Report of the Committee on Functions of the Constituent Assembly25 August, 1947
On August 20, 1947 the President announced the formation of a committee to consider and report on the functions of the Constituent Assembly under the Indian Independence Act. The committee was headed by Chairman, G. V. Mavalankar, and the other members were Hussain Imam, Purushottamdas Tandon, Ambedkar, Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar, Gopalaswami Ayyangar and B. L. Mitter.
The committee reported on certain matters connected with the future working of the Constituent Assembly. The report emphasised on the business to be transacted by the Constituent Assembly to fall under two categories of continuing and completing the work of constitution-making and to function as the Dominion Legislature until a Legislature under the new constitution comes into being.
The report also raises questions on what new rules or standing orders, if any, and what amendments, if any, in the existing rules or standing orders should be made by the Constituent Assembly or its President.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE
August 25, 1947
Shri G. V. Mavalankar,
Committee on the Functions of the Constituent Assembly under the Indian Independence Act.
Constituent Assembly of India.
On behalf of the members of the committee appointed by you on the 20th of August 1947 to consider and report on certain matters connected with the future working of the Constituent Assembly, I beg to submit this report.
2. At our first meeting on Friday the 22nd, I was elected Chairman. The committee met also on the 23rd and the 25th.
3. Our terms of reference are:
(1) What are the precise functions of the Constituent Assembly under the Indian Independence Act?
(2) Is it possible to distinguish between the business of the Constituent Assembly as a constitution-making body and its other business and can the Constituent Assembly set apart certain days or periods solely for the former?
(3) Should the members representing the Indian States in the Constituent Assembly be given the right to take part in proceedings which do not relate to constitution-making or to the subjects in respect of which they have acceded ?
(4) What new Rules or Standing Orders, if any, and what amendments, if any, in the existing Rules or Standing Orders should be made by the Constituent Assembly or its President?
We proceed to state our views on these terms in the order mentioned.
II. First term of reference
4. The business to be transacted by the Constituent Assembly falls under two categories :
(a) To continue and complete the .work of constitution-making wiiiwhichdi commenced on the 9th December, 1946, and
(b) To function as the Dominion Legislature until a Legislature under the new constitution comes into’ being.
III. Second term of reference
5. It is not only possible but necessary for the proper functioning of the Constituent Assembly in its two capacities that its business as a constitution-making body should be clearly distinguished from its normal business as the Dominion Legislature. We consider that for the purpose of avoiding complications and confusion, different days, or separate sittings on the same day, should be set apart for the two kinds of business.
IV. Third term of reference
6. We agree that, as implied in the wording of this term of reference, the members of the Assembly representing the Indian States are entitled to take part in the proceedings of the Assembly on all days set apart, for the business of constitution-making. They further have the right on days set apart for the functioning of the Assembly as the Dominion Legislature to participate in business relating to subjects in respect of which the States have acceded to the Dominion. Though it is competent for the Constituent Assembly to deny or limit their participation in business relating to subjects in respect of which the States have not acceded we would recommend that no ban or restriction be placed by rule on their participation in such business also.
V. Fourth term of reference
7. So far as constitution-making is concerned, the existing Rules of Procedure and Standing Orders made by the Constituent Assembly and its President are adequate and only such amendments need be made therein from time to time as may be considered necessary in the light of experience. As regards the functioning of the Constituent Assembly as the Dominion Legislature, under section 8(2) of the Indian Independence Act, the relevant provisions of the Government of India Act as adapted and the Rules and Standing Orders of the Indian Legislative Assembly have generally to be followed. It will, however, be necessary to make modifications and adaptations in these Rules and Standing Orders in respect of matters common to both the classes of business to be transacted by the Assembly. We have not been able, within the time at our disposal to attempt a detailed examination of these Rules and Standing Orders with a view to make suggestions as regards the modifications, adaptations and additions that may be necessary. We would suggest that necessary modifications, adaptations and additions be made under the orders of the Resident.
8. We desire to refer to three matters of importance which, besides being relevant to the main issue remitted to us for consideration, have a bearing on the question of the need for the making by the Constituent Assembly or its President of new Rules or Standing Orders and the amendment of existing Rules or Standing Orders.
9. The provisions for the election of a Speaker in Section 22 of the Government of India Act, 1935 have been omitted. This read together with the other modifications carried out in that Act show that the President of the Constituent Assembly is the person to preside over it when functioning as the Dominion Legislature also, unless other provision is made in the Rules of Procedure of the Constituent Assembly itself for the election of an officer for the purpose of presiding over the Assembly when transacting ordinary legislative business. It has to be remembered that though transacting two kinds of business, the Assembly is one and can have only one President who is the supreme head of it both on its deliberative side and on its administrative side. We would, however, point out that it would be constitutionally inappropriate for the person presiding over the Constituent Assembly when functioning as the Dominion Legislature being also a Minister of the Dominion Government. It is obviously desirable that steps should be taken for avoiding this anomaly. We would suggest that for this purpose the following alternatives might be considered:
(a) The President of the Constituent Assembly should be a person whose whole time is given to the work of the Assembly both when engaged on constitution-making and when transacting business of the Dominion Legislature.
(b) If the President of the Constituent Assembly is a Minister, provision may be made in the Rules of the Constituent Assembly for the election of an officer to preside over the deliberations of the Assembly when functioning as the Dominion Legislature.
10. Under the Government of India Act as adapted, the power of summoning and proroguing the Dominion Legislature vests in the Governor-General. We consider that, consistently with the powers which of right belong to the Constituent Assembly and with the Rules already made by it and with a view to secure proper co-ordination of the work of the Assembly in its two spheres, this power of summoning that Assembly for functioning as the Dominion Legislature and proroguing it should also vest only in the President. A new Rule to this effect may be added to the Constituent Assembly Rules of Procedure and a further adaptation of the relevant section of the Government of India Act may be made to bring it into confirmity with this new Rule.
11. At present five members of the Dominion Government have no seats in the Constituent Assembly. These Ministers have the right to participate in the business of the Constituent Assembly when functioning as the Dominion Legislature, though they will not have the right to vote. They will, however, not have the right even to participate in the work of the Constituent Assembly when it transacts business connected with constitution-making. We however, recommend that such Ministers may by a suitable addition to the Rules of the Constituent Assembly be given the right to attend and participate in its work of constitution-making, though until they become members of the Constituent Assembly they will not have any right to vote.
G. V. Mavalankar,