According to the Cabinet Mission Plan, the Constitution Assembly was constituted in November 1946. A meeting of the Constituent Assembly was held for the first time on 9th December 1946. At the time, it included the provinces that comprise Pakistan and Bangladesh today, as well as the princely states of India. In June 1947, delegations from the provinces of Sindh, East Bengal, West Punjab, Baluchistan, and the North-West Frontier formed the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in Karachi. BN Rao was the Constitutional Advisor to the Assembly. Following independence, the Constituent Assembly became India’s parliament. As per the Cabinet Mission Plan 1946, the members of the Provincial Legislative Assembly indirectly elected the Constituent Assembly.
The key features of the scheme are as under:
According to their populations, each Indian state or group of states and province were allotted a specific number of seats. Thus, the provinces had to elect 292 members, and the Indian states had to elect 93. Additionally, there would be one representative from each of the four chief commissioners provinces of Ajmer-Marwar, Coorg, and British Baluchistan.
The seats were distributed among three major communities, including Muslims, Sikhs, and generals, in proportion to the population of their respective provinces. Members of the community elect their own representatives within the provincial Legislative Assembly through proportional representation and single transferable vote systems.
The method of consultation was used to select the Indian state representatives. Principal state heads were expected to nominate representatives.
In July-August 1946, elections were held for 296 seats in the Constituent Assembly assigned to the British Indian Provinces. There were 208 seats won by Indian National Congress; 73 seats by Muslim League; 15 seats by Small Groups and Independents. Election for 93 Seats of Princely States was to be done but the seats were not filled as they decided to stay away from the Constituent Assembly.
The total number of seats allotted to each province and Indian state or group of states was roughly proportional to their respective populations. Muslims, Sikhs, and generals were to be assigned seats in proportion to their population in each British province.
For the first time in its history, the Constituent Assembly for undivided India met on 9th December 1946, was reconvened to meet on 14th August 1947, and became the Sovereign Constituent Assembly for the Dominion of India. Although the Muslim League had joined the Interim Government, it did not send representatives to the Constituent Assembly, which was part of the Cabinet Plan.
Further, the Constituent Assembly was supposed to have 389 members, but the Muslim League boycotted it. The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly took place on 9 December 1946 with only 211 members in attendance.
In addition, Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly was established as a result of the 3 June 1947 partition plan. Baluchistan, Punjab, Sindh, the North-Western Frontier Province, and Sylhet district of Assam all joined Pakistan. This resulted in a decrease in House membership to 299 on 31 October 1947, when the Constituent Assembly reassembled. On 26 November 1949, 284 of these members were actually present and signed the Constitution to consider it to have been adopted.
During its entire session, the Constituent Assembly held 11 sessions. There were 165 working days for the Assembly. Finally, after three years of great efforts, the historical manuscript, i.e., the Constitution of the free India was enacted and adopted by the Assembly on 26 November 1949. On 26 January 1950, the Constitution of India came into effect.
The draft Constitution contained 315 articles and twelve schedules. Thus, considerable changes had been made to the original draft. In the ensuing months, the Draft Constitution was amended by over 7000 times. The actual number of motions, debates, and predisposed amendments was 2473. As a democratic exercise that encouraged discussion, debates, and deliberations, it was indeed very successful. Criticisms were also tolerated very well. Constitution making took place in the course of a full-fledged democratic process.
Who was the chairman of the constituent assembly in India?
The first temporary chairman of the Constituent Assembly was Dr Sachchidananda Sinha. Afterward, Dr Rajendra Prasad was elected President and Harendra Coomar Mookerjee as its Vice President. BN Rau served as its constitutional advisor.
How many members were there in Constituent Assembly?
The Constituent Assembly was to have 389 members. The Muslim League members hailing from the Pakistan areas withdrew from the India Constituent Assembly after the Mountbatten Plan was accepted on June 3, 1947. As a result, the Assembly numbered 299 as opposed to 389 originally set in 1946 under the Cabinet Mission Plan.
When was the last session of the Constituent Assembly held?
The first session of the Constituent Assembly was held in New Delhi on 9 December 1946, and its last meeting was held on 24 January 1950.