7 Main Federal Features of the Constitution
- The Indian federal system of today has many such characteristics which are essential for a federal polity.
- The main federal features of the Indian Constitution are as follows:
- The Indian Constitution is a written document containing 395 Articles and 12 schedules, and therefore, fulfils this basic requirement of a federal government. In fact, the Indian Constitution is the most elaborate Constitution of the world. At present (2016), it consists of a Preamble, about 465 Articles (divided into 25 Parts) and 12 Schedules.
- It specifies the structure, organisation, powers and functions of both the Central and state governments and prescribes the limits within which they must operate. Thus, it avoids the misunderstandings and disagreements between the two.
The supremacy of the Constitution:
- India’s Constitution is also supreme and not the hand-made of either the Centre or of the States. If for any reason any organ of the State dares to violate any provision of the Constitution, the courts of laws are there to ensure that dignity of the Constitution is upheld at all costs.
- The Indian Constitution is largely a rigid Constitution. All the provisions of the Constitution concerning Union-State relations can be amended only by the joint actions of the State Legislatures and the Union Parliament. Such provisions can be amended only if the amendment is passed by a two-thirds majority of the members present and voting in the Parliament (which must also constitute the absolute majority of the total membership) and ratified by at least one-half of the States.
Division of Powers:
- In a federation, there should be a clear division of powers so that the units and the centre are required to enact and legislate within their sphere of activity and none violates its limits and tries to encroach upon the functions of others. This requisite is evident in the Indian Constitution.
- The Seventh Schedule contains three Legislative Lists which enumerate subjects of administration, viz., Union, State and Concurrent Legislative Lists. The Union List consisted of 97 subjects, the more important of which are defence, foreign affairs, railways, posts and telegraphs, currency, etc.
- The State List consisted of 66 subjects, including, inter-alia public order, police, administration of justice, public health, education, agriculture etc. The Concurrent List embraced 47 subjects including criminal law, marriage, divorce, bankruptcy, trade unions, electricity, economic and social planning, etc.
- The Union Government enjoys exclusive power to legislate on the subjects mentioned in the Union List. The State Governments have full authority to legislate on the subjects of the State List under normal circumstances. And both the Centre and the State can’t legislate on the subjects mentioned in the Concurrent List, The residuary powers have been vested in the Central Government.
- In India, the Constitution has provided for a Supreme Court and every effort has been made to see that the judiciary in India is independent and supreme. The Supreme Court of India can declare a law as unconstitutional or ultra Vires if it contravenes any provisions of the Constitution. In order to ensure the impartiality of the judiciary, our judges are not removable by the Executive and their salaries cannot be curtailed by Parliament.
- A bicameral system is considered essential in a federation because it is in the Upper House alone that the units can be given equal representation. The Constitution of India also provides for a bicameral Legislature at the Centre consisting of Lok Sabha and Rajya SabhaWhile the Lok Sabha consists of the elected representatives of people, the Rajya Sabha mainly consists of representatives elected by the State Legislative Assemblies. However, all the States have not been given equal representation in the Rajya Sabha.
Dual Government Polity:
- In a federal State, there are two governments—the national or federal government and the government of each component unit. But in a unitary state, there is only one