These features have been identified as fundamental rights, preamble, Secularism, Directive principles, independence of judiciary, Federalism, liberal democracy, rule of law and Republicanism.
The Constitution of India is the supreme law of India. It is a living document, an instrument which makes the government system work. It lays down the framework defining fundamental political principles, establishes the structure, procedures, powers and duties of government institutions and sets out fundamental rights, directive principles and the duties of citizens. It is the longest written constitution of any sovereign country in the world, Containing 470 articles in 25 parts, 12 schedules, 5 appendices and 105 Amendments.
The Constitution of India establishes a federal system of government. It contains all the usual features of a federation, such as two governments, division of powers, written constitution, the supremacy of the constitution, the rigidity of the Constitution, independent judiciary and bicameralism.
Salient Features of the Indian Constitution:
The lengthiest Constitution in the world
The Indian Constitution is the lengthiest and the most detailed of all the written Constitutions of the world containing 449 articles in 25 parts, 12 schedules, 5 appendices and 101 Amendments.
Parliamentary form of Government
The constitution of India establishes a parliamentary form of a government both at the Centre and the State. The essence of the parliamentary government is its responsibility to the Legislature. The president is the constitutional head of the State but the real executive power is vested in the council of ministers whose head is the Prime Minister.
Unique blend of rigidity and flexibility
It has been the nature of the amending process itself in federations which had led political scientists to classify federal Constitution as rigid.
The incorporation of a formal declaration of Fundamental Rights in part III of the Constitution is deemed to be a distinguishing feature of a democratic State. These rights are prohibitions against the State. The State cannot make a law which takes away or abridges any of the rights of the citizens guaranteed in part III of Constitution.
Directive Principles of State policy (DPSP)
The Directive Principles of State Policy contained in Part IV of the Constitution, it set out the aims and objectives to be taken up by the States in the governance of the country.
A federation with strong centralizing tendency
The most remarkable feature of the Indian Constitution is that being a federal Constitution it acquires a unitary character during the time of emergency. During the proclamation of emergency the normal distribution of powers between Centre and State undergoes a vital change. The union parliament is empowered to legislate on any subject mentioned in the state list. The financial arrangements between the Centre and State can also be altered by the Union Government.
The old system of communal electorates has been abolished and the uniform adult suffrage system has been adopted. Under the Indian Constitution every man and women above 18 years of age has been given the right to elect representatives for the legislature.
An Independent Judiciary
An independent and impartial judiciary with power of judicial review has been established under the Constitution of India. It is a custodian right of citizens. Besides, in a federal Constitution it plays another significant role of determining the limits of power of the Centre and States.
A Secular State
A Secular State has no religion of its own as recognised religion of State. It treats all religions equally. Articles 25 to 28 of the Indian Constitution give concrete shape to this concept of secularism. It guarantees to every person the freedom of conscience and the right to profess, practice and propagate religion. In a Secular state, the state only regulates the relationship between man and man.
The American constitution provides for dual citizenship, i.e., the citizen of America and a state citizenship. But in India there is only one citizenship, i.e., Citizen of India. No state citizenship like citizen of Assam, Citizen of Delhi. Every Indian is Citizen of India and enjoys the same rights of citizenship no matter in what state he resides.