Nature and Features of Indian Constitution

Supreet Kaur

Our Constitution is the grundnorm of our Country.[1] It is fundamental and first law of land. It is the highest law and the source of all powers in India. Ours is the lengthiest Constitution in the world. It is sometimes criticized as borrowing bag, but it has unique features of its own as listed below.

Nature of Indian Constitution

A constitution can be unitary or federal. A unitary constitution is one in which all the powers of the government are vested in Central government. The unit governments or State governments enjoy only those powers which are delegated to it by central government. There is no separation of powers.

On the other hand, a federal Constitution divides the powers between Central and Unit governments. The Unit governments are not subordinate but act in coordination with the Central government.

Federalism forms the basic part of our Constitution. The Indian Constitution also divides the powers between Centre and State. Like Seventh Schedule specify the subject matter between centre and state on which the law can be made. There arises legislative, administrative, and financial relation between Centre and States as given under Article 245 to 293.

But from some provisions of the Constitution, it can be inferred that the Center is given more powers like in case of Emergency and in administrative relations. In case of repugnancy between Centre and State law, the former prevails. So it can be said that Ours is a federal Constitution with more centralising tendencies.

Features of Indian Constitution

  • Written Constitution

Ours is a written Constitution. It means that all the fundamental law is written in a single document. The written Constitution has many advantages since it is source of all the constitutional in the Country and is widely accepted.

The written constitution makes it easy to understand the constitutional law and to check the validity of all other laws that whether they are in conformity with the Constitution or not. A written Constitution divides the power between different organs of the government, thus establishes a limited government which cannot exceeds its powers.

  • Lengthy and Detailed Constitution

Indian Constitution is the lengthiest Constitution in the world with 470 Articles, 25 Parts and 12 Schedules with 5 appendices attached to it as our Constitution has described in detail everything like rights and duties of citizens, jurisdiction of courts, qualifications for various posts, election procedures, powers, and limitations of government etc. This detail has advantage as our fundamental law is certain now. We need not collect fundamental law from some other sources.

  • Fundamental law

The Constitution is fundamental and first law of land. It means that the Legislature cannot make any law which violates any of the provision of the Constitution. Such law is void. Being the fundamental law, it keeps check on exercise of power by the government.

The judiciary in India performs the task of interpreting the Constitution where Courts in U.K. which has no written Constitution, the courts interpret the laws itself. A law or a government action which is against the constitutional norms is invalid. Even the amendments of the Constitution can be declared void if they affect the basic Structure of the Constitution.

  • The Preamble

Our Constitution starts with the Preamble. Preamble is also a part of our Constitution. The purpose of Preamble to provide an idea about the goals of the Constitutional makers. The preamble was added to the Constitution after the rest of the Constitution was made. The various provisions of the Constitution are in conformity with the Preamble. The objectives given under Preamble contains the basic Structure of the Constitution[2].

  • Flexible but Rigid

Our Constitution can be amended, and it is necessary to keep it a living document as the law must change to serve the needs of society. But the amendment of the Constitution cannot be done in such a manner that the very essence of the Constitution is vanished. The Constitution itself contains the provisions for its Amendment under Article 368.

Some provisions can be amended by simple majority while other require special majority of the House of Parliament. Some provisions require ratifications by States for their amendment. Such provisions are those which concern both Union and State. The basic Structure of the Constitution cannot be amended.[3] So it can be said that it is rigid and Flexible as well.

  • Parliamentary form of government

We have Parliamentary form of government. The Parliament is vested with the power to make law and the Executive is also answerable to the Legislature. The supreme authority is vested with Parliament as the members are representatives of the people. The President is merely a formal head of the State. The Constitution has imposed limitations on the powers of parliament like Parliament can enact laws which violate fundamental rights but at the same time given it various powers and privileges.

  • Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic

The Preamble to the Constitution declares India as a Sovereign nation that is an independent nation free from any external control. Moreover, India is a Socialist State which work for the Welfare of people. The provisions of Constitution are such that the citizens enjoy their rights and can question the government.

There is no State religion in India. The State is neutral in matters of religion. Our Constitution also prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion. India is largest democracy in the world where people elect their government by Universal Adult Franchise. The will of people is reflected in their votes by which they choose their representative.

The government is answerable to the people. The head of the State that is the President is an elected head rather than a hereditary king or queen. The Constitution declares India as a republic State that follows the principle of “Rule of law”.

  • Fundamental Rights and Duties

Part III of our Constitution deals with fundamental rights. These rights are most important rights and are enforceable against the State. A citizen can directly approach Supreme Court or High Court for enforcement of these rights. Any law which contravenes with fundamental rights is void as per Article 13.

The rights under Article 20 and 21 cannot be suspended even during Emergency. However, our Constitution provides limitations to these rights as well (Example – Article 19(2) to 19 (6)). Besides rights, the citizens have fundamental duties as well under Part IV A. These were added by 42nd Amendment.

  • Directive Principles

Part IV of the Constitution contains Directive Principles of State policy. These are obligations on the State by which the objectives enshrined in the Preamble can be achieved. However, these policies are not binding. But yet they are complementary to the fundamental rights although they are not enforceable. These directives are to be kept in mind while making law.

  • Independent Judiciary

The judiciary in India is the final interpreter of the Constitution. It can declare a law void if it is unconstitutional under its power of judicial review which constitutes the basic part of the Constitution.[4] The appointment of judges is excluded from any political intervention. The conduct of judges cannot be discussed in the Parliament.

Their salary cannot be deducted to their disadvantage during the tenure of their service. It is the Constitution itself that limits the power of judiciary. No law or Act can do so.


It took 2 years, 11 months, and 18 days to prepare the Constitution. Our Constitutional makers studied the Constitution of different nations and incorporated their best provisions so as to give us a proper Constitution without any flaws. Our Constitution is unique in its spirit and essence as it is a detailed Constitution with modern outlook as it gives the power to amend it as well.

  1. Government of A.P. v. P.L. Devi AIR 2000 SC 1640
  2. Kesavnanda Bharati v. State of Kerala AIR 1973 SC 1461
  3. Kesavnanda Bharati’s case.
  4. State of Bihar v. Bal Mukund AIR 2000 SC 1296

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