W hat are the salient features of the Constitution of India?
There are 25 basic features of Indian constitution Salient Features of our Constitution: The Constitution of India is a lengthy written document. It is flexible to some extent. Its salient features can be understood from the following parts of the constitution: I. The Preamble II. The Articles (395 in number divided into 22 parts) III. The Schedules (12 in number in A.D. 2000) IV. The Appendix and V. The Amendments (83 in number in A.D. 2000)
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The Preamble, the preface to the constitution, describes the source nature, ideology, goals and objectives of the constitution. It describes India as a sovereign socialist, secular, democratic republic and underlines the national objective of social, economic and political justice as well as fraternity. It emphasises the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation. It declares that in India the people are sovereign.
2. Written Constitution:
There are two types of constitutions in the world. Most of the constitutions are written. The first modern written constitution was the American constitution. On the other hand, the British constitution is unwritten. It consists of customs and conventions which have grown over the years. In India, we have a written constitution. The framers of our constitution tried to put everything in black and white.
3. Longest Constitution:
The Constitution of India is the longest one in the world. Originally it had 395 Articles and 8 schedules.During the period since 1950 a few Articles have been deleted, but many more have been added through amendments.
Today the constitution has 395 Articles and 12 schedules. However there is a view that the constitution today has 444 Articles. Originally the constitution had 22 parts. Now it has 24 parts.
4. Partly Rigid, Partly Flexible:
Some provisions of the Constitution of India can be amended by the Indian Parliament with simple majority. The amendment of most other provisions of the constitution requires a special majority in both houses of the parliament. There are some other provisions of constitution which cannot be amended by the parliament alone.
In case of such provision the amending bill has first to be approved by both houses of parliament by a special majority (with the support of two-thirds of the members of each house present and voting). Then it has to be ratified by the legislatures of at least half of the states of India.
These different amendment procedures make our constitution partly flexible and rigid. In fact, there is a balance between rigidity and flexibility in our constitution.
5. Parliamentary Democracy:
In India, there is a parliamentary form of govern The majority party in the Lower House (Lok Sabha) forms government. The Council Ministers is responsible to the Lok Sabha. The Cabinet is the real executive head. In Presidential form of government, the President is the executive head. In India, the President is only the nominal head.
6. Role of Conventions:
Though India has a very detailed constitution, there is some scope for conventions to influence its functioning. On some vital issues constitution is silent and one has to depend upon well-established parliament conventions on such occasions.
For example, the constitution does not say whether government, defeated on a 'snap vote' in the Lok Sabha, will be required to resign whether the recommendation of a defeated government for the dissolution of the Sabha is to be accepted by the President of India.
7. Federal Government with Unitary Bias:
India is a federation, although word 'federation' does not find a place in the whole text of the Indian Constitution. The elements of federation are present in the Indian Constitution. It is a written and rigid constitution.
There is dual polity and there is constitutional division of powers between the centre and the states. The Supreme Court arbitrates the disputes between the centre and the states.
All these provisions make India a federation. But in Indian Federation, the centre is strong as compared to the slates. The centre has more financial powers and the states largely depend upon it for their economic development.
8. Fundamental Rights:
The Fundamental Rights are guaranteed to the individuals by our constitution. These are enumerated in Part III of the constitution.
The six fundamental rights are - (1) Right to Equality, (2) Right to Freedom, (3) Right against Exploitation, (4) Right to Freedom of Religion, (5) Cultural and Educational Rights and (6) Right to Constitutional Remedies. The Fundamental Rights are subject to some restrictions.
9. Directive Principles of State Policy:
The Directive Principles of State Policy are enumerated in Part IV of the constitution. They are instructions or directives from the constitution to the state and the government. It is the duty of the government to implement them.
Originally there were 20 Directive Principles. Three more were added by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976. Thus, in total, there are now 23 Directive Principles.
10. An Independent and Integrated Judiciary:
The judiciary in India is independent and impartial. It is an integrated judiciary with the Supreme Court at the apex of the hierarchy. The High Courts stand in its middle, and the lower courts are located at its bottom.
The Judges security of tenure and it is extremely difficult to remove any Judge of the Supreme or of the High Court through impeachment.
The Supreme Court has the power of Judicial Review. It has the power to declare acts of legislatures and actions of the Executive ultra vires if such acts or actions are found to be in conflict with the provisions of the constitution.
11. Universal Franchise:
Article 326 of the Constitution of India provides universal adult suffrage. The voting age has now come down from 21 to 18. Anybody who has completed 18 years of age is eligible to vote in general elections. This is one of the most revolutionary aspects of Indian democracy.
India is a secular state. Although the 42nd Amendment Act, inserted the word 'secular' in the Preamble to the constitution, India has been secularism since independence.
India is a country of several religions and each individual has fundamental profess any religion he likes. The state cannot force him to accept any specific India is a secular state. In India, there is no State Religion. In matters relating to the state is neutral and non-interfering. It does not patronize any religion. Nor discriminate against any religion.
13. Single Citizenship:
In the United States of America, there is double citizenship. An American is a citizen of America and at the same time he is also a citizen of the 50 States of America. In India, there is only single citizenship. An Indian is a citizen of India only. S/he is not a citizen of any Indian state.
14. Fundamental Duties:
Fundamental Duties did not form part of the constitution. Ten Fundamental Duties were inserted in Part IV of the constitution 42nd Amendment Act, 1976. Some of the important Fundamental Duties are:
(1) To abide by the constitution and respect the ideals and institutions, the national flag and the national anthem; (2) To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India; (3) To defend the country and render national service; (4) To protect and improve the natural environment; (5) To safeguard public property and to abjure violence.
A new Article - Article 51-A enumerates ten Fundamental Duties. These duties are assigned only to citizens and not to aliens. These duties are not justifiable, but, in case of conflict, they will prevail over Fundamental Rights.
15. Welfare State:
Our constitution aims at building a Welfare State and provides for development of weaker and depressed sections of the society. It underlines the need of improving the conditions of women, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes who have remained neglected for long.
Our constitution is opposed to concentration of wealth and means of production. Workers should be involved in management and they should get fair wages. Children should not be exposed to hazards.
16. Democratic System:
Our constitution lays a lot of emphasis on democratic values, and a number of democratic institutions have been established to give shape to these values. The centre, states and local self-governing bodies follow democratic principles, and all elections from gram panchayat to parliament are democratically held.
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