The Constituent Assembly of India

A constituent assembly is a body of representatives which is composed for drafting a constitution. In our times, we have recently seen how Nepal’s constituent assembly has drafted its constitution recently. We note that drafting the constitution is the only function of a constituent assembly. Once the constitution is ready and adopted; the assembly is dissolved. Further, since members of constituent assembly are representatives (elected or unelected); it’s a form of representative democracy.

Idea of Constituent Assembly

The idea of Constituent assembly of India was first put forward by Manabendra Nath Roy or MN Roy in 1934. In 1935, it became the official demand of INC. It was accepted in August 1940 in the August Offer however, constituted under the Under Cabinet Mission plan 1946. It was first elected for undivided India but after partition, some of its members ceased to exist as a separate constituent assembly was created for Pakistan.

Elections of Members of Constituent Assembly

Members of Constituent Assembly were indirectly elected. During British Era, India had provincial assemblies like the current legislative assemblies of states. The members of the Constituent assembly were indirectly elected by the members of the provincial assemblies by method of single transferable vote system of proportional representations.

Number of members of Constituent Assembly

Initially, its total membership was kept 389. After partition, the Constituent Assembly of India had 299 representatives. These included 229 members from provinces and 70 from princely states. There were total nine women members also. The membership plan was roughly as per suggestions of the Cabinet Mission plan.  The basis of divisions of seats was “population” roughly in 1:10 Lakh ratio.

First meeting of Constituent Assembly

The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly of India took place in Constitutional Hall, New Delhi, on 9th December 1946. Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha was the first president of the Constituent Assembly. In the first meeting, the assembly adopted an ‘Objective Resolution’ which later became the preamble of the constitution. It appointed various committees. The report of the committees formed the basis on which the first draft of the constitution was prepared.  It reassembled on 14 August 1947 as Constituent Assembly for independent India.

After partition, Dr. Rajendra Prasad became the president of Constituent Assembly of Independent India.  Professor Harendra Coomar Mookerjee was Vice President of the Constituent Assembly. While Dr. Rajendra Prasad later became President of India, Prof. HC Mookerjee became first Governor of West Bengal.

Objectives Resolution

The historic Objectives Resolution was moved by Jawaharlal Nehru on 13 December 1946. It defined the aims of the assembly and enshrined the aspirations and values behind the Constitution making. On the basis of the Objectives Resolution, India’s Constitution gave institutional expression to the fundamental commitments: equality, liberty, democracy, sovereignty and a cosmopolitan identity. The preamble of the constitution of India is derived from Objectives Resolution.

Different committees of the Constituent Assembly

A number of committees were created by constituent assembly to perform different taks related to framing of constitution. Most important among them was drafting committee headed by Dr. B R Ambedkar, which had to draft the constitution. Chairman of other important committees were as follows

  • Rajendra Prasad was chairman of Committee on the Rules of Procedure Committee; Steering Committee: Rajendra Prasad, Finance and Staff Committee and Ad hoc Committee on the National Flag.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru was chairman of Union Constitution Committee, Union Powers Committee and States Committee {this committee was there for negotiating with states}.
  • Sardar Patel was chairman of Provincial Constitution Committee and Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas

Some of the other committees and their chairmen were as follows:

  1. Committee on the Functions of the Constituent Assembly – G.V. Mavalankar
  2. Order of Business Committee – Dr. K.M. Munshi
  3. House Committee – B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya
  4. Special Committee to Examine the Draft Constitution – Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar
  5. Credentials Committee – Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar
Other members of drafting Committee

The drafting committee of the constituent assembly was made of total seven members including chairman Dr. B R Ambedkar. The six other members were as follows:

  1. N Gopalaswamy Ayyangar
  2. Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar
  3. Dr K M Munshi
  4. Syed Mohammad Saadullah
  5. N Madhava Rau (NMR was Diwan of Mysore state and had replaced B L Mitter who had resigned due to ill-health. He strongly opposed to the imposition of Hindi language as the lingua franca for India)
  6. T T Krishnamachari (TTK had replaced D P Khaitan who died in 1948. He was one of the members of Nehru cabinet and served as Union Minister for two times)

We note here that there was one Muslim member in drafting committee while there was no lady in drafting committee out of nine ladies members of the constituent assembly.

Time, resources were used to draft India’s constitution

The Constituent assembly set for total 11 sessions. The first session was held in December 1946. The draft constitution was published in January, 1948 and people of India were given eight months to input their feedback on this. The eleventh session was held between 14-26 November, 1949. The Constitution of India was adopted on 26 November, 1949 and the members appended their signatures to it on 24 January, 1950. Constitution of India came into force on 26 January, 1950. On that day, the Constituent Assembly ceased to exist, transforming itself into the Provisional Parliament of India until a new Parliament was constituted in 1952 via general elections.

The constituent assembly took 2 years, 11 months and 17 days to frame the constitution. It spent Rs. 64 Lakh in the preparation.  The final outcome of the almost three year’s long process was the constitution document with 22 parts, 395 articles and 8 schedules.

Provisions of Constitution that came into immediate effect on 26 November 1949

Though, the constitution came into force on 26 January 1950, some provisions relating to Citizenship, Elections, provisional parliament, temporary & transitional provisions were given immediate effect on 26 November 1949.

The articles which came into force on 26 November 1949 included articles 5, 6, 8, 9, 60, 324, 366, 372, 388, 391, 392, and 393. Out of them, citizenship was most important and had to immediately come into force to constitutionally handle the refugee crisis due to partition of India.



  • Shailesh

    Who was the eklected president of constituent assembly?
    A dr. Sachidanand sinha
    b rajendra prasad

  • vinaythecr87

    Rajendra prasad

  • vinaythecr87

    Sachidanand was senior most people so accepted as acting president without election.

  • Sunil

    Can you please give me the name of the members from Chief Commissioners Provinces of Delhi, Ajmer-Marwar, Coorg and British Baluchistan.

  • rana

    I need the state/province wise seat status of constituent and legislative assemblies of undivided India of All India Muslim League and Indian National Congress i.e the assemblies present on Dec 1946.

  • Manjima Chowdhuri

    Can you please tell me that how many muslim members were present in the constituent assembly after the separation of muslim league?

  • sagar dabral

    can u please give 1-1 paragraph on 15 members of constituent assembly of India

  • Ruthvik

    When were the elections to the constituent assembly held?

  • Dimple Verma

    Which part of the Constitution of India was drafted by the
    Constituent Assembly in the last?