Essay on the Constituent Assembly of 1946


In the course of the debates of the Constituent Assembly between 9 December 1946, when it met for the first time and 26 November 1949, when the Constitution of India was adopted by it, the present system of governance of India was evolved.

The main problem before the framers of the Indian Constitution was what should be the type and nature of the Government of India.

They had before them three alternative forms of democracy – first, the English model of Parliamentary Government, second, the Presidential form of Government as existing in the United States of America and thirdly, a democracy with Plural Executive as in Switzerland.


This selection of a particular type of responsible Government for India was, as the constitutional adviser, B.N. Rau wrote, ‘the most important question in the framing of new Constitution.

The Constituent Assembly had to find the answer in the context of the past – India’s family with the Cabinet Government – and in the needs of the present and future.

The needs were str­and quick effectiveness, for huge strides in industrial, agricultural and social development had to made and an enormous population well and fairly governed, while debating on the system government for the country, the Constituent Assembly had to contend both with the enormity of problems arising from the partition and problems inherent in the transfer of power from the British the Indian people.

During the heated discussion in the Constituent Assembly about the suitability of the for Government, some members unanimously opposed the British system of democracy they advocate fixed term executive on the Swiss model, elected by the legislature on a system of proportions representation.


There were others like Prof. K.T. Shah, who favored a Presidential form of Govern’ on the American model. However, Shri K.M. Munshi, Dr. Ambedkar, Pt. Nehru and Sardar Patel were favour of retention of the British model of India. As Dr. Ambedkar emphasized:

‘The British system was preferable as it was possible to have a periodic as well as daily assessment of responsibility under the system, whereas under the American system, only periodic assessment responsibility was possible.

Finally, the British model of Parliamentary Democracy was adopted with some modification.

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