Chapter 3: SALIENT FEATURES OF THE                             CONSTITUTION 

    • EVERY Constitution has a philosopHy of its own.

    • For the philosophy underlying our Constitution we must look back into the historic Objectives Resolution of Pandit Nehru which was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on January 22, 1947, and which inspired the shaping of the Constitution through all its subsequent stages. It reads thus –

    • “This Constituent Assembly declares its firm and solemn resolve to proclaim India as an Independent Sovereign Republic and to draw up for her future governance a Constitution:

      1. WHEREIN the territories that now comprise British India, the territories that now form the Indian States, and such other parts of India as are outside British India and the States as well as such other territories as are willing to be constituted into the Independent Sovereign india, shall be a Union of them all; and

      1. WHEREIN the said territories, whether With their present boundaries or with such others as may be determined by the Constituent Assembly and thereafter according to the law of the constitution, shall possess and retain the status of autonomous units, together with residuary powers, and exercise all powers and functions of Government and administration, save and except such powers and functions as are vested in or assigned to the Union, or as are inherent or implied in the Union or resulting therefrom; and

      1. WHEREIN all powers and authority of the Sovereign Independent India, Its constituent parts and organs of Governments are derived from the people, and

      1. Wherein shall be guaranteed and secured to all the people of India Justice, social, economic and political; equality of status, of opportunity, and before the law; freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith,worship, vocation, association and action, subject to law and public morality and

      1. WHEREIN adequate safeguards shall be provided for minorities, backward and tribal areas, and depressed and other baokwards; and

      1. WHEREIN shall be maintained the integrity of the territory of the Republic and Its sovereign rights on land, sea, and air according to justice and the law of civilised nations

      1. The ancient land attain Its rightful and honoured place in the world and make its full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind.”

    • The aforesaid Resolution was “something more than a resolution. It is a declaration, a firm resolve, a pledge, an undertaking and for all of us a dedication”

    • It will be seen that the ideal embodied in the above Resolution is faithfully reflected in the Preamble to the Constitution, which, as amended in 1976,summarises the aims and objects of the constitution

    • The importance and utility of the Preamble has been pointed out in several decisions of our Supreme Court. Though, by itself, it is not enforceable In a Court of law, the Preamble to a Written Constitution states the objects which the Constitutlon seeks to establish and promote and also aids the legal interpretation of the Constitution where the language is found to be ambiguous.

    • The Preamble to our Constitution serves, two purposes:

      1. it indicates the source from which the Constitution derives its authority

      1. It also states the objects which the Constitution seeks to establish and promote.

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    • As has been already explained. the Constitution of India, unlike the preceding Government of India Acts, is not a gift of Sovereign the British parliament, It is ordained by the people of India through their representatives assembled in a sovereign Constituent Assembly which was competent to determine the political future of the country in any manner it liked.

    • Sovereignty means the independent authority of a State. It means that it has the power to legislate on any subject; and that It is not subject to the control of any other State or external power.

    • The Preamble declares, therefore in unequivocal terms that the source of all authority under the Constitution is the people of India and that there is no subordination to any external authority. While Pakistan remained a British Dominion until 1956, India ceased to be a Dominion and declared herself a ‘Republic’ since the making of the Constitution in 1949. It means a government by the people and for the people.

    • On and from the 26th Jan, 1950, when the Constitution came into force, the Crown of England ceased to have any legal Or constitutional authority over India and no citizen of membership of the India was to have any allegiance to the British Crown.

    • But though India declared herself a Republic, she did not sever all ties with the British Commonwealth as did Eire, by enacting the Republic of Ireland Act, 1948.

    • In fact, the conception of the Commonwealth itself has undergone a change owing to India’s decision to adhere to the Commonwealth, without acknowledging allegiance to the Crown which was the symbol of unity of the Old British Empire and also of its successor, the ‘British Commonwealth of Nations’.

    • It is this decision of India which has converted the ‘British Commonwealth’ ,a relic of Imperialism, -into a free association of independent nations under the honourable name of the ‘Commonwealth of Nations’,

    • This historic decision took place at the Prime Ministers’ Conference at London on April 27, 1949 where our Prime Minister, Pandit Nehru, declared that notwithstanding her becoming a sovereign independent Republic. India will continue her full membership of the Commonwealth of Nations and her acceptance of the King as the symbol of the free association of the independent nations and as such the Head of the Commonwealth.”

    • It Is to be noted that this declaration is extra-legal and there is no mention of it in the Constitution of India. It Is a voluntary declaration and indicates a free association and no obllgation.

    • It accepts the Crown of England only as a symbolic head of the Commonwealth (having no functions to discharge in relation to India as belonged to him prior to the Constitution), and having no claim to the allegiance of the citizens of India.

    • Even if the King or Queen of England visits India, he or she will not be entitled to any precedence over the President of india. Again though as a member of the Commonwealth, India has a right to be represented on Commonwealth conferences decisions at Commonwealth conferences will not be binding on her and no treaty with a foreign power or declaration of war by any member of the Commonwealth will be binding on her without her express consent.

  • Hence, this voluntary association of India with the Commonwealth does not affect her sovereignty to any extent and it would be open to India to cut off that association at any time she finds it not to be honourable or useful.

Quiz

Score more than 80% marks and move ahead else stay back and read again!

Q1:Fundamental rights of Indian constitution are inspired from
1.USA
2.UK
3.Russia
4.Ireland

Q2:Directive Principles of state policy are inspired from
1.USA
2.UK
3.Russia
4.Ireland

Q3:Directive principles are
1.justifiable
2.enforceable
3.superior to fundamental rights
4.none

Q4:Feature unique to Indian constitution is
1.single citizenship
2.Supreme court
3.emergency powers
4.Constitutional recognition to local governments

Q5:Voting age was reduced to 18 by amendment number
1.45
2.55
3.60
4.61