Indian Constituent Assembly : An Evaluation
Rabindra Kumar Behuria
The first historical session of Indian Constituent Assembly held its meeting on 9th December, 1946 under the chairmanship of Dr. Sachidananda Sinha. On 11th December, it elected Dr. Rajendra Prasad as its permanent president. The membership of the Constitutent Assembly included all eminent Indian leaders. Though the Constitutent Assembly consisted of 296 members, the first historical session was attended by only 210 members. Amongst the 210 members who attended the first historical session of the Constituent Assembly, there were 155 high caste Hindus, 30 Schedule Caste representatives, 5 Tribals, 5 Sikhs, 5 Indian Christians, 3 Anglo Indians, 3 Parsis and 4 Muslim members. Though the Constituent Assembly had 80 Muslim members out of total 296 members, their attendance was very poor as because the Muslim league had called upon the Muslim members to boycott the first historical session of Constituent Assembly. The election results, particularly the big majority secured by the Congress, unnerved the Muslim league. It passed two resolutions. By the first, it withdrew support from the cabinet Mission Plan and by the second it resolved the resort to direct action for achieving Pakistan. It decided to boycott the Constituent Assembly. It celebrated 16th August, 1946 as the Direct Action Day. 42
At the time of its establishment, the Constituent Assembly was not a sovereign body. It stood organised on the basis of the Cabinet Mission Plan. Its powers were derived from the sovereign authority of British Parliament. Some Indian leaders held the view that the Constituent Assembly was not a sovereign body. However Sardar Patel and Pandit Nehru believed that it was a sovereign body. The Assembly resolved this issue by adopting : "The Assembly should not be dissolved except by a resolution assented to by at least 2/3rd of the whole number of members of the Assembly. Once constituted it could not be dissolved even by Britain." When on 15th August, 1947, India became Independent, the Constituent Assembly became a fully sovereign body and remained so till the inauguration of the Constitution of India. During this period, it acted in a dual capacity : first as the Constituent Assembly engaged in the making of the Indian Constitution, and secondly as the Parliament of India, it remained involved in legislating for the whole of India. Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru introduced the objectives Resolution on 13th December, 1946. After a full discussion and debate, the Constituent Assembly passed the objectives Resolution on 22nd January, 1947. It clearly laid down the ideological foundations and values of the Indian January - 2011
Constitution and it guided the work of the Constituent Assembly. The objectives Resolution passed and adopted by the Constituent Assembly read as under : 1. "The Constituent Assembly declares its firm and solemn resolve to proclaim India as an Independent Sovereign Republic and to draw up for the future governance a Constitution." 2. Wherein that territories that now comprise British India, the territories that now form the Indian states as well as such other territories as are willing to be constituted in to the Independent Sovereign India, shall be a union of them all; and 3. Wherein the said territories, whether with their present boundaries or with such others as may be determined by the Constituent Assembly and thereafter according to the law of the Constitution shall possess and retain the status of autonomous units, together with residuary powers, and exercise all powers and functions of the government and administration, save and except such powers and functions as are vested in or assigned to the Union, or as are inherent or implied in the Union, on resulting therefrom; and 4. Wherein all power and authority of the Sovereign Independent India, its constituent parts and organs of government, be derived from the...
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