Who was the Muslim member of Constitution drafting committee?

Story by  ATV | Posted by  Aasha Khosa • 9 d ago
Sir Syed Muhammad Saadullah

Ghaus Siwani/New Delhi

Sir Syed Muhammad Saadullah is one among the Indian Muslim leaders who made an immense contribution to shaping Independent India and yet remained unsung. He was the only Muslim among the members of the Drafting Committee for the Constitution of India, led by Dr. Babasahib Bhimrao Ambedkar.

Before shedding light on Saadullah’s role in the Constitution Drafting Committee, let us know about the Assembly that drafted the Constitution of India.

On December 9, 1946, the Constituent Assembly was formed. Its meeting was boycotted by the Muslim League. Soon after, on December 11, Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as its chairman. It had 389 members which were reduced to 299 after the partition.

On January 22. 1947 it adopted the Objectives Resolution unanimously. In the same year, the national flag was adopted on July 22, and Independence was achieved on August 15, 1947, with the partition of the country.

On 29 August 1947, a drafting committee was appointed with Dr. BR Ambedkar as its chairman. Other members of the committee were KM Munshi, Muhammad Saadullah, Aladi Krishna Swami Iyer, Gopala Swami Iyengar, N Madhav Rao, DP Khetan, and TT Krishnamachari.

On 22nd November 1949, the 'Constitution of India' was passed in the assembly and the last session of the Constituent Assembly was held on 24th January 1950. On 26th January 1950, the 'Constitution of India' came into effect after 2 years, 11 months, and 18 days.

The Constituent Assembly in session

Who was Sir Syed Muhammad Saadullah?

Sir Syed Muhammad Saadullah was a member of the draft committee but even before that, he was a well-known leader of India. He was the Prime Minister of Assam in British India. He was also Chairman of Guwahati Municipality and Minister of Education and Agriculture of Assam from 1924 to 1934. Saadullah was a highly educated jurist.

Syed Muhammad Saadullah was born on 21 May 1885 in Guwahati into a traditional Assamese Muslim family and died in 1955. He was educated at Cotton College, Guwahati, and Presidency College, Calcutta. After receiving higher education, he started practicing law in Guwahati and soon made his mark as a lawyer. He also practiced in the Calcutta High Court for some time. He became the Chairman of the Guwahati Municipality and was nominated as a member of the Legislative Council in Shillong.

Assam became a Chief Commissioner Province in April 1912. Saadullah participated enthusiastically in the Council's deliberations and spoke freely on matters of interest to the people of Assam.

He soon became an important figure in the province of Assam. He established his identity as a lawyer after just a decade of struggle. In later days, he also practiced in the Calcutta High Court. Among his neighbours and contemporaries, were Fazlul Haque, Nawab Attaur Rahman, and Barrister. Khuda Bakhsh and Nawabzada AFM Abdul Ali.

He was also important in British India. He was knighted in the 1928 Birthday Honors and made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire in the 1946 Birthday Honours.

In his political life, Syed Muhammad Saadullah was closely associated with the All-India Muslim League. He attended the 10th session of the League in Calcutta in December 1917 and served as a member of the committee that negotiated the Lucknow Pact between the Muslim League and the Congress.

In 1946, he participated in the demand for Pakistan and supported the inclusion of Assam in Pakistan. However, when Assam seceded from Pakistan at the time of partition, he remained in Assam. Similarly, as the Prime Minister of Assam, he contributed to the building of a modern Assam.

He was an able parliamentarian, an eloquent orator, an experienced administrator, and a moderate and liberal leader in ideology. Saadullah is regarded as one of the architects of modern Assam. As the head of the Assam government, he planned well and developed development plans. He took a special interest in the promotion of industries. He is said to have supported and encouraged the migration of peasants from Bengal to develop agriculture in Assam and to introduce jute cultivation. His critics accuse him of deliberately settling Bengali Muslims in Assam.

Muhammad Saadullah is also known for his generosity, honesty, and competence. He also worked for the tribal people of the North Eastern region and inducted a tribal leader JJM Nicholas Roy in his first cabinet. He was considered the best person because of his experience, ability, and honesty.