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Nature & Salient Features Of Indian Constitution

The Indian Constitution has been opined to be unitary by some while it has been articulated to be federal by the others. Under the unitary Constitution the powers of the Government are centralized in one government and that is generally the Central government and the States are subordinate to it. While in a federal Constitution there is division of powers between the Centre and the States and both are independent as well as co-ordinate to each other.

In view of the framers of the constitution, Indian constitution is a federal constitution. A federal Constitution has following essential characteristics:

(1) Distribution of Powers

(2) A written Constitution

(3) Supremacy of the Constitution

(4) Effective Role of the Courts

(5) Rigid Constitution


Federalism is one of the most significant factors of modern constitutionalism. It is established all over the world perhaps, as the only form of political organization suited to communities with diversified pattern of objectives, interests and traditions, who seek to join together in the pursuit of common objectives and interests and the cultivation of common tradition.

The Indian Constitution is not only regarded as Federal or Unitary in the strict sense of the terms. It is often defined to be quasi-federal in nature also. Throughout the Constitution, emphasis is laid on the fact that India is a single united nation. India is described as a Union of States and is constituted into a sovereign, secular, socialist, democratic republic.

Some jurists are of the opinion that the Indian Constitution is truly federal. But in certain situations, the Centre interferes in the State matters and thus places the States in subordinate positions. In following matters, Indian Constitution contains modifications of the federal principles and makes it more unitary than federal. So, A Unitary Constitution has following essential characteristics :

1) Union of States

2) Power to form new states

3) One Constitution

4) Parliament’s power of Legislation in National Interest

5) Emergency Provisions


Thus, to get a clear picture of the nature of the Indian Constitution, one needs to study the basic features of the Constitution.


Features of the Indian Constitution
  • The Constitution is a wholly written document which incorporates the constitutional law of India.

  • The Constitution of India initiates with a Preamble and the salient features of the Constitution have developed directly and indirectly from these objectives which flow from the Preamble.

  • The Indian constitution is one of the bulkiest constitution of the world, comprising of 395 articles, 22 parts and 12 schedules. So far the constitution underwent 103 amendments.

  • India is described as a Union of States and is constituted into a sovereign, secular, socialist, democratic republic.

  • The Constitution of India grants and guarantees Fundamental Rights to its citizens.

  • A new part IV (A) after the Directive Principles of State Policy was combined in the constitution by the 42nd Amendment, 1976 for fundamental duties.

  • The Indian constitution is combination of rigidity and flexibility, some of its provisions can be amended in a difficult way while others can be amended very easily. In some cases, the Union Parliament can amend some parts of the Constitution by passing a simple law.

  • A unique aspect of the Constitution is that it comprises of a chapter in the Directive Principles of State Policy. These principles are in the nature of directives to the government to implement them to maintain social and economic democracy in the country.

  • The Constitution provides for a Bicameral Legislature at the Union level and names it as the Union Parliament. Its two Houses are: The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.

  • The constitution provides an independent judiciary (Article 76)

  • The Indian constitution provides a single citizenship for all the people residing different parts of the country.

  • The constitution vests extraordinary powers, known as Emergency Powers in the President during emergencies out of armed rebellion or external aggression or due to failure of constitutional machinery in the state

*Therefore, Indian Constitution is a combination of unitary and federal system with unique provisions to safeguard the interests of the country.

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