ‘Poorna Swaraj’ by J.L. Nehru at an annual session of the Congress in Lahore in 1929. 
  • Some of the Constitution's provisions, included in Articles 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 60, 324, 366, 367, 379, 380, 388, 391, 392, and 393, relating to citizenship, elections, a provisional parliament, temporary and transitional laws, and short titles, came into effect on November 26, 1949.
  • The remaining provisions of the Constitution took effect on January 26, 1950, and the entire Constitution was enforced. This day is celebrated as Republic Day.


What were the various committees of the Constituent Assembly?

The Constituent Assembly, at various points during the Constitution-making process, appointed several committees on different aspects of the Constitution to conduct preliminary research and deliberations within smaller groups. 


Organizational Committee



Rules of procedure committee

Rajendra Prasad

Steering committee

Rajendra Prasad

Staff and finance committee

Rajendra Prasad

Credentials committee

   K. Ayyar

Order of Business committee

K. M. Munshi

States (negotiating) committee

J. L.Nehru

Flag committee

Rajendra Prasad

Committee on functions of Constituent Assembly

G. V. Mavlankar


Principal Committees and their sub-committees                



Advisory committee on fundamental rights, minorities, Tribal areas and excluded areas

Sardar Patel

Union Powers committee

J. L. Nehru

Union Constitution committee

J. L. Nehru

Provincial Constitution committee

Sardar Patel

Drafting committee

Dr. B. R. Ambedkar


Other Sectoral Committees



Ad-hoc committee on citizenship

S. Varadachariar

Committee on chief commissioner’s provinces

N. Gopalaswami Ayyangar

Experts committee on Financial Provisions of Constitution 

N. R. Sarkar

Sub-committee on minority safeguards for West Bengal and East Punjab

Sardar Patel



What are the criticisms of the Constituent Assembly? 

Several scholars and Constitutional experts have criticized the Constituent Assembly on various grounds. These are as follows: 

  • Not a representative Body: Its members were not directly elected based on the universal adult franchise.
  • Not a Sovereign Body: It was created by the British proposals, and its sessions were held with the permission of the British Government.
  • Time-Consuming: It took an unduly long time to frame the Constitution, on the other hand the American Constitution was formed in 4 months. 
  • Dominated by Congress: Granville Austin commented that “The Constituent Assembly was one party body in an essentially one-party country. The Assembly was the Congress, and the Congress was India".
  • Lawyer- Politician Domination: Scholars maintain that they dominated the Constituent Assembly and are not representative of other sections. 
  • Dominated by Hindus: Winston Churchill commented that the Constituent Assembly represents "Only one major community in India".

Despite these criticisms, we may assert that our founding parliament was a collection of India's finest, who helped make the Indian Constitution the most dependable and wisest among all national Constitutions.


Previous Year Questions(PYQs)



Q) What was the exact Constitutional status of India on 26th January 1950? (2020)

  • A Democratic Republic
  • A Sovereign Democratic Republic
  • A Sovereign Secular Democratic Republic
  • A Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic


Q) With reference to Indian National Movement, consider the following pairs:(2019)  



Position Held

  1. Sir Tej Bahadur Sapru

President, All India Liberal Federation

  1. K. C. Neogy

Member, The Constituent Assembly

  1. P. C. Joshi

General Secretary, Communist Party of India


Which of the pairs given above is/are correctly matched?

  • 1 only
  • 1 and 2 only
  • 3 only
  • 1, 2 and 3


Q) Who among the following was the chairman of the Union Constitution Committee of the Constituent Assembly? (2005)

  • B.R. Ambedkar
  • J. B. Kripalani 
  • Jawaharlal Nehru 
  • Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 


Q) Who were some of the important members of the Constituent Assembly?

Some of the important members of the Constituent Assembly were John Matthai, K. T. Shah , Baldev Singh, K. C. Neogy, Raj Kumari Amrit Kaur, V. N. Gadgil, I.I. Chundrigar, Frank Anthony, Hifzur Rahman Seoharwi, Jaipal Singh Munda.


Q) Who was the first president of the Constituent Assembly? 

Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha, the Assembly's oldest member, was chosen as its temporary president following French practice. Later  Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the permanent president of the Constituent Assembly. 


Q) Who were the members of the Drafting committee? 

Members of the Drafting committee included Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, K. M. Munshi, Muhammed Saadulah, Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, Gopala Swami Ayyangar, N. Madhava Rao (He replaced B. L. Mitter who resigned due to ill-health), T. T Krishnamachari (He replaced D. P. Khaitan who died in 1948).