India is a largest democracy of the world. In spite of so much diversity, inequality and poverty its integrity is intact and democracy is flourishing. Indian constitution has played a very important role in this. It would be very interesting to study the features of this constitution, which makes it so successful. So let us study those features today.
Written constitution :- Constitution can be written or unwritten based on the fact that whether it is enacted by a constituent assembly or evolved over time. All modern constitutions, except constitution of the U. K are written constitution. Indian constitution too is a written constitution as it was enacted by constituent assembly in 26th November 1949 and enforced on 26th January 1950. unlike the constitution of the U. K, in Indian constitution all the articles, schedules and parts are documented and nothing has been left for oral tradition of custom or convention. The constitution of U. K is an unwritten one, where custom, conventions, traditions and agreements such as 'Magna Carta' signed many centuries ago all form the basis of constitution.
Longest constitution :- Indian constitution is the longest constitution of the world, as originally it contained 395 articles (now more than 450), 8 schedules (now 12 schedules) and 22 parts. The reason for such a great size is that it is one comprehensive document which contains powers, functions and duties of Union, state and local governments. In the U. S, states have their separate constitution and Supreme Court, as it is a federation of states, but in Indian constitution India is mentioned as a union of states as it is not a result of some agreement between states. Hence in India we have single constitution, single citizenship, single integrated judicial system and all the three institutions of democracy that is Legislature, Executive and Judiciary derive their powers from common source.
Federal constitution :- Indian constitution is a federal constitution since executive power has been devided between union and States. In India unlike in the U. K, states aren't merely administrative instruments created to facilitate union government, they have actual political powers and privileges, which can't be encroached by the Union in normal circumstances. To avoid any clash or overlap between union and State, Seventh schedule of the constitution contains three lists i.e Union, state and concurrent list. Only union government can make laws on the subjects mentioned in the Union list, state government can make the laws mentioned on the subjects of state list and both union as well as state can make laws on the subjects of concurrent list. However if the laws made by union and State on the subject of concurrent list contradicts each other than law made by union will prevail. However some people argue that Indian constitution is not truly federal as unlike in the U. S, union can make laws on state subjects in the event of national emergency under article 352, state emergency or president rule under article 356 and 365 and when Rajya Sabha passes a resolution with 2/3rd majority that it is in the national interest for the parliament to pass the law on the subject of the state list under article 249. Parliament can make laws on residuary subjects which are not mentioned in any list under article 248. Due to certain unique conditions and diversity in India, it was required that India must have federal structure but with strong union. Hence some people also call Indian constitution as semi federal or quasi federal.
Rigid as well as flexible :- Constitution can be described as rigid or flexible on the basis of its ease of amendebility. For instance constitution of the U. K, is flexible because, there is no separate procedure required for amending the constitution, it can be as easily amended as the parliament U. K enacts a law. On the other hand constitution of the U. S is rigid because to amend it, a constitution amendment bill has to be passed by the Congress with 2/3rd majority and then the passed bill has to be approved by the state assemblies of 3/4 states out of total 50 states. It is because of this very difficult process constitution of the U. S has been amended only 27 times in last two centuries. Indian constitution is both rigid as well as flexible because Article 368 of Indian constitution specifies two different procedures to amend the constitution. To amend the constitution a constitutional amendment bill has to be passed by parliament with 2/3rd majority, however if the amendment is related to those parts of Indian constitution which are related to powers, functions and privileges of state, then the bill has to be approved by 1/2 of state assemblies only then amendment comes in effect.
Borrowing Bay :- Indian constitution is called borrowing bay because it has borrowed various provisions from different sources. The Preamble and Fundamental Rights in the Indian constitution are inspired from the Preamble and Bill of rights of the U. S constitution, Parliamentary system and bicameralism is based on the constitution of U. K, Directive principle of state policy are inspired from Irish constitution, Fundamental duties are based on the constitution of the U. S. S. R, Emergency powers are inspired from the constitution of Weimar Republic of Germany, federal structure from Canada. Some people criticize that Indian constitution is a patchwork of the pieces taken from different constitution and some even allege that it is a model of plagiarism. However Dr. Ambedkar had refuted these charges in his speech in constituent assembly. He said "Fundamental principles on the basis of which all modern constitutions are based have been firmly established in last 100 years and nobody can deviate from them in the name of exclusivity or uniqueness. Nobody can claim to have any copyright on the fundamental principles of governance and relation between state and its people. This principles are not figment of any individual's imagination, they are the product of development of collective human consciousness in last 100 years by its struggle against Colonialism and imperialism." Secondly although Indian constitution has taken inspiration from many sources but it has accepted then with ample modification, addition and subtraction, to make it conducive for Indian conditions. For instance in Indian constitution Article 17 'Abolition of untouchability' has been added in Fundamental rights, because untouchability is a tradition which exclusively exist in India.
Fundamental Rights :- Indian constitution in part III gives certain Fundamental rights which are guaranteed to all the citizens by the state. These rights form the basis of meaningful human existence. These rights are Right to Equality (Article 14 -18), Right to liberty (Article 19 - 22), right against exploitation (Article 23 & 24), Right to freedom of religion (Article 25 - 28) Cultural and educational rights (Article 29 & 30) and Right to constitutional remedies (Article 32). These rights are justiciable which means if these rights are violated then aggrieved person can go to High Court or Supreme Court as these courts are guardian of fundamental rights. These rights can be suspended only in case of national emergency.
Directive Principle of state policy :- Indian constitution contains 'Directive principle of state policy' in part IV, which issues certain economic, social and political guidelines to the government in pursuit of its policy of governance. This guidelines are to be followed by every government while making any policy or law. These are not just guidelines, they are also economic, social and political objectives to be achieved by the government. For instance application of uniform civil code and provision of universal education is goal as well as policy guideline. However unlike fundamentas rights, these are not justiciable, but they are still fundamental in the governance of country.
It's this unique features which distinguishes it from other major constitutions of the world such as the constitution of U. K and the U. S and very successful in Indian conditions.