What is the nature of ‘Democracy’ as provided for in the Indian Constitution? Discuss the various tools and institutions that strengthen the Indian Democracy.
The Indian Constitution provides for representative parliamentary democracy which is based on the
doctrine of popular sovereignty, that is, possession of supreme power by the people
The executive is responsible to the legislature for all its policies and actions.
The term ‘democratic’ is used in the Preamble in the broader sense embracing not only political
democracy but also social and economic democracy.
The Fundamental Rights are meant for promoting the ideal of political democracy. They prevent the
establishment of an authoritarian and despotic rule in the country, and protect the liberties and
freedoms of the people against the invasion by the State. They operate as limitations on the tyranny
of the executive and arbitrary laws of the legislature. In short, they aim at establishing ‘a
government of laws and not of men.
Whereas, The Directive Principles seek to establish economic and social democracy in the country.”
They constitute a very comprehensive economic, social and political programme for a modern
democratic State. They aim at realising the high ideals of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity as
outlined in the Preamble to the Constitution. They embody the concept of a ‘welfare state’ and not
that of a ‘police state’, which existed during the colonial era3. In brief, they seek to establish
economic and social democracy in the country.
Democratic tools and institutions:
Universal adult franchise, periodic elections, rule of law, independence of judiciary, and absence of
discrimination on certain grounds are the manifestations of the democratic character of the Indian
In addition to this, institutions such as the Election Commission, the Supreme Courts and the High
Courts,etc. provided for in the constitution help to strengthen Indian Democracy.
Universal Adult Franchise: “The Indian Constitution adopts universal adult franchise as a basis of
elections to the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies. Every citizen who is not less than 18
years of age has a right to vote without any discrimination of caste, race, religion, sex, literacy,
wealth, and so on. The voting age was reduced to 18 years from 21 years in 1989 by the 61st
Constitutional Amendment Act of 1988.
Universal adult franchise makes democracy broad-based, enhances the self-respect and prestige of
the common people, upholds the principle of equality, enables minorities to protect their interests
and opens up new hopes and vistas for weaker sections.
Rule of Law:
The Supreme Court held that the ‘Rule of Law’ as embodied in Article 14 is a ‘basic feature’ of the
constitution. Hence, it cannot be destroyed even by an amendment.
The concept of ‘equality before law’ is an element of the concept of ‘Rule of Law’, propounded by
A.V. Dicey, the British jurist. Out of his concept the following two elements are true for the Indian
(i)Absence of arbitrary power, that is, no man can be punished except for a breach of law.
(ii)Equality before the law, that is, equal subjection of all citizens (rich or poor, high or low, official or
non-official) to the ordinary law of the land administered by the ordinary law courts.
Independence of Judiciary: “The Indian Constitution establishes a judicial system that is integrated
as well as independent.
The Supreme Court stands at the top of the integrated judicial system in the country. Below it, there
are high courts at the state level. Under a high court, there is a hierarchy of subordinate courts, that
is, district courts and other lower courts.
The Supreme Court is a federal court, the highest court of appeal, the guarantor of the fundamental
rights of the citizens and the guardian of the Constitution. Hence, the Constitution has made various
provisions to ensure its independence—security of tenure of the judges, fixed service conditions for
the judges, all the expenses of the Supreme Court charged on the Consolidated Fund of India,
prohibition on discussion on the conduct of judges in the legislatures, ban on practice after
retirement, power to punish for its contempt vested in the Supreme Court, separation of the
judiciary from the executive, and so on.
Abolition of Discrimination: Article 15 provides that the State shall not discriminate against any
citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.”
The second provision of Article 15 says that no citizen shall be subjected to any disability, liability,
restriction or condition on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth with regard to
(a) access to shops, public restaurants, hotels and places of public entertainment; or (b) the use of
wells, tanks, bathing ghats, road and places of public resort maintained wholly or partly by State
funds or dedicated to the use of general public. This provision prohibits discrimination both by the
State and private individuals, while the former provision prohibits discrimination only by the State”
Election Commission: The Election Commission of India, abbreviated as ECI is a constitutional body
responsible for administering elections in India according to the rules and regulations mentioned in
the Constitution of India.
It was established on January 25, 1950. The major aim of election commission of India is to define
and control the process for elections conducted at various levels, Parliament, State Legislatures, and
the offices of the President and Vice President of India. It can be said that the Election Commission
of India ensures smooth and successful operation of the democracy.