SALIENT FEATURES OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION: EXPLAINED
This article takes you through the salient features of Indian Constitution.
To develop a better understanding of the topic, we have included every detail which would help you get a deeper insight into the topic.
We have included elements, features, fundamental rights, fundamental duties, principles, and levels of government, and more for you to go through.
What is the Constitution of India?
Adopted by the constituent assembly on 26th November 1949, the constitution of India is the supreme law in India.
It is a set of rules and regulations which guide the administration of the country and assist in framing the fundamental principles, procedure, rights duties, practices, and powers of the government.
Constitution of India is the longest in the world with 395 articles and 12 schedules which are arranged under 22 parts and 8 schedules.
In the present time, the constitution consists of 448 articles 12 schedules, and 25 parts going to the amendments made to it.
The credit for drafting and writing the constitution of India is given to Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar.
Being the chairman of the drafting committee of the constituent assembly, he owns the credit but it is the combined efforts of the drafting committee.
The English version of the Constitution of India has a total of 117, 369 words.
It was originally written in Hindi and English and is the longest hand-written constitution in the world.
What are the Salient Features of Indian Constitution?
The constitution of India spells out the spirit of the nation, its philosophy polity and the entire structure.
Furnished below are the salient features of Indian Constitution to develop a better understanding of the contents.
Written and Detailed
The Indian Constitution is a completely hand-written document which incorporates constitutional law in the country.
The Constitution Assembly of India was the governing body for the preparation of the constitution.
To enact the Constitution, 2 years, 11 months, and 18 days were required. Also, it is a detailed constitution for both the Central and the State unions.
The Indian Constitution is the longest constitution in the world and also the longest hand-written constitution.
It has 395 Articles, 22 parts and 12 Schedules. Moreover, it is bigger and detailed than the constitutions of the US and France.
Till date, there have been 94 constitutional amendments made.
The Preamble of the Constitution
The Preamble is an introductory statement of a Constitution that puts forth its ideals and values. It reflects the nature and objective of the state.
The Preamble of India consists of 85 words. Initially, it was of 82 words which were amended by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment.
The words – Socialist, Secular and Integrity were added through the amendment.
The Preamble to the Constitution of India states the constitutional philosophy.
It is a well-drafted document that declares India as a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic Nation.
The Preamble states the state is committed to justice, liberty and equality for the people.
Self-made and Enacted
The Constitution of India puts forth that it is made by the people of India and for the people of India.
It is done through the duly elected representative body – The Constituent Assembly. The assembly was organized in December 1946.
On 27 January 1947, after passing the objective resolution, the process of making the constitution was initiated.
The Assemble was in a position to pass and adopt the constitution on 26th November 1949.
It was implemented and was fully-functional and operation by 26th January 1950, which marks as the Republic day.
Democratic Socialist State
The constitution states that India is a democratic socialist state and it is stated through its Preamble as well. Since its implementation, the spirit was reflected.
However, the work Socialist was added to the Constitution after the 42nd Amendment Act in 1976. The Amendment altered the Preamble to include the word Socialism.
Socialism is now a prime and integral feature of the Indian Territory. The Constitution and the Government work with their full efficiency that ensures social, political, and economic justice for all its citizens.
It is done by ending the exploitation of individuals in every form and secure equality in income, wealth, and resources among all.
India is different from the theocratic states which have an adopted religion to follow. The Preamble to the Constitution of India states that India is a secular country.
Every citizen of the country has complete freedom of worshipping and following a religion they desire.
No person in the country shall be forced to follow a particular religion or to worship an ideal.
Moreover, the fundamental rights impose complete freedom to the citizens to have their faith in any religion they desire.
Also, under any circumstances, no individual shall be prohibited to follow their religion or faith in any worship they wish to follow.
The Preamble to the Constitution put forth another feature of the Indian state. The country is a democratic state and the government runs on the will of the people of the country.
The people of India have their freedom to enjoy political rights and elect their government.
The government’s authority depends upon the sovereignty of people. Elections are held to elect the government. The Government is responsible before the citizens for its activities.
The government can remain in power as long as they have the faith of the citizens. India is the largest working democracy in the world.
The Constitution declares India as a republic country. No monarch or nominated head of state runs or rules the country.
It means the no kings, queens or leaders rule the country but the people. India has an elected head of the state which is the President. S/he is the first citizen of the country.
The President remains in power for a fixed term of 5 years. Every five years, the citizens of the country indirectly elect their representatives.
Therefore, India a republic state which is headed by the President.
Union of States
India is a Union of States as stated by the Constitution. Article of the Constitution declares that “Bharat is a Union of States”. At present, India has 28 states and 7 Union territories.
The term throws light upon two important factors which are as follows:-
- The Union is not formed of any voluntary agreement among the states. This means that there was no agreement made by the state and the Government to form a Union of States.
- The states in India do not have any right to step back from being a part of the country. They are part of the Union and will continue to do so.
Blend of Rigidity and Flexibility
The Constitution is a mixture of rigidity and flexibility. Some parts of the Constitution are rigid while some are flexible.
Certain provisions are difficult to amend while some can be amended easily.
It is partly rigid and partly flexible as the Union can amend some parts by only passing a law. Some parts require a procedure to be followed.
The rigid amendments involve the Union Parliament passing an Amendment bill following the state legislature’s ratification.
Half of the several states of Union have to approve it so that it could be passed. Therefore, the Constitution offers a blend of both.
Federalism and Unitarianism
As India is a Union of States, it follows a federal structure with a unitary spirit. India is a ‘Quasi-federation’ or ‘Unitarian Federation’.
The Constitution of India puts forth the division of power between the Centre and State Governments.
It has a supreme constitution and an Independent judiciary holding the power to settle center-state disputes.
Moreover, there is dual administration that prevails along with a strong unitary sprit centre.
India has Unitarian features with segregated powers and functioning of the Centre and the States.
The Constitution of India guarantees fundamental rights to all of its Citizens.
The Fundamental rights are mentioned under part IIIC spanning from Articles 12 to 35. It is the Indian Bill of Rights.
There are 6 rights available to the citizens of India which are as follows:
- Right to Equality
- Right to Freedom
- Right against Exploitation
- Right to Freedom of Religion
- Cultural and Educational Rights
- Right to Constitutional Remedies
Initially, there were seven Fundamental rights available to the citizens. The Right to Property was deleted from the list by the 44th Amendment Act 1979.
Apart from the Fundamental Rights which the Constitution of India offers, the citizens of India have certain Fundamental duties to be fulfilled.
The Part IVA Article 51 A describes them.
According to the Article, the citizens shall respect the Constitution, the national flag, and the national anthem.
They should cherish the ideals of freedom struggle and defend the country.
The people of India shall preserve the heritage and protect the natural environment.
The parents shall send their children to get an education and everyone should strive for excellence individually and with collective ability.
The Directive Principles of State Policy are the ideals which the states have to keep in mind while formulating their policies and enacting laws.
The Fundamental Rights and DPSPs are considered to form the Constitution’s soul.
Under the preamble, DPSPs are the kernel of the Constitution and reflect the overall objectives as which are laid down in the Preamble of India.
Definition – “They are the ‘instrument of instructions’ which is enumerated in the Government of India Act, 1935. They seek to establish economic and social democracy in the country. DPSPs are ideals which are not legally enforceable by the courts for their violation.”
In India, the Constitution provides for a parliamentary form of Government. It is to be followed at Centre as well every state of the Union of India.
The Constitutional head of the state is the President who holds nominal powers. There is a Union Council of Ministers. The Prime Minister heads the cabinet and is the real executive.
For every decision and policy, the Council is collectively responsible before the Lok Sabha.
The Lower house has the power to dissolve the ministry by passing a no-confidence vote. Also, the parliamentary system of Government works in each state.
At Union level, the Constitution provides for Bi-cameral legislature. The Union parliament is divided into two houses – The upper house and the lower house.
The Lower House is Lok Sabha and the Upper House is called Rajya Sabha. The Lower House is the more powerful house and the one only to hold financial powers.
The maximum number of members in Rajya Sabha is 250 while of Lok Sabha is 550.
The number of representatives from each state depends on the state’s population.
12 members of the Rajya Sabha are elected by the President based on their significant contribution to various fields.
The Constitution of India provides provisions for single citizenship to all the citizens of India.
Every individual regardless of the state or territory of his/her residence is a deemed citizen of India.
Single citizenship means that every person is only a citizen of India.
In the United States, a person holds dual citizenship i.e. citizenship of the country as well of the state in which s/he resides.
The Constitution provides for Universal Adult suffrage. Every person in the country has an equal right to vote who is over the age of 18 years.
The individuals need to be registered voters to obtain the opportunity to vote in the elections.
No person shall be prohibited or restricted to vote if he or she is registered as a legal voter in the country.
Single and integrated judiciary
As per the provisions put forth by the Constitution, there is a single integrated judiciary for the Union and the states.
The Supreme Court is the apex judicial body in the country.
The High Court work at the state levels as the highest judicial bodies of the respective states.
Other courts such as district courts work under the High Courts.
At present, 21 State High Courts are working across all the parts of the Indian Union.
The Supreme Court runs the judicial administration of the country.
The oldest High Court in India is the Orissa High Court which is located in Cuttack and working since 1948.
The Constitution has provisions which make the judiciary truly independent. The Judges of the Supreme Courts and High Courts are appointed directly by the President.
The Judges are highly-qualified and can be removed from office through an extremely difficult process.
The Supreme Court enjoys its staff and has an autonomous organisation and status. It is an Independent and powerful Judiciary.
The Constitution is deemed to be the supreme law of the land. The lawful procedures of the country are carried on as per the provisions and guidelines states by the Constitution.
Moreover, the Constitution acts as the guardian of fundamental rights.
According to the Indian Constitution, the Judiciary has become more active towards its social obligations performances.
The Indian judiciary seeks to actively secure public demands and needs through the Public Interest Litigation system (PIL).
Emergencies can happen in any state. Owing to this fact, the Constitution has stated special provisions to deal with emergencies.
There are three types of emergencies which the Constitution recognizes:
- National Emergency – Article 352 states that it can happen from war or external aggression or armed rebellion within India or any state or any part
- Constitutional Emergency – Article 356 states that this emergency arises attributing to the failure of constitutional machinery in any or some states
- Financial Emergency – According to Article 360, a threat to the financial stability of India is considered as Financial Emergency.
The President holds the power to deal with emergencies and the powers of the cabinet increases tremendously. The powers are termed as emergency powers of President.
Schedules Provision for SCs and STs
Owing to the discrimination which the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes experienced, the Constitution has stated certain special provisions for them as well.
Provisions for the SCs and Sts include:-
- Reservation of seats in the legislature and panchayats and Municipal Councils
- Reservation of certain jobs and other fields
- The nomination of not more than two members of the Anglo-Indian community by the President, if felt that the community is not adequately represented
India is a country which has a diverse and rich culture. Unlike other countries, several languages are spoken in India.
Therefore, the Constitution has special provisions for language. They define the language of Union, region, and the supreme and high courts.
The official language of the Union is Hindi in the script of Devnagri.
The language of the Supreme Court and High courts is English and the state legislature can adopt its provincial language.
The Constitution recognizes 22 languages as modern in India which are – Hindi, Bengali, Kashmiri, Kannada, Assamese, Gujarati, Malayalam, Oriya, Nepali, Marathi, Punjabi, Santhali, Dogri, Maithili, Manipuri, Konkani, Sindhi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu and Bodo.
Along with these languages, provisions are there for the continuance of the English language as well.
The Constitution of India is derived from various sources. The path to its development was guided by the national movement.
In the Constitution, there some features of the Government of India Act 1935 while several features are influenced and adopted from foreign constitutions.
The Bi-cameral form of parliament was influenced by the British Constitution.
The republic state, independent judiciary, bill of rights, and judicial review marks its source to the US Constitution.
Other influencing and adopted Constitutional features are from the Constitutions of Australia, Ireland, Canada and Germany.
All these features having their adoption and influence from other Constitutions make it the best for India.
The basic structure of the Constitution has been driving the country since its implementation.
What are the Fundamental Rights?
Recognised by the Supreme Court in the constitution of India, fundamental rights are a group of rights which are deemed essential for the moral, spiritual intellectual and social protection of the citizens of the country.
The Supreme Court recognizes these rights as being fair and legal and every person has the right to practice them.
The Indian Constitution Lays down seven fundamental rights for the Indian citizens which are as follows:-
Right to Equality
The right to equality has five provisions which are covered under articles 14 to 18.
This right establishes the rule of law all citizens are treated with equality before the law.
There shall be no discrimination based on race, caste, religion, place of birth, or sex.
Moreover, this right promotes the abolition of untouchability and titles and equality of opportunity to all the citizens in matters of public employment.
This right intends to furnish a life of equality to all the citizens of India.
Right to freedom
Freedom is something which every living being desire and they deserve freedom.
Right to freedom lays out the provisions to all the Indian citizens under articles 19 to 22.
As per the provisions of the right, an Indian citizen enjoys the freedom of speech and expression, move freely throughout the territory, reside and settle in any part of India, practice any profession or occupation etc.
Also, it provides for the protection in respect of conviction of offences and protection of life and personal liberty.
Alongside this, the provisions provide for the protection against arrest and detention in certain cases.
Right against exploitation
Articles 23 and 24 provide provisions for the right against exploitation. India suffers exploitation of individuals in forms, therefore it is important to have laws and legal provisions against it.
This right has provisions to promote the prohibition of trafficking in human beings and forced labour.
Also, it prohibits the employment of children and attacks the most serious problem of child labour in India.
Moreover, the breach of the provisions is considered to be a punishable offence in the eyes of law.
Right to freedom of religion
The Preamble Lays out that India is a secular country which allows its citizens to practice any religion they want.
The people have the right to freedom of religion and they have full freedom to have faith in any religion and worship as per their preferences.
The governing articles 25 to 28 put out provisions for the right to freedom of religion.
No individual, under any circumstances, shall be forced to follow a particular religion or prohibited from practicing their choice of religion for worship.
Cultural and educational rights
Article 29 and 30 lays out the two major provisions of this right. They state the cultural and educational rights of the citizens of India.
India has diversity in culture, languages, and religion. Therefore, it is important to protect them.
The provisions provided for the protection of interest of minorities and furnish the right to conserve the distinct language, culture or script.
Also, it lays out for the right of minorities to establish and administer without any discrimination based on language or religion.
Right to constitutional remedies
Fundamental rights are ‘guarantees’ as they are justiciable and enforceable. In case of the violation of these rights, every individual has the right to see help from the courts.
The constitution provides legal remedies for the protection of the fundamental rights which are stipulated in article 32.
In an instance of the violation of the fundamental rights, the individuals can approve the Supreme Court for the enforcement of the same.
Right to Education
Right to education is a new fundamental right added in 2002 by the 86th constitutional amendment. It was added by introducing a new Article 21A.
The right has provisions to ensure education for every child aged between 6 to 14 years.
Every student in this rain has the right to receive a quality education and go to school.
The right was enforced in 2009 when the parliament passed the Right to Education Act.
What are the Fundamental Duties?
Incorporated in ‘Part IV-A’ of the Constitution, we have 11 fundamental duties. They were introduced by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976 under Article 51-A.
They are statutory duties and enforceable law.
As this article intense to furnish detailed information on the salient features of Indian constitution, we have provided a brief of the fundamental duties in the section.
What are the basic principles of Government?
The constitution reflects the idea and ideals of the people and intense to be a document of permanent value.
The constitution of India embodies certain basic principles which paved the foundation of the democratic government of India.
The basic principles of the Constitution of India are as follows:-
The constitution provides its citizens with seven fundamental rights. It attempts to secure the fundamental freedom of the citizens within the spare of the activity of the states.
The constitution states that the people of India have the ultimate authority over the government. The constitution emerged from there will and institutes India into a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, and Democratic Republic country.
The Government intends to make India democratic socialism. It aims for a mixed economy and distribution and abolition of private property.
With the diversity in faith and religion, the Government embodies the principle of a secular nation. It allows its citizens to follow any religion or faith they desire. All religions possess the support and status from the state in the country.
The Constitution follows the principle of providing independence to the judiciary. The judicial system of India is free from the legislation and influence of the government.
It enjoys freedom from government functioning and follows impartial judgment principles.
Therefore, the President appoints the judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts.
Directive Principles of State Policy
These principles put out guidelines for the states to adhere to while planning and drafting policies and laws.
It aims to establish economic and social democracy in the state as the preamble proposes.
The legal authority is distributed across the national, state and local government in India.
The legislative, administrative and executive powers are distributed between the Union and state government.
There is a division of power among the authorities which work to achieve an ultimate goal.
It refers to a cabinet which consists of the high-ranking state officials and top leaders from across the nation.
The real executive power vests in the cabinet of ministers. They collectively and individually stand responsible to the legislature.
They direct government policies and draft decisions which pertain to the issues of national interests.
What are the three levels of Government?
There are three levels of government in India which are as follows:-
This is the first level of the Government. The top-tier or Central Government is elected by parties which attain higher than 50% of the parliamentary elections seats. It is done through Lok Sabha Elections.
Formed through the Vidhan Sabha Elections, the second level or middle-tier of the Government is elected by parties which attain higher than 50% of the state assembly elections seats.
Municipal Corporations or Gram Panchayats
The lowest or third-tier of the government has municipality and Gram Panchayats.
The Municipality consists of Municipal Corporation, municipal council, and the Nagar panchayats. Gram Panchayats have district, intermediate, and village Panchayats.
The elections are held but do not include any party or assembly.
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