The Indian Constitution

 

THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION

 

Society has constitutive rules that make it and differentiate it from other kinds of societies. In large societies in which different communities of people live together, constitutive rules are formulated through consensus, and in modern countries, this consensus is available in written form, which we call a Constitution.

Why Does a Country Need a Constitution?

All democratic countries are likely to have a Constitution, but on the other hand, it is not necessary that all countries that have a Constitution are democratic. The Constitution serves several purposes as listed below.

1.     A Constitution tells us what the fundamental nature of our society is.

2.     A Constitution helps serve as a set of rules and principles that all persons in a country can agree upon as the basis of the way in which they want the country to be governed.

 

3 Significant Reasons Why We Need a Constitution

1.     In democratic societies, the Constitution often lays down rules that guard against the misuse of authority by our political leaders.

2.     The Constitution ensures that a dominant group does not use its power against less powerful people or groups.

3.     The Constitution helps to protect us against decisions that could have an adverse effect on the larger principles that the country believes in.

 

The Indian Constitution: Key Features

A group of 300 people became members of the Constituent Assembly in 1946 and had written India’s Constitution. While writing the Indian Constitution, these members kept in mind the different communities who speak different languages, belong to different religions, and have distinct cultures.

Important points:

·         The Indian Constitution is the supreme law of the land. It provides a framework for the government of the country and guarantees fundamental rights to its citizens.

·         It was drafted by the Constituent Assembly, which was formed in December 1946. It took 2 years, 11 months, and 18 days to complete the drafting process.

·         The Constitution was adopted on 26th January 1950, and it came into effect on the same day.

·         The Constitution of India has been amended 104 times till date.

 

Listed below are the key features of the Indian Constitution.

1) Federalism

This refers to the existence of more than one level of government in the country. In India, we have governments at the state level, at the centre and Panchayati Raj at the village level. The Constitution contains lists that detail the issues that each tier of government can make laws on. In addition, Federalismrefers to the division of power between two or more levels of government within a country. In India, we have two levels of government:

·        Central government (Union government)

·        State governments

The Constitution of India clearly divides the powers between these two levels of government. This division is based on three lists:

·         Union List: This list contains subjects of national importance, such as defense, foreign affairs, currency, etc. The central government has the exclusive power to make laws on these subjects.

·         State List: This list contains subjects of state importance, such as education, agriculture, public health, etc. The state governments have the exclusive power to make laws on these subjects.

·         Concurrent List: This list contains subjects of common interest, such as forests, trade, labor, etc. Both the central government and the state governments can make laws on these subjects.

Benefits of Federalism:

·         Accommodates diversity: India is a diverse country with different languages, religions, and cultures. Federalism allows states to have some autonomy and make laws that are suited to their specific needs.

·         Reduces concentration of power: Federalism prevents the concentration of power in the hands of the central government. This helps to protect the rights of the states and prevent the misuse of power.

·         Encourages participation: Federalism encourages people to participate in the political process at both the national and state levels. This leads to a more responsive and accountable government.

·         Promotes unity in diversity: Even though there are different levels of government, the Constitution provides a framework for unity and cooperation between the center and the states.

Challenges of Federalism:

·         Coordination: Coordinating the activities of two different levels of government can be challenging. This can lead to conflicts and delays in decision-making.

·         Disparity: There can be disparities in development between different states. This can lead to feelings of resentment and frustration among the people.

·         Central interference: Sometimes, the central government may interfere in the affairs of the states. This can undermine the autonomy of the states and lead to conflicts.

 

2) Parliamentary Form of Government

The people of India have a direct role in electing their representatives. Also, every citizen of the country, irrespective of his/her social background, can contest in elections.In addition, A Parliamentary form of government is a democratic system where the executive branch (the government) is drawn from and accountable to the legislature (the parliament). This means that the party or coalition with the majority of seats in the parliament forms the government, with its leader becoming the Prime Minister or Chancellor.

Key Features:

·         Parliamentary Supremacy: The parliament is the supreme law-making body in the country. It has the power to make and unmake governments.

·         Fusion of Powers: There is a fusion of executive and legislative powers. The Prime Minister and other ministers are members of the parliament and are accountable to it.

·         Collective Responsibility: The government is collectively responsible to the parliament. This means that all ministers are responsible for the actions of the government, even if they disagree with them.

·         Vote of No Confidence: The government can be removed from power if it loses a vote of no confidence in the parliament.

Benefits of a Parliamentary Form of Government:

·         Accountable government: The government is directly accountable to the parliament, which represents the people. This makes the government more responsive to the needs of the people.

·         Flexibility: The parliamentary system is flexible and can adapt to changing circumstances. New governments can be formed quickly and easily if the old government loses the confidence of the parliament.

·         Promotes debate and discussion: The parliamentary system promotes debate and discussion of important issues. This can lead to better decision-making.

Challenges of a Parliamentary Form of Government:

·         Instability: The government can be unstable if there is no clear majority in the parliament. This can lead to frequent changes of government and make it difficult to implement long-term policies.

·         Dominance of the majority: The majority party or coalition can dominate the parliament and sideline the opposition. This can lead to a lack of accountability and transparency.

·         Weak leadership: The Prime Minister may be weak and unable to control the different factions within the government. This can lead to indecisiveness and inaction.

Examples of Parliamentary Form of Government:

·         India

·         United Kingdom

·         Canada

·         Australia

·         Japan

 

3) Separation of Powers

Separation of powers is a fundamental principle of democracy that divides the government's functions into three branches:

1.     The legislature: refers to elected representatives by the people.

2.     The executive: is a smaller group of people who are responsible for implementing laws and running the government.

3.     The judiciary: refers to the system of courts in India.

Each organ mentioned above acts as a check on the other organs of government. This ensures the balance of power between all three.

Benefits of Separation of Powers:

·         Prevents Concentration of Power: This ensures that no single branch becomes too powerful and prevents abuse of power.

·         Promotes Checks and Balances: Each branch has powers to check the other two branches, maintaining a balance of power.

·         Ensures Efficiency and Accountability: Each branch focuses on its specific tasks, leading to greater efficiency and accountability.

 

4) Fundamental Rights

The Constitution guarantees the rights of individuals against the State as well as against other individuals. It also guarantees the rights of minorities against the majority.

The Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution include:

1.     Right to Equality

2.     Right to Freedom

3.     Right against Exploitation

4.     Right to Freedom of Religion

5.     Cultural and Educational Rights

6.     Right to Constitutional Remedies

Fundamental Rights have two-fold objectives:

1.     Every citizen must be in a position to claim fundamental rights.

2.     Fundamental rights must be binding upon every authority that has got the power to make laws.

The Constitution also has a section called Directive Principles of State Policy which ensures greater social and economic reforms and serve as a guide to the independent Indian State to institute laws and policies.

The Indian Constitution guarantees six fundamental rights to all citizens in details:

1. Right to Equality:

·         This right prohibits discrimination based on religion, race, caste, sex, place of birth, or any other ground.

·         It ensures equal opportunities for all citizens in education, employment, and other spheres of life.

 

2. Right to Freedom:

·         This right includes six freedoms:

o    Freedom of speech and expression: The right to express one's thoughts and opinions freely, through speech, writing, or any other means.

o    Freedom of assembly: The right to gather peacefully without arms.

o    Freedom to form associations: The right to form or join groups or organizations.

o    Freedom of movement: The right to move freely within the country and to reside in any part of it.

o    Freedom to practice any profession, occupation, or trade: The right to choose one's profession or occupation.

o    Freedom to live a life of dignity and decency: The right to basic necessities like food, shelter, and clothing.

 

3. Right against Exploitation:

·         This right prohibits forced labor, including child labor, and bonded labor.

·         It also prohibits human trafficking and exploitation of any kind.

4. Right to Freedom of Religion:

·         This right guarantees the freedom to practice, profess, and propagate any religion.

·         It also protects the right to manage religious affairs.

 

5. Cultural and Educational Rights:

·         This right guarantees the right to conserve and protect one's culture.

·         It also guarantees the right to education.

6. Right to Constitutional Remedies:

·         This right provides legal remedies for the violation of any fundamental right.

·         It allows citizens to approach the High Court or Supreme Court for justice.