Indian Polity – Part 5 Sailent features of Indian Constitution UPSC/IA

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Salient Features of Indian Constitution
Originally having 395 Articles divided into 22 parts and 8 schedules, a lengthiest constitution of the world with systematic elaboration on every topic. At present, it contains 448 Articles with 12 schedules as a result of various amendments (101 till so far, GST Amendment).
1. Longest written constitution:

The constitution of India is said to be the longest written constitution in the world because, it contains:
• Separate provisions for states and centre and their inter-relationship.
• The borrowed provisions from several sources and several other constitutions of the world.
• The separate provisions for scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, women, children, and backward regions.
• It contains the detailed list of individual rights, directive principles of state policy and details of administration procedures which were laid down to make the constitution an easy handy.

2. Unique blend of rigidity and flexibility:

A Constitution may be called rigid or flexible on the basis of its amending procedure.
• Some parts can be amended by ordinary law making procedure while certain provisions can be amended only when a Bill for that purpose is passed in each house of Parliament by a majority of the total membership of that house and by a majority of not less than two-third of the members of that house present and voting.
• Some amendments are also required to be ratified by the legislatures of not less than one-half of the states before being presented to the President for assent.

3. India as a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic and republic:

India is governed by its people through their representatives elected on the basis of universal adult franchise (Government of the people, by the people and for the people).
• India as a sovereign means it manages its internal and external affairs freely without any external forces. However, it continues to be a member of the commonwealth of Nation with the British Monarch as its head.
• The term socialist is added by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, means achievement of socialist goals through democratic, evolutionary and non-violent means. However, India follows the mixed model of socialist and capitalist economy.
• By secular means it recognizes all religions equally without having any state religion which is a part of the basic structure.
• By republic means head of the state (President) is elected one and not the monarch.

4. Parliamentary System of Government:

Theoretically, Parliament controls the functioning of the Council of Ministers; hence it is called Parliamentary system.
• Here executive is responsible to the legislature and remains in power as long as it enjoys the confidence of the legislature.
• The President of India, who remains in office for five years, is the nominal, titular or constitutional head (Executive).
• The Prime Minister is the real executive and head of the Council of Ministers who is collectively responsible to the lower house (Lok Sabha).
5. Single Citizenship:

Unlike Federation, where citizen enjoys dual citizenship of both State and Union, India has a single citizenship provided by the union and recognized by all the states across India.

6. Universal Adult Franchise:

The Indian Constitution establishes political equality in India through the method of universal adult franchise which functions on the basis of ‘one person one vote’. Every Indian who is 18 years of age or above is entitled to vote in the elections, irrespective of caste, sex, race, religion or status.

7. Independent and Integrated Judicial System:

The judiciary system is kept free from the influence of the executive and the legislature. As an integrated system, India has the Supreme Court as the apex court below which High Courts come. The High Courts in turn supervise the lower courts.

8. Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles of State Policy:
Fundamental Rights are not absolute but are subject to the limitations which are expressly defined by the constitution itself and are enforceable in the court of law.
• The DPSPs are the guidelines to be followed by the states regarding governance and are not enforceable in the court of law.
• The Fundamental Duties, added by the 42nd Amendment are moral conscience which ought to be followed by the Citizens.

9. A Federation with a strong centralizing tendency:

India is an indestructible Union with destructible states means it acquires a unitary character during the time of emergency. Hence, some experts say it as a quasi federal in nature.

10 Balancing Parliamentary supremacy with Judicial Review:

An independent judiciary with the power of judicial review is a prominent feature of our constitution. The harmonization which our Constitution has effected between Parliamentary Sovereignty and a written Constitution with a provision for Judicial Review is an important achievement of the framers of our Constitution.

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