What is Constitution?
Birth of the Indian Constitution
Important committees of the Constituent Assembly
The Framing of the Constitution
Main Sources of the Indian Constitution
|(1) Scheme of Federation||Canada|
|(2) Written Constitution||U.S.A|
|(3) Federal system of Government||U.S.A|
|(4) Supreme Court||U.S.A|
|(5) Fundamental Rights||U.S.A|
|(6) Judicial Review||U.S.A|
|(7) Independence of Judiciary||U.S.A|
|(9) Cabinet system||U.K|
|(10) Office of the President||U.K [British Queen]|
|(12) Rule of Law||U.K|
|(13) System of Single Citizenship||U.K|
|(14) Emergency & its effect on Fundamental Rights||Germany|
|(15) Fundamental Duties||Russia|
|(16) Directive Principles||Ireland|
|(17) Concurrent List||Australia|
It is an introduction especially of an Act of Parliament giving its objectives. It lays down the purposes for which a particular Act has been passed.
“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, have solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens.
JUSTICE, Social economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation
In our Constituent Assembly this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do Hereby ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION”.
Under the 42nd Amendment two new words ‘SOCIALIST & SECULAR’ have been inserted in the Preamble.
Significance of the Preamble to the Constitution of India:
1) The preamble represents the aspirations of the people of India.
2) The words “WE THE PEOPLE” means, the Constitution of India has been framed and enacted by the people of India. It has not been derived from any external force. Further, ‘People of India’ – refers to the elected members of Constituent Assembly.
The word Sovereign emphasizes that there is no authority outside India on which our country is in any way dependent.
4) Preamble as basic structure
The objectives specified in the Preamble contain the basic structure of the constitution. The Preamble may therefore be pressed into service to interpret the provisions.
The term democratic means that the rulers are elected by the people and derive authority to run the government.
This word was added by the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution, to bring out the concept of socialism. The inclusion of the word suggests that there would be a tendency to lean towards nationalization and State ownership of industry.
This word has also been added by the 42nd Amendment, to emphasise the secular nature of the nation. The word secular specifically means that there is no State religion.
It means absence of ‘monarchy’. All the authorities of the State are directly or indirectly elected by the people.
of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship. Liberty is an essential attribute of a free society that helps in the fullest development of intellectual, mental and spiritual faculties of an individual. The Indian Constitution guarantees six democratic freedoms to citizens under Art.19 and Right to Freedom of Religion under Arts. 25-28.
Fraternity as enshrined in the Constitution means a sense of brotherhood prevailing amongst all the sections of the people. This is sought to be achieved by making the State secular, guaranteeing fundamental and other rights equally to people of all sections and protecting their interests.
Is the Preamble a part of the Constitution?
All over the world, there are two types of government – Unitary and Federal on the basis of the nature of relations between the national government and the regional governments.
Fig: Unitary vs Federal System
In a unitary government, all the powers are vested in the national government and the regional governments derive their authority from the national government.
On the other hand, in a federal government the powers are divided between the national government and the regional government by the Constitution and both operate independently within their realm of power.
Essential characteristics of a Federal Constitution
Features of Indian Constitution:
The Framers of Indian Constitution consciously chose a unique type of governance combining some of the features of typical federal state and incorporating certain non-federal features as well to suit the Indian system.
List of Federal & Unitary Features of the Constitution
1. Lengthiest Constitution: The Indian Constitution is the lengthiest and most detailed of all the written Constitutions in the world.
The Constitution consists of approximately 395 Articles (447 articles including Clauses and Sub-clauses added over the years by way of Constitutional Amendment) divided into 26 parts and 12 Schedules.
Note: Thus, there is no Article number 400, 410, etc. The number of Articles remains at 395. However, when Clauses and Sub-clauses are added, it amounts to 447.
2. Parliamentary form of Government: We have a parliamentary form of government both at the Centre and the States. The President is the Constitutional head of the State. The real executive power is vested in the Council of Ministers whose head is the Prime Minister.
3. Directive Principles of the State Policy: The Directive Principles of State policy contained in Part IV of the Constitution set out the aims and objectives to be taken up by the States in the governance of the country. However, these rights are not justiciable.
4. Adult Suffrage: Under the Indian Constitution, every man and woman above 18 years has been given the right to elect representatives for the legislature, without imposing any qualification such as sex, property, education, etc.
5. An Independent Judiciary: Unless there is remedy, there is no right. The number of fundamental rights would prove useless, unless the rights are enforced. For this purpose, an independent and impartial judiciary with a power of judicial review has been established under the Constitution of India.
6. Secular State: A Secular State has no religion of its own as recognised religion of state. It treats all religions equally.
7. Single Citizenship: Though the Constitution of India is federal, it provides for a single citizenship for the whole of India.
8. Unique blend of rigidity and flexibility: Important provisions of the Constitution cannot be easily amended and calls for complicated and difficult procedure. Whereas, certain other provisions can be amended easily.
9. A federation with strong central tendency: The Constitution has been framed in such a manner that the Central Government has been vested with more powers as compared to the states. Also, during emergencies all powers are centralized and the Constitution acquires a unitary character.
10. Fundamental Duties: The 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 introduced a code of ten Fundamental Duties for citizens. It requires the citizens to observe certain basic norms of democratic conduct and democratic behaviour.
Note: In 2002, one more Fundamental duty was added and presently, there are eleven fundamental duties.
11. Division of powers
The Constitution has divided the powers between the Centre and the States in terms of the Union List, State List and Concurrent List. The Union List consists of 100 subjects, the State list 66 subjects and the Concurrent List has 52 subjects.
Both the centre and state can make laws on the subjects of the concurrent list, but in case of a conflict, the central law prevails. The residuary subjects (these not mentioned in any of the three lists) are given to the centre.
12. Supremacy of the Constitution
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. All laws passed by the Centre and States must be line with the provisions in the Constitution.
The Constitution provides for a bicameral legislature consisting of an upper House (Rajya Sabha) and a Lower House (Lok Sabha)
The Indian Constitution – is it truly federal?
|Features of Federal Constitution||Features found in Indian Constitution|
|a) Distribution of powers between Central & State||Yes|
|b) Supremacy of Constitution||Yes|
|c) Written Constitution||Yes|
|d) Dual Citizenship||No|
|e) Rigidity of the Constitution||No|
|f) Authority of Courts||Yes|
|g) States & Centre have equal powers||No|
|h) Equal Distribution of powers between Centre and States||No|
|i) Separate Constitution for member States||No|
Though the Indian Constitution fulfills most of the essential characteristics of a federal Constitution it cannot be called truly federal as the Centre is vested with more powers as compared to the States.
Thus, it may concluded that India is not a typical Federal State. In the words of Prof. K.C. Wheare who described the Constitution of India as ‘Quasi Federal’ remarked that Indian Union is a Unitary State with subsidiary federal features rather than a federal State with subsidiary unitary features.