Composition and Debates of Constituent Assembly

20/04/2024 0 By indiafreenotes

Constituent Assembly of India was a pivotal body tasked with drafting the Constitution for independent India following the end of British rule. The Assembly’s composition and debates reflected the diverse and complex nature of India’s social fabric and political thought.

Composition of the Constituent Assembly

  • Formation:

The Constituent Assembly was formed in 1946 as a result of the proposals of the Cabinet Mission Plan. Initially, it consisted of 389 members, but after the partition of India in 1947, the number of members was reduced to 299. These members were elected by the provincial legislative assemblies and were largely representatives of various political parties, social groups, and regions.

  • Diversity:

The Assembly included representatives from various religious, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds, and it included notable leaders such as Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Rajendra Prasad, and Maulana Abul Kalam Azad among others.

  • Leadership:

Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the President of the Constituent Assembly, while B. N. Rau served as the Constitutional Advisor. The drafting of the Constitution was overseen by the Drafting Committee chaired by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.

Debates of the Constituent Assembly

  • Sessions:

The Constituent Assembly met for the first time on December 9, 1946, and over the next three years, it held eleven sessions and sat for 166 days. The sessions were open to the public and were conducted in a detailed and exhaustive manner.

Major Debates:

  • Form of Government:

There was significant debate over whether India should adopt a federal or unitary structure. Ultimately, a federal structure with a strong center was chosen to ensure unity amid diversity.

  • Fundamental Rights:

Discussions on fundamental rights were intense, focusing on rights to be included, their scope, and their limitations. These debates emphasized individual freedoms, protection against state oppression, and the inclusion of socio-economic rights.

  • Language:

The question of official language was highly contentious, reflecting India’s vast linguistic diversity. Ultimately, Hindi in the Devanagari script was adopted as the official language, with English also being used for official purposes for a period of 15 years after the commencement of the Constitution.

  • Secularism and Minority Rights:

The assembly debated the role of religion in the state extensively. India was declared a secular nation, ensuring state neutrality towards all religions and providing for equal rights and protections under the law for all religious communities.

  • Reservation and Representation:

There were significant discussions on the representation and reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, women, and other minority groups to ensure their adequate representation in the Parliament and state legislatures.

Conclusion and Adoption

  • The Constitution of India was adopted on November 26, 1949, and came into effect on January 26, 1950. This day is celebrated annually as Republic Day in India.
  • The debates and proceedings of the Constituent Assembly were thoroughly documented and are crucial for understanding the intentions behind the provisions of the Indian Constitution.