Main Features of Indian Constitution, Facts & Information

This article gives detail insights about main features of Indian Constitution, facts about Indian Constitution, important points about Indian Constitution, basic information about Indian Constitution. This article also answers frequent questions like who made the constitution of India, who has written the constitution of India, how many laws are there in Indian Constitution, where is the original copy of Indian Constitution kept etc.

Constitution is main law of a country which reflects the basic principles on which the government of that country works. It lays down the main framework  and Principal functions of various bodies of Government. It also defines the procedure by which various organs of the government interact with each other. It also defines the rules by which government interacts with the common citizens. With the exception of UK all democratic countries have their written Constitution. The Indian Republic is governed in terms of the Constitution of India which was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26th November, 1949 and came into force on 26th January, 1950. The constitutional head of the Country is President.

The government of India Act, 1935 exercised great influence on the Indian Constitution. The federal scheme, office of governor, powers of federal judiciary etc were drawn from this act. The constitution of India was not an original but all the good ideas from the Constitutions of other Western Countries were adopted in it. The effects of Constitutions of other countries are enlisted as follows –

  • The Parliamentary system of government, rule of law, law making procedure  and single citizenship was taken from British Constitution.
  • Independence of Judiciary, Judicial review, Fundamental Rights and guidelines for removal of Judges were taken from US Constitution.
  • The federal system, with strong central authority was adopted from Canada.

Indian Constitution is longest written constitution of world. At the time of inception, Indian Constitution contained 395 articles in 22 parts and 8 schedules. Presently there are 25 parts, 448 articles, 12 schedules and 5 appendices. There are about 1,45,000 words scribed in Indian Constitution. There are 101 total amendments of Indian Constitution so far with the recent one on 8th Sept 2016.

The main features of Indian Constitution are as follows :-main features of indian constitution

Features of Indian Constitution : Bulky and Voluminous 

The Indian Constitution is one of the Bulkiest Constitution in the World. The constitution originally consisting 395 articles now consists of 448 articles divided into 25 parts and 12 schedules. The factors which lead to make it bulky are –

  1. incorporation of good provisions of other countries to avoid future loopholes
  2. Absence of separate constitution for the states and provision of both central and state structure in one of the main feature of Indian Constitution.
  3. Incorporation of Fundamental Rights, Fundamental duties and Directive Principles of State Policy.
  4. Inclusion of Emergency provisions for protection of interests of the country and people.
  5. Inclusion of details regarding centre- state relations to eliminate future conflicts.
  6. detail provisions regarding organisation of judiciary, the services, elections and other transitory provisions.
  7. provision of specific problems of our country such as problems of SC-ST, OBC classes and official languages etc.

Features of Indian Constitution : Combination of Rigidity and Flexibility

The Indian Constitution is a combination of rigidity and flexibility. Article 368  of Indian constitution deals with the powers and procedures of the parliament to amend the constitution. Article 368 accords sufficient power to the Indian Parliament to add, change or repeal any part of constitution. The amendment is initiated by the introduction of a bill which needs to be passed in both upper and lower houses.   A flexible approach is taken for some some constitutional provisions and these can be amended by simple majority. Some constitutional provisions are very rigid and tough stance is provided for their amendment. It requires the bill to be passed by two third majority by present members of both the houses of parliament as well as majority in at least half of Indian state legislatures. Flexibility is introduced in the constitution by provisions which permit parliament to supplement the provisions of constitution by legislation.

Features of Indian Constitution : Parliamentary system of Government

It provides parliamentary system of governance under which the real executive power rests with council of ministers and the President is only nominal ruler. The council of ministers stay in office as long as they enjoy the confidence of parliament. Parliamentary system of government was decided for several reasons -Firstly, the system was already in practice in India and people were well acquainted with it. Secondly, the vast size of country and diversity of the culture necessitated the adoption of parliamentary form of government. Thirdly to avoid the conflict between executive and legislature which is common in America.

Features of Indian Constitution : Federal System with Unitary Bias

The Indian constitution provides a federation with a strong centre. It is worthy to note that constitution has not used the word Federation anywhere and has described India as Union of States. It implies that Indian Federation is not the result of any agreement among the units and the units can’t secede from it. India possesses most of the federal features but also several unitary features. The Indian Federal structure acquires a unitary character during emergency when the normal distribution of powers between the state and centre undergoes vital changes.

Features of Indian Constitution : Fundamental Rights

The constitution contains elaborate list of Fundamental Rights. The state can’t make laws which takes away any of the Fundamental Rights of the citizens. If it does so, the courts can declare such a law as unconstitutional. The constitution of India ensures that state can never breach the liberty and freedom of citizens as instructed by Fundamental Rights. The Fundamental rights of Indian constitution are enforceable by court of law. However Fundamental Rights are not absolute. It can not be claimed in any situation. Fundamental Rights are subjected to certain restrictions and can bt curtailed during emergency. Originally there were seven different Fundamental Rights, but after elimination of Right to Property, only six Fundamental Rights remains.

Features of Indian Constitution : Fundamental Duties

The constitution also mentions a list of 10 fundamental duties of citizens. These duties were added in 42nd amendment in 1976. Article 51A of Indian Constitution deals with Fundamental duties. These duties serves as constant reminder to the citizens that they have to observe certain basic norms of democratic conduct. Some examples of Fundamental duties include respecting national flag, national anthem; to abide by constitution and respect its ideals and institutions; to value and preserve rich heritage and composite culture of country etc.

Directive Principle of State Policy

Directive principles are basically certain set of guidelines which the government has to keep in mind while formulating any policy. These principles seek to provide social justice and economic basis for democracy and the establishment of welfare. Unlike Fundamental Rights, Directive principles of State policy are non justiciable. In other words the directive principles are not enforceable by court, but these principles are irrefutable in governance and policy making of state. Directive principles are enlisted in Part IV (Article 36 -51) of Indian Constitution. Directive principles can be classified in categories like – economic and social welfare, political and administration, justice and legal aspects, peace and security, environment protection, protection of monuments etc.

Secular Features of Indian Constitution 

42nd constitutional amendment added the terms “Secular” and “Socialist” to description of India. The constitution makes India a secular state. The definition of secularism as per constitution is –

  1. There will be no state religion /official religion of India. State has to treat all the religions with equality without prejudice.
  2. state is completely detached from religious bias. State will not accord any preferential treatment or discrimination to any follower on the basis of his/her religion.
  3. It also implies that citizens are free to practice, profess and propagate any religion.

Features of Indian Constitution : Independent Judiciary

This is the most important and basic point of Indian Constitution. The constitution provides an independent judiciary which acts as guardian of liberties and fundamental rights of citizens. Constitution ensures that judiciary is free of government influence to have a legitimate and authentic decision making. The government has three basic pillars – Executive body, Legislative body and Judiciary. It is better for any government if all the three bodies work independently and without influence of any other. Independent judiciary feature ensures that there is no misuse of authority by any member of executive or legislative body.

People as Source of Authority

The Indian constitution is “for the people” and “by the people”. Constitution does not draws its authority from parliament, Prime minister or President. Constitution draws its authority from “the people” and has been promulgated “in the name of people”. This is evident from preamble to Indian constitution which states ” We the People of India…”

Features of Indian Constitution : Universal Adult Franchise 

The constitution introduces universal adult franchise and accords the right to vote to all citizens above 18 years of age without discrimination of caste, creed, religion, gender or color.

Features of Indian Constitution : Emergency Provisions

The constitution vests extraordinary powers in the President during emergency situations. Part 18 of Indian Constitution (articles 352 to 360) deals with the emergency provisions.  There are three types of emergencies as defined by the constitution. These may be either i) national emergency , ii) constitutional emergency and iii) financial emergency. National emergency (article 352) arises out of armed rebellion, external aggression or threat of imminent war . Constitutional emergency (article 356) arises due to failure of state constitutional machinery . In these situation President can impose President rule in the respective state as per suggestion/recommendation from governor of that state. Financial emergency means the threat of financial instability arising due to debt/credit etc.

These emergency powers give extraordinary powers to central government. it also reduces the role and authority of state governments as well as judiciary system. In the situation of emergency the federal structure of government automatically converts to unitary structure (i.e. very less or no states role, single point central government).  The logic behind providing emergency powers to central government is that it helps and authorises to tackle and neutralise the extraordinary situation firmly and effectively.

Features of Indian Constitution : Single Citizenship

The constitution of India provides single citizenship. All persons residing in India are entitled to same rights. . This is an important feature of Indian constitution which gives more strength of Center and reduces the separatist tendencies of states. This feature ensures there is single citizenship of country from  central administration and there is no separate citizenship from different states. It means any resident of different states like Kerala, Bihar, Gujarat etc all have one single citizenship and no individual citizenship issued from respective states. this is customary to note that there are some countries for example United States which have dual citizenship -one from country itself and second from respective states.

Bicameral Legislature

This is another important feature of Indian Constitution. The constitution ensures bicameral legislature at the centre. Rajya sabha contains representatives of the people while Lok Sabha contains representatives of the state. Unicameral legislatures are more popular in those countries/states which are smaller in size and population and where there is generally homogenous group of residents. India is considered as the largest democracy of the world. India boasts of its unity in diversity. In such a diverse nation the bicameral system fits better. Furthermore bicameral legislature ensures each and every bills are given due consideration and makes  parliamentary procedure transparent by getting it passed in both houses.

Special Provisions for Minorities

The constitution accords special provision for minorities, Scheduled Casts and Scheduled Tribes etc. In not only reserves seats for them in parliament and state legislatures, but also grants them certain special rights and privileges.

Panchayati Raj 

The constitution provides constitutional basis to Panchayati Raj as well as to Urban local bodies. This was achieved through Seventy fourth amendment of constitution in Dec 1992.