Kriyaa Hi Vastoopahutaa Praseedati

Indian Polity, Study Materials

Salient Features of Indian Constitution

Originally having 395 Articles divided into 22 parts and 8 schedules, a lengthiest constitution of the world with systematic elaboration on every topic. At present, it contains 25 parts and 12 schedules as a result of various amendments (103 till so far, 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Section among Upper Classes).

A. Longest written constitution

The constitution of India is said to be the longest written constitution in the world because, it contains:

  • Separate provisions for States and Centre and their inter-relationship.
  • The borrowed provisions from several sources and several other constitutions of the world.
  • The separate provisions for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, women, children and backward regions.
  • It contains the detailed list of individual rights, directive principles of state policy and details of administration procedures which were laid down to make the constitution an easy handy.

B. Unique blend of rigidity and flexibility:

A Constitution may be called rigid or flexible on the basis of its amending procedure.

  • Some parts can be amended by ordinary law-making procedure
  • while certain provisions can be amended only when a Bill for that purpose is passed in each house of Parliament by a majority of the total membership of that house.
  • Some amendments are also required to be ratified by the legislatures of not less than one-half of the states before being presented to the President for assent.

C. India as a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic and Republic:

  • India is governed by its people through their representatives elected on the basis of universal adult franchise
  • India as a sovereign means it manages its internal and external affairs freely without any external forces.
  • However, it continues to be a member of the commonwealth of Nation with the British Monarch as its head.
  • The term socialist is added by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, means achievement of socialist goals through democratic, evolutionary and non-violent means.
  • However, India follows the mixed model of socialist and capitalist economy.
  • By secular means India recognizes all religions equally without having any state religion which is a part of the basic structure.
  • By republic means head of the state (President) is elected one and not the monarch.

D. Parliamentary System of Government

Theoretically, Parliament controls the functioning of the Council of Ministers; hence it is called Parliamentary system.

  • Here executive is responsible to the legislature and remains in power as long as it enjoys the confidence of the legislature.
  • The President is the nominal, titular or constitutional head (Executive).
  • PM is the real executive and head of the Co M -collectively responsible to the lower house

E. Single Citizenship:

Unlike other Federation, where citizen enjoys dual citizenship of both State and Union, India has a single citizenship provided by the union and recognized by all the states across India.

F. Universal Adult Franchise:

  • The Indian Constitution establishes political equality in India through the method of universal adult franchise which functions on the basis of ‘one person one vote’. Every Indian who is 18 years of age or above is entitled to vote in the elections, irrespective of caste, sex, race, religion or status.
  • The constitution proclaims the sovereignty of the people in the Preamble itself. Article 326 declares that “the elections to the House of people and the Legislative Assembly of every state shall be on the basis of adult suffrage”.

G. Independent and Integrated Judicial System:

  • The judiciary system is kept free from the influence of the executive and the legislature.
  • As an integrated system, India has the Supreme Court as the apex court below which High Courts come.
  • The High Courts in turn supervise the lower courts.

H. A Federation with a strong centralizing tendency:

  • India has been described as a Union of States. The word ‘federation’ has not been used anywhere in the Constitution. India is an indestructible Union with destructible states means the Union government can alter of areas, boundaries or names of existing States (Article 3) but no state has the right to secede. Moreover, it acquires a unitary character during the time of emergency. Hence, some experts say it as a quasi-federal in nature.
  • But it has some basic federal features. State government is not a subsidiary to the Union government, it derives its authority directly from the Constitution. There is a clear-cut distribution of powers among both the governments under the 7th schedule of the constitution.

I. Balancing Parliamentary supremacy with Judicial Review:

  • An independent judiciary with the power of judicial review is a prominent feature of our constitution.
  • Harmonization between Parliamentary Sovereignty and a written Constitution is ensured with the provision for Judicial Review.
  • Article 13 of the Indian Constitution forms the basis of Judicial Review in the country.

J. Fundamental Rights:

The constitution contains the basic principle that every individual is entitled to enjoy certain rights as a human being and the enjoyment of such rights does not depend upon the will of any majority or minority. These rights include all the basic liberties such as freedom of speech, movement and association, equality before law and equal protection of laws, freedom of religious belief and cultural and educational freedoms.

The constitution has classified these rights into seven categories and one of them is the right to constitutional remedies which entitles every aggrieved person to approach even the Supreme Court of India to restore to him any fundamental right that may have been violated.

K. Directive Principles of the State Policy:

Articles 36-51 under Part-IV of Indian Constitution deal with Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP). They are borrowed from the constitution of Ireland which had copied it from the Spanish Constitution. DPSP are ideals which are meant to be kept in mind by the state when it formulates policies and enacts laws.

L. Fundamental Duties:

Originally Fundamental Duties were not there in the constitution. On the basis of the recommendation of Swaran Singh committee 10 Fundamental Duties were added by the 42nd Amendment of the constitution. Further, one more fundamental duty was added through the 86th Amendment Act, 2002.

M. Emergency Provisions:

According to emergency provisions when the head of the State is satisfied that it is impossible to run the administration of the country or a part thereof, in accordance with the normal procedure laid down in the Constitution he can declare emergency and take administration of the country or part thereof in his own hands. This emergency can be financial or political. Declaration of emergency has far-reaching effects and its consequences are that with such a declaration fundamental rights are suspended and the courts of law can refuse to entertain petitions for the enforcement of these rights.


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