MAKING OF CONSTITUTION
Constituent Assembly – brief history:
- Before Independence, British rulers formulated and implemented various constitutional laws for the administration of Indian affairs
- In 1927, British Govt provided an opportunity to Indians for for framing their own constitution.
- Lord Birkenhead, the Minister of Indian Affairs, informed the willingness of British Govt to consider a constitution prepared by Indian and acceptable to all Indians
- Accordingly, all political parties of pre-Independent India covened an all party conference under the chairmanship of Dr.Ibrahim Ali Ansari to prepare a constitution
- The conference constituted a 7 member drafting committee under the chairmanship of Motilal Nehru
- This committee prepared a constitution and submitted to All-Party conference on Aug 10th,1929
- But it was rejected by both congress and Muslim league on different grounds
- In 1934, idea of constituent assembly was put forward for the 1st time by M N Roy
- Later British Govt enacted GOI Act,1935 on basis of recommendations of Simon Commission and Round Table Conferences
- In 1938, Jawaharlal Nehru on behalf of INC declared for the constitition of free India by a CA elected on the basis of adult franchise
- In 1940, Lord Linlithgow declared that Constituent assembly shall be constituted if Indian extend co-operation to the British in 2nd world war
- But this proposal “August Offer” was rejected by Indians
- Cripps Mission in 1942, after discussing the formalities regarding the constitution of Constituent Assembly, pointed out that election of the constituent assembly shall be held in which the members of lower houses of state legislatures by forming into an electoral college elect members equaling to 1/10th of their size through proportional representation. The native states can also send their representatives to constituent assembly
- Congress rejected the Cripps proposal and launched the historic “Quit India Movement” in 1942
- After the end of 2nd world war, the British Govt headed by Lord Atlee sent a Cabinet Mission with a view to provide Independence to India
- The Cabinet Mission consisted of three cabinet Ministers namely Lord Pathic Lawrence, A V Alexander and Stafford Cripps
- These ministers after consulting important leaders. Proposed
- Immediate organization of elections to constituent assembly
- Election of a member of constituent assembly by every 10 lakh voters
- Provisions of special representation to Sikhs and Muslims in CA
This was accepted by all political parties
Composition of Constituent Assembly:
- British Govt sent Lord Mountbatten as the new viceroy for implementing the above proposals
- Elections to the CA was organised in 1946 under the scheme formulated by Cabinet Mission Plan
- Features of Scheme:
To these were to be added a representative each from the four chief Commissioners provinces of Delhi, Ajmer-Marwar, Coorg and British Baluchistan
- Each province and princely state – Allocation of seats @ Population ratio 1 seat for every million population
- Seats allocated to each British Province were to be decided among among the three principal communities – Muslims, Sikhs and General in proportion to their population
- The representatives of each community were to be elected by members of that community in the provincial legislative assembly and voting was to be done by the method of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote system
- The representatives of princely states were to be nominated by the heads of princely states
CA – partly elected and partly nominated body indirect election of members @ limited franchise CA was not directly elected by the people of India @ adult franchise
- Interesting Point : The Assembly included all the important personalities of India at that time, with the exception of Mahatma Gandhi and M.A.Jinnah
Proportional representation by means of single transferable vote system – Explanation with simple example
Proportional representation in an election means that each segment of voters have their representatives elected in the ratio of the voters themselves.
For example, if in an election there are 1000 voters out of which 700 support party A and 300 support Party B, a proportional representation would mean that if 10 candidates are elected 7 should be from party A and 3 from Party B.
- Proportional representative elections are of two types: Party List type and Single Transferable Vote (STV) type.
- STV type of voting system PR is used for elections of members in Rajya Sabha. For example, in a state RS elections is held for 3 seats. The political parties in competition are BJP,Congress and TDP. Now, suppose the legislative assembly of that state has BJP, Congress and TDP MLAs are in the ratio 40:35:25. So if normal process is followed BJP should win all the seats, given that all MLAs are allowed to vote for each seat. But since RS elections follow Proportional Representation system with STV, this is not the case. Each of the electors, MLAs in this case, give preference votes to each of the candidates in competition.
Suppose both BJP and Congress filed 3 candidates each for all the 3 seats to be filled and NCP doesn’t filed any, giving a total of six candidates for 3 seats. Let us call them B1, B2, B3 and C1,C2, C3. Every elector is supposed to rank their choice for candidates. For example a BJP MLA would rank candidates in the order B1,B2,B3,C1,C2,C3, while a congress MLAs would rank vice versa. A TDP MLA may rank in the following sequence C1,C2,B1,B2,B3,C3.
Once the votes are captured, the first preference votes of each voter is counted against each candidate. The candidate who gets minimum quota of votes gets elected. The Droops quota, for the current example is 26. ((total number of voters)/(total number of seats +1))+1 ((1000/3+1)) + 1 = 26
So whichever candidate gets minimum of 26 first preference votes gets elected. Now suppose B1 gets 30 first preference votes, he wins automatically. But herein comes into effect the concept of single transferable vote. The excess votes (votes more than required to win), gets transferred to candidates who were second on preference in the ratio of second preference candidates by these voters. In this case, 4 extra votes are there for B1, hence these 4 votes would be transferred as first preference votes of candidates who were marked 2nd preference by these voters. Suppose , the second preference of these voters was 10 for B2 and 20 for C1. So the excess votes would be transferred in the ratio 1:2 for B2 and C1. For simplicity let us assume B2 gets 1 and C1 gets 3 out of the excess pool of 4 votes.
Now if any of these candidates achieve minimum 26, after transfer of votes, he is elected. If none of the candidates gets minimum quota, the candidate with minimum votes is eliminated and their votes are transferred to second preference candidates. After the transfer, suppose C1 achieves the magic figure of 26, he gets elected for second seat. This process is continued till candidates for all seats are elected.
In case, for the last seat minimum quota cannot be achieved the candidate with max votes win out of the two remaining candidates.
It may be clarified that not all candidates are required to give preference for all candidates. For example, BJP MLA may just mark B1, B2 and B3 while TDP may mark on C1. This makes this process more complicated and result prediction more difficult, although it is far more fair and equitable.
Working of the Constituent Assembly:
- 1st meeting of CA – Dec 9th, 1946 held at constitution hall (present – central hall of parliament house)
- Muslim league boycotted the meeting and insisted on separate state of Pakistan
- Meeting was attended by only 211 members
- Sachchidananda Sinha was elected temporary president of the assembly, in accordance with French practice.
- 11 December 1946: Rajendra Prasad and H. C. Mukherjee were elected as assembly president and vice-president, respectively. B. N. Rau appointed its constitutional adviser (judge in the Permanent Court of International Justice in The Hague)
- 13 December 1946: An “objective resolution” was introduced by Jawaharlal Nehru, laying down the underlying principles of the constitution.
- 22 January 1947: Objective resolution unanimously adopted.
- 22 July 1947: National flag adopted
- Feb, 1948: First ‘Draft Constitution of India’ was published . It was prepared by Sir B. N. Rau, Constitutional Advisor to the Constituent Assembly
- May 1949: CA ratified India’s membership of the Commonwealth
- 26 Nov 1949: Constitution was declared as passed after the president of assembly signed the document. Thus on 26 Nov 1949 the Constitution of India was adopted. The commencement of the Constitution occurred on 26th Jan 1950.
Provisions relating to citizenship, elections, provisional parliament, and temporary provisions became effective from 26th November, 1949
- 24 January 1950: “Jana Gana Mana” adopted as the national anthem, with the first two verses of “Vande Mataram” the national song. Rajendra Prasad elected the first president of India.
On January 24, 1950 the Constituent Assembly held its final session.It had continued as a provisional parliament from 26 January, 1950 till the formation of new parliament in May, 1952
The assembly was chaired by Dr. Rajendra Prasad when it met as a constituent body, and by G. V. Mavlankar when it met as a legislative body. It completed the task of drafting a constitution in two years, eleven months and eighteen days (11 sessions – 165 days), gone through the constitutions of about 60 countries and the draft constitution was considered for 114 days with a total expenditure of Rs.64 lakh
The assembly’s work had five stages:
- Committees presented reports on issues.
- B.N. Rau prepared an initial draft based on the reports and his research into the constitutions of other nations.
- The drafting committee, chaired by B. R. Ambedkar, presented a detailed draft constitution which was published for public discussion.
- The draft constitution was discussed, and amendments proposed and enacted.
- The constitution was adopted, with a committee of experts led by the Congress Party (known as the Congress Assembly Party) played a pivotal role
Principal committees and chairs
Committee on the Rules of Procedure: Rajendra Prasad
Drafting Committee: B.R. Ambedkar
Steering Committee: Rajendra Prasad
Finance and Staff Committee: Rajendra Prasad
Credential Committee: Alladi Krishnaswami Aiyyar
House Committee: B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya
Order of Business Committee: K. M. Munshi
Ad Hoc Committee on National Flag: Rajendra Prasad
Committee on Functions of Constituent Assembly: G.V. Mavlankar
States Committee: Jawaharlal Nehru
Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas: Vallabhbhai Patel
Minorities Sub-Committee: H. C. Mookherjee
Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee: J. B. Kriplani
North-East Frontier Tribal Areas and Assam Excluded & Partially Excluded Areas Sub-Committee: Gopinath Bardoloi
Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas (Other than Those in Assam) Sub-Committee: A. V. Thakkar
Union Powers Committee: Jawaharlal Nehru
Union Constitution Committee: Jawaharlal Nehru
Enactment of the Constitution:
|Nov 4, 1948||First Reading of the Final Draft of the Constitution by Dr. B.R.Ambedkar|
|Nov 4 – 9, 1948||General Discussion on the Final Draft of the Constitution.|
|Nov 15, 1948 – Oct 17, 1949||Second Reading of the Constitution.|
|Detailed Discussion on the Constitution which included 7653 Amendments proposed out of which 2473 were actually discussed.|
|Nov 14, 1949||Third Reading of the Constitution.|
|Also known for the motion passed by Dr. B.R.Ambedkar “the Constitution as settled by the Assembly be passed”|
|Nov 26, 1949||Draft Constitution was declared as Passed.|
|284 out of 299 members were present in the Assembly and the Draft Constitution received their signatures.|
|The Constitution adopted on November 26, 1949, contained a Preamble, 395 Articles and 8 Schedules|
- The constitution as adopted on Nov 26,1949 contained a Preamble, 395 Articles and 8 schedules
- Dr. B.R.Ambedkar, the then Law Minister and the President of the Constituent Assembly is also known as “Father of the Constitution of India”, “Chief Architect of the Constitution of India” and “Modern Manu”
Enforcement of the Constitution:
- Few of the Articles of the Constitution came into force on November 26, 1949 itself, that included Article 5,6,7,8,9,60,324,366,379,380,388,391,392 and 393.
- Rest of the provisions or the major part came into force on January 26, 1950. January 26 was chosen as the “date of commencement” of the Constitution because it was on this day in 1930 that Purna Swaraj day was celebrated.
Criticism of Constituent Assembly:
Not a Representative Body: CA was not a representative body as its members were not directly elected by the people of India on the basis of universal adult franchise.
Not a Sovereign Body: CA was not a sovereign body as it was created by the proposals of the British Government. Further, they said that the Assembly held its sessions with the permission of the British Government.
Time Consuming: CA took unduly long time to make the Constitution. They stated that the framers of the American Constitution took only four months to complete their work.
Dominated by Congress: CA was dominated by the Congress party. Granville Austin, a British Constitutional expert, remarked: ‘The Constituent Assembly was a one-party body in an essentially one-party country. The Assembly was the Congress and the Congress was India’ .
Lawyer-Politician Domination: CA was dominated by lawyers and politicians. They pointed out that other sections of the society were not sufficiently represented. This, to them, is the main reason for the bulkiness and complicated language of the Constitution.
Dominated by Hindus: CA was a Hindu dominated body. Lord Viscount Simon called it ‘a body of Hindus’. Similarly, Winston Churchill commented that the CA represented only one major community in India.