Constitution of India: Foundation, characteristics

Constitution of India: Foundation, characteristics

Foundation of constitution

Constitution is a legal document having a special legal sanctity, which sets out the framework and the principal functions of the organs of the government of a state, and declares the principles governing the operation of those organs.

The Indian Constitution is based on the philosophy of evolving an egalitarian society free from fear and bias based on promoting individual freedom in shaping the government of their choice. The whole foundation of constitutional democracy is building a system of governance in systematic machinery functioning automatically on the wheels of norms and regulations but not on individual whims and fancies. It is easy to dream such a system of rule of law than framing a mechanism for it.

Preamble is a statement of objects, which are expected by the Constitution makers to be realized through the implementation of the Constitution. In Berubari Union and Exchange of Enclaves, AIR 1960 SC 845, the Supreme Court considered the preamble a key to open the mind of the Constitution makers. It is a guide to interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution.

The roots of the formation of the Constituent Assembly and the framing of the Constitution are relevant to understand its philosophy and evolution. The Constituent Assembly was formulated under the Cabinet Mission Plan prior to Independence. The elections to the Constituent Assembly were conducted under the system of separate electorate based on the community. After such an election too, it could not become a sovereign body. Thus its authority was limited in respect of the basic principles and procedure. The British Government brought it into existence in their process of conceding less and retaining the most of the authority with itself as counter strategy to the revolutionary raising. The Constituent Assembly was expected to work within the framework of the Cabinet Mission scheme alone. However, these limitations were removed by the Indian Independence Act, 1947 under which it was made free to frame any constitution it pleased.


Characteristics of Indian constitution

Popular Sovereignty

It is clearly stated in the preamble that India is not under any outside control. It is a sovereign nation under the people. The people will have right to elect their representatives to rule for themselves to the government. Hence, India has a democratic system of government. Any citizen who is above 18 years of age irrespective of religion, creed, caste, region, property, rich or poor,man or woman can execute adult franchise and have his representive for his/her welfare. It is very of significant provision in the constitution that the person may be from dire poverty or from an Industrialist will have right to one vote and one vote will have one value. Therefore, popular sovereignty is very important feature of the Constitution of India.

Partly Rigid and Partly Flexible

When we read our constitutional document then we come to know that sometime, somewhere the articles of the constitution are very rigid to make any amendment and some where some articles are easily amended according to the situation exists.

Federal System with Unitary Bias

The Constitution has its supremacy over all the political governments. The powers have been divided among the various provinces and states between the Union Government It also provides for the single Citizenship. The Central and State governments must discharge their powers-and duties according to their subjects of legislation and execution. The Constitution have divided the subjects into three lists i.e. Central list, State list and concurrent list. Central list have 99 subjects, State list have 61 and Concurrent list 52 subjects as of now. It means that centre state can pass acts, make legislations only on the subjects listed in their list.

Parliamentary Democracy

India have adopted the Parliamentary Democracy with President as its Constitutional and Executive head. It means that Prime Minister and his Council of Ministers is the representative of President. Therefore, it is said that President is the nominal head and real power of the Union Government is lying in Prime Minister. Parliament is bicameral and consists of Loksabha and Rajyasabha. These houses pass various laws, acts, with majority of the members of the Parliament.

Principle of Secularism

The word ‘Secular’ is adopted in the Preamble of the Constitution. This means that state has no ‘State Religion1\. At the same time government will not favour anybody religion and also not disfavor the religion of others. State will not interfere in the religious affairs’ of the Individual. According to former President of India R. Venkata Raman “India is not pro-religious, non-religious and anti-religious” i.e. India is secular.The religion will have no influence over any government. The citizens have got right to any religion, worship any God & Goddesses. It is only because of this constitutional secular nature of the state that led to become the President, Prime Minister from any religion or community.

Single Citizenship

The American Constitution has given its citizens the ‘Dual Citizenship’, one for the country and other from the representing state. Contrary to this Indian constitution provides only Single Citizenship i.e. only for the country and not for the state. It is due to multiplicity of the nature of Indians society that states should not have loyalties only to their States.


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