Salient features of Indian constitution
The constitution of India was inaugurated on 26th January, 1950. It is a unique, largest written document in the world which provides a mixture of Federalism and Unitarianism, and flexibility and with rigidity.
Salient features of Indian Constitution are –
1. Written and Detailed constitution
- Indian Constitution is written, lengthy, elaborated and detailed document.
- Time taken to write and enact the constitution was 2years, 11 months and 18 days.
- Originally it consist of 395 Articles and 8 schedules, but after the amendments, it now consist of 441 Articles and 12 schedules.
- The extraordinary bulk of the Indian Constitution is due to several reasons –
- It not only deals with Central government but also with State government.
- It focused on Centre-state relationship, giving them crucial importance and mentioning detailed norms for the same.
- It provides detailed provision overs FRs, DPSP, Safeguards to minorities, STs, SCs, other backward classes.
- It also gives many administrative details like citizenship, official language, governmental services etc.
- In order to avoid the future defects and loopholes the framers of Indian constitution gave a detailed written document because the framers know the amount of difficulties they face while working with constitution.
2. Preamble of Indian Constitution
- India has an elaborated Preamble`. It outlines the objective of whole constitution. It gives the direction and purpose to constitution. It declares India to be Sovereign, Socialistic, Secular and Democratic and Republic.
- Preamble also declare Justice, liberty, equality and fraternity also as a very objective of Indian Constitution.
- In Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, ((1973) 4 SCC 225: AIR 1973 SC 1461) the apex court held that preamble is a part of Indian Constitution. And while reading constitution it should be done in the light of vision expressed in Preamble.
3. Socialist State
- It was not there originally in preamble. It was added to Preamble by 42nd Amendment of Constitution in 1976.
- Socialist term is not defined in Constitution but India has always emphasized over mixed economy (Public sector + Private sector).
- According to Supreme Court the principle aim of socialism is to eliminate inequality of income, status, standard of life and to the working people.
- In Samatha V. State of Andhra Pradesh – Supreme Court defined Secularism as the establishment of egalitarian social order through rule of law is the basic structure of Constitution.
4. Secular State
- It was also added by 42nd Amendment of Constitution in 1976.
- Reason for adding – To maintain integrity of nation. Secularisms claims that there is religion of India and State.
- SC has declare secularisms as the basic feature of Indian Constitution.
5. Responsible Government
- The Constitution establish parliamentary form of government both at centre and state. The essence of parliamentary form of government is to elect legislature.
- The president is the constitutional head of state. The real power vests in the Council of Ministers who is headed by Prime Minister.
- Council of Minister is collectively responsible to lower house (Lok Sabha). The members of Lok Sabha are elected directly by people for 5 years. The same is in the case of state. This government is called Responsible Government.
6. Fundamental Rights
- FRs are mentioned in the Part III (Article 12 – 35) of constitution.
- Initially there were 7 FRs granted, but after the deletion of Right to property (by 44th amendment act 1979) the no. fall down to 6FRs.
7. Minorities and Backward classes
- In order to promote security among the minorities, to improve the condition of depressed and backward classes, to make them useful to the society, the constitution make the liberalism scheme for minorities, backward classes, SCs, STs etc.
8. Adult suffrage
- Article 326 of constitution says that ‘Every man and woman above 18 years of age has been given the right to elect representative for legislature’. The adoption of universal adult suffrage without any qualification either of sex, property, taxation etc. is a bold feature of Indian constitution.
9. Fundamental Duties
- By 42nd amendment act, 1976, fundamental duties were introduced for the citizens of India. The citizens are required to maintain the conduct and the behaviour of the country. There are eleven fundamental duties mentioned in our constitution.
10. Directive Principle of State Policy
- It is mentioned in the Part IV of the constitution. It set out the aim and objectives to be taken up by state in governance of the country. But these rights are not justifiable.
11. Unique blend of Rigidity and Flexibility
- The nature of the Constitution is both rigid and flexible. A Rigid Constitution means that the special procedures are required for its amendments whereas a Flexible Constitution is one in which the constitution can be amended easily.
- Although Indian constitution went through 100s of amendment but to do the same it has undergone through a complex procedure.
12. Self-made and enacted constitution
- Indian constitution is made ‘by the people of India’ and therefore it is a self-made constitution. The Indian Constitution was fully operational and enacted on 26th January, 1950.
13. Single integrated state and single citizenship
- India is a Single Integrated, independent and sovereign state consisting of 28 states and 8 union territories.
- Although Indian constitution talks about dual politics i.e., both centre and state but provides single citizenship for whole India.
14. Emergency provision
- The emergency provisions are contained in Part XVIII of the Constitution of India, from Article 352 to 360. The Constitution talks about three types of emergencies-
- National Emergency – Article 352
- Constitutional Emergency – Article 356
- Financial Emergency – Article 360
15. Single integrated judiciary
- constitution provides Single integrated judiciary system for union and state.
- Supreme Court works at apex level, high court at state level and other courts under according to territories and areas division.
16. Judicial review
- Constitution is the supreme law of land. Supreme Court act as the guardian, protector and interpreter of the constitution. Supreme Court has the power to reject any law if think that it is unconstitutional.
17. Mixture of federalism and unitarism
- Indian constitution is quasi federal in nature i.e., the mixture of both federal and unitary nature.
- Federalism means that there is the division of power between state and centre. State are not the subordinates of centre.
- Unitarism means that the power vests only with centre.
- Indian constitution consist of the combination of both federalism and unitarism but is strongly biased towards central authority.
- In state of west Bengal v. UOI, apex court held that Indian constitution did not propound a principle of absolute federalism. Though the authority was decentralized this was mainly due to the task of governing the large territory. Therefore, highlighted the fact that Indian constitution is not a traditional federal constitution.
Author: Navya Agarwal,
College name - Cpj college of higher studies and school of law and year - 2nd / Student by profession