Salient Features of the Indian Constitution: The Constitution is a body of legislation that specifies how different bodies within a state, such as the executive, legislature, and judiciary, work together. Not every country has a written constitution. The Indian Constitution has been one of the longest and most comprehensive constitutions in the world. The Constitution contains 12 schedules and 448 articles. Many articles from various constitutions throughout the globe have been integrated into the Indian Constitution. And since we all understand exactly, India is a tremendously varied country, necessitating the creation of a lengthy Constitution with several provisions to accommodate the varying distinctions.
Salient Features of the Indian Constitution
Here are some of the salient features of our Constitution:
When it comes to counting salient features of the Indian Constitution, Preamble is the first thing that comes to the mind of a person. Our Constitution’s Preamble declares India being a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, and republic nation. The Preamble also contains a number of additional provisions that guarantee equality and safeguard individuals. Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity are a few of the principles. The essence of the Indian union and the goals it is dedicated to achieving for the people are described in the Preamble. It summarises the essence of the State and the goals it is dedicated to achieving for the people.
The 42nd amendment adds the terms “secular” and “socialist” to the Preamble. In the case of S.R Bommai vs Union of India, it was decided that “religion has no role in affairs of state” and that secularism has been one of the Constitution’s core elements. In the well-known decision of Indira Nehru Gandhi vs Shri Raj Narain & Anr, the Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot discriminate against citizens based on their religion. The 42nd amendment includes the term socialist. In the decision of Samantha vs. State of Andhra Pradesh, it was said that the word socialist is used to reduce inequality in wealth and position, as well as to offer equal opportunity and amenities.
Fundamental rights are addressed in Part III of the Indian Constitution. Citizens are protected by fundamental rights from the state’s arbitrary and absolute use of authority. People have rights both against the state and against other individuals, according to the Constitution. Minorities’ rights against the majority are likewise protected under the Constitution. It protects the rights to equality, liberty, and religious freedom, as well as the rights to protection from exploitation, education, and cultural rights, as well as the right to constitutional remedies. In the event of a breach of fundamental rights, anybody can directly reach the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution.
Right to Equality: The right to equality is guaranteed under Article 14 of the Indian Constitution, which also encompasses the rule of law. Article 14 applies not just to citizens, but also to companies and foreign nationals. In the judgment of St. Stephen’s College vs. The University of Delhi, it was stated that the state must offer equal protection of the laws to all citizens and non-citizens in this area, and that nobody should be refused such protection.
Discrimination on the basis of caste, race, religion, sex, or place of birth is prohibited under Article 15. In the case of Dasaratha Rama Rao vs. State of Andhra Pradesh, it was decided that Article 15 is a specific application of Article 14’s basic right to equality. In a matter like Vishaka vs. the State of Rajasthan, the principle of gender equality granted by Article 15 was also addressed.
Right to Freedom: It includes six essential freedoms: freedom of speech and expression, freedom to organise associations, freedom to congregate peacefully without arms, freedom to move free in India, freedom to live in any region of the country, and freedom to pursue any profession, trade, or vocation. It provides personal liberty and protection in the event of a conviction for a specific crime.
The Constitution stipulates that one’s right to life and liberty can only be abridged or denied in line with legal procedures. The right to education for children aged 6 to 14 years has now been recognised under Art 21A. The right to be free from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment is guaranteed under Article 22.
Right against exploitation: The selling and purchasing of human beings, forced labour (begaar), and the employment of children in dangerous jobs and industries are all prohibited under this Fundamental Right.
Freedom of Religion: The right to religious liberty entails the freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and worship. Any religion can be practised by anyone. It guarantees that all religions have the right to form and sustain religious organisations.
Article 51A of the Constitution of India outlines a number of basic responsibilities. Even though there are no particular laws in the courts to uphold fundamental duties, such as fundamental rights, it is nevertheless vital to observe the fundamental duties. It was decided in the case of AIIMS Student Union vs AIIMS that fundamental duties are just as significant as fundamental rights.
Quasi-Federal and Unitary state
The Constitution of India, as a Union of States, allows for a federal state with a unitary character. India is classified as a ‘quasi-federal,’ a ‘federation with a unitary bent,’ or even a ‘Unitarian federation.’ That is, there is a separation of powers seen between union and state governments. India is a federal state with Unitarian characteristics. This blend of federalism and unitarianism was created with the diverse character of society and also the prevalence of regional diversity in mind, as well as the necessity to ensure the nation’s peace, integrity and unity.
Independence of Judiciary
The Judiciary safeguards the Constitution’s proper operation and the implementation of its numerous provisions. The framers of the Constitution made it clear that the judiciary must be impartial and independent. The Supreme Court is regarded as democracy’s watchdog. There are many provisions that protect the judicial independence:
- The appointment of judges is done independently, with no input from the executive branch.
- Judges’ terms are set in stone.
- Judges must be removed from their positions based on constitutional principles.
There is no distinct citizenship for both the states and the central government, as there is in several federal nations such as the United States of America. Our citizens have access to a single citizenship. Articles 5 to 11 of Part 2 of the Indian Constitution deal with citizenship. Citizenship is also addressed in the Citizenship Act of 1955. Individuals with single citizenship have equal rights in several sectors of the country. Article 5 states unequivocally that the individuals shall be regarded citizens of the Indian territory, ensuring that there will be only one citizenship.
Directive Principles of State Policy
Among the most notable parts of the Indian Constitution is Part IV, which deals with the “Directive Principles of State Policy.” The Directive Principles are guidelines for the state to follow in order to achieve socio economic development goals through its policy. Both the Union and the States are responsible for putting these into action. The Directive Principles guide the state to provide adequate source of livelihood for the people, fair and equitable concentration of wealth, equality of wages in the workplace, welfare of children, women, workforce, and adolescent, pension benefits, welfare benefits, protection of the best interest of the underprivileged segments of the society, improvement of small – scale industries, rural development, international friendship and cooperation with several other states, so on and so forth. The objective is to preserve and develop India’s socio economic democracy.
Parliamentary form/ Bicameral Legislature
In our country, the Bicameral Legislature structure is practiced. In nations like Norway, the unicameral legislature is used. The unicameral legislature makes it simple to pass laws, while the bicameral legislature is more effective since there are more conversations and deliberations prior to legislation being passed. Articles 74 and 75 deal only with the Parliamentary system at the federal level, whereas Articles 163 and 164 deal with the Bicameral legislature at the state level. According to Article 74 of the Indian Constitution, the Prime Minister shall be accompanied by a Council of Ministers, which can assist and advise the President. Other aspects pertaining to Ministerial Appointments are dealt with under Article 75 of the Constitution Of india.
Rigid and Flexible at the same time
Despite the fact that India does indeed have a written constitution, it is not as strict as the American constitution. The flexibility of the system has been included into the amendment procedures. The constitution can be modified in three different ways. The technique for making changes is straightforward.
Amending India’s Constitution is the process of making changes to the country’s basic law or sovereign law. Article 368, through Part XX of the Indian Constitution, deals with the method of Constitutional Amendment. This approach ensures the Constitution of India’s integrity and keeps the Parliament of India’s misinformed authority in check.
Universal Adult Franchise
Men and women have the same right to vote. Every adult male and female over the age of eighteen years is eligible to vote. Elections are open to all voters who have registered to vote. There are no distinct electorates for persons from various ethnic groups. As a result, Universal Adult Franchise can be found in India without Communal Representation.
Basic Structure Doctrine
The basic structure doctrine, an Indian legal principle, that the Indian Constitution contains some fundamental qualities that cannot be modified or destroyed by legislative changes. The Supreme Court has not clearly stated the Constitution’s core elements. In various situations, the Courts have designated at least 20 aspects as “basic” or “fundamental,” and these features have been included into the basic framework. In the very famous case of Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, it was held that the basic structure doctrine is a part of Indian Constitution. It was shown in the cases of Indira Gandhi v. Raj Narayan and Minerva Mills case that the contention of any specific aspect of the Constitution to be a “basic” characteristic would be evaluated by the Court in every case that came before it.
Judicial Review and Activism
The Constitution is the greatest authority of India. The Supreme Court serves as the Constitution’s defender and interpreter. It is also the protector of the people’s Fundamental Rights. It uses the authority of judicial review for this purpose. The SC uses it to assess the constitutionality of all legislation passed by legislatures. It has the power to overturn any law that is judged to be unconstitutional.
Presently, the court is becoming increasingly engaged in fulfilling its social tasks. The Indian judiciary is now aggressively striving to obtain all public requirements and demands owed to them because of the state’s laws and policies, both through PILs and a more active use of its powers.
Special provisions for SCs and STs
The Constitution has particular measures to protect the rights of persons adhering to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. It establishes a reservation of seats in legislatures for individuals from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. In the Lok Sabha, the President can designate two members of the Anglo-Indian Community if he believes that this community is underrepresented in the House. Reservation of some employment for members of the SC, ST, and OBC communities has also been implemented. The reservations system was extended until 2020. Currently, a bill proposing a 33 percent reserve of legislative reservation for women is being considered for enactment.
Specific provisions of the 8th schedule in the Constitution define the Union Language, Regional Languages, and the Supreme Court and High Court Languages. It specifies that Hindi in Devnagri script will be the Union’s official language. However, it also ensures that the English language will be preserved. The official language of a state legislature might be the province’s language.
The Supreme Court and the High Court continue to use English as their official language. The Union is mandated by the Constitution to improve Hindi and encourage the use of it. The Constitution acknowledges 22 contemporary Indian languages in its Eighth Schedule.
Part XVIII of the constitution, from articles 352 to 360, contains emergency measures. These articles were included to protect the country’s sovereignty, unity, stability, and security, as well as the democratic processes and the constitution. During a situation of emergency, the federal government becomes all-powerful, and the states have total authority of the union. Without the need for an explicit amendment to the constitution, the federal system becomes unitary.
The following are some of the articles that will elaborate the emergency provisions of Indian Constitution and it will clarify further why Emergency Provisions are one of the salient features of Indian Constitution.
Article 352: This article deals with a state of emergency resulting from a war, foreign attack, or armed insurgency. National Emergency is a well-known term for this situation.
Article 356: This state of emergency has been declared owing to a breakdown in the constitutional mechanism. ‘President’s reign’ is the term for it.
Article 360: This is implemented when India’s economic security or credit is threatened.
To conclude, the Indian Constitution has all of these characteristics, making it a constitution that is appropriate for the Indian context. In both peace and conflict, the Constitution helps India organise and run its government and bureaucracy more efficiently. Preamble, Directive Principles and Fundamental Rights are the Constitution’s core framework and most important aspects.
- Jain, Mahabir Prashad. Indian constitutional law. Bombay: N.M. Tripathi, 1962.
- Subbarao, G. C. Venkata. Indian constitutional law. 2nd ed. Madras: C. Subbiah Chetty, 1971.
- Basu, Durga Das. Introduction to the Constitution of India. 2nd ed. New Delhi: Lexis Nexis Butterworths Wadhwa Nagpur, 2008.
- “Constitution of India|Legislative Department | Ministry of Law and Justice, GoI.” Legislative Department, Ministry of Law and Justice, GoI. Accessed 7 January 2022. https://legislative.gov.in/constitution-of-india.
- “India Code: Constitution of India.” India Code. Accessed 7 January 2022. https://www.indiacode.nic.in/handle/123456789/15240?locale=en.
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