The features of the Indian Constitution are:
The Longest Written Constitution
It is the lengthiest written constitution is often compared to an elephant (Elephantine constitution) due to its size.
The things that make the constitution bulky are the incorporation of provisions such as the Public Service Commission, elections, All India service, Organization of Legislature, Executive and Judiciary of the Union and the state, etc.
The original constitution that presented on 26th January 1950 consisted of 395 articles divided is divided into 22 parts and 8 schedules.
Currently, it is 448 articles divided into 24 parts and 12 schedules.
Although the last article of the constitution is Article 395.
The total number of articles in March 2013 is 448.
The new articles are added to the constitution without disturbing the original numbering order.
As of March 2013, there were 98 amendments to the constitution which was first enacted in 1950.
There was a debate between choosing the form of government during the independence between Parliamentary form or Presidential form.
The Presidential form of government was not chosen as there was the separation of powers between the Legislature and Executive, which may result in a fight between the two, and the newly formed country cannot be good for such conflicts.
Parliamentary form of government or Cabinet form was chosen, which is based on Britain’s Westminster model with a nominal and a real executive.
As India is a republic, the country adopted an elective president who became the nominal executive acting as the head of the state (country) and the real power was vested in the real executive consisting of the council of ministers headed by the Prime Minister. Similar to Britain.
“The real executive is directly responsible individually and collectively to the parliament for acts of commissions and omissions”.
India enacted the Democracy form of government, election to held every 5 years with certain basic freedoms.
A Combination of Flexibility and Rigidity
It is a combination of flexibility and rigidity in amending the constitution.
The intelligent balance between flexibility and rigidity depends upon whether a law to be amended is a constitutional law or an ordinary law.
Only a few provisions of the constitution that require ratification by not less than 1/2 of the state legislature besides 2/3 majority in both the houses of Parliament present and voting.
With a special majority some of not less than 2/3 in both upper and lower house of the Parliament present and voting for amending some provisions of the constitution.
Some provisions such as changes in names, boundaries of the state, abolition or creation of the second chamber of a state legislature, etc can be modified or changed by a simple majority.
Enforcement of Constitution
Some provisions came into force on November 26, 1949, itself such as provisions regarding citizenship, elections, provisional parliamentary, temporary and transitional provisions, and short titles which are present in Article 5, Article 6, Article7 Article 8, Article 9, Article 60, Article 324, Article 366, Article 367, Article 379, Article 380, Article 388, Article 391, Article 392, and Article 393.
Then the majority of the remaining provisions came into force on January 26, 1950.
A Statement of Fundamental Rights
The fundamental rights form the ‘sine qua non of a civic society.
Motilal Nehru Committee Report of 1928 demanded the incorporation of fundamental rights for the first time.
But the one emphatic on Fundamental rights was the Sapru Committee Report of 1944.
” The framing of fundamental rights is not only necessary for giving assurances to the minorities but also for preserving standards of conduct for the legislature, government, and the courts.”
The fundamental rights are not absolute.
There were seven fundamental rights in 1950, right to property was deleted from the list of fundamental lists and placed under statute by the 44th amendment of 1978.
In 2002, by the 86th amendment, education is made a fundamental right by the Parliament and added as Article 21A.
On April 1, 2010, the Right of Children to free and compulsory Education Act came into force.
Currently, there are 6 fundamental rights under articles 14 to 32 in Part III of the constitution, as follows:
- Right to equality by Articles 14 to 18.
- Right to freedom of speech and expression, right to life and liberty and right to education, etc. under the articles 19, 20, 21, 21A, and 22.
- Right against exploitation by Articles 23 & 24.
- Right to freedom of religion by Articles 25 to 28.
- Cultural and educational rights by Articles 29 & 30
- Right to constitutional remedies by Articles 32 to 35.
DPSP (Directive Principles of State Policy)
Directive Principles of State Policy is a declaration of the comprehensive social, political, and economic programme of the state for the creation of a society based on justice and equality which is included in Part IV of the constitution.
DPSP is non-justiciable, which means no action can be taken against the government for non-adherence to the policies of DPSP.
However, the government must fulfill the policies mentioned in DPSP as it is considered as ‘Fundamental’ in governance or else the government must face the wrath of people as observed by Ambedkar.
DPSP acts as a guide to the government.
DPSP is inspired by Gandhian, Socialist, and liberal principles.
Some of its principles are the abolition of liquor, the abolition of cow slaughter, right to adequate means of livelihood, equal pay for equal work, uniform civil code throughout the country, separation of the executive from judiciary, etc.
The founders of the constitution chose the federal form of government, which is the state government and central government.
The power and authority are divided between the Central and State government for administrative convenience.
‘both are mutually exclusive yet interdependent’
There are three lists in the division of powers that are the Union List, State List, and Concurrent List.
The Union Government or Central government has more power and authority, it has over 97 subjects, which are Defence, Science, and Technology, Home, Atomic Energy, etc.
The State government has over 66 subjects such as education, health, family planning, etc
The concurrent list, the Union, and the state’s shares over 47 subjects such as Marriage, contract based on mutual consent and consultation, divorce, etc.
Indian constitution is fully federal because the residuary power is with the union by the states, the centre has the power to supersede a state government.
Also, the president has the power to withdraw to the Union, executive, and legislative power of a state at any time, if state administration is not properly carried out by Article 356.
Due to the dual nature of the Indian constitution, it is considered partly federal and partly unitary (Quasi Federal).
Indian constitution is a combination of both, by Alexandrowiez.
For the purpose of Judicial independence, the Judiciary system is kept at a distance from the Executive and Legislature.
The makers of the constitution thought that the Executive and Legislature might manipulate the Judiciary to its advantage, as the Legislature does the process of law-making and the executive does the process of the law implementation.
In order to get the public confidence, and to ensure impartiality of decisions, the judiciary is made independent of Legislature and Executive.
For this reason, the salaries of the Judicial Department are not charged from the government but it is charged from the Consolidated Fund of India (CFI).
A corpus of 50 crores is enhanced from time to time.
By this one of the tenets of Directive Principles of the State Policy (DPSP) is fulfilled.
It means ultimate sovereign power in the hands of the people, changed periodically by way of Universal Adult Franchise.
This system enables Universal Adult Suffrage, in which all eligible adult citizens of the country exercise their vote by a single non-transferable vote to elect a government of their choice.
A party or the parties that win the majority form the government and the others form the opposition.
Earlier, the minimum age for voting in India was 21, and now it is 18 years as per the 61st constitution Amendment Act, 1988.
Some argued that uneducated people should not be given the right to vote but the constitution-makers felt all the people were equally responsible in India attaining independence irrespective of caste, religion, sex, education, etc.
During the 1950 general election, out of 180 million adult population, only 88 million people put their vote.