What are the Salient Features of Indian Constitution?
The Constitution of India was formed and adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26th November 1946 under the Cabinet mission plan. The head of the Indian Constitution’s drafting committee was Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.
18 distinguishing features of the Indian Constitution accounts for its uniqueness. List of all Key Features of Indian Constitution are listed below.
- Lengthiest Constitution of the World
- Features from Various Sources
- Mixture of Rigidity and Flexibility
- Preamble of the Constitution
- Federal System with Unitary Bias
- Democratic system
- Parliamentary Form of Government
- Fundamental Rights
- Fundamental Duties
- Universal Adult Franchise
- Integrated and Independent Judiciary
- Directive Principles of State Policy
- Emergency Provisions
- Three-tier Government
- Rule of Law
- Single Citizenship
- Independent Constitutional and Non-Constitutional Bodies
Characteristics of Indian Constitution
Even though few features are adopted from other countries, they suit the Indian Polity and government. The Indian Constitution reflects the following ideologies-
- Secularism- it is the hallmark of the Constitution of India.
- Democracy- borrowed from the West.
- Sarvodaya- means the development and welfare of all.
- Socialism- Vedanta’s philosophy
- Decentralization- aspect of Sarvodaya
- Humanism- peculiar features of the Indian ideology
- Liberalism- Indian context of liberalism
- Mixed Economy- a salient feature of Indian ideology
- Gandhism- representation of the moral and ethical India
Overview of the Indian Constitution & its Features
Go through the highlights and important points to note about the Indian Constitution and what makes it unique.
Basic Features of Constitution
Indian Constitution was adopted on
26 November 1946
Indian Constitution Day
Constitution of India Borrowed Features
No. of Schedules and Articles in the Constitution
12 schedules and 448 articles
Explain Salient Features of Indian Constitution
The salient features of the Indian Constitution that make it a dynamic creation include the following-
Lengthiest Constitution of the World
The Constitution of India is a detailed, elaborated, and comprehensive document that is distinguished from the rest of the constitutions by being the lengthiest written document. There are two kinds of constitutions - Written and Unwritten. The British Constitution is an unwritten constitution, whereas the American Constitution is a good example of a written one.
- Indian Constitution is the lengthiest written constitution in world as it contains the preamble, approx 448 articles combined into 25 parts. There are 12 schedules and 5 appendices. The constitution has been amended 104 times.
The factors like the history, geographical features, single documents for states and the center, and legal luminaries’ dominance in the Constituent Assembly account for the bigger size of the Indian Constitution. It includes the non-justiciable and justiciable rights and the fundamental principles of governance.
Drawn from Various Sources
It cannot be denied that the Indian Constitution has derived a few of its features from the Constitutions of other countries. Yet, it is unique as it has adopted only those features that suit the Indian government and polity perfectly. Most features are carried forwards by the Government of India Act of 1935. There are almost 250 provisions that the Indian Constitution has adopted from the Government of India Act of 1935. The features adopted from the Government of India Act of 1935 are as follows-
- Administrative details
- Emergency provisions
- Public Service Commissions
- Office of governor
- Federal Scheme
Mixture of Rigidity and Flexibility
There are two types of Constitutions- the Rigid Constitution (like the Constitution of America, which requires a particular procedure to get amended) and the flexible Constitution ( like the British Constitution, that does not require a special procedure and are amended according to ordinary law).
However, the Indian Constitution shows both the qualities of being flexible and rigid at the same time. There are three amendments to the Indian constitution, depending on the amendment’s nature. Initially, the simpler ones and then the most difficult ones.
Preamble of the Constitution
Indian Constitution has a Preamble that accounts for the basic principles, ideals, and objectives of the Constitution. It is the nature of the Indian state. The Preamble, directly and indirectly, is responsible for the change in the flow of the objectives of the Constitution. The different objectives stated in the Preamble are committed to securing Indian citizens.
Federal System with Unitary Bias
It establishes the Federal System of government as it depicts two governments: the Constitution's rigidity, bicameralism, the supremacy of the constitution, division of powers, and independent judiciary. These are the usual features of the federal system. Along with the federal features, the Indian Constitution holds the non-federal features. These include the integrated judiciary, all-India services, appointment of state governor by the Centre, a single Constitution, a strong Centre, and much more. Thus, it is considered a Federal system with unitary bias.
According to the Preamble of the Indian Constitution, India is a republic, meaning it doesn’t nominate a head of state, nor the monarch rules it. Instead, the nation's people elect a head of state for a five-year fixed term. The reflections are repeated after every 5 years.
Parliamentary Form of Government
The Indian Constitution adopts the parliamentary form of government from the British government. It is based on the coordination and cooperation of the executive and legislative organs of the government. In this form of government, Prime Minister plays a significant role. Thus, the Parliamentary Form of Government is often called Prime Ministerial Government.
Fundamental Rights and Duties
Indian Constitution has provisions for protecting the fundamental rights of Indian citizens. According to the Indian Constitution, every citizen must enjoy basic and fundamental rights. There are six fundamental rights. These are-
- Right to Constitutional Remedies
- Cultural and Educational Rights
- Right to Freedom of Religion
- Right Against Exploitation
- Right to Freedom
- Right to Equality
Also, the 42nd Amendment, 1976 of the Indian Constitution, has provisions for the fundamental duties of an individual.
Universal Adult Franchise
As per the Indian Constitution, there is no difference between men and women. Both are treated equally and have the same rights to vote (with the condition that they need to be above the age of 18 years). Not only this, all the registered voters of India stand a chance to cast a vote in elections.
Integrated and Independent Judiciary
The states and the Union have a single and integrated judiciary system. According to the Constitution of India, the high courts works at the state level while the Supreme court works at the apex level, and all the other courts work under the high court of the respective state.
The Indian Constitution also ensures the independent judiciary that functions independently of the Executive and legislative. It has complete independence in terms of finances and administration.
Directive Principles of State Policy
Directive Principles of State Policy were considered the novel features of the Constitution of India by Dr. B R Ambedkar. These principles are stated in Part IV of the Indian Constitution and were involved in the Constitution to provide economic and social justice to Indian citizens. It aims to form a welfare state in India.
In the Constitution of India, there is a well-elaborated provision responsible for dealing with the challenges that come in the way of the unity and security of the country. Three different types of emergencies are-
- Article 360- Financial Emergency
- Article 356 & 365- Emergency because of the failure of constitutional machinery in states
- Aricle 352- Emergency caused by armed rebellion, external aggression, or war.
India is a vast country with plenty of religions, and the Indian Constitution guarantees the freedom of religion to all. The Indian citizens are free to follow or preach any religion. It ensures equal rights to all without discrimination based on sex, religion, caste, or creed. Everyone has the right freely to profess, propagate and practice a religion. Thus, it embodies the positive concept of secularism. Along with this, minorities are granted special cultural rights.
According to the 73rd and 74th amendment act, urban and rural local bodies act as the third tier of the structure of government. These sections work on the aims of self-functioning villages in India.
Federal Features of Indian Constitution
As mentioned earlier, one of the Main Features of the Indian Constitution is the federal system with unitary features. Out of all the characteristics of the constitution, the following are the 7 federal features of the Indian Constitution.
- Dual Polity
- Written Constitution
- Division of Powers
- Supremacy of the Constitution
- Rigid Constitution
- Independent Judiciary
Unitary Features of Indian Constitution
Unitary features or non-federal features of the Indian Constitution are as follows
- Powerful Centre
- The Indian Constitution suggests that the Federation of India is “an indestructible Union of destructible states.”
- One Constitution
- Emergency Provisions
- Single Citizenship
- All India Services such as IAS, IPS, etc.
- Role of Governor
Borrowed Features of Indian Constitution
One of the most unique features of the Indian Constitution is that the constitutions of several countries inspired it.
Features of Indian Constitution borrowed from Government of India Act, 1935
- Federal Structure
- Governor Office
- Public Service Commissions
- Emergency provisions
Parliamentary form of Government
The rule of law
The US Constitution
Independent judiciary and judicial review
Removal of Supreme Court and High Court judges
Impeachment of the President
Post of Vice-President
Rajya Sabha members nomination
Advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court
Residuary powers with the Centre
Appointment of Governor
Joint sitting of the Upper and Lower House
Freedom of trade
Weimar Constitution of Germany
Suspension of Fundamental rights during Emergency
Idea of justice (social, economic, and political)
The ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity
South African Constitution
Procedure for the amendment of the Constitution
Election of the members of the Upper House (Rajya Sabha)
Salient Features of Indian Constitution UPSC
Salient Features of Indian Constitution UPSC is one of the vital topics for the IAS Exam. Many questions have been asked about the topic in the UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains Exam. You can learn about this topic and all the related ones by going through the Polity Books for UPSC and NCERT Books for UPSC.
You can also solve the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers to judge your preparation for the Exam.
Salient Features of Indian Constitution UPSC Questions
Few of the Salient Features of the Indian Constitution question that are being asked in the UPSC Prelims and UPSC Mains exam is as under-
Questions for prelims- Which of the following statements about the Constitution of India is/are correct?
- Popular sovereignty and adult franchise are the Constitution's basic features.
- The Constitution, in so far as the division of powers between the Centre and the States is concerned, is rigid.
- The Constitution recognizes the interdependence of civil and economic rights.
- The Constitution mentions direct control by the people, such as a referendum, initiative, and recall.
Select the correct answer from the codes given below:
- A) Only 1
- B) 1, 2 and 4
- C) 2, 3 and 4
- D) 1, 2 and 3
Answer - 1, 2 and 3
Question- Which one of the following is not a salient feature of the Constitution of India?
- A) Written Constitution and supremacy of the Constitution
- B) Quasi-federal structure
- C) Committed Judiciary
- D) Distribution of Powers
Answer - Committed Judiciary
Question for Mains- Discuss the Salient features of Indian Constitution. How Indian secularism is different from the concept of western secularism. Discuss. (250 words)