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Subjects /Indian Polity / Features of Indian Constitution

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10 Jul 2020

The Constitution of India is the Supreme, Basic, Fundamental Law of the land. It is also called as the Organic Law because it gave rise to the Administrative System of the country.

The Laws of land are namely,

  • Constitution
  • Statutory Laws
  • Ordinances
  • Judicial decisions by Supreme court or the High Court
  • By-Laws that are made by the Panchayati Raj Institution or Urban Local Bodies
  • Rules, Regulations, notifications by the Executive that are legally enforceable and made on the subjects authorized by the Parliament.
  • Customs adopted by the people that enjoy the force of law.

Every such law in the country derives its power from the Constitution and should conform to it.

Features of Indian Constitution

The important features of the Indian Constitution are given as follows:

a) Longest Constitution

b) Written and Enacted Constitution

c) Drawn from different constitutions of the world

d) A democratic state

e) A republic state

f) Aims to establish socialistic pattern of society

g) A secular state

h) Parliamentary form of Government

i) Independent judiciary

j) A federation with strong center

k) Adult and universal franchise

l) Broad provisions of fundamental right

m) Directive principles and fundamental duties

Written or Unwritten

The Constitution of a country may be unwritten or written.

British Constitution is the example of unwritten Constitution as it is based on Customs and traditions judicial decisions, parliamentary acts etc. Other Constitutions of the world are mostly written Constitutions.

Rigid or Flexible

On the basis of amendments, a constitution can be classified into the categories of rigid and flexible.

  • A rigid constitution is one which can’t be amended easily, i.e., US Constitution.
  • A flexible constitution is one which can be amended easily.
  • Indian constitution is more flexible than rigid. For example, most of its provisions can be amended by 2/3 majority in the parliament. However, in order to amend some of the provisions like election of president, powers and functions, the extent of Centre-State relations etc. apart from 2/3 majority in both houses of the parliament, the bill must be passed by at least half of the total state legislatures.

Division of Powers

On the basis of division of powers between center and the states, Constitutions can be classified into 2 categories – Federal and Unitary.

In a federal Constitution there is Constitutional divisional of powers between center and state i.e., US Constitution.

In a Unitary Constitution, the powers are concentrated in the hands of the center and states are only delegate of the center i.e., British Constitution.

Indian Constitution is called as ‘Quasi-Federal’ Constitution because it consists important federal as well as Unitary Features.

Quasi Federal Nature

Indian Constitution is neither ideally Federal Constitution of US type, nor ideally Unitary Constitution of British type.

In fact, it contains some of the important federal features of US Constitution and unitary feature of British Constitution, therefore Indian Constitution is called as ‘Quasi-Federal’.

The following are the federal features of Indian Constitution.

a) Written Constitution

b) Supremacy of Constitution

c) Divisions of power between center and the state

d) Independent judiciary

e) Upper house of parliament equally represents the states.

Apart from above mentioned federal features Indian Constitution also consists of following unitary features:

a) Single Citizenship

b) Single Constitution for union and states

c) Integrated Judiciary

d) Power of the parliament to create new states or to make any change in territory area and none of existing state.

e) Power of parliament to create all India services. Power of parliament to legislate over state list subjects also in some circumstances.

f) Appointment of Government by the center.

g) Residuary power belongs to the center

h) Center has upper hand on concurrent list subjects

i) Power of governor to reserve the bill passed by state legislature for the consideration of the president.

While looking at the federal and unitary features of Indian Constitution. It is clear that the nature of Indian Constitution is federal but there are several unitary features as well, therefore some of the scholars are having the opinion that Indian Constitution is federal in form but Unitary in spirit.

While analyzing the federal and unitary feature of Indian Constitution, it is quite evident that Constitution makers have made India a federal country but within the ambit of federalism, center has been made much stronger, as the powers are heavily tilted towards the center.

Some examples to show the federal character of the Indian Constitution are:

  • During national emergency, it acts as unitary country, as Parliament assumes the power to make law even on state list subjects. Centre has the power to declare President rule in the state.
  • Through Governor and all Indian services personnel, center controls the administration and law and order of the state etc.
  • Even in the terms of finance, center is much stronger than states.
  • Therefore, it is rightly said that the Constitution makes India a Federation with strong center.

To quote, Dr. Ambedkar, “Although we have adopted a federal constitution but we have avoided the tight molds of federalism and Indian Constitution could be both federal and unitary according to times and circumstances”.

Confederation and Federation

Confederation is loose association of joining units/states whereas federation is tight legal association of joining units.

In confederation the joining units came together for some specific purposes like – common security, trade, communication etc., while retaining their sovereignty.

Whereas In a federation the units come together for all practical purposes, surrendering their sovereignty in favor of their entire grip. In confederation the units have the right to succeed whereas in federation they normally do not have such right.

European Union is the example of confederation but USA today is the example of federation.