Meaning and Classification of The Constitution

Meaning and Classification of Indian Constitution


The Constitution of India was adopted on 26th November,1949, and it came into effect on 26th January 1950. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the Chairman of the Drafting Committee is wisely considered to be the chief Architect of the Constitute Assembly. Originally, the Constitution had 395 articles divided into 22 parts and 8 schedules but presently it contains 443 articles with 12 schedules and 26 parts. Other laws like I.P.C and others have sections but Constitutional laws have articles.

Meaning of Indian Constitution

The Constitution is the basic principles and laws of a nation, state, or social group that determine the powers and duties of the government and guarantees certain rights to the citizens.

Constitution is a document which have a special legal sanctity and sets out:

  • The framework.
  • functions of the organs of the government.
  • Declares the principles for the operation of those organs.

According to Prof. A. V. Dicey, Constitutional law includes all the rules, which directly or indirectly affect the distribution or the exercise of governing power in the State.

Classification of Indian Constitution:

a) Written and Unwritten Constitution

India has a written Constitution while Great Britain (UK/England) has an unwritten Constitution. The Legislature/Parliament enjoys sovereignty to make and unmake any law.

b) Unitary and Federal Constitution

Unitary Constitution is one that sets up one Central Government and all the powers are vested in it. For e.g.: – Great Britain.

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Federal Constitution provides for the distribution of powers between the Union/Central government. For e.g.: – American Constitution.

c) Flexible or Rigid Constitution

A Flexible Constitution provides for a simple procedure for its amendment. For e.g.: – Great Britain.

A Rigid Constitution requires a special complex and more technical procedure for its amendment. For e.g.: – Some provisions of the Indian Constitution.

Sources of Indian Constitution:

The Constitution framers adopted several sources, features that are present in the Indian Constitution. The main sources are: –

1)Government of India Act, 1935-Federal scheme, emergency provisions, judiciary, etc.

2)British Constitution-Parliamentary Government, Rule of Law, prerogative writs.

3)U. S Constitution-Fundamental Rights, Judicial Review, removal of Supreme Court, and High Court Judges.

4)Irish Constitution– The appointment of State Governors by the Centre and advisory jurisdiction of Supreme Court.

5)Canadian Constitution-Residuary powers with the Centre.

6)Australian Constitution-Concurrent List, freedom of trade and commerce, and a joint sitting of two houses of Parliament.

7)French Constitution– The ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity in the preamble.

8)Japanese Constitution-Procedure established by law.

9)Germany Constitution-Emergency provisions under Art 356.

10)South Africa Constitution-Amendment of Constitution.

Salient features of the Indian Constitution:

1)Lengthiest Constitution in the world– The Indian Constitution is the lengthiest constitution and the most detailed of all the written Constitutions in the world. While the American Constitution has 7 Articles, the Australian Constitution has 128 Articles, the Canadian Constitution has 147 Articles. This extraordinary bulk is due to following reasons: –

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The framers of the Indian Constitution have gained knowledge from the working of all the known Constitutions of the world.

The Indian Constitution lays down the structure of the Central government and of the States. The American Constitution has their own Constitutions.

The expanding development of the country and problems relating to the language have added to the bulk of the Constitution.

The Constitution contains a long list of fundamental rights and also a number of Directive Principles of State Policy, which confer no justifiable rights upon the individuals.

2)Parliamentary form of Government– The Constitution of India establishes a parliamentary form of government both at the Centre and State. The Indian Constitution was taken from the British books. The reason for this is that we are accustomed to this type of government. The essence of the parliamentary form of government is the responsibility of the government.

3)Unique blend of rigidity and flexibility– A written constitution is rigid. The Indian Constitution though written, is sufficiently flexible.

4)Fundamental rights– The incorporation of a formal declaration of fundamental rights in Part III of the Constitution is deemed to be a different feature of a democratic State. These rights are prohibitions against the State. The State cannot make a law which takes away or abridges any of the rights of the citizens guaranteed in Part III of the Constitution.

5)Directive Principles of State Policy– The Directive Principles of State Policy contained in Part IV of the constitution sets out the aims and objectives to be taken up by the States in the governance of the country. Unlike the Fundamental rights, these rights are not that important.


6)A alliance with a strong centralizing tendency– The feature of the Indian Constitution is that being a federal constitution it acquires a unitary character during the time of emergency. The normal distribution of powers between the Centre and the States undergoes a vital change.

7)Adult Suffrage– The old system of communal electorates has been abolished and the uniform system has been adopted. Under the Indian Constitution, every man and woman above 18 years of age has been given the right to elect representatives for the legislature.

8)Independent Judiciary– Mere enumeration of a number of fundamental rights in a Constitution without any provision for their proper safeguards will not serve any useful purpose. The very existence of a right depends upon the remedy for its enforcement.

9)Secular State– A secular state has no religion of its own as recognized religion of State. It treats all religions as equal. The word ‘Secular’ itself means to treat everyone as equal.

10)Single Citizenship– The Constitution of India is federal and provides for dual polity i.e., Centre and States, but it provides for a single citizenship for the whole of India.

11)Fundamental Duties– The Constitution has introduced a Code bill of fundamental duties for citizens. The fundamental duties are given to the citizens to have the basic norm of conduct and behavior.

Author: Shreya Potdar,
S.N.D.T Law College

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