CONSTITUTION MAKING : INSTITUTIONS
The Constituent Assembly at various points during the constitution making process, appointed a number of Committees on different aspects of the Constitution to conduct preliminary research and deliberations within smaller groups
The Constitution making process was organised around the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly. The members of the Constituent Assembly were elected on a limited franchise. The Cabinet Mission Plan, which set up the Constituent Assembly of India, discarded full adult franchise for elections to the Constituent Assembly and instead suggested indirect elections by members of the recently elected Provincial Legislative Assemblies. In addition to members elected by the Provincial Legislative Assembly (292), the Princely States and the Chief Commissioner’s Provinces contributed 93 and 4 members to the Constituent Assembly respectively, taking the Assembly’s total membership to 389. After partition, the total number of seats came down to 299 as some Provinces and Princely States became part of Pakistan.
The Constituent Assembly at various points during the constitution making process, appointed a number of Committees on different aspects of the Constitution to conduct preliminary research and deliberations within smaller groups. The work of these Committees took the form of reports which were discussed in the Constituent Assembly. The Constitutional Adviser, B. N. Rau compiled reports of various committees to prepare a Draft Constitution which he submitted to the Drafting Committee. Decision making in the committees was on the basis of a majority vote and members could record their dissents to decisions taken if they wished.
The Congress Assembly Party was an unofficial forum consisting of the Constituent Assembly’s Congress Party Members (and some special invitees) where provisions of the Constitution and related issues were discussed and debated before they came up in the Constituent Assembly. All members elected on a Congress party ticket were free to attend and contribute to these meetings. There is no historical record of the proceedings of these meetings, which makes it difficult to discern the exact extent of the Congress Assembly Party’s impact on the processes and outcomes of Indian constitution making. However, proceedings of the Constituent Assembly indicate that the Congress Assembly Party did wield influence, especially through the Party whip.