The Indian Constitution, enacted on January 26, 1950, is the supreme law of India and serves as the foundational document that governs the country. It is known for its comprehensive and innovative features that reflect India’s socio-cultural diversity, historical context, and aspirations. Some of the salient features of the Indian Constitution are:
The Salient Features of The Indian Constitution
- Lengthy Codified Constitution: The Indian Constitution is known for its extensive and detailed nature, comprising 448 articles and 12 schedules. This extensive structure was deemed necessary to accommodate the diverse provisions required for a country as culturally varied as India.
- Incorporation from Global Constitutions: Many provisions of the Indian Constitution draw inspiration from various international constitutions, including the Government of India Act 5 of 1935. This amalgamation was essential to address India’s diverse needs and accommodate special considerations for regions like Assam, Mizoram, and Nagaland, as well as to uplift marginalized groups like Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
- Preamble’s Significance: The Preamble encapsulates the core principles and objectives of the Constitution. The key features and ideals of the Constitution emanate from this section, which defines India as a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, and Republic nation committed to justice, liberty, equality, fraternity, and national unity.
- A blend of Flexibility and Rigidity: The Indian Constitution strikes a balance between rigidity and flexibility in its amendment process. Unlike strictly rigid or flexible constitutions, India’s constitution allows for necessary changes while maintaining the sanctity of its foundational principles.
- Federal Structure with Unitary Bias: The Indian Constitution establishes a federal structure with features of both federalism and unitarism. This unique balance is often described as “federal in form but unitary in spirit” or “quasi-federal,” encompassing features like an independent judiciary, bicameralism, division of powers, and supremacy of the Constitution.
- Democratic Republic: India is a democratic republic where the head of state is elected by the people for a fixed five-year term. The reflection of this democratic choice is reiterated through periodic elections.
- Parliamentary Form of Governance: The Indian Constitution adopts the parliamentary system from the British model. This form involves close collaboration between the executive and legislative branches, with the Prime Minister holding a significant role, giving rise to the term “Prime Ministerial Government.”
- Protection of Fundamental Rights: The Constitution safeguards the fundamental rights of citizens, encompassing six key rights: The right to Equality, the Right to Freedom, the Right Against Exploitation, the Right to Freedom of Religion, Cultural and Educational Rights, and the Right to Constitutional Remedies.
- Introduction of Fundamental Duties: The concept of Fundamental Duties was introduced through the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976, outlining ten obligations that citizens must uphold. This addition complemented the existing fundamental rights and highlights the responsibilities citizens have towards the nation.
- Universal Adult Franchise: The Constitution upholds equal voting rights for all citizens, regardless of gender, ensuring that men and women above the age of 18 can participate in elections.
- Integrated and Independent Judiciary: The Indian Constitution establishes a singular and unified judiciary system for both states and the Union. As per the notable aspects of the Indian Constitution, high courts operate at the state level, while the Supreme Court functions at the highest level. Additionally, all subordinate courts operate under the jurisdiction of their respective state’s high court. Furthermore, the Indian Constitution ensures the independence of the judiciary from the influence of the Executive and legislative branches. This independence extends to financial and administrative matters, ensuring the judiciary’s autonomy.
- Directive Principles for Social Welfare: Directive Principles of State Policy, a distinctive feature acknowledged by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, are enshrined in Part IV of the Indian Constitution. These principles aim to secure economic and social justice for Indian citizens, with the intent of establishing a welfare state. They provide guidelines for the government’s actions in promoting the well-being of the people.
- Provisions for Emergencies: Within the significant traits of the Indian Constitution, comprehensive provisions address challenges that may threaten the nation’s unity and security. These provisions outline three types of emergencies:
- Article 360: Financial Emergency
- Article 356 & 365: Emergency arising from the breakdown of constitutional machinery in states
- Article 352: Emergency due to armed rebellion, external aggression, or war
- Promotion of Secularism: India, characterized by its religious diversity, safeguards religious freedom for all its citizens as per the salient aspects of the Indian Constitution. Citizens are granted the liberty to follow and propagate any religion, ensuring equal rights without discrimination based on gender, religion, caste, or creed. The Constitution’s secular principles extend to protecting the cultural rights of minorities.
- Three-Tier Governance: The 73rd and 74th Amendments Act establishes urban and rural local bodies as the third tier of government structure in India. In line with the noteworthy features of the Indian Constitution, these bodies function with the objective of empowering self-governing villages across the country.
- Singular Citizenship: Unlike some federal states, such as the USA, where citizens often possess dual citizenship, India maintains singular citizenship. This implies that regardless of birthplace or current residence, every Indian is a citizen of the nation. While an individual may reside in a Constituent State like Jharkhand, Uttaranchal, or Chhattisgarh, their primary citizenship remains that of India. This guarantees uniform access to employment opportunities and rights throughout the entire nation.
- Independent Institutions: The Indian Constitution establishes various independent institutions in addition to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches at both the federal and state levels. These institutions are regarded as fundamental pillars of India’s democratic governance system.
- Recognition of Cooperative Societies: The 97th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2011 bestows constitutional status upon cooperative societies and outlines their protection. This amendment empowers the Parliament to enact laws pertaining to multi-state cooperative societies and grants state legislatures the authority to do the same for other types of cooperative societies.
Commencing the Indian Constitution is its Preamble, which delineates the aspirations, goals, and foundational principles of the Constitution. The essential elements of the Constitution have developed, influenced either directly or indirectly by the Preamble’s guiding principles. Crafted to suit the nation’s requirements, our Constitution amalgamates the most commendable features from prominent global constitutions. While drawing inspiration from a wide spectrum of constitutions, India’s own constitutional framework boasts several distinctive attributes that differentiate it from the constitutions of other nations.
How many Schedules and Articles are there in Indian Constitution?
Ans. The Indian Constitution is the lengthiest written document in the world which is one of the salient features of the Indian Constitution. It has 12 schedules and 448 articles, with the Preamble at the front of the Constitution.
What are the ideologies of the Indian Constitution?
Ans. The Indian Constitution reflects the ideologies of Secularism, democracy, Sarvodaya, socialism, decentralization, humanism, liberalism, mixed economy, and Gandhism.