The Constitution of India was implemented on November 26, 1949 by the Constituent Assembly and came into force on January 26, 1950. The enforcement of the Constitution substituted the Government of India Act of 1935, repealed the Indian Independence Act of 1947 and Union of India was converted into ‘Republic of India’. Originally, the Constitution consisted of a Preamble, 395 Articles, 22 parts and 8 Schedules. The Indian Constitution is written and the longest Constitution in the world discussing in detail the federal system. The Constitution further explains and prescribes the following:
- The fundamental rights and duties of Indian citizens;
- The Directive Principles to be followed by the State in formulating its policies;
- Different organizations and the authority of the Government;
- The three organs of the Government viz; the executive, judiciary and legislature;
- Powers and function of the President and the Governors of States, authority of the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers;
- Emergency provisions and the amending procedures of the Constitution etc.
The Preamble of the Constitution is considered to be the indispensable part which helps to understand the motive of the framers of the Constitution. The Preamble states that people are the decisive power and Constitution originates from the people. Article 1 of the Constitution declares India to be Union of States and Schedule I provides for the names of States and Union Territories in India. Part II of the Constitution provides for the grounds for acquiring Indian citizenship.
The most important part of the Constitution is Part III which guarantees six fundamental rights to all citizens from Articles 12-35. These rights are not unconditional, but subject to certain restrictions and can be enforced through the judiciary. The fundamental rights assured by the Constitution include:
- Right to equality
- Right to freedom
- Right against exploitation
- Right to freedom of religion
- Right to cultural and educational rights
- Right to constitutional remedies.
The right to property was a fundamental right before 44th Constitution (Amendment) Act, 1978; however it is included as a constitutional right under Article 300A. The fundamental rights also included provision for right against self incrimination, preventive detention and double jeopardy. Right to education is promised as a fundamental right by including Article 21 A by amending the Constitution through the 86th Amendment Act. Additionally, Part IV of the Constitution contains Directive Principles of State Policy from Articles 36-51. The Directives are not enforceable through the Court of law but shall be considered essential in the governance of the nation. The matters included in the directives are the welfare of the public, sufficient resources to livelihood, distribution of wealth for the common good, healthy life for children, abolition of child labour, free legal assistance to the poor, formation of panchayats, conditions of work and education, uniform civil code, safeguard the environment, maintenance of peaceful international relations etc.
The forty second amendment to the constitution often called as the ‘mini constitution’ in 1976 inserted Part IV A which deals with eleven duties to be followed by the Indian citizens. The Constitution states elaborate provisions dealing with the appointment, powers and functions of the Union and State Executive. The Union Executive consists of the President, Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The Constitution vests the executive power of the Union in the President of India. The Vice-President is considered to be the ex-officio chairman of the Rajya Sabha. The chief of the Council of Ministers and the head of the majority party is the Prime Minister. The first law officer of the country is the Attorney General of India according to the Constitution. The 52nd Amendment of 1985 added Schedule 10 to the Constitution which provides for Anti Defection laws. To prepare the accounts and conduct the audit for the Central government, the Constitution provides for the appointment of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India by the President.
The Governor is the principal executive of the State appointed by the President. The guardian to implement the provisions of the Constitution is the Supreme Court of India with a Chief Justice and twenty five other judges. Each state shall have a High Court with the Chief Justice and the judges appointed by the President according to his discretion. However, the 73rd amendment to the Constitution added Part IX dealing with Panchayats and Municipalities. Part XVIII deals with emergency provisions viz; national emergency, state emergency and financial emergency. The fundamental provision of the Constitution is Article 368 which grants power to the Parliament to amend Constitution according to the prescribed procedure. Article 370 of the Constitution confers unique position to the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Seventh Schedule to the Constitution contains three lists- Union lists, State lists and Concurrent list. In the Union list the Central Government is empowered to make laws, in the state list the state can legislate on the entries provided in the list and in the concurrent list both Central and the State Government can enact laws.
At present there are 448 Articles to the Constitution of India inserted through various amendments. In addition, 118 Constitution Amendment Bills are submitted for consideration before the Parliament and 98 of them have been passed to turn out to be Amendment Acts.
Download and Read: The Constitution of India ( as on 9th November, 2015)