As we all know that there are several features our Indian constitution some of them are its key features which we called as its salient features. The salient features of the Indian Constitution are as follows :
- Written Constitution – Constitutions of countries may be either in written form like U.S Constitution or Unwritten, based on conventions like, the British or New Zealand Constitutions.
- Framed by the People of India – This constitution has been framed by the representatives of the people of India through a constituent assembly working on behalf of the people of India.
- Drawn from various sources – The Constitution of India is a unique document, the provisions of which have been derived from various sources. Our constitution makers were inspired by Constitutions of other countries and drafted our constitution by borrowing most of the provisions from the constitutions of various other countries. Besides this, they borrowed extensively from the Government of India Act, 1935.
Dr. B.R Ambedkar proudly acclaimed that the Constitution of India has been framed after ‘ransacking all the known Constitutions of the world’.
|Government of India Act 1935||· Federal scheme|
· office of governor
· Public service commission
· Administrative functions
|British Constitution||· Parliamentary Government|
· Rule of law
· Legislative procedure
· Single citizenship
· Cabinet system
· Parliamentary privileges
|U.S Constitution||· Fundamental rights|
· Independence of judiciary
· Judicial review
· Impeachment of president
· Removal of Supreme court & High court Judges
· Post of vice-president
|Irish Constitution||· D.P.S.P|
· Nomination of members to Rajya Sabha
· Method of election of President
|Canadian Constitution||· Federation with strong Centre|
· Residuary powers to Centre
· State Governor appointed by the Centre
· Advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court
|Australian Constitution||· Concurrent list|
· Freedom of trade
· Commerce & Intercourse
· Joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament
|Weimar constitution of Germany||· Suspension of fundamental rights during Emergency|
|USSR||· Fundamental duties|
|French Constitution||· Republic and ideals of Liberty, Equality & Fraternity in the Preamble|
|South african constitution||· Procedure for amendment of the Constitution|
· Election of Rajya Sabha members
|Japanese Constitution||· Procedure established by law|
- Parliamentary form of Government – Indian Constitution has opted for the British Parliamentary system of Government. This system is based on the principle of co-operation & co-ordination between the legislative & executive organs of the democracy.
The parliamentary system is also known as the Westminster model of government, Responsible Government and also the Cabinet government.
The Constitution establishes the parliamentary system not only at the centre but also in the states.
Features of Parliamentary Government of India
- In a Parliamentary Democracy, Elections are held at regular intervals for choosing the representatives of the people who control the executives and collectively responsible to the Legislature.
- Majority party rule.
- Leadership of the Prime minister for the whole country and of the Chief Ministers for their respective states.
- Dissolution of the lower house i.e loksabha or legislative assembly.
- Sovereignty of People – The constitution declares the people of India to be the Sovereign i.e. Supreme authority. It Implies that people of India are not subordinate to any other external agency.
- A Secular State – The Constitution of India provides for a Secular State. Hence it does not uphold any particular religion as the official religion of the India. The substances of secularism can be deduced from various provisions of the constitution:
- The term “Secular” was added to the preamble of the Indian Constitution by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act 1976.
- Article 14 of the Constitution describes that the State shall not deny to any person equality before law or equal protection of laws
- Article 15 describes that the state shall not discriminate against any citizen on the ground of religion.
- Article 16 describes that there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters of public employment.
- Article 25 says that All person are equally entitled to freedom of conscience & the right to freely Profess, Practice and Propagate any religion.
- According to Article 26 Every religious denomination or any of its section shall have the right to manage its religious affairs.
- Article 27 mentions that No person shall be compelled to pay any taxes for the promotion of any religion
- No religious instructions shall be provided in any educational institution maintained by the state – Article 28
- Any section of the citizens shall have the right to conserve is distinct language, script or culture.- Article 29
- Blend of Rigidity & Flexibility – Constitutions of various nations are also classified into rigid and flexible. A rigid constitution has a rigid and special procedure for its amendment like the American constitution and A flexible constitution is one that can be amended in a simple manner without any rigid procedure like British Constitution.
The Constitution of India is neither Rigid nor flexible but a synthesis of both as it contains some rigid as well as some flexible procedure for its amendment. Some of its procedure requires Special majority to amend while some can be amended by simple majority only.
- Fundamental Rights – Part 3rd of the Constitution provides for six fundamental Rights of the citizens of India :
- Right to equality (Articles 14-18)
- Right to freedom (Articles 19-22)
- Right against Exploitation (Articles 23-24)
- Right to freedom of Religion (Articles 25-28)
- Cultural & Educational Rights (Articles 29-30)
- Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)
- Fundamental Duties – They Serve as a reminder to citizens that while enjoying their rights, they have also to be quite conscious of their duties which they owe to their country, their society and to their fellow citizens.
The original constitution did not contain any fundamental duties for the citizens. These duties were added during the operation of internal emergency (1975 – 77) by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1976 on the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee.
- Universal Adult Franchise – It means that every citizen who is not less than 18 years of age has a right to vote without any discrimination of caste, race, religion, sex, literacy, wealth and so on.
Indian Constitution adopts Univeral Adult Franchise as a basis of elections to the Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies. Prior to it, all the Constitutions provided for restricted franchise (Article 326).
- Judicial Review – The Constitution provides for the Judicial review of the acts of Legislature of both Union and States and the activities of the executives of both Union and States. Prior to it there was no such provision. This keeps the legislature and executive branches of government under restraints. (Article 32,226,227).
- Integrated and Independent Judiciary – The Indian Constitution establishes a judicial system that is integrated as well as independent.
The Supreme Court stands at the top of the judicial system in the country. Below it, there are high courts at the state level. Under a high court, there is a hierarchy of subordinate courts that is district courts and other lower courts.
The Supreme Court is the Highest Court of Appeal, The Protector of the fundamental rights of the citizens and the Guardian of the Constitution as well.
- Directive Principles of State Policy – The constitution provides for DPSP in Part 4 of the Constitution.
According to Dr. BR Ambedkar, the Directive Principles of State Policy is a novel feature of the Indian Constitution.
The DPSP are meant for promoting the ideal of social and economic democracy. They seek to establish a ‘welfare state’ in India.
However, unlike the Fundamental Rights provided in part 3, the DPSP are Non-Justiciable in nature, means they are not enforceable by the courts for their violation.
- Single citizenship – India is a union of states and our constitution provides provisions for dual polity i.e. for Centre & States, However, Indian Constitution provides Single Citizenship only that is, the Indian citizenship.
- Independent Bodies – The Indian Constitution not only provides for the legislative, executive and judicial system in the country but also establishes certain independent bodies. These are :
- Election commission to ensure free & fair elections in the country.
- Comptroller and Auditor-General of India for auditing the accounts of the Central and State government. He is also known as the ‘guardian of public purse’.
- Union public service commission for conducting examinations for recruitment to All-India services and higher Central level services and to advise the president on disciplinary matters.
- State public service commission to conduct examinations for recruitment to state services and to advise the governor on disciplinary matters.
- Emergency provisions – To meet any extra-ordinary situation effectively, the Indian Constitution enables the President of India to implement emergency for safeguarding the sovereignty of the country. During emergency, the Centre becomes more powerful as most of the powers of the state government goes into the hand of central government.
The Constitution envisages three types of Emergency provisions :
- National Emergency on ground of war or external aggression or armed rebellion(Article 352).
- State Emergency also known as President’s Rule on ground of failure of Constitutional machinery of the state(Article 356) OR failure to comply with the directions of the Centre(Article 365).
- Financial Emergency on the ground of threat to financial stability or credit of India(Article360).
- Federal & Unitary System – Indian constitution contains the features of a federal system as well as the features of a unitary system.
Other features of India Constitution
- Comprehensive Document – The Constitution of India is the lengthiest of all Written Constitutions of the world. It is a very comprehensive, elaborate and detailed document.
- Originally it contained a Preamble, 395 Articles divided into 22 parts and 8 schedules.
- Presently it consists of a preamble, around 465 articles divided into 25 parts and 12 schedules.
- No Constitution in the world has so many articles and schedules.
- Three-tier government – The Indian Constitution like any other Federal constitution provided for a dual polity and contained provisions with regard to the organisation and powers of the centre and the states. Later the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendment acts in 1992 have added a third tier of government, i.e. (local) which is not found in any other constitutions of the world.
- The 73rd Amendment Act gave constitutional recognition to the panchayats (rural local governments) by adding a new part 9 and a new schedule 11 to the constitution.
- Similarly the 74th Amendment Act gave constitutional recognition to the municipalities (urban local governments) by adding a new part 9-A and an New schedule 12 to the constitution.
- Cooperative Societies – The 97th constitutional amendment act of 2011 give a Constitutional status and protection to cooperative societies. It made the following three changes in the Constitution :
- Right to form co-operative societies becomes a fundamental rights (Article 19).
- It included a new DPSP on promotion of co-operative societies (Article 43 – B).
- It also added a new Part in the Constitution as 9-B which is entitled as “The cooperative societies” (Article 243 ZH to 243 ZT).
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