This article is written by Soumya Chaware of 3rd Semester of University of Mumbai Law Academy, Mumbai, an intern under Legal Vidhiya
The Constitution is a legal document that contains body of rules established to regulate the administration of the state, that legal document contains fundamental procedures, standard, processes, rules and regulations on how a country should be governed.
The Constitution of India is a Supreme law. It serves as the fundamental framework that outlines the fundamental laws, rules, and regulations that both citizens and other functional bodies must abide by. It is the supreme set of rules, regulations, and laws that defines the framework of a political system, such as a government or an organization. It imparts constitutional supremacy and not parliamentary Supremacy, as it is not created by the Parliament but, by Constituent assembly, and adopted by its people, with a declaration in its preamble. It serves as the cornerstone of governance and offers the framework for determining how authority is used, allocated, and constrained within a state, institution, organization, nation, or country.
The constitution has some Features like lengthiest written Constitution, it is drawn from various sources, blend of Rigidity and Flexibility, federal system with Unitary bias etc. which help in smooth functioning of Country and Judiciary.
The framers of the Constitution have tried to Incorporate the significant provisions in the constitution so that there is no scope for ambiguity pertaining as to how governance would take place in a country and therefore it is the feature of the Indian Constitution which in itself makes it a Complete and Comprehensive document of the country.
Keywords: Constitution, Government, legislative, judicial, lengthiest, Federal, Unitary.
India, generally known as Bharat, is a state union. It’s a Sovereign, Socialist, temporal Popular, Republic governed by a administrative system. The Republic is governed by the Constitution of India, which was espoused by the Constituent Assembly on November 26, 1949 and went into effect on January 26, 1950. The Constitution calls for an Administrative system of government that’s civil in structure but has some unitary rudiments.
A constitution means a document having special legal reason. It sets out frame and top functions of Government. it gives idea about the introductory structure of political system i.e., which people are to be governed. The constitution of India also defines power of legislative, Administrative and Judiciary. Bhimrao Ambedkar is known as father of Indian Constitution. The Constitution of India is known as a Supreme and Abecedarian law. It’s the introductory structure that provides rules and regulations and laws for every Indian citizen and binds the citizen to follow it. The constitution is the total of Abecedarian principles, abecedarian rights and abecedarian rights and duties. When these principles are written and laid down in a single document or set of documents also it’s known as written constitution.
The Constitution of India is the longest written constitution of any country in the world. The constitution of India is known as Organic Law, it’s because it lays down a set of rules and laws which serves as a base for government, pots, Associations and Citizens of India. It’s divided into 448 papers, 25 corridor and 12 Schedules.
Important Sources of Indian Constitution
|1. Government of India Act 1935||Federal SchemeProvisional autonomyPublic service commission Office of GovernorJudiciaryAdministrative details|
|2. Constitution of United states||PreambleFundamental rights (Art 12-32)Federal structure of governmentFunctions of president and vice-presidentImpeachment pf presidentJudicial reviewRemoval of judgesEqual protection Under laws|
|3. British Constitution||Parliamentary form of governmentSingle citizenshipRule of lawBicameralismWritsLaw making procedure|
|4. Canadian Constitution||Quasi-federal form of governmentDistribution in powers of central and state governmentResidual powers by central government.|
|5. Ireland constitution||Directive principles of state policyNomination of Rajya Sabha membersElection of president.|
|6. France Constitution||Republic and ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity in preamble|
|7. Constitution of Australia||Freedom of trade and commerceConcurrent listLanguage of preamble|
|8. Constitution of Soviet Union (Russia)||Fundamental dutiesIdea of social, economic and political justice in preamble.|
|9. Constitution of South Africa||Procedure for amendment of constitution (2/3rd majority)Election of Rajya Sabha members|
|10. Constitution of Germany||Emergency provisionsSuspension of fundamental rights during emergency|
|11. constitution of Germany||Procedure established by law|
History of Constitution of India
India was essentially split into two major social groups prior to winning independence in 1947: the Princely States, which were headed by Indian princes under the Subsidiary Alliance System, and British India, which was made up of eleven provinces. Even though the two regions eventually united to establish the Indian Union, a lot of the laws and guidelines from British India are still in effect today. Numerous laws and regulations enacted prior to India’s independence might be linked to the historical development of the Indian Constitution.
When the Constituent Assembly was formed in 1946, provincial assembly delegates made up its membership. There were 299 people in total. Dr Rajendra Prasad presided over this Assembly. A Drafting Committee was constituted to design the constitution. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, known as the “Father of the Indian Constitution,” presided over the Drafting Committee.
The committee worked on the constitution for three years, holding eleven meetings over 165 days. This is due to India’s vast size and diversity of civilizations and religions. The group intended to ensure that the constitution they created would lead the country to success.
Congress demanded to assembly in 1935 to British under ‘Cabinet mission plan’ 1946 by constituent assembly. There were Total 389 members out of which 296 belonged to British-hind, 93 belonged to regional provinces, 4 belonged to chief commissioner provinces. Dr. Sachidanand Sinha was a provisional president of 1st meeting of constituent assembly. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was permanent president. Dr. B.N. Rao was Constitutional Advisor. President Jawaharlal Nehru bought the resolutions for fundamental principles and that was adopted on 22nd Jan 1947 and this objective was converted into Preamble. There are some interesting facts about Indian Constitution that the original copies of Indian constitution are written in Hindi and English and both were in Handwritten version and those were written by Prem Bihari Narain Raizada, each page is decorated by artist of Shantiniketan.
The original copies of Constitution are still preserved in library of Parliament. The time period taken to make final draft of constitution was 2 years, 11 months and 18 days.
Features of Indian constitution
The Indian parliament did not draft the country’s constitution; rather, a constituent assembly did. Its preamble contained a declaration that its people adopted.. Thus, the parliament of India cannot override the constitution.
There are some features of Indian Constitution which are as follows:
- Lengthiest Written Constitution:
The constitution of India is the lengthiest written constitution in the world. It consists 498 articles, 25 parts and 12 schedules, also there have been more than 100 amendments till the date.
- Brought from different sources:
The constitution is brought from different sources like Government of India act 1935, American Constitution, Constitution of Soviet Union et. And hence it is also known as “bag of borrowings.”
- Federal System and Unitary Features:
Federal system means dual aspect of government that is centre and state and the division of powers between executive, judiciary and legislature, Supremacy of constitution and independent judiciary.
Unitary features means the set of bodies like emergency provisions that can modify the constitution into a Unitary one, the appointment of governor on advice of centre etc.
In article 1 of the Indian constitution, it is stated that India is “Union of States” and hence it makes the constitution of India federal and Unitary.
- Parliamentary form of Government:
Parliament is the supreme legislative body of India. The Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and Lok Sabha (House of the People) are the two Houses that make up the Indian Parliament, along with the President. The President is able to dissolve the Lok Sabha and call a prorogation of either house of parliament.
In parliamentary form of government power is to council of ministers under the leadership of Prime Minister.
- Integrated and Independent Judiciary:
The Constitution of India states that the judiciary must be independent so that there is no interference of anyone and for the smooth functioning od Judiciary. To integrate the judiciary the 3 tier system is followed in India from apex to lower courts like supreme court, High Court and Lower court. Under this feature judiciary has right to stop legislative from performing Unlawful acts.
- Fundamental Rights and Duties:
Fundamental rights are mentioned in part 3 of the Indian constitution and Fundamental duties mentioned in part 4-A are added in constitution from 42nd amendment i.e., mini- Constitution. There are 6 fundamental rights from article 12-32 and 11 fundamental duties in the constitution.
- Directive principles of State policy (DPSP):
These are the principles that are to be considered by state government while making policies. These principles are enumerated in part 4 of the Indian Constitution.
- Universal Adult franchise:
Universal Adult franchise means Individuals over 18 years of age will have right to vote without any discrimination. Earlier the voting age was 21 but after 61st amendment it turned into 18 years of age.
- Single citizenship:
The concept of Single citizenship is derived from British constitution. This feature states that a person an only be citizen of one country and in order to gain the citizenship of other country the first is to be sacrificed.
- Secular State:
Secularism means right to follow any religion without any discrimination among them.
The constitution has mentioned in its preamble that India is secular.
- Emergency powers:
The state has right to exercise emergency powers in case of war, external aggression, Internal disturbance, financial emergency, failure of constitutional machinery in state etc. which are given from article 352 to 360 of Indian constitution.
- Rigid and Flexible:
The constitution of India is rigid and flexible. i.e., under article 368, some provisions can be amended by a special majority of parliament i.e., 2/3rd majority of the members f each house present and voting and majority which is more than 50 percent of the total membership of each house of parliament.
However, some provisions of the constitution can be amended by a simple majority in a manner of ordinary legislation process but these do not fall under the purview of Article 368.
Classification of Indian Constitution
1. Written and unwritten Constitution:
Constitution can be written as well as unwritten. written constitution means those laws which are codified and compiled in a form of book. The constitution of India and USA are examples of written constitution. Whereas unwritten constitution lacks in codification and compilation. The first country which can be recognised for unwritten constitution is United Kingdom.
2. Rigid or Flexible:
Constitution of India can be rigid as well as flexible. If the amendment of the constitution is difficult then the constitution is rigid however if the amendment can be done easily then it is flexible. If the constitution is amended with special majority i.e., 2/3rd majority then it is rigid constitution whereas if it is amended with simple majority then it is flexible constitution.
The constitution of USA is rigid, constitution of UK is flexible whereas, constitution of India is blend of both.
3. Enacted or Evolved:
If any constitution makes a particular or specific body and competes in a specific time then it is known as enacted constitution.
For example: Indian constitution had constituent assembly to make the constitution which took almost 2 years,11 months and 18 days. hence it is enacted constitution as it is make by a specific body and also took specific time to be made.
Evolved constitution is not framed by a specific body but is grown according to time as per the needs.
For example: Constitution of UK.
4. Unitary or Federal:
If the division of power is absent in centre and state then it is Unitary power.
For example: UK, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, China, Sri Lanka etc.
Whereas, if the division of powers is present in centre and state then it is federal power.
For example: USA, Brazil, India, Nepal, Pakistan etc.
While the debate of Indian constitution was going that whether it is unitary or federal, 5 conditions were given to be called as federal which are as follows:
- Division of powers: In order to call the constitution as federal the powers should be divided between centre and state, and India has that division of power hence it is federal.
- Written constitution: The constitution of India is written and hence it is federal.
- Dual polity: There must be separate governments of centre and state, and India has both central government and state government hence it is federal.
- Supremacy and rigidity of Constitution: Indian constitution is Supreme law and also rigid.
- Independent Judiciary: One of the features of Indian constitution is that it has independent judiciary and there is not interference of any political party with judiciary.
All 5 conditions are satisfied by Indian Constitution and hence, it can be said that India is federal also. Moreover, it is said that Indian constitution as “Quasi Federal” i.e., more unitary and less federal.
Important judgements in Indian constitutional law
(I.C.Golaknath and ors. v. state of Punjab and Anr., 1967)
The main issue dealt with in this case was- Can an amendment be considered a law and whether or not fundamental rights can be amended? The SC stated that Fundamental Rights are not amendable under Article 13, and a new Constituent Assembly would be needed to modify such rights. Additionally, it was noted that while Article 368 outlines the process for amending the Constitution, it does not grant Parliament the authority to do so.
Kesavananda Bharati v. Kerala State (1973) 
The essential question at the heart of this case was the scope of Parliament’s jurisdiction to modify the Constitution, with a special emphasis on whether any restrictions existed on that power. In this decision, the Supreme Court ruled by a narrow 7:6 margin that Parliament’s power to change the Constitution under Article 368 was subject to basic structure limits.
Indeed, the Supreme Court’s decision in this case invalidated the verdict in the Golaknath case. The court determined that Parliament does have the capacity to change the Constitution; however, this power is not unlimited and is limited by the “Basic Structure Doctrine.”
Regardless of its structure or form, a state’s constitution serves as the parent document for all laws and regulations. It provides as the foundation for citizens’ rights and obligations. The Indian Constitution’s framers attempted to include all relevant provisions to ensure that there would be no room for doubt about how a nation would govern itself. For this reason, the Indian Constitution is a complete and comprehensive document of the nation in and of itself.
1. Pylee, M.V. India’s Constitution, S. Chand & Co. p.3. ISBN 978-81-219-0403-2
4. I. C. Golaknath & Ors vs State Of Punjab & Anr. 1967 AIR 1643, 1967 SCR (2) 762
5. https://blog.finology.in/Legal-news/top-10-landmark-cases-of-constitution 6. Kesavananda Bharati v. Kerala State on 24 April, 1973 Writ Petition (civil) 135 of 1970
Disclaimer: The materials provided herein are intended solely for informational purposes. Accessing or using the site or the materials does not establish an attorney-client relationship. The information presented on this site is not to be construed as legal or professional advice, and it should not be relied upon for such purposes or used as a substitute for advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Additionally, the viewpoint presented by the author is of a personal nature.