Salient features of Indian Constitution
Most Exhaustive Constitution:
Originally our constitution contained 395 article divided in 22 parts and 8 schedules. Right from the beginning our constitution is most comprehensive constitution in the world.
The British have no written constitution and Constitution of USA had originally only 7 articles.
- This 7 article Constitution of United States has been amended for 27 times up till now. The first 10 amendments are called Bill of Rights.
The constitution of Canada had 147 articles; Constitution of Australia had 128 articles.
Today, our constitution has grown more. Now it has 444 articles divided into 22 parts and 12 schedules.
- Please note that British constitution is not written. It is also called de facto or uncodified constitution.
But how an unwritten constitution would work?
- This is because, “unwritten” is a misnomer. The British constitution does not have document which can be called a “Constitution’ but it is embodied in the written form, within statutes, court judgments, and treaties. Besides, parliamentary constitutional conventions and royal prerogatives are other written sources.
Indian Constitution has a preamble which gives an insight into the Philosophy of the Constitution. It is a Part of Indian Constitution.
- Initially the Preamble was not considered a part of the Constitution and its amendment was not accepted. In kesavanand Bharti v/s state of Kerala 1973 case the supreme court ruled that it is a part of the constitution and can be amended.
Drawn from different sources:
Our constitution has borrowed many things from many constitutions. Can we call is Plagiarism?
BR Ambedkar, The chairman of the Drafting Committee of the Constitutional Assembly said:
“As to the accusation that the Draft Constitution has [re]produced a good part of the provisions of the Government of India Act, 1935,”I make no apologies. There is nothing to be ashamed of in borrowing. It involves no plagiarism. Nobody holds any patent rights in the fundamental ideas of a Constitution….”
Yes, our constitution has borrowed good things from the Government of India Act 1935 and other contemporary constitutions of the world. The best provisions were selected from different sources and we should not be ashamed of that.
Rigidity vs. Flexibility:
Our constitution is rigid as well as flexible. While we shall study in the due course of time that Making Law is quite flexible and easy in comparison to amending a law. The amendment requires some more efforts. However, some parts can be amended with a simple majority while other can be amended by a special majority.
- Article 368 provides the procedure for amendment of the constitution.
Sovereignty of the Country:
The Preamble of the constitution declares that India is a sovereign state. It manages its internal and external affairs freely without any external forces.
- The policy of Nonalignment is a culmination of India’s freedom in foreign policy.
India is a democratic country where governing power is derived from the people by means of elected representatives of the people. The political authority is responsible to the people. This democracy is based upon the socioeconomic justice and equality of the opportunity.
- People can kick out the representatives who don’t listen to them.
India has adopted the “British” pattern of the parliamentary democracy.
- But India does not have a hereditary post of Head of the State. The Head of the state of President and he / she is elected.
- Indian President is indirectly elected by the people, because he is directly elected by the elected representatives.
- Any Indian without an discrimination to the caste / creed / religion can contest for Presidential elections and can occupy the office provided he fulfills the eligibility conditions as prescribed by the constitution.
The meaning of the Republic is that Head of the state is elected by the people. The head of the state is NOT a monarch in India.
Parliamentary Form of Government:
India has a parliamentary system of democracy. The council of ministers is responsible to the Lok Sabha here. The Council is Ministers is called Real executive. India has two types of executives. Real and nominal.
- President is the Nominal executive and Councils of Ministers is real executive,
- The council of Ministers is collectively responsible to the house of people. It means that they can remain in office so long as it enjoys the confidence of the house.
- Theoretically, parliament controls the functioning of the council of ministers , hence it is called parliamentary system
Indian socialism is democratic socialism. The goals of the socialism are to be realized through democratic means.
- In the original constitution the term “Socialist” was not in the Preamble. It was added by the 42nd amendment in 1976.
India is secular country. Here No religion is a state religion. The constitution provides equality treatment of al religions by the government and equal opportunities for all religions.
- The term “secular” was not in the Preamble. It was added by the 42nd amendment in 1976.
A blend of Federal and Unitary System:
The constitution of India establishes the country a partly federal and partly unitary government. There are separate governments in the Union and States and there is division of power. But, there are constitutional provisions and practices which have imparted unitary features by giving more powers to the centre. It provides Single Citizenship to all the citizens of the country, It has single constitution for both the centre and states.
- Jammu & Kashmir has a separate constitution
The parliament has power to legislate on the matters included in the state list. There are emergency provisions which make the system virtually a unitary system. The Change in the names and boundaries of the states can be done by the parliament of India. There is an integral judiciary system. There are all India services such as IAS, IFS and IPS. The Governors of the states are agents of the President. There is an election commission which is central agency for elections at all levels. There is unequal representation of the states in council of States (Rajya Sabha), The Planned development of the whole country is responsibility of the planning Commission. The states are dependent on center for economic assistance and grants.
In United states there are separate Judicial systems for the Union and the states. In India the Judiciary is integrated. The supreme judicial courts are not in states. The states have high courts but the verdicts of these courts are subject to appeal to the Supreme Court. The Constitution has made the High Court’s subordinate to the Supreme Court.
Our constitution provides adult and universal franchise to all citizens. Every citizen who is above 18 years has a Voting Right without any discrimination.
- 61st constitutional amendment 1989 reduced the age of voting eligibility from 21 years to 18 years.
- Another term used for universal franchise is “common suffrage”.
- France was the first country which provided Universal male suffrage in 1792, for the National Convention, enacted by law in 1793.