The Indian Constitution was comprehensively debated and duly enacted by the Indian Constitution Assembly. The Assembly spent two years, eleven months, and eighteen days writing and enacting the Constitution. It is the longest and most detailed of all the world’s written constitutions, initially consisting of 395 articles divided into 25 parts and 12 schedules.
The constitution of India now contains 448 articles divided into 25 parts, 12 schedules, and five appendices. It is the constitution of both the Centre and the Indian Union’s states. Indeed, it is far larger than the US Constitution, which contains only seven articles, and the French Constitution, which contains 89.
Drawn from Different Sources
The Indian Constitution was derived from a variety of sources, including the Government of India Act of 1935 and other countries’ constitutions. The Government of India Act 1935 established the fundamental structure (Federal system, judiciary, governors, emergency powers, public service commissions, and administrative details, among others).
Numerous characteristics, such as the American Constitution’s Fundamental Rights, the Irish Constitution’s Directive Principles, the British Constitution’s Cabinet form of government, and other articles, have been adopted from the constitutions of Canada, Australia, Germany, the USSR, and France.
Blend of Rigidity and Flexibility
India’s Constitution is, in sections, rigid. Some of its provisions are difficult to change, while others are quite simple. In some instances, the Union Parliament may change certain provisions of the Constitution through the passage of a simple statute. Article 368 of the Constitution establishes two distinct processes for amending the Constitution.
The Union Parliament may modify the majority of the Constitution’s provisions by enacting an Amendment Bill with a majority of total membership and a two-thirds majority of members present and voting in each of its two Houses. A highly rigid procedure has been established for amending certain specific sections. Under it, the Union Parliament must first pass the Amendment Bill with a majority of total membership and a two-thirds majority of members present and voting in each chamber, and then it must be ratified by the State Legislatures. The Amendment is only valid if it is adopted by at least half of the Union’s numerous states.
The federal system with a unitary bias
The Indian constitution refers to India as a ‘Union of States’ (Article 1), implying that the Indian federation is not the result of any agreement among the units and that the units cannot secede from it, a situation referred to as Quasifederal. Due to the fact that it is a federal Constitution, it takes on a unitary character during times of emergency. When an emergency is declared, the normal division of powers between the Centre and the State undergoes a significant shift. The union parliament has the authority to enact legislation on any issue on the state list.
The Union Government may also modify the financial arrangements between the Centre and the State. As in a federation, the Indian Constitution establishes a distribution of powers between the central and the states. A written, strict, and supreme constitution; an independent court with the authority to resolve inter-state conflicts; and dual administration, in which the central and state governments coexist.
The Parliamentary system of government
The Indian constitution establishes a parliamentary system of government, in which the real executive authority is vested in the council of ministers and the President serves only as a ceremonial head (Article 74). The real executive is the Union Council of Ministers, which is chaired by the Prime Minister. Ministers are essentially Union Parliament members.
The Council of Ministers is collectively accountable to the Lok Sabha for all of its policies and decisions. Bypassing a vote of no-confidence, the Lok Sabha can depose the Ministry. Indeed, the Cabinet, specifically the Prime Minister, has the authority to petition the President to dissolve the Lok Sabha. Each state also has a parliamentary government.
Balance Between Parliamentary Sovereignty and Judicial Supremacy
The Indian Constitution strikes a delicate balance between legislative and judicial supremacy. Articles 13, 32, and 136 vests the Supreme Court with judicial review authority. Through its judicial review authority, it can declare any Parliamentary law unlawful.
Parliament, on the other hand, as the representative of the people, is empowered to create laws and to modify the majority of the Constitution through the amending powers conferred by Article 368.
Independent and Integrated Judicial System
The Indian Constitution establishes an independent and impartial judiciary with the power of judicial review. It is a citizen’s custodian right. Apart from being a federal Constitution, it also plays a key role in defining the powers of the Centre and States.
A unified justice system predominates, with the Supreme Court at the apex, the High Courts at the state level, and district and other subordinate courts below and under the supervision of the High Courts. In India, courts at all levels are burdened with the responsibility of implementing both central and state laws.
Not only is India’s judicial system effectively integrated, but it is also self-contained, as a result of the following provisions: Collegium procedure for appointing Supreme Court and High Court justices Judges are removed through an impeachment procedure that is extremely difficult to pass in Parliament. The salaries, pensions, and allowances of Supreme Court judges are deducted from the consolidated fund of India. The authority to penalize itself for contempt, and a prohibition on judges practicing after retirement.
Fundamental rights and fundamental duties
The Indian constitution protects inhabitants of India with an extensive list of Fundamental Rights that cannot be taken away or abridged by governmental legislation (Article 12–35). Similarly, the constitution has a list of 11 fundamental tasks owed by citizens, dubbed the Fundamental Duties (Article 51A).
Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP)
Part IV of the Constitution contains the Directive Principles of State Policy. It is one of the Constitution of India’s most remarkable aspects. It outlined the purposes and objectives to be pursued by the States in administering the country. The Directive Principles provide guidance to the state on how to achieve socio-economic development goals through its policies. These will be carried out by both the Union and the States. The Directive Principles are non-justiciable in nature, which means that they are not subject to judicial enforcement in the event of their infringement. Their utility, however, stems from the moral obligation they impose on the state to implement these principles when enacting legislation.
A Secular State
A secular state has no state-recognized religion. It is tolerant of all religions. The Indian Constitution’s Articles 25 to 28 provide a real form to this concept of secularism. There is no such thing as an Indian state religion. It ensures everyone’s right to conscience freedom and the right to profess, practice, and propagate religion.
Universal Adult Suffrage
The previous system of communal electorates has been abandoned in favor of universal adult suffrage. Every male and woman over the age of 18 in India has the right to vote for representatives in the legislature.
In India, there is just one type of citizenship, namely that of an Indian Citizen. There is no such thing as an Assamese or a Delhi citizen. Every Indian is a citizen of India and is entitled to the same citizenship privileges regardless of whatever state he resides in.
India’s Constitution includes measures for coping with emergencies. It distinguishes three distinct sorts of emergencies. Article 352 defines a national emergency as one caused by war, external aggression, or the threat of external aggression against India, or by armed revolt within India or in any of its parts.
A Constitutional Emergency in a State (Article 356) is an emergency that occurs as a result of a state’s constitutional machinery failing. Financial Emergency (Article 360), a state of emergency precipitated by a threat to India’s financial stability. The President of India has been vested with the authority to take necessary action in response to these emergencies. During a state of emergency, the President, or more precisely, the Prime Minister, and the Union Council of Ministers Cabinet gain enormous authority. The President may take any action judged necessary to address an emergency. These are referred to be the President’s emergency powers.
At the center of the Indian constitution is a bicameral legislature comprised of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People) (Article 79). The Lok Sabha is the more powerful of the two houses of Parliament. It is the only entity with financial power. Before the Lok Sabha, the Union Council of Ministers is jointly accountable. The Rajya Sabha, on the other hand, is neither as weak as the British House of Lords nor as powerful as the British House of Commons.
Special provisions for minorities
The constitution makes particular provisions for minorities, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes, among others, by endowing them with certain rights and privileges. It establishes a reservation of seats in legislatures for members of Scheduled Castes and Tribes. Reservation of some employment for members of SCs, STs, and OBCs has also been implemented.
In essence, these are some of the primary characteristics of the Indian constitution. Additionally, the constitution contains numerous other aspects that are highly unique in nature, such as Panchayati Raj, Rule of Law, and Provisions for Independent Bodies.
Criticism of the Indian Constitution
The Constitution is excessively broad. Certain provisions appear to be excessively repetitious to be included in the Constitution. Parliamentary and State Legislative privileges are left to them to decide, as they have not been codified yet. Though such a provision is unlikely to be included in the Constitution, the Indian reality may entail one.
The Constitution is far too lengthy and complicated for the average person to comprehend. Indeed, it is regarded as a haven for lawyers. This occurred as a result of our Constituent Assembly’s large concentration of prominent lawyers. The Anglo-Indian community no longer needs two Lok Sabha seats. Fears of the 1950s are undoubtedly obsolete, and this provision may be eliminated in order to protect the Right to Equality.
Schedule IX (Article 31B), which protects a Fundamental Rights statute, should be reviewed. The Speaker is an extremely powerful official, and there may be a justification for reconsidering his/her authority. Anti-Detection Legislation is likewise a bad concept. It creates a conundrum in which a voter has the right to choose any candidate but a legislator does not have the right to express his or her opinion. This is in direct opposition to our democratic spirit.