Indian Constitution has several salient features that distinguish it from other constitutions of the world. It has unique content and spirit. Despite some features being borrowed by the constitutions of other countries, it has many original features too.


  • Lengthiest Written Constitution – The Indian Constitution is the most elaborated, detailed and lengthiest written constitution in the world unlike the unwritten British constitution. The reason behind the huge size of the constitution are:

(a) Geographical factors, that is, the vastness of the country and its diversity.

(b) Influence of the Government of India Act of 1935, which was bulky.

(c) Single Constitution for both the Centre and the states.

(d) Dominance of legal luminaries in the Constituent Assembly.

(e) Provision for legislative, executive, and administrative matters in one document.

Apart from the fundamental principles, it includes detailed administrative provisions.

  • Borrowed from various sources- Dr B R Ambedkar proudly acclaimed that the Constitution of India has been framed after ‘ransacking all the known Constitutions of the World. Though it has been drawn from the various sources, it has been modified by the multiple amendments, particularly, 7th, 42nd, 44th, 73rd, 74th and 97th amendments to avoid any fault in the existing conditions and to meet needs of the country. In fact, the 42nd Amendment Act (1976) is known as ‘Mini-Constitution’ due to the important and large number of changes made by it in various parts of the Constitution.


  • Blend of Rigidity and Flexibility- The Constitution of India is neither a rigid (like USA constitution – meaning that amendment can only take place through special procedure) or flexible (like UK Constitution – meaning easy amendment of the constitution in the same way as that of the ordinary laws.) constitution. The Indian Constitution is a mix of both. Article 368 provides two ways of amending the constitution:
  1. One, via special majority i.e., a two-third majority of the members of each House present and voting, and a majority (that is, more than 50 per cent), of the total membership of each House.
  2. Second, special majority of the Parliament along with ratification of half of the total states.
  3. Apart from the Constitution provides a third way amendment as well which is outside the scope of Article 368 i.e. amendment via simple majority of the Parliament (majority of more than 50% of members present and voting), meaning in the same as that of ordinary legislative procedure.


  • Federal system with Unitary bias- Indian Constitution consists of various federal features such as division of powers, written constitution, independence of judiciary, and bicameralism. However, the word federation is mentioned nowhere in the constitution.

Article 1, on the other hand, describes India as a ‘Union of States’ which implies two things: one, Indian Federation is not the result of an agreement by the states; and two, no state has the right to secede from the federation. The non- federal or Unitary features of our constitution are a strong Centre, single Constitution, single citizenship, flexibility of Constitution, integrated judiciary, appointment of state governor by the Centre, all-India services, emergency provisions, and so on.

Hence the Indian Constitution has been variously described as ‘federal in form but unitary in spirit’, ‘quasi-federal’ by K C Wheare, ‘bargaining federalism’ by Morris Jones, ‘co-operative federalism’ by Granville Austin, ‘federation with a centralising tendency’ by Ivor Jennings, and so on.


  • Parliamentary form of Government- The features of British Parliamentary system of Government has been adopted by the Indian Constitution. They are:
  1. No water-tight separation of powers between executive and legislature.
  2. Presence of nominal and real executives.
  3. Majority party rule.
  4. Collective responsibility of the executive to the Legislature.
  5. Membership of the ministers in the legislature.
  6. Leadership of the prime minister or the chief minister.
  7. Dissolution of the lower House (Lok Sabha or Assembly).


  • Integrated and Independent Judiciary- The Judiciary system in India is independente. the constitution ensures security of tenure of the judges, fixed service conditions for the judges, all the expenses of the Supreme Court charged on the Consolidated Fund of India, prohibition on discussion on the conduct of judges in the legislatures, ban on practice after retirement, power to punish for its contempt vested in the Supreme Court etc.

It also provides provision for the establishment of Integrated judiciary i.e. there is only one Supreme court examining both national and state laws, followed by respective high courts in various states and then lower courts.

The Supreme Court is a federal court, the highest court of appeal, the guarantor of the fundamental rights of the citizens and the guardian of the Constitution.


  • Synthesis between Parliament sovereignty and Judiciary supremacy- Our Constitution provides the judicial supremacy through judicial review system which is limited by Article 21 (procedure established by law). Whereas parliament sovereignty is ensured through providing the constituent powers but again limited by the concept of the basic structure of the constitution. Therefore, it prevents each other by turning into tyrannical.


  • Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and DPSP- The Constitution gives every Indian citizen six basic human rights known as fundamental rights which are enforceable by the courts to preserve individual liberty in the society.

The fundamental duties refer to the moral obligations of all the citizens to have patriotic sense and respect towards the nation.

The Directive Principles of State Policy are suggestive guidelines for the government to keep in mind while framing laws for the welfare of the citizens. Though, these are not enforceable by the court, it is expected to consider these fundamental principles for passing any law.

  • Independent Bodies- The Indian Constitution goes a step forwards and establishes Independent bodies to ensure the protection of the democratic system of the country. These are:
  • Election Commission of India – to conduct free and fair elections.
  • Comptroller and Auditor General of India – to audit the accounts of Central and State governments.
  • UPSC and SPSC – to conduct examination for All India Services and state examinations respectively.

The Constitution ensures the independence of these bodies through various provisions like security of tenure, fixed service conditions, expenses being charged on the Consolidated Fund of India, and so on.

  • Emergency Provisions- The Constitution has incorporated some provision to enable the President of India to act effectively under extraordinary situations to safeguard the sovereignty, unity, integrity and security of the country, the democratic political system and the Constitution. During the time of emergency, the federal structure converts into unitary one, making the Central government very powerful.

The three Emergencies provided by Constitution are:

  • National Emergency under Article 352 (on grounds of war, external aggression and armed rebellion)

Note: The 44th Amendment Act (1978) has replaced the original term ‘internal disturbance’ by the new term ‘armed rebellion’.

  • President’s Rule under Article 356 and 365
  • Financial Emergency (Article 360)
  • Universal Adult Franchise- Indian democracy gives an equal political right to every citizen who is 18 years of age or above, to vote in the elections without any discrimination on the basis of sex, race, caste, religion or status.
  • Single Citizenship- Unlike in USA, where there is the concept of dual citizenship, Indian Constitution adopted the system of single citizenship. It was adopted so as to promote unity and integrity and a sense of common brotherhood in the nation.
  • Three tier government structure- Only our country in the world has three tier system of governance which are the basic units of local administration. It was introduced through 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments Acts (1992).
  • The Secular State- The concept of Secularism in India is positive in nature which gives equal respect and recognition to all the religions in the public affairs with equal protection. Therefore, the Indian state does not recognize any religion as an official state religion.

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