On the basis of the framework provided by the Cabinet Mission, a Constituent Assembly was constituted on 9th December, 1946. The Constitution making body was elected by the Provincial Legislative Assembly constituting of 389 members who included 93 from Princely States and 296 from British India. The seats to the British Indian provinces and princely states were allotted in proportion of their respective population and were to be divided among Muslims, Sikhs and rest of the communities. All sections of the Indian society got representation in the Constituent Assembly in spite of limited suffrage.
The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly took place on December 9, 1946 at New Delhi with Dr Sachidanand being elected as the interim President of the Assembly. However, on December 11, 1946, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the President and H.C. Mukherjee as the Vice-President of the Constituent Assembly.
Functions of the Constituent Assembly
The Objective Resolution was moved on December 13, 1946 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, which provided the philosophy and guiding principles for framing the Constitution and later took the form of Preamble of the Constitution of India. This Resolution was unanimously adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 22 January 1947.
The Resolution stated that the Constituent Assembly would firstly proclaim India as an Independent Sovereign Republic which includes all the territories, retaining as autonomous units and possess residuary powers; all the people of India shall be guaranteed justice, equality of status, freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, association and subject to law and public morality; adequate safeguards shall be provided for minorities, backward, depressed classes; the integrity of the territories of the Republic and its sovereign rights on land, sea and air and thus India would contribute to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind.
Committees of the Constituent Assembly
The Constituent Assembly appointed eight major committees, which are mentioned below:
Constitution Making Union Powers Committee
Union Constitution Committee
Provincial Constitution Committee
Advisory Committee on Fundamental rights and Minorities
Rules of Procedure Committee
Jawaharlal Nehru Steering Committee
Among these eight major committees, the most significant was the Drafting Committee. On 29th August 1947, the Constituent Assembly set up a Drafting Committee under the chairmanship of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to prepare a Draft Constitution for India.
Criticism of the Constituent Assembly
The grounds on which the Constituent Assembly was criticized were as follows:
Therefore, the Constituent Assembly became the Provisional Parliament of India and significantly contributed to the drafting of the historic Constitution of India and later helped to construct the Indian political system.