The Constitution of India took 2 years, 11 months and 18 days from December 1946 to December 1949 to get fully drafted with a total expenditure of 6.4 million INR. During this duration the draft of Indian Constitution was discussed and debated clause by clause in the Constituent Assembly of India. the Assembly held 11 sessions with sittings spreading over 165 days. Between the sessions, extensive work of revising and refining thedrafts was also carried out by various committees and sub-committees. However, the journey of the Constituent Assembly was not that simple, the Assembly worked through a tumultuous time facing lot of challenges. Through this article the author tries to analyse the journey of development of the Constitution.
The primaryaim of drafting a Constitution for a nation is to keep the country together, and it has to be elaborate enough to take the country ahead so that it can survive the wrath of time, carefully-worked-out, and painstakingly drafted document. To discuss the importance of Constitution in India context it was necessary to heal wounds of the past experiences related to the governance and in present, to make Indians of different classes, castes and communities come together to share a new political experiment of the diverse- democracy. Also, it sought to nurture democratic institutions in country where hierarchy has been a history. The Indian Constitution ensures that what has been a dream since long and was aspiration of lakhs during the freedom struggle is reflected in the Constitution of independent India.
The two leading Indian political parties representing the interests of different religions, the Congress and the Muslim league, had repeatedly failed to arrive at a settlement that would bring about religious reconciliation and social harmony. The Great Calcutta Killings of August 1946 lead to a year of almost continuous rioting across Northern and Eastern India. This violence culminated into hatred and massacres that accompanied the partition of India. The incidents of violence while crossing borders and in border areas became common.
On Independence Day, 15 August 1947, there was an outburst of new wave of hope from freedom and invaluable happiness and joy. But things were not same for all, innumerable people from India and newly Pakistan of different classes and caste, were now faced with a cruel choice – the threat of sudden death or the squeezing of opportunities on other side, and a forcible tearing away from their age-old roots on the other. Millions of refugees were on the move, Muslims into East and West Pakistan, Hindus and Sikhs into West Bengal and the Eastern half of the Punjab. Many perished even before they reached their destination.
Another challenge faced by the new nation to unite and come together to join hands was that of the princely state. During the period of the Raj, approximately one-third of the area of subcontinent was under the control of Nawabs and Maharajas who owed allegiance to the British Crown, but they were otherwise left mostly free to rule – or misrule – their territory as they wished. When the British left India, The Constitutional status of these Princes remained in question. As one contemporary observer remarked, some maharajas now began “to luxuriate in wild dreams of independent power in an India of many partitions”.
MAKING OF CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY
The members of the Constitution Assembly were not elected on the basis of Universal Franchise. In the Provincial elections of 1945-46 held in winters, The Provincial Legislatures chose the representatives in the Constituent Assembly.
The Constituent Assembly that came into being was dominated by the Congress. The Congress swept the general seats in the provincial elections, and the Muslim League captured most of the reserved Muslim seats. But the League boycotted the Constituent Assembly, and demanded for Pakistan with its separate constitution. The Socialists too were initially unwilling to join, because they believed that the Constituent Assembly was a creation of the British, and therefore incapable of being truly autonomous.
WORKING OF COMMITTEE
The Constituent Assembly had 300 members. Of these, six members played particularly important roles. Three representatives of the Congress, Jawaharlal Nehru, VallabhBhai Patel and Rajendra Prasad played the most important role in the assembly. Nehru moved the crucial “Objectives Resolution”, as well as the resolution proposing that the National Flag of India be a “horizontal tricolour of saffron, white and dark green in equal proportion”, with a wheel in navy blue at the centre. Patel, on the other hand, worked mostly behind the scenes, playing a key role in the drafting of several reports, and working to reconcile opposing point of view. Rajendra Prasad’s role was The President of the Assembly, where he had to steer the discussion along constructive lines while making sure all members had a chance to speak.
Besides the Congress trio, a very important member of the Assembly was Dr.B.R. Ambedkar an economist and a lawyer. He headed as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constitution. He was assisted by two other lawyers, K.M. Munshi from Gujarat and Alladi Krishna Swami Ayer from Madras, both of whom gave crucial inputs in the drafting of the constitution.
These 6 members were given vital assistance by two civil servants. One of them was B N Rau, Constitutional advisor to the Government of India, who prepared a series of background paper on a close study of the political systems obtaining in other countries. The other was The Chief Draughtsman, S.N. Mukherjee, was the one with the ability to put complex proposals in clear legal language.
The constitution of India thus emerged out through a process of intense debate and discussion. The Constituent Assembly debates show us many conflicting voices that had to be negotiated in framing the Constitution, and the many demands that were articulated. These debates also give us an understanding about the vision of this committee and the aim and aspirations of the member of committee which have been translated into the various provisions of the Constitution.
- Textbook in History for Class 12, Themes In Indian History Part-3, NCERT P-405 – P-429.
- Constituent Assembly Debates (CAD), Vol. I, II and V
 Modern India 6, Jawaharlal Nehru, British Raj