It was in 1934 that the idea of a Constituent Assembly for India was put forward for the first time by M.N.Roy, a pioneer of communist movement in India and an advocate of radical democratism.
In 1935, the Indian National Congress (INC), first time, officially demanded a Constituent Assembly to frame the Constitution of India. In 1938, Jawaharlal Nehru,on behalf the INC declared that ‘the Constitution of free India must be framed.
The demand was finally accepted in principle by the British Government in what is known as the ‘August Offer’ of 1940.
COMPOSITION OF THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY
The Constituent Assembly was constituted in November 1946 under the scheme formulated by the Cabinet Mission Plan. The features of the scheme were:
The total strength of the Constituent Assembly was to be 389. Of these, 296 seats were to be allotted to British India and 93 seats to the Princely States.
The representatives of each community were to be elected by members of that community in the provincial legislative assembly and voting was to be by the method of proportional representation by means of single transferable vote.
The representatives of princely states were to be nominated by the heads of the princely states.
It is thus clear that the Constituent Assembly was to be a elected and partly nominated body. Moreover, the members were to be indirectly elected by the members of the provincial assemblies.
WORKING OF THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY
The Constituent Assembly held its first meeting on December 9, 1946. The Muslim League boycotted the meeting and insisted on a separate state of Pakistan.
The meeting was thus attended by only 211 members. Dr Sachchidanand Sinha, the oldest member, was elected as the temporary President of the Assembly, following the French practice.
Later, on December 11, 1946, Dr Rajendra Prasad and H.C.Mukherjee were elected as the President and Vice-President of the Assembly respectively. Sir B.N.Rau was appointed as the Constitutional advisor to the Assembly