Salient Features of the Indian Constitution
- After researching all prior constitutions, the Indian Constitution, which is widely regarded as one of the most admired in the world, was adopted. We established a constitution that has stood the test of time. Despite borrowing from almost every other constitution in the world, the Indian Constitution is unique in both content and spirit.
- The Indian Constitution has the following salient features:
- 1. A blend of rigidity and flexibility,
- 2. A federal system with a Unitary bias, and
- 3. The parliamentary system of government,
- 4. A Judiciary that is both integrated and independent,
- 5. Fundamental Rights,
- 6. State Policy Directive Principles,
- 7. Fundamental Duties,
- 8. Secularism, and
- 9. Universal Adult Franchise.
The Longest Written Constitution
- The Indian Constitution is one of the world’s most detailed constitutions. Our Constitution contains 12 schedules and 448 articles.
- The Indian Constitution incorporates various articles drawn from various constitutions around the world. Given India’s diversity, a sufficiently long Constitution was required to incorporate various provisions to accommodate various differences.
- The drafters of the Constitution felt compelled to include provisions that give special consideration to states such as Assam, Mizoram, and Nagaland. Many provisions were also included to help the Scheduled Castes and Tribes, which is why the bill is so long.
Drawn From Various Sources
- The majority of the Indian Constitution’s clauses were derived from other countries’ constitutions as well as the Government of India Act 5 of 1935.
- Dr. B.R. Ambedkar declared proudly that the Indian Constitution was written after “ransacking all known Constitutions of the World.”
- The Government of India Act of 1935 has had a significant impact on the Constitution’s structural elements.
- The Constitution’s philosophical sections (the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy) are based on the American and Irish constitutions, respectively.
- The British Constitution heavily influenced the political aspects of the Constitution (the concept of Cabinet Government and the relationships between the Executive and the Legislature).
- Other parts of the Constitution were inspired by the constitutions of Canada, Australia, Germany, the former Soviet Union (now Russia), France, South Africa, Japan, and others.
- The most significant impact and material source of the Constitution was the Government of India Act, of 1935.
- The Federal Scheme, Judiciary, Governors, Emergency Powers, Public Service Commissions, and the majority of administrative details are derived from this Act.
- The Act of 1935 is similar or closely related to more than half of the provisions in the Constitution.
Blend Of Rigidity And Flexibility
- The Indian Constitution is neither rigid nor flexible. But it’s a hybrid of the two. Article 368 provides for two types of amendments: amendments by special majority, i.e. a two-thirds majority of the members of each House present and voting, and amendments by majority (50%) of the total membership of each House.
- Other provisions may be amended by a special majority of the Parliament and ratification by half of the states.
Federal System With A Unitary Bias
- The Indian Constitution is a federation with a strong centralization tendency. India’s constitution is neither federal nor unitary, but rather a hybrid of the two.
- The division of powers is not equal. The center wields more power than the states, as evidenced by the fact that the Union list contains more items than the State list.
- Federations, such as the United States of America, have the right to write their own constitutions, which is not possible in India because the entire country follows a single constitution.
- There is a single court system that enforces both central and state laws.
- There is no equal representation of states in the Houses of Parliament, which is not the case in federations such as the United States of America.
- It is a written Constitution that is an essential feature of any country that adheres to the federal system.
- The Constitution’s supremacy is always guaranteed.
Parliamentary Form Of Government
- The framers of the Constitution preferred a parliamentary form of government. Confrontations between the executive and the legislature could not be tolerated in our newly formed democracy.
- This could only happen if they were separate and independent of one another.
- The President of India is the constitutional head of the Union Executive, but he exercises executive power on the advice of the Union Council of Ministers.
- The real executive power thus rests with the Council of Ministers, which is led by the Prime Minister.
- The Lok Sabha holds the Council of Ministers collectively accountable. The relationship between the Governors and the Council of Ministers in the States is similar.
Integrated And Independent Judiciary
- The Judiciary ensures that the Constitution works properly and that various provisions of the Constitution are enforced.
- The framers of the Constitution mandated that the judiciary be independent and thus unbiased.
- Judges are appointed independently, with no involvement from executive authorities.
- Judges’ terms of office are secure.
- The removal of judges from their positions must also be grounded in constitutional provisions.
The Indian Constitution guarantees six fundamental rights
- Right to Equality (Article 14-18)
- Right to Freedom (Article 19-22)
- Right against Exploitation (Article 23-24)
- Right to Freedom of Religion (Article 25-28)
- Cultural and Educational Rights (Article 29-30)
- Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)
Directive Principles Of State Policy
- The Directive Principles of State Policy are addressed in Part IV of the Indian Constitution.
- Every state is responsible for applying these principles when enacting new legislation.
- The Directive Principles of State Policy are analogous to the ‘Instrument of Instructions’ in the Government of India Act 1935.
- They are essentially instructions to the legislature and executive that must be followed when the State draughts new legislation.
- The Swaran Singh Committee of 1976 added 11 Fundamental Duties to the constitution by creating a new Part-IVA and Article 51A.
- Following the internal emergency of 1975, the Swaran Singh Committee was formed in 1976 to recommend the addition of a list of Fundamental Duties that every citizen of India should follow.
- The 11 Fundamental Duties impose a moral obligation on every Indian citizen, and they are non-justiciable in nature, which means that one cannot sue if someone fails to fulfill their duty as an Indian citizen.
- The new Part IVA with Article 51A was added to the Indian Constitution, and it was inspired by the Soviet Constitution.
- The Indian Constitution represents a secular state, which values all religions equally.
- It also does not recognize any specific religion as the official state religion. Secularism in the Western sense denotes a complete separation of religion and the state.
- This concept is irrelevant in India, where the society is multireligious.
- As a result, the Indian Constitution embodies the positive concept of secularism, namely, equal respect for all religions and equal protection for all religions.
Universal Adult Franchise
- The concept of Universal Adult Franchise/Adult Suffrage gives every Indian citizen over the age of eighteen the right to vote in democratic elections.
- Any adult who is eligible to vote should not face discrimination based on gender, caste, or religion.
- This provision was added as part of the 61st Amendment, also known as the Constitution Act of 1988, which reduced the voting age from 21 to 18.
- This right is guaranteed by Article 326 of the Indian Constitution.
- Despite the fact that the Indian Constitution is federal in nature and envisions a dual polity (Centre and states), it only provides for one type of citizenship: Indian citizenship.
- In India, all citizens, regardless of birth or residence state, have the same political and civil rights as all other citizens, and no distinction is made between them.
- Despite the constitutional guarantee of single citizenship and equal rights for all citizens, India has experienced sectarian riots, class battles, caste warfare, language clashes, and ethnic conflicts.
- This suggests that the Constitution’s long-held goal of establishing a cohesive and integrated Indian country has not been fully realized.
- In addition to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, the Indian Constitution creates some autonomous entities (both central and state).
- The Constitution envisions them as the foundation of India’s democratic form of government.
- They are as follows:
- The Election Commission.
- Comptroller and Auditor-General.
- The Union Public Service Commission.
- The State Public Service Commission.
- A Preamble begins the Indian Constitution. The Preamble outlines the Constitution’s goals, objectives, and basic principles. The Preamble’s intentions influenced the key components of the Constitution, both directly and indirectly. According to the needs of the country, our Constitution has incorporated the best features of the majority of the world’s major constitutions. Despite borrowing from virtually every other country’s constitution, India’s constitution contains numerous distinguishing features that set it apart from others. constitutions.
Criticism of the Indian Constitution
- According to critics, the Indian Constitution is overly long and complex, with unnecessary provisions. Sir Ivor Jennings, a British constitutionalist, observed that the borrowed provisions were not always well-chosen and that the Constitution was, in general, excessively long and convoluted. It was even thoroughly debated in the constituent assembly, with constructive criticism directed at each article individually.
Grounds for Criticism of the Indian Constitution
Not a Representative Body
- Critics argue that the Constituent Assembly was not a representative assembly because its members were not directly elected by Indians using the universal adult franchise.
It was not a Sovereign Body
- The Constituent Assembly, critics claimed, was not a sovereign body because it was formed by British government proposals. They also claimed that the Assembly was authorized by the British government.
- The Congress party, according to critics, dominated the Constituent Assembly.
- “The Constituent Assembly was a one-party body in an essentially one-party country,” said Granville Austin, a British constitutional expert. The Assembly was the Congress, and the Congress was India”.
- Few critics claimed that Hindus dominated the Constituent Assembly.
- “A body of Hindus,” according to Lord Viscount Simon.
- “India is only one big community,” Winston Churchill said of the Constituent Assembly.
- Many detractors believe that the Indian Constitution contains nothing new or unique. Critics referred to it as a “borrowed Constitution,” a “bag of borrowings,” a “hotch-potch Constitution,” or a “patchwork” of several world constitutions.
- Answering this criticism in the Constituent Assembly, Dr B.R. Ambedkar said “One likes to ask whether there can be anything new in a Constitution framed at this hour in the history of the world”.
A Carbon Copy of the 1935 Act
- According to critics, the authors of the Indian Constitution incorporated a large number of clauses from the Government of India Act of 1935. As a result, the Constitution is known as a “Carbon Copy of the 1935 Act” or a “Amended Version of the 1935 Act”.
- According to Prof. N. Srinivasan, the Indian Constitution is “a close copy of the Act of 1935” in both language and substance.
- Sir Ivor Jennings, a British Constitutionalist mentioned that “the Constitution derives directly from the Government of India Act of 1935 from which many of its provisions are copied almost textually”.
- “The Constitution is essentially the Government of India Act of 1935 with adult franchise added,” P.R. Deshmukh observed.
Anti-Indian or un-Indian
- Another criticism is that the Indian Constitution is “un-Indian” or “anti-Indian” because it does not reflect India’s political traditions and spirit. They claimed that the foreign nature of the Constitution rendered it unsuitable for Indian conditions or unworkable in India.
- “We wanted the music of Veena or Sitar, but here we have the music of an English band,” said K. Hanumanthaiah, a member of the Constituent Assembly. That was because our Constitution-makers were educated that way”.
- Lokanath Misra, a member of the Constituent Assembly, commented the Constitution as a “slavish imitation of the west, much more – a slavish surrender to the west”.
- “The ideals on which this draught Constitution is framed have no manifest relation to the fundamental spirit of India,” said Lakshminarayan Sahu, a member of the Constituent Assembly. This Constitution would be ineffective and would fail soon after it was implemented.”
An Un-Gandhian Constitution
- According to critics, the Indian Constitution is un-Gandhian because it lacks the ideology and principles of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the Indian nation. They thought the Constitution should have been founded on village and district panchayats.
- “That is exactly the kind of Constitution Mahatma Gandhi did not want or envision,” said K. Hanumanthaiah.
- According to T. Prakasam, a member of the Constituent Assembly, Ambedkar’s non-participation in the Gandhian movement and his hostility to Gandhian beliefs caused this lapse.
- At the time of its creation, the Indian Constitution contained approximately 145,000 words and 395 articles. This was the longest constitution in the world. Written between 1947 and 1950.
- According to critics, the Indian Constitution is overly long and complex, with unnecessary elements. Sir Ivor Jennings, a British constitutionalist, observed that the borrowed provisions were not always well chosen and that the Constitution was, in general, excessively long and complicated.
- “The emblem and crest that we have chosen for our assembly is an elephant,” said H.V. Kamath, a member of the Constituent Assembly. It is perhaps in consonance with that our constitution too is the bulkiest that the world has produced”.
Paradise of the Lawyers
- The Indian Constitution, according to critics, is overly legalistic and complicated. They claimed that the Constitution’s legal jargon and phraseology make it difficult to comprehend.
- A “lawyer’s paradise,” according to British Constitutionalist Sir Ivor Jennings.
- In this context, H.K. Maheswari, a member of the Constituent Assembly, observed: “The draught tends to make people more litigious, more inclined to go to law courts, less truthful and less likely to follow the methods of truth and non-violence. If I may say so, the draught is a lawyer’s dream come true. It opens up vast avenues of litigation and will give our able and ingenious lawyers plenty of work to do”.
- The Constituent Assembly, according to critics, was dominated by lawyers and politicians. They claimed that other aspects of society were underrepresented. They believe that this is the primary reason for the Constitution’s length and complexity of language.
- Many of the criticisms, however, are unfair and illogical. This is due to the framers of the Constitution making necessary changes to characteristics adopted from other constitutions in order to make them suitable for Indian conditions while avoiding their flaws.
- On the same lines, all constitutions around the world must be founded on certain fundamental and similar principles. Given these considerations, all Constitutions must contain the same primary provisions.
- “As to the accusation that the Draft Constitution has reproduced a good part of the provisions of the Government of India Act, 1935, I make no apologies,” Dr. B.R. Ambedkar said in response to criticism about the copy of the 1935 Act.
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