2. Salient Features of the Indian Constitution

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indian polity study materials 02
  • Constitution is the Lengthiest of all the written constitutions of the World. Indian Constitution is neither rigid nor flexible but a synthesis of both.
  • Indian Constitution is described as ‘federal in form but unitary in spirit. Indian Constitution has adopted Parliamentary form of Government.
  • Indian Constitution have preferred a proper synthesis between British principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty and the American Principle of Judicial supremacy.
  • Indian Constitution establishes a judicial system – i.e. Integrated, Unified and Independent Judiciary.
  • Indian Constitution provides for dual polity and three-tier Government.
  • Indian Constitution provides for single Citizenship, Universal Adult Franchise, Secular state, Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Rights.
  1. Preamble
  2. Written constitution
  3. Rigid constitution
  4. Federal system
  5. Secular state
  6. Parliamentary democracy
  7. Fundamental rights
  8. Directive principles of state policy
  9. Fundamental duties
  • Judicial review
  • Judicial Activism
  • Universal adult franchise

Preamble

  • The constitution of India starts with a Preamble.
  • The objective of the constitution is precisely given in the Preamble. It serves as a guide to interpret the provisions of the constitution.
  • It is not a part of the constitution and hence not subject to judicial review. According to the text of the preamble as it stands today after the forty second amendment Act of 1976.

The Preamble of the Indian constitution reads as follows:

  • We, the people of india, having solemnly resolved to Constitute India into a Sovereign, Socialist,Secular, Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens: Justice, social, economic and political.
  • Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
  • Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation:
  • In our constitutuent assembly this twenty – sixty day of November, 1949 do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this constitution.

Written Constitution:

  •  A written constitution is one in which most of the basic rules and regulations are written down in a document.
  • Indian constitution is a written one. It is lengthy also.
  • The constitutions of Great Britain, Ireland, Canada and Australia were major source for the Indian constitution.
  • The framers of the Indian constitution borrowed from the constitutions of other countries keeping in mind the needs and conditions of India.

Rigid Constitution:

  •  According to Dicey, a rigid constitution is one under which certain laws generally known as constitutional or fundamental laws cannot be change in the same manner as the ordinary laws are changed.
  • Constitutional laws refer to those provisions of the constitution.
  • Ordinary laws are those laws enacted by the Parliament with reference to the provisions of the constitution.
  • The constitutional laws are placed above the ordinary law.
  • A special procedure is prescribed in the Indian constitution to amend the provisions. Some of the provisions of the Indian constitution can be amended easily and the procedure is difficult for some others. Hence, our constitution consists of features of both flexible and rigid constitutions.

Federal System:

  •  Federalism is a system of government in which powers are divided and distributed between the Central Government and State Governments. Our constitution has the following federal features:-
  1. Supremacy of the constitution
  2. Rigid constitution
  3. Division of powers
  4. Independent judiciary

Secular State:

  •  The Indian constitution establishes a secular state. It means there will be complete freedom to follow any religion. It guarantees to all citizens freedom of faith, worship and conscience.
  • It also means equal respect for all religions.
  • The basis of secularism is ethics and to bring about a society of equality and justice.

Parliamentary Democracy: 

  1. The constitution of India provides for a parliamentary system of
  2. It is also known as responsible government or cabinet
  3. A parliamentary form of government is that in which the executive is responsible to legislature.
  4. The executive of India has two One is the nominal and the other is real.
  5. In India, the nominal executive is the President of He is elected by an electoral college for a period of five years.
  6. The real executive is the Prime Minister and Council of
  7. In a parliamentary form of government there is individual responsibility as well as collective responsibility of the members of the Council of
  8. The constitution of India provides a bicameral legislature consisting of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. While Lok Sabha contains representatives directly elected by the people on the basis of universal adult franchise, the Rajya Sabha mainly consists of representatives of the states

Fundamental Rights:

  •  Part III of the Indian constitution consists of Fundamental Rights (Articles 12 to 35). These are indispensable for the growth of human personality.
  • They not only create proper conditions for the fullest development of an individual, but also help in realizing true democracy. These rights ensure equality of all citizens in the eyes of law.
  • Fundamental Rights maintain proper balance between the individual interests and the public good.

The constitution of India classified the Fundamental Rights under six groups as follows:

  1. Right to Equality
  2. Right to Freedom
  3. Right against Exploitation
  4. Right to Freedom of Religion
  5. Cultural and Educational Rights
  6. Right to constitutional Remedies
  7. Right to property – has been abolished by the 44th Amendment Act,

Directive Principles of State Policy: 

  • Part IV of the Indian constitution consists of Directive Principles of State Policy (Articles 36 to 51). They are fundamental in the governance of the country.
  • Directive Principles of State Policy act as a guide to the State and it is the duty of the State to apply these Principles in making laws.
  • They aim at the establishment of a welfare state in our country.

Fundamental Duties:

  • The Forty-Second Amendment Act of 1976 added Part IV (Article 51A) in the Indian constitution containing ten duties for the citizens of India.
  • According to former Prime Minister of India Mrs. Gandhi, moral value of the fundamental duties would be “not to smother rights but to establish a democratic balance” by making the people conscious of their duties equally as they are conscious of their rights.
  1. To abide by the constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem
  2. To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom
  3. To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India
  4. To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so
  5. To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic, and regional or sectional diversities;
  6. To renounce practices derogatory to dignity of
  7. To value and preserve the righ heritage of our composite culture
  8. To protect and improve the natural environment including forest, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures
  9. To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform
  10. To safeguard public property and to abjure violence
  11. To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and

Judicial Review:

  •  Our constitution provides independence to judiciary.
  • The Supreme Court and the High Courts in India enjoy the power of Judicial Review. The power of judiciary to declare law as unconstitutional and to interpret provisions of ordinary laws enacted by legislatures is called Judicial Review.
  • Judiciary acts as a guardian of the constitution. Judiciary protects the rights and freedoms of the Indian citizens.

Universal Adult Franchise:

  •  The constitution of India has introduced universal adult franchise. All the adults above the age of 18 years, irrespective of their castes, colour and or sex are entitled to participate in the election.

 

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