Indian Constitution

Dr B.R. Ambedkar once said that the Indian Constitution has been framed by ‘ransacking’ all the

known constitutions of the world. Critically Examine.


The Indian Constitution was the work of a magnificient Constituent Assembly which although was

not directly elected by the people of India on the basis of adult franchise but still comprised

representatives of all sections of Indian Society—Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Parsis, Anglo–Indians,

Indian Christians, SCs, STs including women of all these sections.

• The structural part of the Constitution is, to a large extent, derived from the Government of

India Act of 1935.

• The philosophical part of the Constitution (the Fundamental Rights and the Directive

Principles of State Policy) derive their inspiration from the American and Irish Constitutions


• The political part of the Constitution (the principle of Cabinet Government and the relations

between the executive and the legislature) have been largely drawn from the British


• The other provisions of the Constitution have been drawn from the constitutions of Canada,

Australia, Germany, USSR (now Russia), France, South Africa, Japan, and so on.

Sources and Features Borrowed

1.Government of India Act of 1935

Federal Scheme, Office of governor, Judiciary, Public Service Commissions, Emergency provisions

and administrative details.

2.British Constitution

Parliamentary government, Rule of Law, legislative procedure, single citizenship, cabinet system,

prerogative writs, parliamentary privileges and bicameralism.

3.US Constitution

Fundamental rights, independence of judiciary, judicial review, impeachment of the president,

removal of Sup-reme Court and high court judges and post of vice-president.

4.Irish Constitution

Directive Principles of State Policy, nomination of mem-bers to Rajya Sabha and method of election

of president.”

5.Canadian Constitution

Federation with a strong Centre, vesting of residuary powers in the Centre, appointment of state

governors by the Centre, and advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

6.Australian Constitution

Concurrent List, freedom of trade, commerce and inter-course, and joint sitting of the two Houses of


7.Weimar Constitution of Germany

Suspension of Fundamental Rights during Emergency.

8.Soviet Constitution (USSR, now Russia)

Fundamental duties and the ideal of justice (social, economic and political) in the Preamble.

9.French Constitution

Republic and the ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity in the Preamble.

10.South African Constitution

Procedure for amendment of the Constitution and election of members of Rajya Sabha.

11.Japanese Constitution

Procedure established by Law.

Features that were Innovation

However, the criticism that the Indian Constitution is a ‘borrowed Constitution’, a ‘patchwork’ and

contains nothing new and original is unfair and illogical. This is because, the framers of the

Constitution made necessary modifications in the features borrowed from other constitutions for

their suitability to the Indian conditions, at the same time avoiding their deficiencies.

For example, the Indian Constitution provides for a perfect blend of the Parliamentary sovereignty

and judicial supremacy.

1.The doctrine of sovereignty of Parliament is associated with the British Parliament while the

principle of judicial supremacy with that of the American Supreme Court.

Just as the Indian parliamentary system differs from the British system, the scope of judicial review

power of the Supreme Court in India is narrower than that of what exists in US. This is because the

American Constitution provides for ‘due process of law’ against that of ‘procedure established by

law’ contained in the Indian Constitution (Article 21).

The Supreme Court, on the one hand, can declare the parliamentary laws as unconstitutional

through its power of judicial review. The Parliament, on the other hand, can amend the major

portion of the Constitution through its constituent power.

2.Another Instance is that India has a Federal System with Unitary Bias.

The Constitution of India establishes a federal system of government. It contains all the usual

features of a federation, viz., two government, division of powers, written Constitution, super-macy

of Constitution, rigidity of Constitution, independent judiciary and bicameralism.

However, the Indian Constitution also contains a large number of unitary or non-federal features,

viz., a strong Centre, single Constitution, single citizenship, flexibility of Constitution, integrated

judiciary, appointment of state governor by the Centre, all-India services, emergency provisions, and

so on.

Hence, the Indian Constitution has been variously described as ‘federal in form but unitary in spirit’,


3.Similarly, the Constitution of India is a blend of rigidity and flexibility or in other words The

Constitution of India is neither rigid nor flexible but a synthesis of both.

Article 368 provides for two types of amendments:

(a)Some provisions can be amended by a special majority of the Parliament, i.e., a two-third majority

of the members of each House present and voting, and a majority (that is, more than 50 per cent), of

the total membership of each House.

(b)Some other provisions can be amended by a special majority of the Parliament and with the

ratification by half of the total states.

× How can I help you?
%d bloggers like this: