The Drafting Committee of the Indian Constitution

On 29th August 1947, the Constituent Assembly of India through a resolution appointed the Drafting Committee, “to scrutinise the draft of the text of the Constitution of India prepared by Constitutional Adviser, giving effect to the decisions already taken in the Assembly and including all matters which are ancillary thereto or which have to be provided in such a Constitution, and to submit to the Assembly for consideration the text of the draft constitution as revised by the committee.”

The Drafting Committee had seven members: Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar, N. Gopalaswami; B.R. Ambedkar, K.M Munshi, Mohammad Saadulla, B.L. Mitter and D.P. Khaitan. At its first meeting on 30th August 1947, the Drafting Committee elected Dr. B. R Ambedkar, as its Chairman.

In the month of October 1947, the Drafting Committee began to scrutinise the Draft Constitution prepared by the Sir B. N. Rau (Sir Benegal Narsing Rau), the Constitutional Advisor.

Then the Drafting Committee made various changes to it, after taking into consideration the proposals of the various committees and submitted the Draft of the Constitution to the President of the Constituent Assembly on 21st February 1948. The people of India were given eight months to discuss the draft and propose amendments.

In the light of the public comments, criticisms and suggestions, the Drafting Committee prepared a second draft, which was published in October, 1948.

Dr. Ambedkar introduced the final draft of the Constitution in the Constituent Assembly on 4th November 1948, for the first reading. The Constituent Assembly had a general discussion on it for five days from 4th November to 9th November 1948.

The second reading started on November 15, 1948 for clause by clause consideration regarding the proposals of amendment and discussion and it completed on October 17, 1949. During this stage, many amendments were proposed and actually discussed in the Constituent Assembly.

The third reading of the draft started on November 14, 1949. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar moved a motion–‘the Constitution as settled by the Assembly be passed’. The motion on Draft Constitution was declared as passed on November 26, 1949, and received the signatures of the members and the president of the Constituent Assembly.

Thus, the Drafting Committee and its members were very influential in Indian constitution-making during the Committee stages and the deliberations of the Constituent Assembly. Majority of the debates in the Constituent Assembly revolved around the Draft Constitution prepared by the Drafting Committee. Out of 166 sittings of the Constituent Assembly, 114 were spent debating the Draft Constitution.

On 25th November, 1949, Dr. Ambedkar rightly acknowledged the contribution of Sir B. N. Rau, in his concluding speech in the constituent assembly as:

“The credit that is given to me does not really belong to me. It belongs partly to Sir B. N. Rau, the Constitutional Adviser to the Constituent Assembly who prepared a rough draft of the Constitution for the consideration of the Drafting Committee. A part of the credit must go to the members of the Drafting Committee who, as I have said, have sat for 141 days and without whose ingenuity of devise new formulae and capacity to tolerate and to accommodate different points of view, the task of framing the Constitution could not have come to so successful a conclusion.”

Note: Sir B. N. Rau was neither a member of the Constituent Assembly nor a member of the Drafting Committee.