A Brief On The History Of Indian Constitution

This article is written byΒ Syed SaleemΒ RTI Activist and a student of Al-Ameen College of Law, Bengaluru

history of indian constitution

Table of Contents


A fact known by all is that the Constitution of India is the supreme Law of Indian Nation. It formulates the LAWS and RULES for setting up the government machinery of the State so as to define and determine the relationship between the different areas and institutions of the government like the central, the regional and the local governments and the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. 

Under the light of our Constitution, we come to know the fundamental political principles, establishment of the structure, procedures, powers and duties of government and we are aware of our fundamental rights as well as the fundamental duties along with the knowledge of directive principles.

Our Constitution is not only a just document, it’s like a living document which responds us according to our need in the process of our journey towards development. As it is rigid as well as flexible in nature so it is not  as rigid as the American constitution and not as flexible as the British constitution. Though it paves the way to the legislature to amend it under Article 368 but subject to the condition of not damaging the basic structure of it.

Characteristics of the Indian Constitution

The Indian Constitution holds its identity among all sovereign countries of the world due to its lengthiness in bearing 448 Articles, 25 Parts and 12 Schedules in written condition.

One of the characteristics of our Constitution is that the main features it bears are the borrowed ones from those Nations which had already been having their Constitution. The below mentioned are the borrowed features and the names of the Nations.

  • Fundamental Rights, Supreme Court, Impeachment of President, Judicial review, Removal of Supreme Court & High Court Judges from USA.
  • Fundamental Duties and Five year Plan from RUSSIA.
  • Concurrent List from AUSTRALIA.
  • Single Citizenship & Parliamentary System from ENGLAND.
  • Federalism from CANADA.
  • Directive Principles of State Policy from  IRELAND.
  • Amendment from SOUTH AFRICA

History of the Indian Constitution

To acquire the knowledge of our Constitution historically, we must at least go back to the year of 1858 in which the rule of East India Company brought to an end by the Queen Victoria as a result of The Great Indian Revolt (THE SEPOY MUTINY) which was India’s First Freedom Struggle in which people from diverse section participated and shook the foundations of The East India Company in 1857. This East India Company came to India for trade by acquiring a charter (a written legislative paper of a country) signed by the then ruler Queen Elizabeth I in the year 1600.

On 2nd August 1858, The Government of India Act was passed by The British Parliament, under this Act, The East India Company was formally dissolved and the ruling power over INDIA went into the hands of British Crown, from there on The British Raj started in India which continued till the partition of INDIA in 1947.

The British Crown passed many Acts From 1858 to 1947 as follows:

  • Govt.of India Act 1858 (also known as Act for the good government of India)
  • Indian Council Act of 1861
  • Indian Council Act of 1892
  • Indian Council Act of 1909 (also known as Morley – Minto Reforms )
  • Indian Council Act of 1919 (also known as Montagu – Chelmsford Reforms )
  • Indian Council Act of 1935
  • Indian Independence Act 1947

The Idea of our Indian Constitution was given by M.N.ROY in 1934. Indian National Congress, for the first time in 1938 demanded Constitution for India. Jawaharlal Nehru said,

The constitution of free INDIA must be framed without outside interference by a Constituent Assembly elected on the basis of adult franchise.

Based on the above said consideration, the Britishers wanted to make our Indian Constitution, at first, through August offer in 1940 but our people rejected it because of its tough conditions. Following that the Britishers in 1942 told to make Indian Constitution through The Cripp’s Mission Plan after the second world war (second world war was from 1939 to 1945), this was rejected by Muslim League and Gandhi Ji told this plan as Post Dated Cheque.

Finally, our people accepted to make our Indian Constitution through The Cabinet Mission Plan in 1946. For this purpose, three persons from British Cabinet who were PETHICK LAWRENCE, STAFFORD CRIPPS and A.V ALEXANDER, came to India on 24th March 1946. The Cabinet Mission published its Plan on 16th May 1946 and recommended to make Federal Government Constitution for India.

In accordance with the above, the Constituent Assembly was formed under the following pattern of election based on the proportion of population.

The Constituent Assembly 1946

There were to be 389 members in the Constituent Assembly proportionately depended upon population as defined in the following diagram.


When in 1946, election was held based on the above pattern for the Constituent Assembly, the below mentioned result came out.

1946 election result

On 9th December 1946, After the first Constituent Assembly election, the first meeting of Constituent Assembly was held in which Dr. Sachchidananda Sinha was selected as the temporary President of Constituent Assembly as he was the eldest member. The Constituent Assembly formed 22 important committees out of which 8 were major committees and the rest were minor.

The major committees headed by great personalities were as here under

  • The Drafting Committee – by Dr.B.R. AMBEDKAR
  • The Union Power Committee – by JAWAHARLAL NEHRU
  • The Union Constitution Committee – by JAWAHARLAL NEHRU
  • The States Committee (Committee for negotiating with states) – by JAWAHARLAL NEHRU
  • The Provincial Constitution Committee – by SARDAR VALLABHAI PATEL
  • The Advisory Committee on Fundamental Rights, Minorities, Tribal and Excluded Areas – by SARDAR VALLABHAI PATEL
  • The Rules of Procedure Committee – by Dr RAJENDRA PRASAD
  • The Steering committee – by Dr RAJENDRA PRASAD

On 11th December 1946, Dr.RAJENDRA PRASAD was appointed as the permanent President of the Constituent Assembly. It must be remembered that Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Gandhi Ji were not the part of our Constituent Assembly.

On 13 December 1946, The Objective Resolution (the philosophy on which The Indian Constitution is based) was proposed by Jawaharlal Nehru which is now the Preamble of our Constitution.

On 22nd January 1947, Preamble was adopted by the Constituent Assembly. As the Princely States didn’t want to be the part of our Constituent Assembly so the 93 seats of Princely States left unfilled. Muslim League, instead of joining the Constituent Assembly, it denied and gave a call for Direct Action Day on 16th August 1946 as it felt that the only way left to have Pakistan which caused 5000 death of people of diverse religion.

Meanwhile, on 10 September 1946 The Indian National Congress i.e NEHRU forms the interim government with which though Muslim league joined later on 26 October 1946 but by way of its obstructionist approach the Muslim league created obstruction in the functioning of the government and due to lack of understanding the political deadlock didn’t come to an end.

During the above said situation, CLEMENT ATTLEE the then British Prime Minister, in order to shock Congress and Muslim League fixed the deadline of 30th June 1948 to resolve the condition so that he could hand over the power to the government, for this purpose Clement Atlee sent LORD MOUNTBATTEN who was the new and the last Viceroy of India. 

Lord Mountbatten came to India on 3rd June 1947. He tried to keep India united but he could not, so he adopted the formula of freedom with partition that is Two Dominions and Two Constituent Assemblies — India & Pakistan under the Indian Independence Act of 1947 and for the same the boundaries were made through RADCLIFFE COMMISSION.

Finally, the British India got divided into two separate dominion i.e. Pakistan & India and got complete freedom from British rule on 14th and 15th August 1947 respectively.

As on 15th August 1947, India got independence so the members of the Constituent Assembly got reduced from 389 to 299, the British Provinces were replaced by Indian Provinces of 229 members and the Princely States were reduced from 93 to 70 members.

Drafting Committee

The Drafting Committee who drafted our Indian Constitution took a period of 2 years, 11 months and 18 days to be completed. This Committee was set up on 29th August 1947, consisting of 7 members as mentioned below:

  • Dr.B.R Ambedkar (Chairman)
  • N. Gopala Swamy Ayyangar
  • Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar
  • Dr.K.M Munshi
  • Syed Mohammed Sadullah
  • N. Madhav Rao (in the place of B.L. Mittal who resigned due to ill health)
  • T.T Krishnamachari (in the place of D.P. Khitan who died in 1948)

Our Indian Constitution was adopted on 26th November 1949 and came into force on 26th January 1950

This is how our Indian Constitution came into existence, in the light of the events which took place in our great Indian Nation.

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