THE CABINET MISSION PLAN
In 1946, at the initiative of British Prime Minister Clement Attlee, a cabinet mission to India was formulated to discuss and finalize plans for the transfer of power from the British Raj to Indian leadership and providing India with independence under Dominion status in the Commonwealth of Nations. The Mission discussed the framework of the constitution and laid down in some detail the procedure to be followed by the constitution drafting body. Elections for the 296 seats assigned to the British Indian provinces were completed by August 1946. With the independence of India on August 15, 1947, the Constituent Assembly became a fully sovereign body and began work on 9 December 1947.
THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY
The Constitution was drafted by the Constituent Assembly, which was elected by the elected members of the provincial assemblies. Jawaharlal Nehru, C. Rajagopalachari, Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee were some important figures in the Assembly. There were more than 30 members of the scheduled classes. Frank Anthony represented the Anglo-Indian community, and the Parsis were represented by H. P. Modi and R. K. Sidhwa. The Chairman of the Minorities Committee was Harendra Coomar Mookerjee, a distinguished Christian who represented all Christians other than Anglo-Indians.
Ari Bahadur Gururng represented the Gorkha Community. Prominent jurists like Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, B. R. Ambedkar, Benegal Narasingh Rao and K. M. Munshi Ganesh Mavlankar were also members of the Assembly. Sarojini Naidu, Hansa Mehta, Durgabai Deshmukh and Rajkumari Amrit Kaur were important women members. The first president of the Constituent Assembly was Sachidanand Sinha later, Rajendra Prasad was elected president of the Constituent Assembly. The members of the Constituent Assembly met for the first time in the year 1946 on December 9.
In the August 14, 1947 meeting of the Assembly, a proposal for forming various committees was presented. Such committees include Committee on Fundamental Rights, the Union Powers Committee and Union Constitution Committee. On August 29, 1947, the Drafting Committee was appointed, with Dr. Ambedkar as the Chairman along with six other members. A Draft Constitution was prepared by the committee and submitted to the Assembly on November 4, 1947. The Assembly met, in sessions open to public, for 166 days, spread over a period of 2 years, 11 months and 18 days before adopting the Constitution. After many deliberations and some modifications, the 308 members of the Assembly signed two hand-written copies of the document (one each in Hindi and English) on the January 24, 1950. Two days later, the Constitution of India became the law of all the Indian lands.
STRUCTURE OF THE UNION GOVERNMENT
The basic form of the Union Government envisaged in the Constitution was introduced by Dr. Ambedkar as follows, “A democractic executive must satisfy two conditions:
1. It must be a stable executive, and
2. It must be a responsible executive.
Unfortunately, it has not been possible so far to devise a system which can ensure both conditions in equal degree. ….. The daily assessment of responsibility, which is not available in the American system is, it is felt, far more effective than the periodic assessment and far more necessary in a country like India. The Draft Constitution in recommending the parliamentary system of Executive has preferred more responsibility to stability.” India, thus adopted a Parliamentary form of government, with the President as the nominal head of the Executive and the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers wielding actual power.
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