Polity

Committees of the Constituent Assembly

Committees of the Constituent Assembly

The lengthiest and the most elaborate Constitution in the world, the Indian Consitution was framed by the Constituent Assembly of India, between 1947 to 1950. Framing such a large Constitution was obviously an arduous task, especially after the bloody partition. But our leaders did not disappoint us, they framed the most influential constitution under immense pressure, which gave each and every person in the country a reason to go along with it and respect it. And in order to frame this Constitution, various committees of the Constituent Assembly were formed, to prepare drafts for different parts of the Constitution, such as the Union Power Committee, Rules of Procedure Committee, Drafting Committee, etc. So, in this article, we’d be discussing the various committees of the Constituent Assembly.

Committees of the Constituent Assembly
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Committees of Constituent Assembly

Constituent Assembly

So, before discussing the Committees of the Constituent Assembly, it’s important to have a brief understanding of the Constituent Assembly itself. Initially, the Constituent Assembly was formed in November 1946, which included members from the entire British Indian Empire, i.e. from both India and Pakistan. The Constituent Assembly was constituted along the lines suggested by the Cabinet Mission Plan. The composition of the Assembly, as proposed by the Cabinet Mission Plan was as follows:

  • The British Indian Provinces and the Princely States were allotted seats in proportion to their population, roughly in the ratio of 1:1 million (1 seat was allotted for every million population).
  • The total strength of the Constituent Assembly was 389. Out of the 389 seats, the British Indian Provinces were allotted 292 seats, The Princely States were allotted 93 seats, and 4 seats were allotted to the 4 Chief Commissioners provinces.
  • In order to ensure the representation of all communities in the constituent assembly, the seats allotted to the British Indian provinces were divided among the three major communities, in proportion to their population- Sikhs, Muslims, and Generals (all except Sikhs and Muslims).
  • The Members of each community in the Provincial Legislative Assembly elected their own representative (to the constituent assembly) by the method of proportional representation with single transferrable votes.
  • The representatives of the Princely States were nominated by the heads of the Princely States. However, the representatives of the Princely States (initially) did not join the Constituent Assembly.
Committees of the Constituent Assembly
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Election Results-

  • The Indian National Congress won 208 seats
  • The Muslim League won 73 seats
  •  The Unionist Party, Unionist Muslims, Unionist Scheduled Castes, Krishak- Praja Party, Scheduled Castes Federation, Sikhs (Non-Congress), and Communist Party won 1-1 seats each.
  • The Independent candidates won 8 seats.

The members of the Muslim League asserted their demand for the partition of India and the formation of separate Constituent Assemblies of India and Pakistan. So, the members of the Muslim League boycotted the meeting.

Post Partition

And with the enactment of the Independence Act of 1947 and the formation of independent dominions of India and Pakistan, the representatives of the Muslim League from the areas included in Pakistan resigned and the total strength of the Constituent Assembly was reduced to 299 from 389.

The representatives of the Princely States who initially decided to stay away from the Assembly ultimately joined the assembly.

Committees of the Constituent Assembly

For drafting the different provisions of the Constitution, different committees were appointed. After the committees drafted their provisions for the constitution, they were subject to debate by the members of the assembly. Among the committees formed, there were 8 major committees and 15 minor committees.

List of Major Committees and their heads

  • Union Powers Committee, Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Union Constitution Committee, Jawaharlal Nehru
  • States Committee (for negotiating with states), Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Drafting Committee, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
  • Provincial Constitution Committee, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel
  • Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas, Sardar Patel. Subcommittees under this committee
    1) Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee – J.B Kripalani
    2) Minorities Sub-Committee – H.C. Mukherjee
    3) North-East Frontier Tribal Areas and Assam Excluded and & Partially Excluded Areas sub-committee- Gopinath Bardoloi
    4) Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas (Other than Assam) Sub-Committee- A.V. Thakkar
  • Rules of Procedure Committee, Dr. Rajendra Prasad
  • Steering Committee, Dr. Rajendra Prasad

List of Minor Committees and their Heads

  • Finance and Staff Committee, Dr. Rajendra Prasad
  • House Committee, B. Pattabhi Sitarammayya
  • Order of Business Committee, Dr. K.M. Munshi
  • Credentials Committee, Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar
  • Committee on the Functions of the Constituent Assembly, G.V. Mavalankar
  • Ad-hoc Committee on the National Flag, Dr. Rajendra Prasad
  • Ad-hoc Committee on the Supreme Court, S. Varadachari
  • Ad-hoc Committee on Citizenship, S. Varadachari
  • Committee on Chief Commissioner Provinces, B. Pattabhi Sitaramayya
  • Linguistic Provinces Commission, S.K. Dar
  • Special Committee to Examine the Draft Constitution, Jawaharlal Nehru
  • Press Gallery Committee, Usha Nath Sen
  • Expert Committee on the Financial Provisions of the Union Constitution, Nalini Rajan Sarkar.
Drafting Committee
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The Drafting Committee was probably the most important committee of the Constituent Assembly. The Drafting Committee was chaired by Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar. The Committee was set up on 29th August 1947 and consisted of 7 members. The task of the Drafting Committee was to prepare a draft of the new Constitution.

Members of the Drafting Committee:

  • Dr. B.R. Ambedkar
  • N. Gopalaswamy Ayyangar
  • Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar
  • N. Madhava Rau
  • T.T. Krishnamachari
  • Dr. K.M. Munshi
  • Sayed Mohammad Saadullah

The first draft of the constitution was published in February 1948. After the first draft was published, it was made public and the people of India were given eight months to discuss the draft and propose amendments. After taking into consideration the public comments and suggestions, the committee prepared the second draft in October 1948. The Drafting Committee sat for 141 days to prepare the draft.

 

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