The Salient Features of the Constitution of India

The Constitution of India is a unique constitution. It is the largest written liberal democratic constitution in the world. It provides for a mixture of federalism and Unitarianism, and flexibility and rigidity. Since its inauguration on 26th January 1950, the Constitution of India has been successfully guiding the path and progress of India.

The salient features of the Constitution of India can be discussed as follows:

(1) Written and Detailed Constitution:

The Constitution is a wholly written document that incorporates the constitutional law of India. It was fully debated and duly enacted by the Constitution Assembly of India. It took the Assembly 2 years, 11 months and 18 days to write and enact the Constitution.

Indian Constitution is a very detailed constitution. It consists of 395 Articles divided into 22 Parts with 12 Schedules and 94 constitutional amendments. It is a constitution of both the Centre and states of Indian Union It are indeed much bigger than the US Constitution which has only 7 Articles and the French Constitution with its 89 Articles.

(2) Self-made and Enacted Constitution:

Indian Constitution is a constitution made by the people of India acting through their duly elected and representative body—the Constituent Assembly that was organised in December 1946. Its first session was held on 9th December, 1946. It passed the Objectives Resolution on 22 January, 1947.

Thereafter, it initiated the process of constitution-making in the right earnest and was in a position to finally pass and adopt the constitution on 26th November, 1949. The constitution became fully operational with effect from 26th January 1950. We celebrate this day as our Republic Day. The Constitution of India is thus a self-made and duly enacted constitution.

(3) Preamble of the Constitution:

The Preamble to the Constitution of India is a well-drafted document that states the philosophy of the constitution. It declares India to be a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic and a welfare state committed to secure justice, liberty and equality for the people and for promoting fraternity, dignity the individual, and unity and integrity of the nation. The Preamble is the key to the constitution. It states in nutshell the nature of the Indian state and the objectives it is committed to secure for the people.

(4) India is a Democratic Socialist State:

Although, right from the beginning the Indian Constitution fully reflected the spirit of democratic socialism, it was only in 1976 that the Preamble was amended to include the term ‘Socialism’. It is now regarded as a prime feature of Indian state. India is committed to secure social, economic and political justice for its entire people by ending all forms of exploitation and by securing equitable distribution of income, resources and wealth. This is to be secured by peaceful, constitutional and democratic means.

(5) India is a Secular State:

India gives special status to no religion. There is no such thing as a state religion of India. This makes it different from theocratic states like the Islamic Republic of Pakistan or other Islamic countries. Further, Indian secularism guarantees equal freedom to all religions. The Constitution grants the Right to Religious Freedom to all the citizens.

(6) India is a Democratic State:

The Constitution of India provides for a democratic system. The authority of the government rests upon the sovereignty of the people. The people enjoy equal political rights. On the basis of these rights, the people freely participate in the process of politics. They elect their government.

Free fair and regular elections are held for electing governments. For all its activities, the government of India is responsible before the people. The people can change their government through elections. No government can remain in power which does not enjoy the confidence of the people. India is world’s largest working democracy.

(7) India is a Republic:

The Preamble declares India to be a Republic. India is not ruled by a monarch or a nominated head of state. India has an elected head of state (President of India) who wields power for a fixed term of 5 years. After every 5 years, the people of India indirectly elect their President.

(8) India is a Union of States:

Article I of the Constitution declares, that “India that is Bharat is a Union of States.” The term ‘Union of State’ shows two important facts:

(i) That Indian Union is not the result of voluntary agreement among sovereign states, and

(ii) that states of India do not enjoy the right to secede from the Union. Indian Union has now 28 States and 7 Union Territories.

(9) Mixture of Federalism and Unitarianism:

While describing India as a Union of States, the Constitution provides for a federal structure with a unitary spirit. Scholars describe India as a ‘Quasi-Federation’ (K.C. Where) or as ‘a federation with a unitary bias, or even as ‘a Unitarian federation.’

Like a federation, the Constitution of India provides for:

(i) A division of powers between the centre and states,

(ii) A written, rigid and supreme constitution,

(iii) Independent judiciary with the power to decide center-state disputes and

(iv) Dual administration i.e. central and state administrations. However, by providing a very strong centre, a common constitution, single citizenship, emergency provisions, common election commission, common all India services etc. the Constitution clearly reflects its unitary spirit.

India is a federation with some Unitarian features. This mixture of federalism-Unitarianism has been done keeping in view both the pluralistic nature of society and the presence of regional diversities, as well as due to the need for securing unity and integrity of the nation.

(10) Mixture of Rigidity and Flexibility:

The Constitution of India is rigid in parts. Some of its provisions can be amended in a difficult way while others can be amended very easily. In some cases, the Union Parliament can amend some parts of the Constitution by passing a simple law.

Important Points on Features of The Constitution Of India

1. The Constitution of India is the lengthiest and the most comprehensive of all the written Constitutions of the world.

2. Originally the Constitution consisted of 395 Articles divided into 22 parts and 8 Schedules.

3. Now it consists of about 442 Articles divided into 22 parts and 12 Schedules.

4. Unlike the federal Constitutions of the USA and Australia the Indian Constitution lays down provisions relating to the Governmental machinery not only in the Centre but also in the States.

5. The Indian Constitution provides for matters of administrative detail. >- The Constitution contains detailed provisions relating to Centre-State relations including the emergency provisions.

6. Special status has been given to Jammu & Kashmir and some other states such as Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, Gujarat etc.

7.  Under the Constitution the people of India are the ultimate sovereign. The Constitution of India establishes a parliamentary form of Government both at the Centre and in the States.

8.  The Indian Constitution, though written, is sufficiently flexible.

9.  The Constitution declares certain Fundamental Rights of the individual.

10.  It is a unique feature of the Indian Constitution that it makes the citizens' duties a part of the basic law of the land.

11. One of the most important and unique features of the Indian Constitution is the provisions of Directive Principles of State Policy to secure a truly welfare State.

12. The Indian Constitution, distributes the legislative subjects on which the Parliament and State Legislature can enact laws under three lists viz. Union List, State List and Concurrent List.

13. The Indian Constitution unlike other federal Constitutions provides for a single unified judiciary with the Supreme Court at the apex, the High Courts in the middle and the Subordinate Courts at the bottom.

14.    There are provisions in the Constitution to ensure independence of judiciary.

15. The Constitution of India has adopted a balance between the American system* of Judicial Supremacy and the British principle of Parliamentary Supremacy.

16. The most remarkable feature of the Indian Constitution is that being a federal Constitution it acquires a unitary character during the time of emergency.

17.  Under the Indian Constitution every adult above 18 years of age has been given the right to elect representatives for the legislature without prescribing any qualification based either on sex, property, education or the like.

18. A distinctive feature of the Indian Constitution is that it provides for the establishment of a Secular State. Regardless of their religious beliefs, all Indian citizens enjoy equal rights.

19. The State cannot discriminate against anyone on the ground of religion or caste, nor can it compel anybody to pay taxes for the support of any particular religion.

20. The Indian Constitution has a special reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes in public appointments and in educational institutions and in the Union and State Legislatures.

21. An outstanding feature of the Constitution is Panchayati Raj. The idea for organizing village Panchayats was provided in the Constitution under Article 40 of Part IV which received Constitutional legitimacy through the 73rd Amendment to the Indian Constitution.

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