The Constitution of India came into effect on 26th January 1950. Every Constitution begins with a preamble that contains the spirit of the Constitution and talks about the principles and ideologies that are to be followed by the State in course of its governance.
The Preamble of the Indian Constitution shows India as a Sovereign, Democratic, and Republic. As India as a country is not under the control of any other power it can make and follow its independent foreign policy. Indian Constitution provides for indirect election of President. It upholds the supremacy of Indian people and that they should be provided with social, economic, and political justice, equality of status and opportunity, equality before the law, and freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, association, and action. Emphasis has been placed on the secular and socialist basis of our Constitution. India has Parliamentary Democracy as its form of government. The people of India elect the representatives to the Parliament and different State Legislatures. India is proclaimed as a secular and socialist State.
FEATURES OF CONSTITUTION OF INDIA:
The following are the features of the Indian Constitution-
- A DETAILED CONSTITUTION–
India has the lengthiest and most comprehensive written Constitution in the whole world. It consists of 395 Articles and 12 Schedules and more than 90 Amendments. Indian Constitution contains detailed provisions relating to Union Government, State Governments, Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles, Supreme Courts and High Courts, Emergency provisions, Official Language, provisions relating to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, provisions for functions of Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. It provides division of power into Union list, State List, and Concurrent List.
- BALANCE BETWEEN RIGIDITY AND FLEXIBILITY–
A Constitution is flexible when it can be amended by ordinary legislative procedures and rigid when the procedure for its amendment is difficult and amber.
There are three procedures for amendment of the Indian Constitution which are as follows-:
- A large number of provisions of the Constitution can be amended by Parliament by a simple majority of members present and voting.
- A Bill containing provisions for amendment may be passed by a two-thirds majority of members present and voting and also by the absolute majority of the total membership of each house and also ratified by at-least the legislatures of half of the States
- Other provisions can be amended by a two-thirds majority of members present and voting.
- A FEDERAL POLITY WITH UNITARY FEATURES–
The supremacy of the Constitution and division of powers between Legislature, Judiciary and Executive, Independent Judiciary, and bicameralism of the lower and upper house and dual government system of center and state are some of the federal characteristics of the Indian Constitution.
As Article 1 of the Indian constitution refers that India is a “Union of States”, it also contains many unitary features such as a strong Centre, All India Services that are common to the Centre and the States, emergency provisions that can transform the Constitution into a unitary one whenever required, the appointment of Governors by the President on the advice of the Centre.
Thus we can say that the Indian Constitution is a Federal system with Unitary features.
As India has Parliamentary Democracy, the Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary executive. The President is just a titular executive and the council of members led by the Prime Minister is the real executive. President is the constitutional head of the State. The Electoral College consisting of elected members of the Parliament and the State Legislatures indirectly elect the President. He acts as per the advice of the council of ministers. Generally, after the general election, the leader of the majority party is called upon by the President to form the government and if no party gains a majority then the President might have to play an effective role in the formation of the government. The Governor, who is the constitutional head of the State is appointed by the President and is accountable to him.
For all the policies made and decisions taken the Council of Ministers are collectively responsible to the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha has the power to remove the Ministry by passing a vote of no-confidence against it.
- A SECULAR STATE–
The Preamble of the Constitution provides for the establishment of a secular state. In the provision of Fundamental Rights, it is made amply clear that all the citizens of India shall enjoy equal rights irrespective of caste, creed, color, or religion.
Article 15 of the Constitution states that discrimination against any citizen based on his religion in matters of employment and offices or access to places of public resort is forbidden. India has no official religion, nor can it endow or establish any official religion.
However, Secularism cannot desist the State from regulating any economic, political, or other secular activity connected with religion. It cannot prevent the State from taking steps for social welfare or religious reforms.
AN INDEPENDENT AND INTEGRATED JUDICIARY–
The federal structure of India has vested the Judiciary with extra powers, as it has to interpret the Constitution and decide the disputes arising under the Constitution. The salary, method of appointment, removal, leave and allowances of judges have been provided by the Constitution to guarantee them the required independence and impartiality.
Indian Constitution provides for a single integrated judicial system. The Supreme Court of India is the apex authority. In every State, there is a High Court and under the High Court, there is the Court of District and Session Judge. The Supreme Court of India is free from the control of either the Executive or the Legislature. It is empowered to decide the disputes between the Union and the States. The Supreme Court and High Court enjoy the powers of Judicial Review. If the laws passed by the Union Legislature or the State Legislature contravene the provisions of the Constitution, the Supreme Court can declare such laws as unconstitutional or ultra-vires.
In India, wherever an individual might have been born, he is an Indian citizen. An Indian citizen can settle in any part of the country and be engaged in any vocation according to his choice. Single citizenship emphasizes the unity and integrity of the country and excludes the possibility of any discrimination by any particular State in favor of its citizens. In India, the Union Parliament has the exclusive powers to make laws relating to the acquisition and termination of citizenship. The state has not got any power to confer citizenship or make laws relating to the conferment of citizenship on any individual. In India, citizens are not citizens of their respective States to which they belong. They are just citizens of India. This provision was made to help in promoting the unity and integrity of the nation.
- BICAMERAL LEGISLATURES–
The Indian constitution provides bicameral legislatures at the Centre consisting of Rajya Sabha also known as the Council of States and Lok Sabha also known as House of the People.
Every citizen of 18 years or above and who is registered in the voter’s lists can vote in elections to elect the members of Lok Sabha. Every voter of 25 years or above can contest elections to the Lok Sabha.
The Lok Sabha is the lower house of the Parliament and as it is popular, directly elected it represents the people of India. Its maximum strength stands fixed at 550.
Lok Sabha is more powerful than Rajya Sabha as it alone has financial powers and the Union Council of Ministers are collectively responsible before the Lok Sabha. Although the tenure of the Lok Sabha is usually of 5 years, the President may under the recommendation of the Prime Minister dissolve it earlier also. The Rajya Sabha is the upper House of the Parliament and it is indirectly elected second House. It represents the states of the Indian union. Its maximum membership can be 250. Out of these 233 members are elected by all the State Legislative Assemblies and 12 are nominated by the President from amongst eminent persons from the fields of Art, Science, and Literature. One-third of its members retire after completing two years. Each member has a tenure of six years.
- EMERGENCY POWERS-
The constitution vests extraordinary powers, called Emergency Powers in the President in case of emergencies arise out of armed rebellion, external aggression, or due to failure of constitutional machinery in the state.
The President has the power to take necessary steps to handle any extraordinary situation to maintain the sovereignty, security, unity, and integrity of the nation. In such a situation, the states become subordinate to the Central Government. An emergency can be imposed in parts or the whole of the country as needed.
- DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY-
The aim behind including the Directive Principles of State Policies in the Indian Constitution was to make India a welfare state. Although the Directive Principles given in Part IV of the Constitution are not enforceable by the courts for their violation, it is considered a moral obligation of the state to apply these principles while making laws.
All citizens of India, men, and women enjoy an equal right to vote without any discrimination. Each adult man and woman above the age of 18 years has the right to vote. All voters who are registered under the voter’s list get the opportunity to vote in elections.
From the above discussion, we can conclude that the Constitution of India is the lengthiest in the world and it is a combination of rigidity and flexibility. Despite having two clear sets of government-central and the states more powers are given to the Central Government. There is a clear division of powers between the Centre and the States. The Supreme Court of India which is the apex court of India resolves the disputes between the Centre and State or between the States. India has a parliamentary democracy. The head of the Council of Ministers is the Prime Minister who has all the real powers The Directive Principles of State Policy give a concrete shape to the welfare concept.