Constitution is a document of people’s faith and aspirations possessing a special legal sanctity. All the other laws and customs of the country must conform to it in order to be valid. The Constitution of India was enforced on January 26, 1950 which contained 395 Articles, 8 schedules and 22 parts. It is the lengthiest written constitution of the world. At present, the Constitution contains 448 articles in 25 parts and 12 schedules. The Constitution has undergone several amendments from time to time. For instance, many changes were made under the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976. Sources of the Indian Constitution
Following are the features of the Constitution borrowed from different countries:
• Nominal Head – President (like Queen)
• Cabinet System of Ministers
• Post of PM
• Parliamentary Type of Govt.
• Bicameral Parliament
• Lower House more powerful
• Council of Ministers responsible to Lower House
• Speaker in Lok Sabha
• Written Constitution
• Executive head of state known as President and his being the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces
• Vice-President as the ex-officio Chairman of Rajya Sabha
• Fundamental Rights
• Supreme Court
• Provision of States
• Independence of Judiciary and judicial review
• Removal of Supreme Court and High Court Judges
• Fundamental Duties
• Five year Plan
• Concurrent list
• Language of the preamble
• Laws on which the Supreme Court functions
From WEIMAR CONSTITUION OF GERMANY
• Suspension of Fundamental Rights during the emergency
• Scheme of federation with a strong centre
• Distribution of powers between centre and the states
• And placing residuary powers with the centre
• Concept of Directive Principles of States Policy (Ireland borrowed it from SPAIN)
• Method of election of President
• Nomination of members in the Rajya Sabha by the President
Salient Features of the Constitution
Single Constitution for both Union and States: India has a single Constitution for Union and all the States. The Constitution promotes the unity and convergence of the ideals of nationalism. Single Constitution empowers only the Parliament of India to make changes in the Constitution. It empowers the Parliament even to create a new state or abolish an existing state or alter its boundaries.
Sources of the Constitution: The Indian Constitution has borrowed provisions from various countries and modified them according to the suitability and requirements of the country. The structural part of the Constitution of India has been derived from the Government of India Act, 1935. The provisions such as Parliamentary System of Government and Rule of Law have been adopted from the United Kingdom.
Rigidity and Flexibility: The Constitution of India is neither rigid nor flexible. A Rigid Constitution means that the special procedures are required for its amendments whereas a Flexible Constitution is one in which the constitution can be amended easily.
Secular State: The term secular state means that all the religions present in India get equal protection and support from the state. In addition; it provides equal treatment to all religions by the government and equal opportunities for all religions.
Federalism in India: The Constitution of India provides for division of power between the Union and the State governments. It also fulfils some other features of the federalism such as the rigidity of the constitution, written constitution, bicameral legislature, independent judiciary and supremacy of the constitution. Thus, India has a Federal System with unitary bias.
Parliamentary Form of Government: India has a Parliamentary Form of Government. India has a Bicameral Legislature with two houses named Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. In Parliamentary Form of Government; there is no clear cut separation of powers of Legislative and Executive organs. In India; the head of the government is Prime Minister.
Single Citizenship: Constitution of India provides for single citizenship to every individual in the country. No state in India can discriminate against an individual of another state. Moreover, in India, an individual has the right to move to any part of the country or live anywhere in the territory of India except certain places.
Integrated and Independent Judiciary: The Constitution of India provides for an integrated and independent judicial system. The Supreme Court is the highest court of India with authority over all the other courts in India followed by high courts, district courts, and lower courts. To protect the Judiciary from any influence, the Constitution has laid down certain provisions such as Security of Tenure and Fixed Service Conditions for judges etc.
Directive Principles of State Policy: Part IV (Articles 36 to 50) of the Constitution mentions the Directive Principles of State Policy. These are non-justifiable in nature and are broadly classified into Socialistic, Gandhian, and Liberal-intellectual.
Fundamental Duties: These were added to the Constitution by 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act (1976). A new Part IV-A was created for the purpose and 10 duties were incorporated under Article 51-A. The provision reminds the citizens that while enjoying rights, they should also perform their duties.
Universal Adult Franchise: In India, every citizen who is above the age of 18 years has right to vote without any discrimination on the ground of caste, race, religion, sex, literacy etc. Universal adult franchise removes social inequalities and maintains the principle of political equality to all the citizens.
Emergency Provisions: The President is empowered to take certain steps to tackle any extraordinary situation to maintain the sovereignty, security, unity, and integrity of the nation. The states become totally subordinate to the Central Government when emergency is imposed. According to the need; emergency can be imposed in parts or whole of the country.
The Constitution of India thus stands as an embodiment of democracy, fundamental rights, and decentralization of power to the lowest or to the grass-root level. In order to protect against any possible dilution of these powers and rights, it has set up the Supreme Court to function as the guardian of the Constitution with the power to invalidate any legislation or executive act if it violates the Constitution and thus affirm and enforce the supremacy of the Constitution.