Constituent Assembly: Formation, Composition, Members of Constituent Assembly of India

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The Constituent Assembly of India was responsible for framing the Indian Constitution which was the largest written constitution in the world. The Provincial Assembly was in charge of electing its members. The idea of creating a Constituent Assembly was first proposed by M.N. Roy, a member of the Communist movement of India, but later supported by the Indian National Congress in 1935. The total number of members of Constituent Assembly was 389.

Dr Sachchidananda Sinha was the first and temporary President of the Constituent Assembly of India, and who later got replaced by Dr Rajendra Prasad. It is an important topic in Indian Polity and Indian History alike, making it a necessary issue from the UPSC exam perspective. This article shall cover all significant aspects of the topic including members of the Constituent Assembly, its composition, functions, criticism, and critical facts about it.

What is Constituent Assembly?

The Constituent Assembly of India was elected with the objective of forming the Constitution of the country. M N Roy, a supporter of radical democracy and pioneer of the Communist movement in India, is accredited with the idea for a Constituent Assembly. He proposed it in December 1934.

It was a unicameral body that had 389 elected members which were reduced to 299 after the partition of India to form Pakistan was finalised. The Constituent Assembly met for the first time in New Delhi on 9 December 1946, and its last session was held on 24 January 1950.

President of Constituent Assembly

The President of the Constituent Assembly of India was Dr Rajendra Prasad. Although it is also said that Dr Sachchidananda Sinha was the one who was elected for the first time as a temporary President. He was later succeeded by Dr Rajendra Prasad as the permanent President of the Constituent Assembly.

The formulation of the Constituent Assembly was done with the aim of framing the Constitution of India. It came into existence in July 1946. Dr Rajendra Prasad was also the first President of India post-independence. His appointment as the President of India was done on 24th January 1950 and as the President of India in 1946.

Functions of the Constituent Assembly of India

The Constituent Assembly of India was formed in order to mainly frame the constitution of India. It was formed after the Cabinet Mission submitted its recommendations. The main functions of the Constituent Assembly are as follows:

  • Drafting an all-encompassing draft of the Indian constitution which promises equal and all basic rights to every citizen.
  • Formulating laws was an important part of the functions of the Constituent Assembly of India.
  • The national flag of India was embraced only after the approval of the Constituent Assembly.
  • The Assembly also validated and approved the National Song and the National Anthem of the country.
  • The Constituent Assembly was also responsible for approving India as a member of the British estate.

First Meeting of Constituent Assembly

The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly was held on the 9th of December 1946. The main goal behind the assembly meeting was to frame the constitution. The Constituent Assembly played the role of the Parliament of India for the first time. The initial count of the members was 389 which was later reduced to 299 as few of them transferred to Pakistan after the partition.

Some members of the Constituent Assembly belonged to the British provinces of India and the rest belonged to the princely states. The first meeting of the Constituent Assembly witnessed the boycott by the members of the Muslim League. These members were in favour of the partition of India.

Background of the Constituent Assembly

The formation of the Constituent Assembly of India can be better understood by going through the below mentioned points:

  • In 1934, M N Roy was the first to propose the idea of a constituent assembly. The Indian National Congress made it one of their official demands in 1935.
  • The INC’s Lucknow session held on the 16th of April 1936 was presided by Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru where the official demand for the establishment of the assembly was raised.
  • They rejected the proposed idea in the Government of India Act, 1935 as it imposed a Constitution that was not accepted by Indians.
  • It was then when C. Rajagopalachari demanded the setting up of a Constituent Assembly on 15 November 1939 which would be based on an adult franchise.
  • This demand was accepted by the British in the August Offer of 1940.
  • The elections for the formation of the Assembly were held as directed by the Cabinet Mission plan of 1946.
  • These elections were indirect in nature as the provincial assembly members used to elect the members of the Constituent Assembly by the method of a single transferable vote of proportional representation.

Members of Constituent Assembly

Before the partition of India and Pakistan, the number of members in the Constituent Assembly was 389, which was later reduced to 299 after some of the members left for Pakistan. Out of these 299 members, 70 were nominations from the princely states, and 229 were from the British provinces.

  • Dr Sachchidananda Sinha was the first chairman of the Constituent Assembly, put up temporarily.
  • Later, Dr Rajendra Prasad was the first elected President of the Assembly while Harendra Coomar Mookerjee became the first Vice President. BN Rau was the constitutional advisor.

Committees of Constituent Assembly of India and their Chairman

The Indian constitution is the lengthiest written constitution in the world, a fitting feat for one of the biggest democracies in the world. For its smoother and more effective functions, the members were divided into several committees. The table below lists the several committees of the Constituent Assembly along with their chairman:

Committees of Constituent Assembly of India
Drafting Committee Dr B R Ambedkar
Union Constitution Committee Jawaharlal Nehru
Union Powers Committee Jawaharlal Nehru
States Committee Jawaharlal Nehru
Steering Committee Dr Rajendra Prasad
Rules of Procedure Committee Dr Rajendra Prasad
Provincial Constitution Committee Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel
Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities and Tribal and Excluded Areas: Minorities Sub-Committee: H C Mookerjee

Fundamental Rights Sub-Committee: Acharya Kripalani

Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas (Other than those in Assam) Sub-Committee: A V Thakkar

North-East Frontier Tribal Areas and Assam Excluded & Partially Excluded Areas Sub-Committee: Gopinath Bardoloi

Key Facts Related to the Constituent Assembly of India

There were several important dates and events in the tenure of the Constituent Assembly that are relevant from the UPSC standpoint. They have been compiled in the table below:

Constituent Assembly UPSC Facts
When did the constituent assembly first meet? December 09, 1946
Role of Muslim League The Muslim League did not play any role in the constituent assembly as its members had boycotted this meeting. This aligned with their demand for a partition of the country.
Who proposed the notion of Objective Resolution and when? Jawaharlal Nehru moved the Objective Resolution’ on 13 December 1946.
When was the National Flag of the Union adopted? The National Flag was adopted on 22 July 1947
How many days were taken by the constituent assembly to frame the constitution? 2 years, 11 months and 17 days

Rs. 64 lakhs were spent on the framing of the constitution

When was Jana Gana Mana adopted as our national anthem? Jana Gana Mana was adopted as the national anthem on 24 January 1950.
How many articles are in the final draft of the constitution? 8 schedules, 22 parts, and 395 articles
How many sessions did the constituent assembly meet for? 11 sessions
When was the draft of the Indian Constitution published? The draft was published in January 1948. The window for the country’s people to give their feedback was set to be at 8 months.
When was the last session of the Constituent Assembly? From 14 to 26 November 1949
When did the constitution of India come into force? The constitution came into effect on 26 January 1950, which is now celebrated as our Republic Day.

Criticism of the Constituent Assembly

Like any other concept that is put out in the world, the Constituent Assembly drew some points of criticism from people that have been listed below:

  • The members of Constituent Assembly were not elected directly by an adult ballot, therefore it was not a representative body. Still, the leaders did enjoy people’s support.
  • Another major criticism was the time taking process of framing of the constitution by the makers.
  • The constituent assembly wasn’t an autonomous body since it was created by the British. It is important to keep in mind that it worked like a completely independent and autonomous body with no British interference.
  • It was said that the language used in the Constitution was complicated and erudite.
  • The assembly was dominated by the Congress Party and it was called a one-party assembly. It is important to note that the country was being led by the INC which is why a lot of the popular leaders were affiliated with it. It was also a diverse and miscellaneous party that had members coming from nearly all sections of Indian society.
  • It was claimed that there is Hindu dominance in the assembly.

Constituent Assembly of India UPSC

The Constituent Assembly of India UPSC notes must be studied by all aspirants to understand the historical background of Indian Constitution. Many questions on this topic are asked in the Prelims and Mains exams over the years. Try to solve the following questions on the Constituent Assembly to analyse your understanding:

Question: In context with the Constituent Assembly, which among the following observations is/are correct?

  1. The members of the Constituent Assembly were elected directly
  2. The basis of seat allocation was population
  3. The composition of the Constituent Assembly was roughly in line with the suggestions of the Cabinet Mission plan

Select the correct option from the codes given below:

  1. I and II are correct
  2. II and III are correct
  3. I, II, and III are correct
  4. None of the above statements is correct

Answer: 3

Question: The “liberty, equality and fraternity” enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution of India, is inspired by which revolution?

  1. French
  2. Irish
  3. American
  4. British

Answer: 1

Other Important UPSC Notes
Constituent Assembly Debates Schedules of Indian Constitution
Sources of Indian Constitution Emergency Provisions in Indian Constitution
Comparison of Indian Constitution with other Countries Important Articles of Indian Constitution
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