Important amendment 7th, 42nd, 44th, 73rd, 74th and 97th Amendments. In fact, the 42nd Amendment Act (1976) is known as the "Mini-Constitution' due to the important and large number of changes made by it in various parts of the Constitution. However, in the Kesavananda Bharati easel (1973), the Supreme Court ruled that the constituent power of Parliament under Article 368 does not enable it to alter the "basic structure' of the.
Salient Features of the Constitution
Lengthiest Written Constitution
It is the lengthiest constitution in the world. Originally (1949), the Constitution contained a Preamble, 395 Articles (divided into 22 Parts) and 8 Schedules. Presently (2016), it consists of a Preamble, about 465 Articles (divided into 25 Parts) and 12 Schedules.
Drawn From Various Sources
Dr B R Ambedkar proudly acclaimed that the Constitution of India has been framed after ransacking all the known Constitutions of the World'. The structural part of the Constitution is, to a large extent, derived from the Government of India Act of 1935.
Blend of Rigidity and Flexibility
The Constitution of India is neither rigid nor flexible but a synthesis of both. Article 368 provides for two types of amendments:
- Some provisions can be amended by a special majority of the Parliament, i.e., a two-thirds majority of the members of each House present and voting, and a majority (that is, more than 50 per cent), of the total membership of each House.
- Some other provisions can be amended by a special majority of the Parliament and with the ratification by half of the total states.
Federal System with Unitary Bias
- The Constitution of India establishes a federal system of government. It contains all the usual features of a federation, viz., two government, a division of powers, a written Constitution, the supremacy of the Constitution, the rigidity of the Constitution, independent judiciary and bicameralism.
- The Indian Constitution also contains a large number of unitary or non-federal features, viz., a strong Centre, single Constitution, single citizenship, flexibility of Constitution, integrated judiciary,
- The Indian Constitution has been variously described as federal in form but unitary in spirit’, "quasi-federal by KC Where, "bargaining federalism’ by Morris Jones, co-operative federalism’ by Granville Austin, ‘federation with a centralising tendency’ by Ivor Jennings, and so on.
Parliamentary Form of Government
The parliamentary system is based on the principle of cooperation and coordination between the legislative and executive organs while the presidential system is based on the doctrine of separation of powers between the two organs. The parliamentary system is also known as the 'Westminster model of government, responsible government and cabinet government. The Constitution establishes the parliamentary system not only at the Centre but also in the states. The features of parliamentary government in India are:
- Presence of nominal and real executives;
- Majority party rule, Collective responsibility of the executive to the legislature,
- Membership of the ministers in the legislature
- Leadership of the prime minister or the chief minister,
- Dissolution of the Lower House (Lok Sabha or Assembly).
Synthesis of Parliamentary Sovereignty and Judicial Supremacy
- The doctrine of the sovereignty of Parliament is associated with the British Parliament while the principle of judicial supremacy with that of the American Supreme Court.
- Just as the Indian parliamentary system differs from the British system, the scope of judicial review power of the Supreme Court in India is narrower than that of what exists in the US. This is because the American Constitution provides for 'due process of law' against that of procedure established by law' contained in the Indian Constitution (Article 21).
- Therefore, the framers of the Indian Constitution have preferred a proper synthesis between the British principle of parliamentary sovereignty and the American principle of judicial supremacy.
Integrated and Independent Judiciary
- The Indian Constitution establishes a judicial system that is integrated as well as independent.
- The Supreme Court stands at the top of the integrated judicial system in the country. Below it, there are high courts at the state level.
- Under a high court, there is a hierarchy of subordinate courts, that is, district courts and other lower courts.
- The Supreme Court is a federal court, the highest court of appeal, the guarantor of the fundamental rights of the citizens and the guardian of the Constitution.
Universal Adult Franchise
Universal Adult Franchise
- The Indian Constitution adopts universal adult franchise as a basis of elections to the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies. Every citizen who is not less than 18 years of age has a right to vote without any discrimination of caste, race, religion, sex, literacy, wealth, and so on. The voting age was reduced to 18 years from 21 years in 1989 by the 61st Constitutional Amendment Act of 1988.
- Universal adult franchise makes democracy broad-based, enhances the self-respect and prestige of the common people, upholds the principle of equality, enables minorities to protect their interests and opens up new hopes and vistas for weaker sections.
A secular State covered in the Preamble chapter.
Independent bodies covered in the Constitutional bodies chapter.
Emergency Provision, Singh Citizenship.
DPSP, Fundamental Duties, Three-tier Government.