The Constitution of India is the lengthiest and the most comprehensive of all the written constitutions of the world. It is a unique document that has stood the test of time and will continue to do the same. This achievement has been credited to the Indian constitution because of its special features. There are many salient features of the Indian constitution.
Salient Features of the Indian Constitution
Now, we are going to discuss the Salient Features of the Indian Constitution in this article, which are as follows:
The basic structure of the Constitution of India
Over the years, the doctrine of basic structure was developed in the Indian constitution. As per this doctrine the major ideas on which the constitution was made, are prohibited from the amendment. The ideas include secularism, nationalism, basic fundamental rights etc. the limit of basic structure is not defined and the decision of this depends on the courts. After 1975, when Indira Gandhi imposed a national emergency in the country, this doctrine was developed in order to prevent the country from any further internal attacks as a forceful emergency.
As we all know that every person is entitled to basic human rights. Our constitution has a part of the constitution, part III specifically, which is dedicated to these rights titled Fundamental rights. It broadly comprises six fundamental rights namely the right to equality, the right to freedom, right to life, right against exploitation, cultural and religious rights and the right to constitutional remedies. The most important of all is the right to constitutional remedies as it protects other fundamental rights. Dr B. R. Ambedkar refers to it as the heart and soul of the constitution.
With rights come duties, hence with the section of fundamental rights there is a section of fundamental duties in the constitution of India. Part IVA of the constitution consists of 12 duties. The rights are obligations towards the state and duties are towards citizens of the country. It is an important section that came into being by the 42nd amendment, 1976.
Universal Adult Suffrage
Another feature of the Indian constitution is that it provides a universal adult franchise under article 326. Universal adult franchise states that every adult who is a citizen of India has a right to vote irrespective of gender, class or caste. Many countries had struggles and movements in ensuring the right to vote for women or any class apart from aristocrats.
At present, India has 28 states and 8 union territories, and the citizens of all these states have single citizenship and that is India. As in the United States of America which has two citizenship, one for the state and another for the nation. This division of citizenship arouses the sense of nationality towards the state more, which is why our leaders decided to go with the provision of single and integrated citizenship.
The judicial blend of rigidity and flexibility
The reason why even after 72 years of its creation it remains intact with its full integrity, is that it is a judicial blend of rigidity and flexibility. The Constitution of India is rigid in parts. Amendment can be easily done in some parts of the constitution and the amendment in basic structure can be done by a hectic process. In some cases, parliament can amend some parts by simple majority and some of it needs a special majority.
Independence of judiciary
Indian constitution provides independence of the judiciary in the true sense which comes under the Salient Features of the Indian Constitution. It maintains a system of checks and balances, also it makes sure the salaries and jobs of judicial workers are not in hands of legislature or executive. That is why; the provision for salaries of the judge is mentioned in the constitution itself. It is an independent and powerful judiciary. Another important feature to ensure independence is that the process of removal of judges is a difficult one.
The constitution provides for a federal structure with a unitary spirit. It is a Unitarian federation. K.C.Wheare called India a ‘quasi-federal state. It is a federation as it divides the country into centres and states. It has dual administration; it means central and state administrations. Further, the constitution provides for a strong centre as, at the time of emergency, the power to make any decision rests with the centre. This system of governance is chosen to ensure the unity and integrity of the nation.
Emergency provisions under the Constitution of India
The constitution provides special provisions to deal with emergencies. The emergencies have been classified into three broad categories; National emergency, constitutional emergency and financial emergency.
National emergency under article 352 is an emergency that comes into being in case of war or external aggression or armed rebellion within India or in any of its parts. It has been enacted three times in India, in the year 1962 (indo-china war), in the year1971 (Indo-Pak war) and in the year 1975 internal disturbance (declared by Indira Gandhi).
Constitutional emergency under article 356 comes into force when the constitutional machinery of a state or some states fails. It has been enacted several times in several states.
Financial emergency under article 360 results when there is a threat to financial stability. This emergency has never been applied in India. There was a high probability of this emergency to be applied in India in the year 1990 but through the process of liberalization, fortunately, it was not enacted.
This also comes under the salient features of the Indian constitution. The official language of India is Hindi in Devanagari but we do not have any national language. The provisions regarding language provide the states with the freedom to choose their official language. Further, it allows the continuance of the English language.
The eighth schedule of the constitution discusses language and it recognizes 22 modern Indian languages.
The Supreme Court of India is the protector of the Indian constitution. It is the guardian of the constitution which provides it with the power of judicial review. Supreme Court can review any judgment passed by the lower court or any legislation and it has the power to declare it null and void.
Directive Principles of State Policy
Part IV of the constitution deals with directive principles. These are non-justiciable rights i.e. they cannot be enforced in the court of law. These are laid down to be enforced by the union and state government. These act as guidelines for the government to work on.
The Preamble to the Constitution of India
The preamble of the constitution of India is the summary of objective resolution by (Jawaharlal Nehru) and the basic idea of the constitution. It is the philosophy of the constitution. Each and every word of the preamble has its own merit. It is written on behalf of the people of India, it declares India to be SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC and REPUBLIC. Further, it declares India to have justice, liberty, equality and fraternity among it selves. It portrays the basic nature of the Indian state.
There are many more countless salient features of the Indian constitution. The fact that it develops itself through time, makes it even better. Due to this development, the constitution of India is referred to as a living document. Our constitution is best suited for our country. These all features just ease the process of development of our country.