Article 368, of the Constitution Provides for Two Special Methods of Amendment

Article 368, of the Constitution, Provides for Two Special Methods of Amendment

(i) Most of the provisions of the Constitution can be amended by the Union Parliament by passing an Amendment Bill by a majority of total membership and 2/3rd majority of members present and voting in each of its two Houses.

(ii) For the amendment of some specified parts, a very rigid method has been provided. Under it, first, the Union Parliament passes the Amendment Bill by a majority of total membership and 2/3rd majority of members present and voting in each house, and then it goes to the State Legislatures for ratification. The Amendment gets passed only when it is approved by not less than one-half of the several states of the Union.

Thus the Constitution of India is partly rigid and partly flexible.

Fundamental Rights:

Under its Part IIIC Articles, 12-35), the Constitution of India grants and guarantees Fundamental Rights to its citizens. It is called the Indian Bill of Rights. Initially, 7 Fundamental Rights were granted but after the deletion of the Right to Property from the list of Fundamental Rights (44th Amendment Act 1979) their number came down to six.

The Six Fundamental Rights are:

(i) Right to Equality:

It provides for Equality before Law, End of Discrimination, Equality of Opportunity, Abolition of untouchability, and Abolition of Titles.

(ii) Right to Freedom:

It incorporates six fundamental freedoms -freedoms of speech and expression, freedom to form associations, freedom to assemble peaceably without arms, freedom to move freely in India, freedom of residence in any part, and freedom of adopting any profession or trade or occupation. It ensures personal freedom and protection in respect of conviction for certain offenses.

The Constitution lays down that the freedom of life and liberty cannot be limited or denied except in accordance with the procedure established by law. Now under Art 21A, the Right to Education for children between the ages of 6-14 years has been granted. Art. 22 guarantees protection against arbitrary arrest and detention.

(iii) Right against Exploitation:

This Fundamental Right prohibits the sale and purchase of human beings, forced labor (beggar), and employment of children in hazardous jobs and factories.

(iv) Right to Freedom of Religion:

The grant of this right involves the freedom of conscience, religion, and worship. Any person can follow any religion. It gives all religions freedom to establish and maintain their religious institutions. No person can be compelled to pay any tax for the propagation of any religion. The state cannot levy a tax for any religion and the constitution prohibits the imparting of religious instructions in schools and colleges.

(v) Cultural and Educational Rights:

Under this category, the Constitution guarantees the rights of the minorities to maintain and develop their languages and cultures. It also confers upon them the right to establish, maintain and administer their educational institutions.

(vi) Right to Constitutional Remedies (Art. 32):

This fundamental right is the soul of the entire Bill of Rights. It provides for the enforcement and protection of Fundamental Rights by the courts. It empowers the Supreme Court and High Courts to issue writs for the enforcement of these rights.

(12) National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and State Human Rights Commission and Protection of Human Rights:

With a view to protecting the human rights of all the people the Protection of Human Rights Act. 1993 was passed by the Union Parliament. Under it the National Human Rights Commission was established. It is headed by a former Chief Justice of India. It acts as an independent commission with a status of a civil court. It works for preventing the violations of the human rights of the people.

Its cases of proven violations of human rights, the NHRC can order the grant of compensation to the victims. Several State, Human Rights Commission are also working for the protection of Human Rights. India is fully committed to protecting the human rights of all the people of the world.

(13) Fundamental Duties of the Citizens:

In its Part IVA (Article 51 A) the Constitution describes the following Fundamental Duties of a citizen:

1. Respect for the Constitution, the national flag, and the national anthem;

2. Cherish the noble ideals of the freedom struggle;

3. Uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India;

4. Defend the country and render national service when called;

5. Promote the common brotherhood of all the people of India and renounce any practice derogatory to the dignity of women;

6. Preserve the rich heritage of the nation’s composite culture;

7. Project the natural environment and have compassion for living creatures;

8. Develop scientific temper, humanism, and spirit of inquiry and reform;

9. Safeguard public property and abjure violence; and

10. Strive for excellence in all individual and collective activities.

11. Duty of the parents to send their children to schools for getting an education.

The Fundamental Duties are, however, not enforceable by the courts.

(14) Directive Principles of State Policy:

Part IV of the Constitution dealing with the ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’ provides one of the most striking features of the Indian Constitution. The Directive Principles are instructions to the state for securing socio-economic developmental objectives through its policies. These are to be implemented by both the Union for the States.

For example, Directive Principles direct the state to ensure for the people adequate means of livelihood, fairer distribution of wealth, equal pay for equal work, protection of children, women, labor and youth, old age pension, social security, local self-government, protection of the interests of the weaker sections of society; promotion of cottage industries, rural development, international ‘peace friendship and co-operation with other states, etc. The aim of Part IV is to secure and strengthen socio-economic democracy in India.

(15) Bi-Cameral Union Parliament:

The Constitution provides for a Bicameral Legislature at the Union level and names it as the Union Parliament. Its two Houses are The Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. The Lok Sabha is the lower, popular, directly elected house of the Parliament. It represents the people of India.

Its maximum strength stands fixed at 550. Presently Lok Sabha has 545 members. The people of each state elect representatives in proportion to their population. Orissa has 21 seats out of which some seats are reserved for the people belonging to SCs and STs.

Members of the Lok Sabha are directly elected by the people of India. All men and women of 18 years or above of age whose names are registered in the voter's lists vote in elections for electing the members of Lok Sabha. Every voter of 25 years or above of age is eligible to contest elections to the Lok Sabha. The tenure of the Lok Sabha is 5 years. But the President acting under the advice of Prime Minister can dissolve it earlier also.

The Rajya Sabha is the upper and, indirectly elected second House of Parliament. It represents the states of the Indian union. Its maximum membership can be 250. Presently, the Rajya Sabha has 245 members. Out of these 233 members are elected by all the State Legislative Assemblies and 12 are nominated by the President from amongst eminent persons from the fields of Art, Science, and Literature. Rajya Sabha is a quasi-permanent house. Its 1/3rd members retire after every two years. Each member has a tenure of six years. Orissa has 10 seats in the Rajya Sabha.

Of the two houses, of Parliament, the Lok Sabha is a more powerful House. It alone has financial powers. The Union Council of Ministers is collectively responsible before the Lok Sabha. However, the Rajya Sabha is neither as powerless as the British House of Lords nor the Lok Sabha is as powerful as the British House of Commons.

(16) Parliamentary System:

The Constitution of India provides for a parliamentary system of government at the Centre as well as in every state of the Union. The President of India is the constitutional head of state with nominal powers. The Union Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister is the real executive. Ministers are essential members of the Union Parliament.

For all its policies and decisions the Council of Ministers is collectively responsible before the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha can remove the Ministry by passing a vote of no-confidence. The Cabinet, in fact the Prime Minister has the power to get the Lok Sabha dissolved by the President. On similar lines a parliamentary government is also at work in each state.

(17) Adult-Suffrage:

Another feature of the Constitution is that it provides for universal adult suffrage. All men and women enjoy an equal right to vote. Each adult man and woman above the age of 18 years has the right to vote. All registered voters get the opportunity to vote in elections.

(18) Single integrated State with Single Citizenship:

India is the single Independent and Sovereign integrated state. Presently it has 28 states and 7 Union Territories. All citizens enjoy common uniform citizenship. They are entitled to equal rights and freedoms, and equal protection of the state.”

(19) Single Integrated Judiciary:

The Constitution provides for a single integrated judicial system common for the Union and the states. The Supreme Court of India works at the apex level, High Courts at the state level, and other courts work under the High Courts.

There are 21 State High Courts working in all parts of India. Orissa High Court has been in existence since 1948 and it is located at Cuttack. The Supreme Court is the highest court of the land. It controls and runs the judicial administration of India.

(20) Independence of Judiciary:

The Indian Constitution makes the judiciary truly independent. It is clear from the following facts:

(a) Judges are appointed by the President,

(b) Only persons with high legal qualifications and experience are appointed as judges,

(c) Judges of the Supreme Court cannot be removed from office except through an extremely difficult process of implementation.

(d) The salaries of the judges are very high,

(e) The Supreme Court has its own staff. Indian judiciary has an autonomous organization and status. It works as an independent and powerful judiciary.

(21) Judicial Review:

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The Supreme Court acts as the guardian protector and interpreter of the Constitution. It is also the guardian of the Fundamental Rights of the people. For this purpose, it exercises the power of judicial review. By it, the Supreme Court determines the constitutional validity of all laws made by the legislatures. It can reject any law which is found to be unconstitutional.

(22) Judicial Activism:

Currently, the Indian judiciary has been becoming more and more active towards the performance of its social obligations. Through the Public Interest Litigation system (PIL) as well as through a more active exercise of its powers, the Indian judiciary has been now very actively trying to secure all public demands and needs due to them under the laws and policies of the state.

(23) Emergency Provisions:

The Constitution of India contains special provisions for dealing with emergencies.

It recognizes three types of possible emergencies:

(1) National Emergency (Article 352) an emergency resulting from war or external aggression or threat of external aggression against India or from armed rebellion within India or in any of its part;

(2) Constitutional Emergency in a State (Article 356) an emergency resulting from the failure of constitutional machinery in any state; or some states and

(3) Financial Emergency (Article 360) is an emergency resulting from a threat to the financial stability of India.

The President of India has been empowered to take appropriate steps for dealing with these emergencies. During the period of an emergency, the powers of the President, actually of the PM, and the Union Council of Ministers Cabinet increase tremendously. President can take all steps deemed essential for meeting an emergency. These are called the emergency powers of the President.

(24) Special Provisions relating to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes:

With a view to protecting the interests of people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the Constitution lays down certain special provisions. It provides for the reservation of seats in the legislatures for the people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. President can nominate in Lok Sabha not more than two members of the Anglo-Indian Community in case he is of the opinion that this community is not adequately represented in the House.

Reservation of some jobs for the people belonging to SCs, STs, and OBCs has also been in operation. The reservation system has been now extended up to the year 2020. Presently, a bill for granting 33% reservation of legislative seats for women is in the process of getting enacted into law. The reservation system is also in existence in the Panchayats and Municipal Councils.

(25) Provisions regarding Language:

The Constitution lays down special provisions for defining the Language of the Union, Regional Languages, and Language of the Supreme Court and High Courts. It states that the official language of the Union shall be Hindi in the Devnagri script. But along with this, it also provides for the continuance of the English language. A state legislature can adopt the language of the province as its official language.

English continues to be the language of the Supreme Court and the High Courts. The Constitution gives a directive to the Union to develop Hindi and popularise its use. In its Eighth Schedule, the Constitution recognizes 22 modern Indian Languages — Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Nepali, Manipuri, Konkani, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bodo, Dogri, Maithili, and Santhali.

(26) A Constitution Drawn from several Sources:

In formulating the Constitution of India, the founding fathers used several sources. The values and ideals of the national movement guided their path. The national movement influenced them to adopt secularism as the ideal. Some provisions of the Government of India Act 1935 were used by them and several features of foreign constitutions influenced them and were adopted by them.

In adopting the parliamentary system and bicameralism, the British Constitution influenced them. The US Constitution influenced them in favor of republicanism, independence of the judiciary, judicial review, and bill of rights. The progress of the (former) USSR after the 1917 Socialist Revolution influenced them to adopt socialism as a goal. Likewise, they were influenced by the constitutions of Canada, Australia, the Weimar Republic (Germany), and Ireland.

With all these features, the Indian Constitution is a constitution best suited to the Indian environment. The Constitution has been helping India to organize and run its government and administration in an effective way both in times of peace and war. The basic structure of the Constitution i.e. its most fundamental features can be described as Preamble, Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles, Secularism, Federalism, Republicanism, Independence of Judiciary, Rule of Law, and Liberal Democracy.

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