Explain any five salient features of the Indian Constitution

The Indian Constitution is unique in its contents and spirit. Though borrowed from almost every Constitution of the world, the Constitution of India has several salient features that distinguish it from the Constitutions of the other countries. They are briefed below.

1. Lengthiest Written Constitution

Constitutions are classified into written, like the American Constitution, or unwritten, like the British Constitution. The Constitution of India is the lengthiest of all the written Constitutions of the world. It is a very comprehensive, elaborate and detailed document.

Originally (1949), the Constitution contained a Preamble, 395 Articles (divided into 22 Parts) and 8 Schedules. Presently (2019), It consists of a Preamble, about 470 Articles (divided into 25 Parts) and 12 Schedules.

Four factors have contributed to the elephantine size of our Constitution. They are:

  • (a) Geographical factors, that is, the vastness of the country and its diversity.
  • (b) Historical factors, e.g., the influence of the Government of India Act of 1935, which was bulky. About 250 provisions of the 1935 Act have been included in the Constitution.
  • (c) Single Constitution for both the Centre and the states
  • (d) Dominance of legal luminaries in the Constituent Assembly.

2. Blend of Rigidity and Flexibility

Constitutions are also classified into rigid and flexible. A rigid Constitution is one that requires a special procedure for its amendment, as for example, the American Constitution. A flexible constitution, on the other hand, is one that can be amended in the same manner as the ordinary laws are made, as for example, the British Constitution. The Constitution of India is neither rigid nor flexible, but a synthesis of both.

Article 368 provides for two types of amendments which are considered rigid. At the same time, some provisions of the Constitution can be amended by a simple majority of the Parliament in the manner of ordinary legislative process. Notably, these amendments do not come under Article 368.

3. Federal System with Unitary Bias

The Constitution of India establishes a federal system of government. However, the term ‘Federation’ has nowhere been used in the Constitution. Article 1, on the other hand, describes India as a ‘Union of States’ which implies two things: one, Indian Federation is not the result of an agreement by the states; and two, no state has the right to secede from the federation.

4. Parliamentary Form of Government

The parliamentary system is based on the principle of cooperation and coordination between the legislative and executive organs while the presidential system is based on the doctrine of separation of powers between the two organs. Collective responsibility of the executive to the legislature is the basic principle followed in the parliamentary system.

“Persons may change but rules should not change” is the principle of constitutional government. In presidential form of Government, the principle is – President checks legislature and vice versa.

5. Synthesis of Parliamentary Sovereignty and Judicial Supremacy

The doctrine of sovereignty of Parliament is associated with the British Parliament while the principle of judicial supremacy with that of the American Supreme Court.

Just as the Indian parliamentary system differs from the British system, the scope of judicial review power of the Supreme Court in India is narrower than that of what exists in US. This is because the American Constitution provides for ‘due process of law’ against that of ‘procedure established by law’ contained in the Indian Constitution (Article 21).

Synopsis

PaperAPPSC Group 1 Mains 2020 – Paper III: Polity, constitution, Governance, Law, and Ethics
Question4 (b). Explain any five salient features of the Indian Constitution
SourceIndian Polity by M Laxmikanth
ChaptersConstitutional Framework –> Salient Features of the Constitution

Analysis

It is very simple and direct question. You can write any of the five salient features. The above answer is only indicative.