Indian Constitution: Salient Features

Introduction to Salient features of Indian Constitution

Salient features of Indian Constitution, as we all know is the supreme law of the country and every citizen of our country has to follow the constitution. The Indian constitution is a very detailed constitution. ​The Constitution of India is one of the finest-crafted Constitutions in the World. This Constitution is made by the Constituent Assembly under the Cabinet mission plan. This Constituent Assembly started its work from 26 November 1946. That’s why every year we celebrate Constitution Day on 26 November. It took 2 years, 11 months and 18 days to complete our Constitution. It was on 26th November 1949 that the Indian Constitution was finally adopted, after close to 3 years of intense debates and discussions among the members of the Constituent Assembly, and it came into force on 26th January 1950.

The Salient Features of Constitution of India: –

  1. The Preamble
  2. Fundamental Rights and Duties
  3. Directive Principles
  4. Parliamentary System and Amendment Procedures
  5. Judicial Review and Basic Structure doctrine

The Constitution of India is considered as a distinctive constitution around the globe. It is the largest written liberal democratic constitution of the world. It offers for a mixture of federalism and Unitarianism, and flexibility and with rigidity.

The Constitution of India was outlined by a Constituent Assembly. This Assembly was an indirectly chosen body. It had laid down certain ideals to be included in the Constitution. These ideals included commitment to democracy, guarantee to all the people of India, Justice, equality and freedom. It had also proclaimed that India will be a Democratic Republic.

Indian Constitution Salient Features | Legal PaathShala

What are the salient features of the Indian constitution?

Following are the salient features of the Indian constitution: –

  1. Written and Detailed constitution: –
    • The constitution is a fully written document incorporating the constitutional law of India. It was enacted by the constituent assembly of India. The assembly took 2 years, 11 months and 18 days to write and enact the constitution.
    • The Indian constitution is a very detailed constitution. It has 395 articles divided into 22 parts with 12 schedules and 94 constitutional amendments. It originally consisted of 395 articles which have now increased to 448 articles after 105 amendments, as of August 2021. It is a constitution of both the centre and the states of the Indian union. It is actually much larger than the US Constitution, with only the articles of law and the French constitution itself. There are 6 articles.
  1. Self-made and enacted constitution:
    • The Indian constitution is the constitution of the people of India functioning through their elected and representative body: – the constituent assembly which was organized in December 1946. Its first session was held on December 9, 1946. It passed the objective resolution on 22 January. 1947.
    • Subsequently, it started the constitution-making process correctly and on 26 November 1949 was in a position to finally pass and adopt the constitution. The constitution became fully operational from 26 January 1950. We celebrate this day as our Republic Day.
  1. Preamble of the constitution: –
    • The Preamble to the constitution of India is a well-written document that states the philosophy of the constitution. The constitution declares India a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic and a welfare state to secure justice, liberty and equality for the people and to promote brotherhood, for the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation.
    • The Preamble is the key to the constitution. It is in essence committed to securing the nature and the people of the Indian state.
  1. India is a Democratic socialist state:
    • Although the Indian constitution fully reflected the spirit of democratic socialism from the beginning, it was only in 1976 that the Preamble was amended which included the term ‘socialism’. It is now considered a major feature of the Indian state.
    • India promotes social, economic and political justice with the intention to end all forms of exploitation of all its people and securing equal distribution of income, resources and wealth. It is to be secured by peaceful, constitutional and democratic means.
  1. India is a secular state: –
    • India gives special status to no religion. There is no such thing as the official religion of India
    • Furthermore, Indian secularism guarantees equal freedom to all religions. The constitution gives the right to religious freedom to all citizens.
  1. India is a Democratic state: –
    • The constitution of India provides for a democratic system. The authority of the government rests on the sovereignty of the people. The public enjoys equal political rights. On the basis of these rights, people freely participate in the process of politics. They elect their government.
    • There are free and regular elections for electing governments. The public can change their government through elections. No government can remain in power that does not enjoy the trust of the people.
  1. India is a republic: –
    • The preamble declares India a republic. India does not have the rule of an emperor or a nominated chief. India has an elected head of state (the President of India), who holds the office for a fixed period of 5 years. The people of India indirectly elect their President, after every five years.
  1. India is a union of states: –
    • ‘The Term Union of State’ shows two important facts: –
      • It is not the result of a voluntary agreement between the sovereign states of the Indian Union, and
      • States of India do not enjoy the right to secede (withdraw) from the Union. The Indian centre now has 28 states and 7 union territories.
  1. Mixture of Federalism and Unitarianism: –
    • Describing India as a union of states, the constitution provides a federal structure with a unitary spirit. Scholars have described India as co-quasi-federation or as a federation with a unitary bias, or even as a unitary union.
    • Like the Federation, the constitution of India provides for:
      • Division of powers between centre and states,
      • A written, rigid and supreme constitution,
      • Independent judiciary with power to decide centre-state disputes and
      • Dual administration i.e. central and state administration.
    • India is a federation with few Unitarian facilities. This mixture of federalism-unitism has been taken into account both due to the pluralistic nature of society and the presence of regional variations, as well as the need to preserve the unity and integrity of the nation.
  1. Mixture of rigidity and flexibility: –
    • The Constitution of India is somewhere rigid. Some of its provisions can be amended in a difficult way while others can be amended very easily. In some cases, the Central Parliament may amend parts of the Constitution by passing a simple law.
    • Article 368 of the Constitution provides two special methods of amendment: –
      • Most of the provisions of the constitution can be amended by the Central Parliament, by passing the amendment bill by a majority of the total membership and 2/3 majority of the members present and voting in its two houses.
      • For the modification of some specified parts, a very rigorous method has been provided. Under this, first the central parliament passes the amendment bill by a majority of the total membership and 2/3 majority of the members.
      • The amendment is passed only when it is approved by less than half of the many states of the union.
    • Thus the constitution of India is partly rigid and partly flexible.
  1. Fundamental Rights: –
    • Under its Part (IIIC Articles, 12–35), the constitution of India guarantees fundamental rights to its citizens. This is called the Indian rights bill. Initially, 7 fundamental rights were granted, but after the removal of the right to property from the list of fundamental rights (44th amendment act 1979) their number was reduced to six.
    • The six fundamental rights are: –
      • Right to equality: – this right provides equality before the law, its object is to end of discrimination, equality of opportunity, abolition of untouchability and abolition of titles.
      • Right to freedom: – It consists of six fundamental freedoms- speech and expression, freedom to form associations, freedom to assemble peacefully without arms, freedom to move freely in India, freedom of residence in any part, and any profession or freedom to adopt a business or occupation. This ensures personal freedom and protection in relation to punishment for certain crimes.
      • Right against exploitation: – This fundamental right prohibits the sale and purchase of human beings, forced labor (beggars) and the employment of children in dangerous jobs and factories.
      • Right to freedom of religion: – The grant of this right includes freedom of conscience, religion and worship. Any person can follow any religion. It gives freedom to all religions to establish and maintain their religious institutions. No person can be obliged to pay any tax for the promotion of any religion. The state cannot levy tax for any religion and the constitution prohibits the imposition of religious instructions in schools and colleges.
      • Cultural and educational rights: – The constitution under this category guarantees the rights of minorities to maintain and develop their languages ​​and cultures. It also confers the right to establish, maintain and administer their educational institutions.
      • Right to constitutional remedies (Art. 32): – This fundamental right is the soul and heart of the entire Bill of Rights. This right provides for the enforcement and protection of all fundamental rights by the courts. It empowers the Supreme Court and the High Courts to issue writ for the enforcement of these rights.
  1. National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and State Human Rights Commission and Protection of Human Rights: –
    • Protection of Human Rights Act was enacted to protect the human rights of all the people in 1993 it was passed by the Central Parliament. The National Human Rights Commission was established under this. It is headed by the former Chief Justice of India. It functions as an independent commission with a civil court status. It works to prevent the violation of human rights of the people.
    • In its cases of human rights violations, the NHRC may order compensation to the victims. Several states, human rights commissions are also working to protect human rights. India is fully committed to protecting the human rights of all the people of the world.
  1. Fundamental Duties of the citizens: –
    • The Constitution in its Part IVA (Article 51A) describes the fundamental duties of the following citizen: –
      • Honoring the constitution, national flag and national anthem;
      • To cherish the noble ideals of the freedom struggle;
      • Maintaining and protecting the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
      • Protecting the country and providing national service when called;
      • Promote the common brotherhood of all the people of India and make any practice derogatory to the dignity of women;
      • To preserve the rich heritage of the nation’s overall culture;
      • Project the natural environment and have compassion for living beings;
      • To develop scientific temperament, humanism and spirit of inquiry and reform;
      • Protection of public property and preventing violence; and
      • Strive for excellence in all individual and collective activity.
      • It is the duty of a parent to send their children to schools to receive education.
    • Fundamental duties, however, are not enforceable by the courts.
  1. Directive principles of state policy: –
    • One of the most important features of the Indian constitution is to work with the ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’ provided in part IV of the constitution. The Directive Principles direct the state to achieve the objectives of socio-economic development through its policies. These are to be implemented by both the associations for the states.
    • For example, the directive principles directed the state to ensure adequate means of livelihood of the people, fair distribution of funds, equal pay for equal work, protection of children, women, workers and youth, old age pension, social security, protect the interests of the weaker sections of society; promoting cottage industries, rural development, international and peace friendship and cooperation with other states etc.
  1. Bi-cameral union parliament:
    • The constitution provides for a bicameral legislature at the union level and names it as the central parliament. It has two houses: Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The lok sabha is the lower, popular, directly elected house of parliament. It represents the people of India.
    • Its maximum strength is constant at 550. The lok sabha currently has 545 members. There are 21 seats in orissa out of which some seats are reserved for SC and ST class people.
    • Members of the lok sabha are directly elected by the people of India. All men and women 18 years of age and above, whose names are listed in the voter lists, vote for the election of members of the lok sabha.
    • Voters 25 years of age or older are eligible to contest in the lok sabha. The term of the lok sabha is 5 years. But the President working under the advice of the Prime Minister can dissolve it even earlier.
  1. Parliamentary system: –
    • The constitution of India provides for a parliamentary system of government in each state of the union as well as the center. The President of India is the constitutional head with nominal powers. The Union council of ministers headed by the Prime Minister is the de facto executive. Ministers are essentially members of the central Parliament.
    • The Council of Ministers is collectively responsible before the Lok Sabha for all its policies and decisions. The Lok Sabha can remove the ministry by passing a no-confidence motion. The cabinet, indeed the Prime Minister, has the power to dissolve the Lok Sabha by the President. A parliamentary government is also working in every state along the same lines.
  1. Universal-Adult Franchise: –
    • Another feature of the constitution is that it provides for universal adult suffrage. All men and women have equal rights to vote. Every adult man and woman over the age of 18 has the right to vote. All registered voters have the opportunity to vote in elections.
  1. Single integrated state with single citizenship: –
    • India is a single, independent and sovereign unified state. It currently has 28 states and 7 union territories. All citizens enjoy equal citizenship. They are entitled to equal rights and freedoms, and equal protection of the state.
  1. Single Integrated Judiciary: –
    • The Constitution provides for a single unified judicial system for the Union and the States. The Supreme Court of India operates at the top level, the High Court at the state level and other courts operate under the High Courts.
    • There are 21 State High Courts functioning in all parts of India. The Orissa High Court has been in existence since 1948 and is located in Cuttack. The Supreme Court is the Supreme Court of the land. It controls and runs the judicial administration of India.
  1. Independence of judiciary: –
    • The Indian Constitution makes the judiciary truly independent. This is clear from the following facts: –
      • Judges are appointed by the President,
      • Only persons with high legal qualifications and experience are appointed as judges,
      • Judges of the Supreme Court cannot be removed from office except in an extremely difficult process of implementation.
      • The salary of judges is very high,
      • The Supreme Court has its own staff. The Indian judiciary has an autonomous organization and status. It operates as an independent and powerful judiciary.
  1. Judicial review: –
    • The constitution is the supreme law of the land. The Supreme Court acts as the custodian and interpreter of the constitution. It also works as the protector of the fundamental rights of the citizen of India.
    • It exercises the power of judicial review for this purpose. By this, the Supreme Court determines the constitutional validity of all laws made by legislatures. It can reject any law that is found to be unconstitutional.
  1. Judicial activism: –
    • At present, the Indian judiciary is becoming more and more active towards the performance of its social obligations.
    • Through a more active exercise of its powers vis-à-vis the Public Interest Litigation System (PIL), the Indian judiciary is now very actively trying to secure all public demands and needs under state laws and policies.
  1. Emergency provisions: –
    • The Constitution of India has special provisions to deal with emergencies. It identifies three types of potential emergencies: –
      • National Emergency (Article 352); emergency arising from war against India or external aggression or threat of external aggression or armed rebellion within or any part of India;
      • Constitutional Emergency in a State (Article 356); emergency arising due to failure of constitutional machinery in a state; or some states and
      • Financial emergency (Article 360) is an emergency, which is a threat to India’s financial stability.
    • The President of India has been empowered to take appropriate steps to deal with these emergencies. During the period of an emergency, the powers of the President, in fact the PM and the Union Council of Ministers are a tremendous increase. The President can take all steps necessary to meet an emergency. These are called emergency powers of the President.
  1. Special provisions relating to scheduled castes and scheduled tribes: –
    • With a view to protect the interests of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, the constitution advocates certain special provisions. It provides for reservation of seats in the assemblies for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.
    • The President may nominate the Lok Sabha, in the event of the Anglo-Indian community having no more than two members, he opines that the community does not have adequate representation in the House.
  1. Provisions regarding language: –
    • The constitution makes special provisions for defining the language of the Union, the regional languages ​​and the language of the Supreme court and High courts.
    • It states that Hindi will be the official language of the Sangh in Devanagari script. But at the same time, it also provides for the continuation of the English language. A state legislature may adopt the language of the province as its official language.
    • English remains the language of the Supreme Court and High Courts. The constitution gives a directive to the Sangh to develop and popularize Hindi.
    • In its eighth schedule, the constitution recognizes 22 modern Indian languages: ​​- Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Nepali, Manipuri, Konkani, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Dogri, Maithili and Santali.
  1. A constitution drawn from several sources: –
    • In framing the constitution of India, the founding fathers used many sources. The values ​​and ideals of the national movement guided his path.
    • The national movement influenced him to adopt secularism as an ideal. Some of the provisions of the Government of India Act 1935 were used by them and many of the features of foreign structures influenced them, and were adopted by them.

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