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.
Parliamentary government, Rule of Law, legislative procedure, single citizenship, cabinet system,
prerogative writs, parliamentary privileges and bicameralism.
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.
Directive Principles of State Policy, nomination of mem-bers to Rajya Sabha and method of election
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.
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.
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.
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
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.