Salient features of Indian Constitution: The Indian Constitution is the Supreme Law of the country and every Indian citizen has to abide by it. Indian Constitution is one of the longest written constitutions in the world with certain features that make it stand out from the rest. Though the Indian Constitution has incorporated several aspects from the other Constitutions, there are certain unique features that demarcate it from other Constitutions The Indian Constitution is both flexible and rigid in the sense that some parts of the Constitution can be improved by making minor changes in it.
Given below are the salient features of the Indian Constitution that make it different from other Constitutions:
➤ World’s Lengthiest Constitution:
The Indian Constitution is one of the longest written Constitutions with a total of 395 articles and 12 schedules. It is a detailed document consisting of both Geographical and Historical factors. The Indian Constitution consists of both a written constitution like the USA and an unwritten constitution like that of the UK. It is a single Constitution for both the Center and the States.
Since 1951 about 90 Articles and 100 amendments have been added to the Constitution. These amendments have been made keeping in mind the necessity of upliftment of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes or special provisions granted to States like Mizoram, Assam, and Nagaland.
➤ Taken from Various Sources:
According to Dr. B R Ambedkar, the Constitution of India has been developed after “ransaking all the known Constitutions” of the World. The structural part of the Indian Constitution has been derived from the Government of India Act 1935, the fundamental rights derived from the American Constitution, Directive Principles derived from the Irish Constitution, and Cabinet form of Government from the British Constitution.
Though the Indian Constitution has been influenced by the Constitutions of other countries, the features have been framed in such a way that it is convenient for the citizens of India.
➤ Rigid and Flexible:
The Indian Constitution is a blend of both rigidity and flexibility based on the amendment procedures of the different parts of the Constitution. The amendment of the Indian Constitution is based on rigid procedures that require special laws for an amendment like the American Constitution. The Indian Constitution can also be amended inflexible and simple ways like the British Constitution.
The amendment principles of the Indian Constitution are based on Article 368 which implies:
- Some features of the Constitution can be amended by a simple parliamentary majority or the largest majority.
- Some features of the Constitution can be amended by a two-thirds majority(more than 50%) of the members of each house.
➤ Parliamentary Form of Government:
The Indian Constitution has the Parliamentary form of Government following the British Constitution. The important features of the parliamentary form of government are as follows:
- Rule of the majority party.
- Prime Minister’s leadership at the Center and Chief Minister’s leadership in the State.
- Cooperation and coordination between Executive and Legislative organs of the Government.
- The Council of Ministers is responsible for Lok Sabha.
- Lower House dissolution of the Union Parliament.
- Parliamentary systems in both the Center and the States.
- The President of India is the Constitutional head and he can exercise his powers with advice from the Council of Ministers.
➤ Directive Principles of State Policy:
- This feature is a part of Part IV of the Indian Constitution.
- This implies certain features followed by the State to provide economic and Social justice to the people of India.
- The State within the limits of its economic capacity can make provisions for the right to work, provide assistance to the citizens during unemployment, old age, or sickness.
- The wealth of the country will not be in the hands of a few people.
➤ Independent and Integrated Judicial System:
Indian Constitution formulates an independent judiciary system with the following features:
- A single judicial system with the Supreme Court at the top and District and State High Courts in the different states. The District courts supervise the functioning of the Subordinate courts.
- The Supreme Court is the highest Court of appeal that guarantees fundamental rights to all Indian citizens.
- The appointment of the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court is done by the Collegium system.
- The judges of the Supreme Court can be removed by an impeachment process in the parliament which is difficult to pass.
- The Constitution ensures the complete independence of the judiciary in administrative and financial matters.
➤ Fundamental Duties of Indian Citizens:
Fundamental duties of the Indian Constitution were added by the Swaran Singh Committee by the 42nd amendment act of 1946. Like the Directive Principles of State policy, the duties are nonjusticiable in nature. There are a total of 11 Fundamental duties of the citizens of India. These fundamental duties are obligations that every Indian citizen has to follow.
Given below are the Fundamental Duties of Indian Citizens:
- Oblige the Indian Constitution and respect the Indian Flag and National anthem.
- Follow the noble ideals of the National freedom struggle.
- Protect the integrity, sovereignty, and unity of India.
- Perform national services for the country as and when required.
- Promote the spirit of harmony and brotherhood among all Indian citizens and respect women.
- Preserve the National heritage and culture of India.
- Protect the environment, wildlife, forests, and rivers of India.
- Protect public property.
- Promote scientific temper and spirit of humanity.
- Strive towards excellence in all genres of individuals.
- Opportunities of education to children between the age of 6-14 years and perform duties as parents so that every child gets an education.
➤ Federal Systems with Unitary Features:
The Indian Constitution provides a Federal system meaning that the Union list of subjects is governed by the Central Government while the State list of subjects is governed by the State Government. The Federal system has a Unitary bias meaning that the Central Government can exercise residual powers when necessary.
Federal Features of the Indian Constitution:
- Written Constitution: Constitution is the longest written document in the world with 395 articles and 8 schedules.
- Dual Polity: Union at the periphery with sovereign powers to be exercised in the respective fields.
- Division of Powers: Powers divided between the Center and the States in terms of Union list, State list, and Concurrent list.
- Supreme Constitution: Constitution is the supreme to the country and all the laws made by the Center and the States must conform to the Constitution or else they will be declared invalid.
- Bicameralism: Bicameral Legislature with the upper house as the Rajya Sabha representing the States of India and a Lower House the Lok Sabha representing India as a whole.
- Independent Judiciary: Independent judiciary led by the Supreme Court to protect the Constitution and settle disputes between Center and States.
- Rigidity of the Constitution: It is necessary for both the houses to agree while making amendments to the Constitution.
Unitary Features of the Indian Constitution:
- Single Constitution: Both the Center and the States will operate within a single frame of the Constitution.
- Single Citizenship: One person can have only one citizenship of the country.
- Emergency Provisions: During an emergency the Central Government assumes all power and the States go under the total control of the Centre.
- Appointment of Governor: Governor is appointed by the President and the Center exercises its power through the Governor.
- Integrated Judiciary: The Supreme Court is at the top and incorporates all the lower courts including the High Courts and the Gram Panchayats.
- Veto Over State Bills: Governor can hold certain laws passed by the State legislature for President’s approval. President has veto power over state legislation.
The Constitution guarantees complete freedom of religion to all Indian citizens. There is no religion that is considered the official religion of India.
Main features of Indian Secularism:
- Protecting all religions and giving equal respect to all religions.
- Harmony among all religions rather than a separation between State and religion.
- State intervention of the reformation of evil practices of religion.
- Do not discriminate against any citizen on grounds of religion.
- According to the 7th schedule of the Indian Constitution, both the Central and the State Governments of India can formulate their own laws regarding religious Institutions, charities, and trusts.
- All Indian citizens have freedom of Conscience and can practice any religion profusely.
- No religion is the official religion of India and no Indian citizen can be discriminated against on grounds of religion.
➤ Fundamental Rights:
The Constitution of India grants six fundamental rights to all its citizens. These rights were guaranteed under Part III of Articles 12 to 45 of the Indian Constitution. The main objective of the Fundamental rights is to preserve dignity and promote all-around development of individuals.
The Six Fundamental Rights of the Indian Constitution are as follows:
- Right to Equality: This ensures equal rights for all Indian citizens irrespective of caste, religion, gender, or social status. This right also abolishes age-old practices like untouchability.
- Right to Freedom: The Indian Constitution ensures the following right to freedom among all its citizens:
- Freedom of speech
- Freedom of association
- Freedom of expression
- Freedom to reside in any part of the country
- Freedom to practice any profession
- Freedom to assemble anywhere without arms
The Government of India can impose certain prohibitions on these rights on grounds of public morality, security, and relation with foreign countries.
- Right to Freedom of Religion: Every Indian citizen is free to follow the religion of his/her choice and maintain religious and charitable Institutions. The State does not follow or promote any particular religion.
- Right Against Exploitation: This right prohibits the exploitation of children or any form of forced labor. This right also guarantees equal pay for equal work and compulsory education of children below 14 years.
- Cultural and Educational Rights: All sections of the society and all minority communities have the right to save their language, script, or culture. They will receive aid from the State for running an educational Institution irrespective of their religion. These individuals will not be denied the right to education on the basis of their caste, creed, or race.
- Right to Constitutional Remedies: Citizens of India can approach the Supreme Court if their Fundamental Rights have been violated. This right is important for the legal development of the citizens of our country.
The Fundamental Rights are justiciable and can be amended by the Parliament by keeping the basic structure intact. During a National emergency, all Fundamental Rights except those under Articles 20 and 21 can be suspended.
➤ Universal Adult Franchise:
All citizens of India above 18 years of age irrespective of their caste, creed, and religion have the right to vote to elect the Government. This way every Indian citizen can engage in the Governance of the country by electing their representatives. Universal Adult Franchise of the Indian Constitution is meant to promote equality among all the citizens of India.
➤ Emergency Provisions:
The Indian Constitution imposes the Emergency provisions to tackle any kind of abnormal situation that may arise in the country. The 3 types of emergency situations include:
- National emergency: This can be declared during a war, armed rebellion, or external aggression. In this type of Emergency, the Center can give directions to the State on any matter and the President can change the distribution of revenues between the Center and the States.
- Constitutional Emergency: This kind of Emergency occurs during the failure of the Constitutional machinery of any State. In such a situation President’s rule is imposed. This Emergency can be imposed for a period of 2 months and can be extended to 6 months provided that both the houses of the Parliament approve the Emergency.
- Financial Emergency: Under Article 360 the President of India can declare an Emergency if he/she feels that the Financial security of the country is in a crisis. A Financial Emergency can result in the reduction of salary or allowances of all those serving the State and the judges of the Supreme Court or the High Court. A Financial Emergency has not been imposed in the country till now.
➤ Single Citizenship:
According to this feature, all Indians are entitled to single citizenship regardless of where they live. All Indian citizens regardless of their place of birth or work have the same political and Civil rights. Single Citizenship of the Indian Constitution also implies that all the citizens of India can live and work in any part of India. The main purpose of Single citizenship is to promote Unity and fraternity among all the citizens of India.
➤ Three Tier Government:
The Indian Constitution has a 3 tier Government meaning the Central Government, State Government, and the Panchayats for the legislation, taxation, and administration of India. Originally there was a dual-tier Government including the Central and the State governments and according to the 73 and the 74 amendment acts of the Constitution of India, the third tier of Government was added in the form of Local Government or Municipalities. The Indian Government is Quasi Federal which implies that power is widely distributed between Center, State, and the Local Government.
➤ Rule of Law:
The Indian Constitution states that no man of the country is above the law and every citizen of India is entitled to Social, Political, and Economic justice. The main objective of the Rule of Law is to protect the Supremacy of Law which is necessary for an organized society. Rule of Law of the Indian Constitution implies sovereignty in a Democratic country.
➤ Independent Bodies:
The Constitution of India employs independent bodies to review Public services and provide an unbiased view on the same. The Independent bodies include the following:
- Election Commission: Ensures free and fair elections of the Parliament, State, President, and the Vice President of India.
- Auditor General of India: Audits the Central and State Governments and comments on the propriety of the various Government expenditures.
- Union Public Service Commission: Conducts examination for the recruitment of All India Services and Central Services.
- State Public Service Commission: Conducts examination for the recruitment of State Services.