Indian Constitution

Hello friends, today we are going to learn about the Indian constitution. So let’s start from the first chapter of Indian constitutional law “preamble and features of Indian Constitution”. The dictionary meaning of the word preamble is the introduction. Here also preamble part is an introduction to the Constitution. Before going into a detailed explanation let’s look into how the preamble is written.

“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure all its citizens; JUSTICE, social, economic and political; LIBERTY of thoughts expression, belief, faith and worship; EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of individual and unity and integrity of the Nation;  IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this 26th day of November 1949, HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION”.

So this is the preamble of the Indian Constitution. As I already told preamble is an introduction to the Indian Constitution. It is also considered as the main objective of the Constitution. The preamble defines the objectives of the constitution in two ways:

(1) About the structure of the governance and 

(2) About the ideas to be achieved in independent India.

It is because of this, the preamble is considered to be the key to the Constitution. This key or preamble helped us to unlock the world of the Constitution. The gist of words used in the preamble like Socialist, Republic, and Justice, and so on can be seen in every part of the constitution. The preamble also embodies the fundamental values and philosophies on which the constitution is based. Two amendments had been done in the preamble by the 42nd amendment act, 1976.

First is by removing the Sovereign, Democratic, Republic, and add a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic, and the second amendment is removing unity of the nation and add unity and integrity of the Nation. This amendment is to avoid a separatist tendency. These key words seen in the preamble are some of the main features of the Indian Constitution lets discuss it one by one. The first one is sovereign or sovereignty. Sovereignty means absolute independence. It is one of the important elements of any independent state. As a sovereign country, India is neither independent nor a dominion of any other nation but an independent nation. No external and internal power can control the government. Indian sovereign power lies in the people of India.

The next feature is socialist. The word socialist was inserted by the 42nd Amendment Act 1976 it means control of states over the means of production. Indian form of socialism is “democratic socialism” and not “communistic socialism”. Democratic socialism gives importance to a mixed economy where public & private sectors co-exist side by side. In the Indian constitution, socialism means economic planning. The idea of socialism mainly lies in part IV of the Constitution that is “Directive principles of the state policy”. In D.S.Nakra vs. Union of India case, the aim of a socialist state defined as to eliminate the irregularity in income, ensure a decent standard of life to working people, and to provide security basic framework.

The next feature of the Indian Constitution is secularism. The word secular incorporated in Constitution by the 42nd Amendment Act. Indian Constitution embodies the positive concept of secularism. All religion in our country has the same status and support from the state. That is no state-sponsored religion. So India is neither religious nor irreligious not anti-religious. The idea of secularism demonstrates in Article 25 to 28 which deals with freedom of religion. Article 15 (1) and (2) & Article 16 (2) prohibit discrimination based on religion.

Next is democracy. Democracy is often considered as government “of the people” “by the people” and “for the people”. It means that the government is elected by the people and this government is responsible and accountable to the people. The democratic principles are highlighted with Article 326 which deals with the right to vote and Article 75 (3) which means about the collective responsibility of the council of ministers to people.

Next is the Republic. India is a Republic country which means the head of the state like the President or Prime minister is always elected directly or indirectly for a fixed period and he is not a hereditary ruler as in the case of the British monarch. Now comes Liberty. The word Liberty means the absence of restraint on the activity of individuals. All citizens of India have the liberty of thought expression belief faith and worship. In case of violation of any fundamental rights, all citizens of India can directly approach the supreme court of India.

Next is Equality. It means all citizens of India should be treated equally and extended equal protection of the law without any discrimination based on caste, creed, birth, religion, sex, etc. Preamble secured all citizens of India equality of status and opportunity, Fraternity, Dignity, Unity, and integrity. India is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural, and multi-religious society. So there is a tendency of separation. So for a continuing harmonious coexistence among various religious, linguistic, cultural, and economic groups preamble include phrases like “dignity of the individual”, “fraternity among people” and “unity and integrity of the nation”.

Salient features of the Indian Constitution:

Let’s look into other features of the Indian Constitution. World’s lengthiest composed constitution is the Indian constitution. At the time of enactment, it consists of 395 Articles, 22 parts, and 9 schedules. Now after lots of amendments, presently it has 443 Articles divided into 26 parts and 12 schedules. Indian Constitution is an extraordinary mix of unbending nature and adaptability which implies some portion of it tends to be amended by Parliament by a simple majority, while, a few sections require a 2/3 majority as well as the consent of one half of the total states legislature.

Another important feature of the Indian Constitution is an independent judiciary. The Constitution provides an independent judiciary that ensures that the government is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. It acts as the guardian of the liberties and fundamental rights of the citizen. It also determines the limit of the power of the center and the states. Supreme Court also has the jurisdiction to solve the matters between central and state, between state and state.

The next feature is single citizenship. Indian Constitution does not sanction double citizenship as in the Federation state like the USA. There is only one uniform of Indian citizenship. Indian Constitution is a federal constitution. But the term federal is not mentioned in the Constitution instead India has been described as a “union of states”. However, the Indian Constitution has all the characteristics of the Federation. The first one is two sets of governments that are central and state. The second characteristic is the division of powers between states and the center.

As we know the Constitution is also considered as the supreme authority and both the center and state government derives its power from it. The framers of our Constitution have borrowed some of the great constitutional principles from foreign constitutions. Those provisions are fundamental rights, judicial review, independence of the judiciary, preamble, rule of law, law-making procedure, etc,.  are from the United States of America. Parliamentary form, single citizenship, and provisions related to the speaker are from the United Kingdom. Directive principles of state policy, method of election of President are from Ireland.

Emergency provisions are from Germany and the Government of India Act 1935. The constitutional amendment is from South Africa. Specific words of the preamble and concurrent list from Australia. Fundamental duties, equal protection of the law, Planning Commission, and five years plan from USSR. The idea of liberty, equality, and fraternity from France. The procedure established by law is from Japan.

Next is case laws regarding preamble. In Sajjan Singh vs. the State of Rajasthan and Golak Nath vs. the State of Punjab held that preamble indicates the source of the Constitution. It is key to the minds of the farmers of the Constitution. Whether preamble is a part of the Constitution or not was dealt with in two leading cases. The first one is in the Berubari Union case and the second one is Keshavanadha Bharathi vs. the state of Kerala. The Berubari case held that the preamble is not a part of the Constitution but Keshavanadha Bharathi’s case has created history.

It was held that preamble to the Constitution of India as a part of the Constitution and therefore amendable under Article 368 but cannot violate the basic structure of the Constitution. The preamble is neither a source of power nor a source of limitation. Keshavanadha Bharathi’s case also held that preamble has a significant role to play in the interpretation of statutes also in the interpretation of a provision of the Constitution. So that’s all about “Preamble and features of the Indian Constitution”.

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