Constitutional Law I Unit 1 Constitutional Law Complete Notes Salient Features of The Indian Constitution

Salient Features of The Indian Constitution

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TOPIC- Salient Features of The Indian Constitution

1. The lengthiest Constitution in the World:

The Indian Constitution is the lengthiest and the most detailed of all the written Constitutions of the world. While the American Constitution originally consisted of only 7 Articles, the Australian Constitution 128 Articles, the Canadian Constitution 147 Articles, the Indian Constitution originally consisted of 395 Articles divided into 22 Parts and 8 Schedules, at present, the though still, the last numbered Article is 395 and the last numbered part is 22, yet the actual articles are 460 in number and 25 parts at present and the Schedules at present are 12 in number.

Since 1950 Articles have been repealed and several Articles have been added to the Constitution.

This extraordinary bulk of the Constitution is due to several reasons:-

(1) The framers of the Indian Constitution have gained experience from the working of all the known constitutions of the world. They were aware of the difficulties faced in the working of these constitutions. This was the reason that they sought to incorporate good provisions of those constitutions in order to avoid defects and loopholes that might come in future in the working of the Indian Constitution.

The framers of the Indian Constitution framed, the most important chapter of the Fundamental Rights on the model of the American Constitution, and adopted the parliamentary system of government from the United Kingdom; they have taken the idea of the directive principles of state policy from the Constitution of Ireland, and added elaborate provisions relating to Emergency in the light of the Constitution of the German Reich and the Government of India act, 1935.

(2) The Indian Constitution lays down the structure not only of the Central Government but also of the States. The American Constitution leaves the states to draw up their own constitutions.

(3) The vastnesses of the country and peculiar problems relating to the language have added to the bulk of the constitution.

Establishment of a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic:

The Preamble of the Constitution declares that India to be a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic. The word ‘Sovereign’ emphasizes that India is no more dependent upon any outside authority. It means that both internally and externally India is sovereign.

The term ‘Socialist’ has been inserted in the Preamble by the Constitution 42nd Amendment act, 1976. The word ‘Socialism’ is used in democratic as well as socialistic Constitutions.

The term ’Secularism’ means a State which has no religion of its own as recognized religion of state. It treats all religions equally. In a secular State the State regulates the relation between man and man. It is not concerned with the relation of man and God.

The term ‘Democratic’ indicates that the Constitution has established a form of Government which gets its authority from the will of the people. The rulers are elected by the people and are responsible to them. Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity which are essential characteristics of a democracy are declared in the preamble of the Constitution as the very objectives of the Constitution.

The Preamble to the Constitution declares that the Constitution of India is adopted and enacted by the people of India and they are the ultimate master of the Republic. Thus the real power is in hands of the people of India, both in the Union and in the States.

The term ‘Republic’ signifies that there shall be an elected head of the State who will be the chief executive head. The President of India, unlike the British King, is not a hereditary monarch but an elected person chosen for a limited period. It is an essential ingredient of a Republic.

2. Parliamentary Form of Government:

The Constitution of India establishes a parliamentary form of Government both at the Centre and the States. The framers of the Constitution preferred the parliamentary system of government mainly for two reasons—(1) the system was already in existence in India and people were well acquainted with it, (2) it provides for accountability of ministers to the Legislature.

3. Unique Blend of Rigidity and Flexibility:

It has been the nature of the amending process itself in federations which had led political scientists to classify federal Constitution as rigid. A rigid Constitution is one which requires a special method of amendment of any of its provisions while in flexible Constitution any of its provisions can be amended by ordinary legislative process. A written Constitution is generally said to be rigid. The Indian Constitution, though written, is sufficiently flexible.

4. Fundamental Rights:

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 the part III of the Constitution. If it passes such a law it may be declared unconstitutional by the courts. But mere declaration of certain Fundamental Rights will be of no use if there is no machinery for their enforcement.

5. Directive Principles of State Policy:

The directive Principles of State Policy contained in part IV of the Constitution set out the aims and objectives to be taken up by the States in the governance of the country.

6. A Federation with Strong Centralizing Tendency:

The most remarkable feature of the Indian Constitution is that being a federal Constitution it acquires a unitary character during the time of emergency. During the proclamation of emergency the normal distribution of powers between the centre and the States undergoes a vital change.

The Union Parliament is empowered to legislate on any subjects mentioned in State List. The Central Government is empowered to give directions to States as to the manner in which it should exercise its executive powers.

7. Adult Suffrage:

The old system of communal electorates has been abolished and the uniform adult suffrage 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.

The adoption of the universal Adult Suffrage without any qualification either of sex, property, taxation, or the like is a bold experiment in India, having regard to the vast extent of the country and its population, with an overwhelming illiteracy. This suffrage is wider than all the democratic countries which have given right to vote to their people.

8. An 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. Indeed, the very existence of a right depends upon the remedy for its enforcement. Unless there is remedy there is no right, goes a famous maxim.

For this purpose an independent and impartial judiciary with a power of judicial review has been established under the Constitution of India. It is the custodian of the rights of citizens. Besides, in a federal Constitution it plays another significant role of determining the limits of power of the Centre and States.

9. A Secular State:

A Secular State has no religion of its own as recognized religion of State. It treats all religions equally.

10. Single Citizenship:

Though 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. Every Indian is the citizen of India and enjoys the same rights of citizenship no matter in what State he resides.

11. Fundamental Duties:

The Fundamental Duties are indeed to serve as a constant reminder to every citizen that while the Constitution has specifically conferred on them certain Fundamental Rights, it also requires the citizens to observe certain basic norms of democratic behaviors.

Constitution Law Unit 1 Constitution Law Complete Notes Salient Features of The Indian Constitution

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