File image of Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar
File image of Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar | Photo by Krishnaswami Alladi
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Ayyar, a member of Constituent Assembly, had an unparalleled knowledge of the world’s constitutions, said Ambedkar himself.

The architect of India’s Constitution is unequivocally remembered to be B.R. Ambedkar. In nearly every statue of him, Ambedkar grips the thick, hard-bound book he is said to have ‘fathered’.

Lesser known is that working steadfastly alongside him was Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar, a Madras (now Chennai) lawyer who, by Ambedkar’s own admission, had an unparalleled knowledge of the world’s constitutions and Indian law.

Rise to Constituent Assembly

Ayyar was born into an impoverished family on 14 May, 1883, in the village of Pudur — in pre-Independence India’s Madras but located today in Andhra Pradesh.

A small and slight man, Ayyar’s presence in the courtroom and Constituent Assembly resembled nothing of his physical stature. When he spoke, it was with eloquence and command that, according to former Sahiya Akademi vice-president K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar, “radiates its influence in the High Court buildings and sheds its reflected glory on the horizon of law”.


Also read: The man who played a role in the politics of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh


His rise as an eminent lawyer, to later become Attorney General of Madras with an 18 year-long tenure, prompted Jawaharlal Nehru to personally invite Ayyar into the Constituent Assembly in 1946 — much before Ambedkar’s induction. Not to mention the quick succession of accolades preceding his time at the Assembly: In 1926 he was awarded the Kaider-i-Hind award for philanthropy. In 1930, he was given the Dewan Bahadur title for his contributions to the country. In 1932, he was knighted.

Speaking to ThePrint, Ayyar’s grandson Krishnaswami Alladi said his grandfather was “unmatched in the power and logic of his arguments, and unrivalled in his knowledge of case law and of constitutional law”.

Drafting committee

Ayyar’s reach in the Assembly reflected these words. He was a member of nine House committees, among them the drafting committee and the sub-committee on fundamental rights. His contributions to the Constitution had to do with some the most elemental parts of India’s existence as a nation-state, namely citizenship and adult franchise.

“Citizenship carries with it rights as well as obligations,” Ayyar declared while defending the Constitution’s fifth article, which continues to define Indian citizenship today.

“We cannot on any racial or religious or other grounds make a distinction between one kind of persons and another, or one sect of persons and another sect of persons, having regard to our commitments and the formulation of our policy on various occasions.”

Ayyar was also firm about the powers a president can wield during periods of Emergency. He agreed that not all fundamental rights be withdrawn, but also said, “Freedom of speech, right of assembly and other rights have to be secured in times of peace but if only the State exists and if the security of the State is guaranteed. Otherwise, all these rights cannot exist.”

As the last days of the Constituent Assembly approached, Ambedkar paid homage to Ayyar in his concluding speech in 1949, saying: “I came into the Constituent Assembly with no greater aspiration than to safeguard the interests of the Scheduled Castes. I had not the remotest idea that I would be called upon to undertake more responsible functions. I was therefore greatly surprised when the Assembly elected me to the Drafting Committee. I was more than surprised when the Drafting Committee elected me to be its Chairman. There were in the Drafting Committee men bigger, better and more competent than myself such as my friend Sir Alladi Krishnaswami Ayyar.”


Also read: This tribal leader who opposed prohibition also led India to first Olympic hockey gold


‘Acceptance of Constitution’

For Ayyar, the true test of the Constitution’s worth lay in the hands of India’s laymen. In his first lecture after the Constituent Assembly disbanded, he was pleased to note that voters thronged throughout the country.

“The recent elections based on universal suffrage in which a majority of the adult population of India, men and women, literate and illiterate, propertied and non-propertied, have taken part with enthusiasm and unexampled orderliness — a circumstance which has elicited the admiration of foreign observers and critics — have demonstrated, if any proof was necessary, the acceptance of the Constitution by the people of India as a whole.”

Ayyar’s involvement in the Constituent Assembly was an interlude in his profession as a lawyer, which he returned to after the Assembly dissolved. Despite his considerable fame, he continually refused opportunities that would elevate him to a Judge.

He died on 3 October, 1953, in Chennai, leaving behind the home he built in 1919, Ekrama Nivas, where generations after him continued to live.

Check out My543, our comprehensive report card of all Lok Sabha MPs.


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40 COMMENTS

  1. Sir
    Why now because BJP is is power Dr Ambedkar never said about him in none of his book s we find his reference.the news is fake and does not have any merit

  2. The print is nothing just ignore this article ….coz Babasaheb contribution is immense for that the editor of print has to read about him and his books ….dear editor please keep a dictionary always with you while reading the books written by dr Ambedkar

  3. He may be the best in field of law.. But constitution drafting was not just about law, it was more about inclusion of all the strata of divided indian society into one nation and making India one country as rightly described by the first line of preamble “we the people”… So social knowledge was more prominent here in which ambedkar was the champion..

  4. All print media thrive on controversy. History is very difficultly gleaned from the past records. And on the work done by the Constituent Assembly much less can be understood for the people involved are a set of lawyers who could play with language as deftly as possible. 70 years of Social Justice hasn’t brought Peaceful Coexistence. The real change is not brought bt Documentary Advancements but change of heart and mind in the society, whose pace is sure and slow. Nothing works like the exigencies and the compulsions of period one lives in. The real freedom is the one to grow limitlessly for all. That is quite warped still. How can an artificially formed document be expected to bring in the change.At best it would provide the canvas for events to play.

  5. It’s greatness of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar that he had appreciated his supportive staff for his efforts, but that doesn’t mean that Ayyer was more knowledgeable than Babasaheb Ambedkar. This is typical Propaganda. Now they are trying to prove that small bulb is more brighter than SUN !
    But they won’t succeed & will soon become laughing matter.

  6. The Print – Please improve your knowledge.. BR Ambedkar praising others is nothing but his modesty, his big heart. But you people are trying to break the history using his own words but in some other sense.. Please stop doing it..

  7. The Print is sold to Misinformed Journalist it seems. It is unnecessary to compare Krishnaswami with Dr Ambedkar. We observe that AK attended a case for scrapping the reservation in Tamilnadu during that time. He may be professionally strong, but is it enough to compare with social reformer like Dr Ambedkar. Rubbish!!

  8. A poorly written article from a substandard writer who is dilusioned by her ability to perform an eye wash research amounts to data gathering to write and comment on one of the foremost and eminent personality whose shadow still safeguards millions of under privileged men women and children from slavery, apathy of those in power and persecution from neighbours

  9. It is bullshit claim by his grand son and you lap it up readily without any verification because you wanted to it so.One of the member of Babasaheb’s constitution committe himself paid tribute that none of the 7 members contributed much but it was the sole resposibilty of Babasaheb to prepared it.Please see the Samvidhan making 10 sreials to update your and his grand son’s knowledge.Babasaheb was generous to praise every one in his committee so it must have been on his grand father who are family owned lawyers.jaibhim,jaibharat.

  10. It would be fair and ethical when one compares two people not to quote one on/ above other. It is contemptuous and divisive. You may say the positive side of Late Alladi. A reader has the ability to see who is who! It is the humbleness of Dr.B.R .Ambedkar appriciates his co crafter of constitution. In a toxic society your article didn’t bring facts but bitterness. So be the might who ever!

  11. All my dear brothers and sisters first of all we all are citizens of this country please try to accept understand the reality of leaders trough the proper study about them without looking at there religion caste and community it may be who ever Like swami Vivekananda or Mahatma Gandhi or Dr br ambedkar this is unfortunate to judge great sacrificed leaders on the base of religion caste and community instead of their knowledge and their thoughts and their contribution towards the country now I will come to the subject in the begning someone used say that the raw draft constitution was written by B N Rao and the correction was done by ambedkar how one can write the draft of constitution without having the membership either in constituent assembly or in drafting committee he was legal adviser to constituent assembly now another issue has come out alladi Krishna Swamy ayyar was better than ambedkar and he was very good in constitutional law and in other laws also now we have to look at the original history of this on 2nd September in 1953 in rajysabha ambedkar said that I want to burn the constitution there is no use of this constitution to anyone because there is a majority and minority people in India so there is a possibility to exploit minority by the majority and later on 19th November in 1955 anup Singh rajayasabha member from Punjab province asked the question why wanted to burn the constitution I want answer of last speech than ambedkar told that we have built the temple to make the divine to reside in it not for devil if the devil resides in it than it doesn’t come out because it will be stronger than divine so we can’t destroy the devil instead of that we have to destroy the temple only without writting the draft of Indian constitution is it possible to talk in this manner and According to Dhanjaya kheer who has written book on ambedkar during the period of ambedkar he has quoted ambedkar quotation in his book what ambedkar said about constitution ambedkar has said I don’t want say bad and good about the constitution but what I made the constitution it is worthable which can play better role towards good governance of the country but compare to that it is very important to understand wether the constitution is good or bad it depends on ruler of the country if he is good even bad constitution also will be turned into good if the ruler is bad than good constitution also will be turned into bad than besides that t t krishmachary who was the member of drafting committee he himself said in constuent assembly in drafting committee all members except ambedkar nobody did the work someone dint come they were satying foraway from Delhi they did not come one resigned one went to the foreign country another one died next one was having health problem someone are regular absent so the complete constitution work was done by ambedkar alone only so he is the real father of Indian constitution you go through the volumes of ambedkar there is separate volume on constitutinal debate please go through it and the president of constuent assembly Dr Rajendra Prasad and Pandit Kawabata lol Nehru accepted them self accepted ambedkar is chief architect of Indian constitution than according to you were they wrong and are you right please try to understand first of all this country has been exploited by various invaders for longest time to get the freedom 4.5crore common people have sacrificed their life and 7.32 lakh freedom fighters have sacrificed their life it is very high costly in the world please think about it otherwise the country will loose the position becausethere is a lack of good leadership high curroption communalism and terrorism over population poverty and unemployment regional diversity ect are having in India do you know that we are postponing apj Abdul Kala Indias great position in world of 2020 because of all these internal problems besides that we are getting unity in diversity in India if this diversity is increased than it is horrible to go ahead all the above factors I have read written it’s explaination so please don’t allow for unnecessary gossip do not Make the citizens of this Country to miss understood about Indian great leaders

  12. Don’t try to compare both these Great Men..If Babasaheb Ambedkar appreciated A.Krishnaswami’s wisdom that doesn’t mean he was better than Babasaheb..
    Don’t seek petty publicity by publishing such articles.You could have published his role in constitution making instead of comparing.Change your mindset!
    BaBasaheb’s role in constitution making is unmatchable.He was the leader of that constitution making process.

  13. Some people purposefully try to misdirect and sow rumours who couldn’t bear credential of Dalit icon as The Architect of the Constitution.

  14. You are fake
    He was a dalit …..So u can’t digest that he was greatest human ever bien in india……..You upper caste are still afraid of him
    Jai bhim

  15. Ayyar was equally brilliant like Ambedkar and contribution to Constitution was immense. But never got his due Should be given Bharat Ratna

  16. You see, it happens only with Ambedkar. Indians accept any upper caste man for any reason but not Ambedkar, because they can’t bear the fact that Ambedkar changed India with the constitution. If it had been done by any upper caste leader he would have been made no less than god. Time and again people try to prove Ambedkar lesser to others but its in record how Ambedkar is unmatched forever. The Messiah of 95% of Indians , not only for Sc and St s. But people feel differently to accept this……

  17. Dear Print, some times it is very difficult to understand the motives of the media in publishing certain articles. When entire world is competing to respect Babasaheb by naming the places streets etc after him now you people are trying to compare Babasaheb and Late Mr Alladi Krishna Swamy. It has happened earlier mow you people are trying create another controversy in this way.
    This is a try for belittling Babasaheb. But you will miserably fail in doing so.
    Please stop these sinister designs.
    If you have any love for this country and its people please inquire and investigate about what the so called merit people have done for this country and to the people.
    Stop publishing this type of nonsensical and provocative pieces .
    Please contribute for the betterment of the society with inclusive growth.

  18. Dear Editor..
    Everyone given their unique ideas towards making of Constitution..that doesn’t mean they were greater than The Father of Indian constitution (8 Degree holder, most of them were from foreign universities)…
    Please Don’t try to rewrite History..and Sorry for not mentioning your references..try something different!

  19. If Ayyar was so good, I mean so good!!!! then why wasn’t he was made the chairman of drafting committee?? It takes balls to take responsibility for your decisions. Clearly, he enjoyed all the benefits of British Raj and also afterward! No contribution to Independence struggle.. thought just about himself and for the country and after so many years you are creating a false hero..

    • The Congress leaders realized their folly, after the creation of Pakistan. Their individual and collective egos had created a frankstein monoster in Jinnah. To not repeat that folly, and make the whole effort inclusive, the leaders brought together many dissenting voices like Ambedkar, Pannikar etc. to the Constituent Assembly. All vested interests were accomodated to ensure that the Constitution was accepted by all sections of the society. Dr. Ambedkar’s elevation must be looked at from that perspective.

      Dr. Ambedkar was individually brilliant, but was a nobody in politics. He could be a political nuisance if distanced, but would not threaten congress politically. He was from the depressed classes. That was his qualification to take the high seat. None of these political selections are based on merit.

      When Dr. Ambedkar has himself acknowledged all these issues – read Constituent Assembly debates online [http://cadindia.clpr.org.in/constitution_assembly_debates] – who are we to say that he was wrong and we know more about these issues than Dr. Ambedkar.

    • Just for your information – all the key members of the Drafting Committe – and this includes Dr. BR Ambedkar, Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, Nyapati Madhav Rau, N. Gopalaswamy Iyengar, Syed Saadullah, BL Mitter and DP Khaitan were NOT Congressmen. Munshi was the lone exception. They were all associated with the British and British rule. None of them were freedom fighters. They were either ministers in British ministries or Diwans in native kingdoms. Dr. Ambedkar was himself a minister in British administration.

      They were however given an opportunity to contribute to free India and they all put in their best.

  20. Dear The Print

    On what basis you dare to remark that Mr A K Ayyar was better then Father of Indian Constitution & Modern India Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar?
    Kind request please do homework properly first.
    Challenge you ( The Print ) publish comparative studies between The King of Law Dr B R Ambedkar & Mr A K Ayyar please.
    Hope your experts journalist show their wisdom by comparative studies?
    Jai Bhim
    jai Bharat

    • My friend, please read what is written in the article before you comment blindly. The author has quoted Dr. Ambedkar as saying that Alladi was more eminent. You now have to fight with Dr. Ambedkar on this – not with anyone else.

      If you care to read the Constituent Assembly Debates – http://cadindia.clpr.org.in/constitution_assembly_debates – or spend time in Parliament Library which has original documents, you will realize that our Constitution was not written [!!!] by anyone person. It was a joint work of the best of a generation.

      Dr. Ambedkar himself has commented on the exempler contribution of not only Alladi, but also Nyapati Madhav Rao, Benegal Shiva Rao among others. While he was sitting on the chair, it was these wonderful men who toiled to bring together compelling differences to create a wonderful constitution

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