Constitution of India and Indian Polity

 THE CONSTITUTION

• In democracy, the sovereignty vests in the people and ideally people govern themselves.

• A constitution is a living and organic thing, which of all instruments has the greatest

claim to be construed broadly and liberally.

• Constitution represents the vision and values of its founding fathers.

• Constitution is based on the social, political and economic ethos as well as the faith

and aspirations of people.

• Constitutional law would normally cover and connote the fundamental law of the land

as contained in the provisions of the constitution.

• Constitution is not to be interpreted as a mere law but as the machinery by which laws

are made.

Drafting of the Constitution

• The concept of a constituent assembly had always been linked with the growth of the

national movement in India.

• The assembly appointed a number of committees to deal with diff erent aspects of the

problem of framing the constitution.

• The task of framing the Constitution of India was given to the Constituent Assembly

formed under the Cabinet Mission Plan of 1946.

• The Constituent Assembly appointed a Drafting Committee under the Chairmanship

of Dr B. R. Ambedkar then the Law Minister.

• The Constitution of India was enacted, signed and adopted by the Constituent

Assembly on 26 November 1949.

• Commencement of Constitution: On 26 January 1950, the Constitution of India came

into force and India became a republic.

Structure of the Indian Constitution

• The Constitution of India is a most comprehensive document, unique in its own way

and cannot be fi tted into any particular model or mould.

• The Constitution of India consists of the following:

1. The preamble.

2. Parts I to XXII, covering over 395 Articles.

3. Schedules 1–12.

• An appendix.

• The constitution originally adopted had 22 parts, 395 articles and 8 schedules. Presently,

as amended from time to time in the last 60 odd years, there have been 98 amendments.

• From 8 schedules it has grown to 12 schedules and the number of articles has increased

from 395 to more than 448. However, following the standard practice in this regard

and to facilitate referencing, the existing number of articles, parts or chapters have not

been changed.

• The constitution of India is a blend of the rigid and the fl exible federal and unitary and

presidential and parliamentary.

THE PREAMBLE

• The preamble of a constitution embodies basic values and the philosophy on which it

is based.

• The 42nd Amendment (1976) added the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ and now the

preamble reads as follows:

We, the people of India, have solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign,

Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens:

Justice, social economic and political;

Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

Equality of status and of opportunity and to promote among them all;

Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of

the Nation.

In our Constituent Assembly on this twenty-sixth day of November 1949, we do hereby Adopt, Enact and Give to Ourselves This Constitution. 

Preamble as Part of the Indian Constitution

• The preamble is an integral part of the constitution but is not an essential part of the constitution. 

• The Supreme Court in 1973 gave a landmark verdict (Kesavananda Bharti v/s State of Kerala) stating, ‘Preamble is a part of the constitution and is subject to amending  

power of the Parliament, as any other provisions of the constitution provided the basic structure of the constitution found in the preamble is not destroyed’. 

• So the preamble is a key to unravel the minds of the makers of the constitution.

Significance of the Preamble

• The Supreme Court of India has given many historic decision which highlight the

importance and utility of the preamble.

• The preamble serves three purposes:

1. It indicates the source from which the constitution derives its authority.

2. It states the objects that the constitution seeks to establish and promote.

3. It states the date of its adoption.

• The nation turns to the various expressions contained in the preamble for proper appreciation of the aims and aspirations embodied in the constitution. 

• It also aids the legal interpretation of the constitution where the language is found to be ambiguous.

Interpretation of the Preamble

• The preamble may be invoked to determine the ambit of

1. Fundamental Rights

2. Directive Principles of State Policy

• It may be pressed into service to interpret constitutional provisions whereby the

preamble declares India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic.

IMPORTANT CONSTITUTIONAL DOCTRINES

Doctrine of Double Jeopardy

• A person shall not be prosecuted and punished for the same off ence more than once

[Article 20(2)].

Doctrine of Eclipse

• The state is prohibited from making any law which contravenes any of the fundamental

rights [Article 13(2)].

Doctrine of Basic Feature of the Constitution

• This is also known as Doctrine of Basic Structure or Basic Elements of the Constitution

(propounded in 1973 as tabulated in the Kesavnanda case):

1. Supremacy of the constitution

2. Republican and democratic form of government

3. Secular character of the constitution

4. Separation of powers

5. Federal character of the constitution

• In the Indira Gandhi v/s Raj Narain case in 1975, the Supreme Court founded the

following elements as the basic structure of the constitution:

1. India as a sovereign democratic republic

2. Equality of status and opportunity

3. Secularism and the freedom of conscience

4. Rule of law

• Further, the ‘amending power of the parliament’, ‘Judicial review’ and ‘balance

between the fundamental rights and the directive principles’ were added to the list of elements basic to the Indian Constitution. 

• In a landmark ruling in January 2007, the Supreme Court of India confi rmed that all

laws (including those in Schedule 9) would be open to judicial review if they violate the basic structure of the constitution. Doctrine of Bias 

• According to this, a person should not be a judge in one’s own case and justice should not

only be done but should also be seen to be done for the legitimacy of judicial administration.

Doctrine of Harmonious Interpretation

• Where two provisions in the constitution appear to be in confl ict, the meaning that

gives eff ect to both the provisions and ensures their smooth and harmonious operation s hould be accepted.

Doctrine of Liberal Interpretation

• It provides for the liberal interpretation of the constitution.

• This has led to a great deal of creative jurisprudence in India.

Doctrine of Progressive Interpretation

• The constitution shall be interpreted progressively with due consideration to the

dynamic nature of the socio-legal framework.

Doctrine of Ministerial Responsibility

• For every act of the state, the ministers are responsible to the people through their

elected representative in the parliament [Article 75(3)].

• It is an essential indicator of the parliamentary system.

Doctrine of Pith and Substance

• If the laws made by the parliament (under Articles 249 and 250) are incoherent with

the state laws, then the law made by the parliament shall remain eff ective (Article 251)

and the state laws shall not be operative to the extent of repugnancy.

Doctrine of Pleasure

• The services of a government employee, in defence service or civil service, can be

dispensed with/without assigning any reasons.

• However, there were special constitutional safeguards in the case of certain high

functionaries such as Judges of Supreme Court and High Courts, the Chief Election

Commissioner, Comptroller and Auditor-General, members of Public Service

Commissions, etc., concerning their removal from their respective offi ces except in the manner laid down in relevant articles. 

Doctrine of Prospective Overruling

• An interpretation of the constitution given by court or the law declared by it may not

overrule the validity of the past acts if any.

Doctrine of Repugnancy

• Any jurisdictional conflict between the union and the states concerning their

legislative competence can be settled by the court ascertaining the substance of the

matter relating to an item in one list or the other.

Doctrine of Severability

• If a part of the constitutional provision is found to be invalid, then the validity of

the remaining part need not be aff ected, provided the part can be separated from the

impugned part and can stand on its own.

Doctrine of Territorial Nexus

• The state law may not be considered valid outside the state unless there is an

establishment of a signifi cant territorial nexus or connection between the state making l aw and the subject matter of the legislation.

• The doctrine can be applied in cases involving sales tax, sale of goods and lotteries, prize/competition money, etc. 

Parts and Articles of the Constitution

• Part I/Articles 1–4 (Territory of India, admission, establishment or formation of new states) 

• Part II/Articles 5–11 (Citizenship)

• Part III/Articles 12–35 (Fundamental rights)

• Part IV/Articles 36–51 (Directive principles of state policy)

• Part IV-A/Article 51 A (Duties of a citizen of India)

• Part V/Articles 52–151 (Government at the union level)

• Part VI/Articles 152–237 (Government at the state level)

• Part VII/Article 238 (Repealed by 7th Amendment, 1956)

• Part VIII/Articles 239–241 (Administration of union territories)

• Part IX/Articles 242–243 O (The Panchayats)

• Part IX-A/Articles 243P–243 ZG (The municipalities)

• Part X/Articles 244–244 A (Scheduled and tribal areas)

• Part XI/Articles 245–263 (Relations between the union and states)

• Part XII/Articles 264–300 A (Finance, property, contracts and suits)

• Part XIII/Articles 301–307 (Trade, commerce and travel within territory of India)

• Part XIV/Articles 308–323 (Services under the union and states)

• Part XIV-A/Articles 323A–323B (Deals with administrative tribunals)

• Part XV/Articles 324–329A (Election and election commission)

• Part XVI/Articles 330–342 ( Special provision to certain classes SCs/STs, OBCs and Anglo Indians) 

• Part XVII/Articles 343–351 (Offi cial languages)

• Part XVIII/Articles 352–360 (Emergency provisions)

• Part XIX/Articles 361–367 (Miscellaneous provisions)

• Part XX/Article 368 (Amendment of constitution)

• Part XXI/Articles 369–392 (Temporary, transitional and special provisions)

• Part XXII/Articles 393–395 (Short title, commencement and repeal of the constitution)

SCHEDULES

• Schedules can be added to the constitution by amendment. The original constitution only had eight schedules. 

• The Ninth Schedule was the fi rst schedule added to the original constitution by the 1st

Amendment of 1951 and the Twelfth Schedule is the latest schedule added by the 74th Amendment of 1992. 

• The 12 schedules in force cover the designations of the states and union territories;

the emoluments for high level offi cials; forms of oaths; allocation of the number of

seats in the Rajya Sabha (Council of States, the upper house of parliament) per state or

territory; provisions for the administration and control of scheduled areas and scheduled

tribes; provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam; the union (meaning

Central Government), state and concurrent (dual) lists of responsibilities; the offi cial

languages; land and tenure reforms and the association of Sikkim with India.

First Schedule (Articles 1 and 4)

• It deals with the territories of the 28 states and 7 union territories of the Indian Union.

Second Schedule (Articles 59, 65, 75, 97, 125, 148, 158, 164, 186 and 221)

• Deals with salaries, allowances, etc., payable to the President of India, Governors of

States, Chief Justice of India, Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts and the

Comptroller and Auditor General of India.

• The revised salaries now are as follow:

1. President of India: `1,50,000 per month (also, the government allots, for the upkeep

of the president, an annual budget of `22.5 crore)

2. Vice-President: `1,20,000 per month

3. Governor of a state: `1,10,000 per month (varies from state to state)

4. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court: `1,00,000 per month

5. Judges of the Supreme Court: `90,000 per month

6. Chief Justice of a High Court: `90,000 per month

7. Judges of a High Court: `80,000 per month

Third Schedule (Articles 75, 99, 124, 148, 164, 188 and 219)

• It prescribes the various forms of oath or affi rmation which various incumbents have to take before assuming a public offi ce. 

Fourth Schedule (Articles 4 and 80)

• It allocates seats to each state and union territory in the Rajya Sabha. It contains

provisions as to the administration and control of scheduled areas.

Fifth Schedule (Article 244)

• It deals with the administration and control of schedules areas.

Sixth Schedule (Articles 244 and 275)

• It deals with provisions regarding administration of tribal areas in the states of Assam,

Meghalaya and Mizoram.

• This schedule in the constitution, amended in 1988 by Act 67 of 1988, received the

assent of the president on 16 December 1988 and was applied to the states of Tripura

and Mizoram with eff ect from 16 December 1988.

Seventh Schedule (Article 246)

• It gives three lists of powers and subjects to be looked after by the union and the states as follows:  

1. Union List: It comprises subjects of all-India importance like Defence, International

Aff airs, Railways, Post and Telegraph, Income tax, etc. The parliament has the

exclusive power to legislate on these subjects. It contains 97 subjects.

2. State List: It contains subjects of local importance. Normally the state legislature

alone legislates on these subjects. It contains 66 subjects.

3. Concurrent List: It contains subjects on which the parliament as well as the state

legislature enjoy authority.

• According to the 88th amendment, service tax is to be levied, collected and appropriated by the union and the states. 

Eighth Schedule (Articles 344 and 351)

• It gives a list of 22 regional languages recognized by the constitution.

• Originally there were only 14 languages in the schedule and the 15th language ‘Sindhi’

was added by the 21st amendment in 1967 and three languages: Konkani, Manipuri

and Nepali were added by the 71st amendment in 1992.

• In 2003, the 92nd amendment added four more languages to the list: ‘Bodo’, ‘Dogri’,

‘Maithali’ and ‘Santhali’.

• The languages are as follows:

 1. Assamese

 2. Bengali

 3. Bodo

 4. Dogri

 5. Gujarati

 6. Hindi

 7. Kannada

 8. Kashmiri

 9. Malayalam

10. Maithali

11. Marathi

12. Odia

13. Punjabi

14. Sanskrit

15. Sindhi

16. Tamil

17. Telugu

18. Santhali

19. Urdu

20. Konkani

21. Manipuri

22. Nepali

Ninth Schedule (Article 31-B)

• It contains certain acts and regulations of the state legislature dealing with land

reforms and abolition of the zamindari system.

• It contains 257 acts.

• This schedule was added to the constitution in 1951 by the First Constitution

(Amendment) Act.

Tenth Schedule (Articles 102 and 191)

• It contains certain provisions regarding disqualifi cation of members on grounds of defection.

Eleventh Schedule (Article 243-G)

• It lists 29 subjects on which the panchayats have been given administrative control.

It was added to the constitution on 20 April 1992 by the 73rd Amendment in 1992.

Twelfth Schedule (Article 243-W)

• It lists 18 subjects on which the municipalities are given administrative control. It was

added to the constitution on 20 April 1992 by the 74th Amendment in 1992.

CITIZENSHIP

• Part II (Articles 5–11): The constitution provides for only single citizenship and there  i s no separate citizenship of states. 

• Citizenship can be acquired (Citizenship Act, 1955) by birth, descent, registration,

naturalization, or when India acquires new territories.

• Citizenship can be lost by renunciation, termination or deprivation.

• The parliament can, by law, deprive any person of his citizenship if it is satisfi ed that

citizenship was acquired by fraud, false representation or concealment of material facts.

Dual Citizenship 2005

• Under the Citizenship Act 2003, those eligible to become citizens of India as on

26 January 1950 could apply for dual Indian citizenship.

• The government has extended dual citizenship to all those who were holding the Person of Indian Origin Card (PIOC) and who had migrated from India after the  

formation of the Indian Republic.

• Persons of Indian origin who were citizens of Australia, Canada, Finland, France,

Greece, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Cyprus,

Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America were

eligible to apply for dual citizenship.

• A person who has been at any time a citizen of Pakistan Bangladesh or any other

country that the government may notify in future is not entitled to dual citizenship.

FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS PART III ARTICLES 12

• The constitution of India attempts a balance between the fundamental rights of the i ndividual on the one hand and the socio-economic interests of the people and security of the state on the other hand. 

• Originally, seven fundamental rights were listed in the constitution. However, after the

44th Amendment 1978, there are now only six fundamental rights, they are as follows:

• Right of Equality (Articles 14–18)

• Right of Freedom (Article 19): It guarantees

— Freedom of speech and expression.

— Freedom to assemble peacefully and without arms.

— Freedom to form associations and unions.

— Freedom of movement throughout India.

— Freedom to reside and settle in any part of India.

— Freedom to practise any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

• Right Against Exploitation (Articles 23–24

• Right to Freedom of Religion (Articles 25–28)

• Cultural and Educational Rights (Articles 29–30)

• Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)

• Right to Property: Used to be a fundamental right but has now become only a legal right.

• The Janata Government on 20 June 1978 omitted the Right to Property by Constitution (44th) Amendment Act, 1978. 

• No person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law (Article 300A).

What Does Right to Information Mean?

• It includes the right to

1. Inspect works, documents and records.

2. Take notes, extracts or certifi ed copies of documents or records.

3. Take certifi ed samples of material.

4. Obtain information in form of printouts, diskettes, fl oppies, tapes, video cassettes

or in any other electronic mode or through printouts.

DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES PART IV ARTICLES 3651

• Part IV of the constitution deals with the directive principles of state policy.

• The main directive principles are as follows:

— The act extends to the whole of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

— Provision of adequate means of livelihood to all.

— Equitable distribution of wealth among all.

— Protection of children and youth.

— Equal pay for equal work to both men and women.

— Free and compulsory education for children up to the age of 14.

— Prevention of cow slaughter.

— The right to work, education, public assistance in case of unemployment, old age, sickness and disability. 

— Prohibition of liquor.

— Establishment of village panchayats.

— Protection of historical and national monuments.

— Separation of the judiciary from the executive to secure for all citizens, a uniform civil code. 

— Promotion of international cooperation and world security.

— Free legal aid from the state to the weaker sections of society.

— State to protect natural environment, forests and wildlife. Difference Between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles 

• Fundamental rights constitute a limitation upon state actions whereas directive principles are instruments of instruction to the government to carry out certain responsibilities. 

• Directive principles cannot be enforced in a court of law and do not create any justifi able right in favour of an individual. 

• The 42nd Amendment Bill, 1976 had given the directive principles precedence over the fundamental rights.

• This amendment also added two more directive principles:

 1. Free legal aid from state to weaker sections

 2. State to protect natural environment, forests and wildlife.

DUTIES OF A CITIZEN OF INDIA PART IVA

ARTICLES 51A

The 42nd Amendment Bill, 1976 had added 10 fundamental duties and later the 11th was

added by the 86th Amendment Act, 2002 [Article 51 A(k)]. These are as follows:

 1. To abide by the constitution and to respect its ideals and institutions, the national

fl ag and the national anthem [Article 51 A(a)].

 2. To cherish and follow the noble ideas which inspired our national freedom

struggle [Article 51 A(b)].

 3. To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India [Article

51 A(c)].

 4. To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so

[Article 51 A(d)].

 5. To promote harmony and spirit of common brotherhood among all the people of

India, transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to

renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women [Article 51 A(e)].

 6. To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture [Article 51 A(f)].

 7. To protect and improve the natural environment [Article 51 A(g)].

 8. To develop a scientifi c temper, humanism and the spirit of enquiry and reform

[Article 51 A(h)].

 9. To safeguard public property and abjure violence [Article 51 A(i)].

10. To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity

so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement

[Article 51 A(j)].

11. To provide opportunities for free and compulsory education to his child or

ward between the age of 6 and 14 (added by the 86th Amendment Act, 2002) [Article 51 A(k)].

UNION EXECUTIVE PART V

CHAPTER 1, ARTICLES 5278

The President

• The president of India is the constitutional head of a parliamentary system of government.

• He represents the nation but does not rule it.

• The real power vests with the council of ministers.

• The president is elected by an electoral college consisting of the following:

— Elected members of the parliament (both houses).

— Elected members of the state legislature.

Qualifications

• He must be a citizen of India.

• He must not be less than 35 years of age.

• He must be qualifi ed to be an elected member of the Lok Sabha but shall not be a

sitting member.

• He must not be holding any offi ce of profi t under the Government of India or any other

governments.

Powers

• Executive and Administrative Powers: He appoints the senior offi cials of the state

including the prime minister.

• All union territories are under the president of India.

• Legislative Powers: (a) Appoints 12 members to the Rajya Sabha and two Anglo-Indian

members to the Lok Sabha; (b) dissolves the House of People; (c) assents or withholds

his assent to any bill passed by the parliament and (d) issues ordinances.

• Financial Powers: (a) Causes the budget to be laid before the parliament; (b) sanctions

introduction of money bills and (c) apportions revenue between the centre and the

states.

• Judicial Powers: A president is Empowered to grant pardons, reprieve, remit the

sentences or suspend, remit or commute punishments.

• Emergency Powers: Article 352 empowers the president to proclaim an emergency and

take under his direct charge the administration of any state.

• The president cannot be questioned by any court for the action taken by him in the

discharge of his duties.

• No criminal proceedings can be launched against him.

• He may be removed from offi ce for violation of the constitution by impeachment

(Article 61).

Vice President

• Election: The vice president is elected by members of an electoral college consisting

of the members of both the Houses of Parliament.

• However, his election is diff erent from that of the president as the state legislatures

have no part in it.

• Tenure: Five years an

d is eligible for immediate re-election.

UNION LEGISLATURE PART V, CHAPTER IIIII,

ARTICLES 79123

Parliament

• The parliament is the union legislature of India which comprises the following:

— The president of India

— The Council of States (Rajya Sabha)

— The House of People (Lok Sabha)

Rajya Sabha

• It is the Council of States which is also known as the Upper House.

• It is made up of representatives from the states and members nominated by the president, who have distinguished themselves in literature, arts, science or social service. 

• Strength: 250 members (238 members representing the states and union territories who come through election and 12 members who are nominated by the president). 

• Chairman of the Rajya Sabha: The vice president of India is the ex offi cio chairman

and the deputy chairman is elected from the members of the Rajya Sabha.

• Tenure: The Rajya Sabha is a permanent body not subject to dissolution.

• A third of its members retire after every 2 years.

• Thus, every member enjoys a 6 year tenure

• Functions: Shares with the Lok Sabha the power of amending the constitution.

• It can originate any bill (except a money bill) and refer the charge of impeachment

against the president.

• The elected members of the Rajya Sabha take part in the election of the president and

the vice president.

Lok Sabha

• Also called the House of People or the Lower House of the parliament.

• It consists of members elected by direct election from territorial constituencies in 

various states and union territories and two members nominated (Anglo-Indian) by 

the president.

• Strength: 552 (530 represent states and 20 represent union territories and not more

than two members of the Anglo-Indian community) to be nominated by the president, 

only if the president thinks this community is not adequately represented in the house.

• By amending Articles 75 and 164 the size of council of ministers was limited to 15% 

of the number of members in the Lower House.

Conduct of Business in Parliament

• Sessions of Parliament: Article 85(1) provides that 6 months must not intervene

between two sessions of the house. However, it is for the president to summon each 

House of Parliament from time to time.

— Generally, there are 3 sessions of parliament annually

1. Budget session (Feb–May)

2. Monsoon session (July–Sep) 

3. Winder session (Nov–Dec)

• In the case of the Rajya Sabha, the budget session is split up into two sessions with 3–4 

weeks break in between so that it has four sessions in a year.

• The schedule of sessions may vary during an election year or under other special 

circumstances.

• Ordinary Bills: All bills except money bills are introduced in either Houses of 

Parliament. A bill after debate is passed by a majority vote and sent to the other house.

• In case certain amendments are suggested in the other house, it is sent back to the 

house where the bill had originated for reconsideration. The bill is regarded as passed 

by both houses if the original house accepts the amendments of the other house. 

— It is then presented to the president for his assent. If the president gives his assent to the 

bill, it then becomes an act. If the president withholds his assent, the bill is nullifi ed. 

• If the president neither gives his assent nor withholds his assent, he may return it to the 

parliament for reconsideration. If the houses pass the bill again after reconsideration, 

the president is bound to give his assent.

• Money Bills: A money bill can originate only in the Lok Sabha on the recommendation 

of the president. After it has been passed by the Lok Sabha, it is sent to the Rajya Sabha.

— The Rajya Sabha is given 14 days to make its recommendation. If it fails to do so 

within 14 days, the bill is considered as passed by both houses. 

— If the Rajya Sabha returns the bill with its recommendation, it is up to the Lok 

Sabha to accept or reject the recommendations. 

— Even if the Lok Sabha rejects the recommendations of the Rajya Sabha, the bill is 

considered to have been passed.. bill is  

considered to have been passed.

Joint Sitting of Parliament: A joint session of both houses is ordered by the president

to consider a particular bill in case

— A bill is passed by one house and is rejected by the other.

— The amendments made by the other house are not acceptable to the house where

the bill originated.

— A bill remains pending (unpassed) in a house for more than 6 months from the date

of its receipt from the house where it originated.

Caretaker Government

• There is no provision in the constitution for anything like a caretaker government.

• The term has come to be used in common parlance to describe the status of a council

of ministers that has resigned on having lost the confi dence of the Lok Sabha or otherwise

but is asked by the president to continue till alternative arrangements are made.

• At the levels of states, if the government cannot be carried on in accordance with the

constitution there is provision for president’s rule.

Anti-defection Law

• The anti-defection Law in the tenth schedule of the constitution which was supposed

to prevent defections in eff ect, had become an enabling law for larger defections.

• The commission recommended that all defectors must resign and contest fresh

elections.

• They should be debarred from holding any public offi ce of a minister or any other

remunerative political post without winning at a fresh election.

• Also votes cast by them to topple a government should be treated as invalid.

Supreme Court

• The Constitution of India presents a via media between the principles of parliamentary

sovereignty and judicial supremacy.

• The Supreme Court stands at the apex of the judicial system of India.

• Composition: The Supreme Court consists of 1 Chief Justice and 25 other judges.

• The chief justice is appointed by the president and the other judges are appointed by

the president in consultation with the chief justice.

• Seat: The Supreme Court normally sits in New Delhi.

• However it can hold its meetings anywhere in India.

• The decision in this regard is taken by the chief justice of india in consultation with

the president.

• Qualifi cation: Any citizen who has been a judge of a High Court for 5 years or

an eminent jurist or who has been a practising advocate of High Court for a period of

10 years can be nominated as a Supreme Court judge.

• Functions

1. It decides disputes between the union government and the states.

2. It hears certain appeals in civil and criminal cases from the High Courts.

3. The president can refer any question of law or fact of suffi cient importance to the

Supreme Court for its opinion.

4. It can issue directions or writs for the enforcement of any of the fundamental

rights referred by the constitution.

• Tenure: Judges of the Supreme Court can hold offi ce up to the age of 65 years.

• After retirement, a judge of the Supreme Court shall not plead or act in any court

before any authority in India.

State Executive

• The executive at the state level consists of

— The governor

— The chief minister

— The council of ministers

Governor

• The governor is the nominal executive head of the state and is appointed by the president

of India for a term of 5 years. He holds the offi ce with the consent of the president.

• Powers

— Executive powers

— Legislative powers

— Financial powers

— Judicial powers

— Discretionary powers

President vs. Governor

• The governor of a state cannot appoint the judges of the State High Courts but the

president can (in consultation with the governor and the chief justice of India).

• Also the governor has no emergency powers but the President has.

State Council of Ministers

Chief Minister

• The leader of the party that commands a majority in the legislative assembly is invited

by the governor to become the chief minister.

• A person who is not a member of the state legislature can be appointed as the chief

minister, but the person concerned is required to get himself elected as a member

within 6 months of his appointment.

• The chief minister recommends the names of ministers together with proposed

portfolios for them to the governor who then appoints them.

• Tenure: 5 years

Council of Ministers

• The Formation of Council of Ministers: As per the constitution, every state must

have a council of ministers to aid and advise the governor in exercising his executive

functions (apart from those functions in which he shall act at his discretion).

• Once the governor appoints a chief minister as per the constitution, the chief minister

fi nalizes the list of his ministers which is customarily permitted by the governor.

• Thus the ministry is created in the state and a formal council of minister takes precise shape.

• The council of ministers is permanently interconnected to the state legislature and

functions as an executive arm of the state legislature.

State Judiciary

High Court

• Each state has a High Court which is the highest judicial organ of the state.

• However, there can be a common High Court for two or more states.

• For example, Punjab, Haryana and the union territory of Chandigarh have a common

High Court.

• At present, there are 21 High Courts in the country.

• Constitution: The state judiciary consists of a chief justice and such other judges as the

president of India may deem necessary to appoint.

• The strength of High Courts is not identical.

• For example, the Allahabad High Court has 37 judges against 5 in the Jammu and

Kashmir High Court.

• Term: A judge of the High Court holds offi ce till the age of 62 years.

• His term can be cut short due to resignation or removal by the president through the

process of impeachment in the parliament.

• He vacates his offi ce either on his appointment as judge of the Supreme Court or when

he is transferred to another High Court.

• Removal: The president can remove a judge of the High Court only if the parliament

passes a resolution by a two-third majority of its members present and voting in each

house, requesting him to remove a judge.

• Restriction on Legal Practice: A person who has held offi ce of a judge of the High Court

is not allowed to practise law before the authority of the same court except the Supreme

Court and a High Court other than the one in which he served as a judge.

• High Court’s Power of Superintendence: Each High Court has power of superinten dence

over all courts within its jurisdiction.

• It can call for any returns from such courts, make and issue general rules and prescribe

forms to regulate their practice and proceedings and determine the manner and form

in which book entries and accounts shall be kept.

Functions of the High Courts

• Judicial: A High Court has original appellate and revisory jurisdiction with respect to

revenue and its collection as also for enforcement of the fundamental rights.

• It is a ‘Court of Record’ and its decisions are referred to in all future cases.

• Administrative: It supervises the working of all subordinate courts and frames rules

and regulations for the transaction of business.

• It can examine the records of subordinate courts.

• However, it does not have any power of superintendence over any court or tribunal

constituted under any military law.

Appointment of Judges

• Every judge of a High Court including the chief justice is appointed by the president.

• The appointment of the chief justice is made after consultation with the chief justice

of India and the governor of the state concerned.

• In case of appointment of a judge, the chief justice of the High Court concerned is also

consulted in addition to the chief justice of India and the governor of the state concerned.

• Appointment of all judges is, however, done by the president only.

• On 6 October 1993, the constitution bench of the Supreme Court held that the opinion

of the chief justice (of the concerned High Court and the Supreme Court) will have

primacy on both the appointment as well as transfer of senior judges.

• Qualifi cation: For appointment as a judge to the High Court, the person must be a

citizen of India, should have been an advocate of a High Court or of two such courts in

succession for at least 10 years, or should have held judicial offi ce in Indian territory

for a period of at least 10 years.

Panchayati Raj System in Independent India

Balwantrai Mehta Committee

• After the independence, a ‘Community Development Programme’ was started in 1952

but because it was not attached to the people, it did not prove to be a success story.

• People took it as a burden put on them by the government.

• A team, under the leadership of Balwantrai Mehta, tried to fi nd out the cause for the

failure of this programme and came up with the inference that there should be an

organization at the village level which would select the true benefi ciaries and implement

various government programmes and schemes.

• This organization would act as the representative of all villagers and would ensure the

development of the village as well as participation of villagers.

• In this way, Balwantrai Mehta tried to achieve local self-government through panchayats.

• This concept of local self-government was the right step towards a decentralized

democracy.

• In this process, for the fi rst time the state of Rajasthan adopted the three-levelled

structure of panchayati rajvillage level, intermediate level and district level.

Ashok Mehta Committee

• In 1977, the Ashok Mehta Committee was set up to review the working of panchayats.

• The committee found out that the panchayati raj is the soul of democracy and therefore

it should be empowered with more authority.

• The panchayats which were formed after 1977 are known as second-generation

panchayats.

• In West Bengal, panchayats became more eff ective after accepting the suggestions

made in this report.

• During the 1990s, it was realized that without constitutional power, self-government

cannot be fruitful and therefore the Central Government passed the 73rd Constitutional

Amendment Act in 1992, which became eff ective from 20 April 1993 (from the date of

publication in the Gazette of India).

Basic Concepts of Panchayati Raj

• Panchayati Raj works on the underlying principle of enabling the masses in the rural

set-up to think, decide and act as per their own socio-economic interests.

• Thus the Panchayati Raj Act is related to village self-governance, where the people

in the form of an organization will think, decide and act for their collective interest.

• Self-government allows us to decide about ourselves without hampering others’ interest.

• Whenever we talk about collective benefi ts, one point is clear that there is no confl ict

between the villagers’ collective interest on one side and societal and national interest

on the other rather they are complementary.

• Where panchayats end their activities, the state government takes them up.

Zonal Councils

• The fi ve zonal councils are as follows:

1. Northern Zone: It comprises the state of Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Jammu and

Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and the National Capital Region of Delhi.

2. Eastern Zone: It comprises Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa, Assam, Manipur,

Tripura, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Meghalaya.

3. Central Zone: It comprises the states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh

and Chhattisgarh.

4. Western Zone: It comprises Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa.

5. Southern Zone: It comprises Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala.

Functions

• Zonal councils act as a consultative body to discuss matters of common interest of

member states.

• It recommends the member states on the issues of (a) social planning; (b) inter-state

transport; (c) economic planning; (d) border dispute and (e) matters concerning

minorities, etc.

Attorney General of India

• The attorney general is the chief law offi cer of the government. He advised the government

on legal matters and perform other duties of a legal nature as may be assigned.

• The constitution has a provision for the president to appoint a person qualifi ed to be a

Supreme Court judge as the attorney general of India.

• The attorney general of India has fi rst right of audience in all courts of India.

• He holds offi ce during the pleasure of the president. However in as much as he is

appointed on the advice of the government, a convention has grown that with a change

in government he submits his resignation.

Political Process in India

• India is a constitutional democracy with a parliamentary system of government and at

the heart of the system is a commitment to hold regular, free and fair elections.

• These elections determine the composition of the government, the membership of the

two Houses of Parliament, the state and union territory legislative assemblies and the

presidency and vice presidency.

• The decline of the Congress (I) since the late 1980s has brought an end to the dominant

single-party system that had long characterized India’s politics.

• Under the old system, confl ict within the Congress was often a more important

political dynamic than confl ict between the Congress and the opposition.

• The Congress had set the political agenda and the opposition responded.

• A new party system in which the Congress (I) is merely one of several major

participants was in place by 1989.

• As often as not in the mid-1990s, the Congress (I) seems to respond to the initiatives

of other parties rather than set its own political agenda.

General Elections in India

• At least once every 5 years, India’s Election Commission supervises one of the largest,

most complex exercises of collective action in the world.

• India’s elections in the 1990s involved overseeing an electorate of about 521 million

voters who travelled to nearly 6,00,000 polling stations to choose from nearly 8950

candidates representing roughly 162 parties.

• The elections reveal much about Indian society.

• Candidates span a wide spectrum of backgrounds, including former royalty, cinema

superstars, religious holy men, war heroes and a growing number of farmers.

• Campaigns utilize communication technologies ranging from the latest video van

with two-way screens to the traditional rumour travelling by word of mouth.

• Increasing violence also has come to characterize elections.

• In 1991, about 350 people including former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, 4 other

parliamentary candidates and 21 candidates running in state legislative assembly

elections were killed in election-related violence.

Political Parties in India

• India’s party system is in the throes of historic change.

• The 1989 general elections brought the era of Congress dominance to an end.

• Even though the Congress (I) regained power in 1991, it was no longer the pivot around

which the party system revolved.

• Instead, it represented just one strategy for organizing a political majority and a

declining one at that.

• While the Congress (I) was encountering growing diffi culties in maintaining its

coalition of upper-caste elites, muslims, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, the BJP

was endeavouring to organize a new majority around the appeal of Hindu nationalism.

• The Janata Dal and the BSP, among others, were attempting to fashion a new majority

out of the increasingly assertive backward classes, Dalits, scheduled castes, scheduled

tribes and religious minorities.

• AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) under the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal was launched in 2013

and in its fi rst attempt at the Delhi Assembly polls 2013, it became the second largest

party in state, thereon formed the government with support from the Congress party.

Indian Elections/Political System

• The word candidate comes from the Latin ‘candidatus’ meaning ‘one clad in white’ and most, till this day, carry on with this white. 

• ‘Ballot’ and ‘bullet’ are both derived from words for ‘balls’.

• The Greeks dropped a white ball when they favoured a candidate and a black when t hey were against.theterm ‘blackballed’ comes from this too.

• Designed by Electronics Corporation of India Ltd. and Bharat Electronics Ltd.,

electronic voting machines were fi rst used in Kerala.

• The highest number of candidates that an electronic voting machine can support is 64.

• If the number exceeds this, the manual ballot is used.

• In the Modaurichi assembly constituency in Tamil Nadu, 1033 candidates fought for

a single seat in 1996.

• The ballot paper was in the form of a booklet!

• The Congress in 1988 did not win a single seat in Uttar Pradesh.

• Mayawati’s BSP and George W. Bush’s Republican Party both have the same electoral

symbol—the elephant.

• The lowest voter turnout in a polling station is three.

• It happened in Bomdila district in Arunachal Pradesh.

• Elections in the 1950s were carried out using diff erent ballot boxes for each candidate

rather than voting on ballot paper.

• Diff erent coloured boxes represented diff erent parties.

• Chhindwara in Madhya Pradesh is the only constituency in the Hindi belt which has

always returned the Congress candidate during the general elections.

• Atal Bihari Vajpayee is the only politician who has won from six diff erent constituencies:

Balrampur (1957, 1967), Gwalior (1971), New Delhi (1977, 1980), Vidisha (1991)

Gandhinagar (1956) and Lucknow (1991, 1996, 1998, 2004).

• He is also the only parliamentarian to be elected from four diff erent states—Uttar

Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi.

• BJP won Lok Sabha seats for the fi rst time in the states of Tamil Nadu and West Bengal

in 1998.

• Rajnandagaon in Madhya Pradesh has a unique feature—father, mother and son have

represented this constituency at diff erent times.

• The highest voting percentage in any general election has been 62.2% in 1957, the

lowest was in 1967 when only 33% citizens cast their vote.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: HINDI

• The makers of the Indian constitution faced a peculiar problem in selecting a national

language as more than 1600 spoken languages were used by the vast population of

India.

• The offi cial language of the union was decided to be Hindi in Devanagari script

[as per Article 343(1) of the constitution] but for a period of 15 years from the

commencement of the constitution, the English language was allowed to be used for

all offi cial purposes of the union for which it was being used immediately before such

commencement.

• Thus, English continued to be the offi cial language of the union side by side with

Hindi until 1965 and thereafter the use of English for any purpose depended on

parliamentary legislation.

• The parliament made this law by passing the Offi cial Languages Act, 1963.

• The act also lays down that both Hindi and English shall compulsorily be used for

certain specifi ed purposes such as resolutions, general orders, rules, notifi cations,

press communiques, administrative and other reports, licences, permits, contracts,

agreements, etc.

• The offi cial language(s) of any state shall be as the state legislature adopts (Article 345).

• The president, under Article 350B, appoints the special offi cers for linguistic minorities.

• The Supreme Court and High Court use the English language as per Article 348.

AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION: PROCEDURE

ARTICLE 368

• The methods of amendment are three, according to the subject matter of the article

concerned:

1. Articles that may be amended by a simple majority.

2. Articles that may be amended by a two-thirds majority of both Houses of

Parliament—these are comparatively important matters.

3. Articles that require not only a two-thirds majority of the parliament but also

ratifi cation by at least one-half of the state legislatures.

• It may be noted that provisions which aff ect the federal character of the constitution

can be amended only with the approval of the states.

• Further, the initiative to amend the constitution rests only with the centre and the states

cannot initiate any amendment.

• Following are the subjects of amendments: (a) fundamental rights, (b) territorial

changes, (c) transitional provisions and (d) democratic reforms.

• The democratic reforms further include the following:

1. Restrictions on imposition of an internal emergency.

2. Creation of mechanisms for Panchayati Raj (local self-governance).

3. Disqualifi cation of members from changing party allegiance.

4. Restrictions on the size of the cabinet.

5. Creation of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes.

6. Creation of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.

3 thoughts on “Constitution of India and Indian Polity”

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