Constitution of India

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Dr. Ambedkar chaired the drafting committee, which was supposed to draw up a draft constitution on the basis of the proposals previously worked out.

The constitution of the Republic of India forms the legal basis and the basic political structure of the largest country in South Asia . India is defined as a parliamentary Federal Republic . The constitution, influenced by various Western models, was passed on November 26, 1949, the third year of independence, and came into force on January 26, 1950. It is written in English , and there is also a legally binding translation into Hindi .


The Indian Constitution of 1950, which is in force today, is largely based on the Government of India Act 1935 , the last colonial constitution that introduced direct suffrage and granted internal self-government to the provinces of British India . In 1946 the leaders of the Indian independence movement agreed with a delegation from British Prime Minister Clement Attlee that an assembly should be formed to draw up a constitution for an independent India. The Constituent Assembly of India was elected by the provincial parliaments in the summer of 1946 and met for the first time on December 9, 1946, under the chairmanship of Sachidananda Sinhas . After India gained its independence on August 15, 1947, it temporarily acted as the representative of the young state.

On August 29, 1947, an editorial committee was formed under the leadership of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar , which was to draw up a draft constitution on the basis of the proposals previously worked out. The first draft was available in February 1948. After several meetings, the members of the constituent assembly, now chaired by the later first president Rajendra Prasad , agreed on a final version on October 17, 1949, which was adopted on November 26, 1949. The provisions on citizenship, elections and transitional parliament as well as some provisional provisions came into force immediately, the constitution as a whole on January 26, 1950. Since then there have been numerous corrections and additions, most recently on June 12, 2006 the 94th law amending the Constitution in force.


The Indian constitution is divided into a preamble , the main body and twelve appendices ( schedules ). The actual constitutional corpus comprises 22 sections, some of which are divided into chapters. Some of the original 395 articles are no longer in force. Articles added subsequently are marked with capital letters. Today the constitution contains well over 400 articles, making it one of the most extensive state constitutions in the world.

The structure of the constitution is as follows (original English text in italics ):

  • preamble
  • Parts ( Parts ):
Part I - The Union and its territory ( Union and its Territory )
Part II - Provisions relating to nationality ( citizenship )
Part III - Fundamental Rights ( Fundamental Rights )
Part IV - Guidelines of State Policy ( Directive Principles of State Policy )
Part IVA - Basic obligations ( Fundamental Duties )
Part V - Die Union ( The Union )
Part VI - The Federal States ( The States )
Part VII - States in Section B of Appendix I (now repealed, States in the B part of the First schedule )
Part VIII - The Union Territories ( The Union Territories )
Part IX - The Panchayats ( The panchayats )
Part IXA - Municipalities ( The Municipalities )
Part IXB - The Cooperative Associations ( The Co-operative Societies )
Part X - The listed Tribal Areas ( The scheduled and Tribal Areas )
Part XI - Relations between the Union and the states ( relations between the Union and the States )
Part XII - finance, property, contracts and Requests ( Finance, Property, Contracts and Suits )
Part XIII - trade and industry within India ( Trade and Commerce within the territory of India )
Part XIV - Things to Do in directing the Union or states ( Services Under the Union, the States )
Part XIVA - Courts ( Tribunals )
Part XV - Elections ( Elections )
Part XVI - Special Provisions relating to certain classes of people ( Special Provisions Relating to Certain Classes )
Part XVII - Languages ( Languages )
Part XVIII - Emergency Regulations ( Emergency Provisions )
Part XIX - Miscellaneous ( Miscellaneous )
Part XX - Amendment of the Constitution ( Amendment of the Constitution )
Part XXI - Temporary provisions, transitional and special provisions ( Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions )
Part XXII - Short title, date (entry into force, authorized text in Hindi and Overrides title Short, Date of Commencement, Authoritative text in Hindi and Repeals )
  • Attachments ( Schedules ):
Appendix 1 (First Schedule, Articles 1 and 4) - List of states and territories with relevant border changes and the associated laws,
Appendix 2 ( Second Schedule , Articles 59 (3), 65 (3), 75 (6), 97, 125, 148 (3), 158 (3), 164 (5), 186 and 221) - List of salaries of Employees in public services, judges, etc.,
Appendix 3 ( Third Schedule , Articles 75 (4), 99, 124 (6), 148 (2), 164 (3), 188 and 219) - List of oaths for state employees, elected representatives and judges,
Appendix 4 ( Fourth Schedule , Articles 4 (1) and 80 (2)) - Description of the allocation of seats in the Rajya Sabha in relation to the states and Union territories,
Appendix 5 ( Fifth Schedule , Article 244 (1)) - Administration of the Scheduled Areas with the Scheduled Tribes ,
Appendix 6 ( Sixth Schedule , Articles 244 (2) and 275 (1)) - special provisions for the administration of tribal areas in Assam , Meghalaya , Tripura , and Mizoram ,
Appendix 7 ( Seventh Schedule , Article 246) - Duties of Union and State Governments
Appendix 8 ( Eighth Schedule , Articles 344 (1) and 351) - the official state languages,
Appendix 9 ( Ninth Schedule , Article 31-B) - Validation of Certain Laws and Regulations,
Annex 10 ( Tenth Schedule , Articles 102 (2) and 191 (2)) - provisions to make it difficult for elected members of parliament to defer to other parliamentary groups,
Appendix 11 ( Eleventh Schedule , Article 243-G) - Panchayati Raj (rural self-government),
Appendix 12 ( Twelfth Schedule , Article 243-W) - Municipalities (municipal self-government).
  • Systems ( appendices ):
Appendix I - Application of the Constitution to Jammu and Kashmir ,
Appendix II - Constitutional provisions that apply and do not apply to Jammu and Kashmir,
Appendix III - Excerpts from the Act on the 44th Amendment to the Constitution of 1978,
Appendix IV - Law on the 86th Amendment to the Constitution 2002,
Appendix V - Law on the 88th Amendment to the Constitution 2003.

Basic character and essential content

Preamble to the original document

The Indian constitution combines features of liberal constitutions from various Western countries with the main features of a British colonial constitution. It bears features of a presidential constitution that can be traced back to the central position of the former British-Indian viceroy , although in practice the president mainly takes on representative tasks and the actual executive power, based on the British model, lies with the prime minister . The powers of the President are limited, among other things, by Article 74, according to which he may only act with the Prime Minister at the helm on the advice of the Council of Ministers. The British Westminster system is also modeled on the strong role of the bicameral parliament and the legislative process. The Indian Parliament consists of Rajya Sabha , the "House of States" (corresponds to the Upper House ), and Lok Sabha , the "House of the People" (corresponds to the Lower House ).


The self-image of the Indian state reflects the preamble of the constitution. India is defined as a "sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic". Furthermore, the preamble is based on the ideals of the French Revolution by giving its citizens

  • social, economic and political justice
  • Freedom of thought, expression, belief, creed and religious practice
  • and political equality and opportunity

assures. The additions “socialist” - an expression of the social and economic policy orientation of India - and “secular” were only included in the preamble in 1976 (42nd Amendment Act).

Fundamental rights catalog

The fundamental rights catalog in Part III cemented the fundamental freedom character of the constitution. General human rights such as equality before the law and non-discrimination based on religion, race, caste, gender or origin are anchored in it (Articles 12 to 18). Article 17, which abolishes the concept of untouchability and makes any disadvantage of "untouchables" a punishable offense, is of particular importance . In addition to these general fundamental rights, five other types of fundamental rights are named:

  1. Freedom rights (Articles 19 to 22): Freedom of expression , assembly , association , freedom of movement , freedom of occupation (Article 19); Rule of law (Art. 20); Right to life, freedom of the person (Art. 21); Protection against arrest and arrest in certain cases (Art. 22)
  2. Protection against exploitation (Art. 23 and 24): prohibition of human trafficking , forced and child labor
  3. Religious freedom (Art. 25 to 28): here in particular freedom of conscience , freedom to profess one's faith, exercise one's faith and missionary activity (Art. 25)
  4. Minority rights (Art. 29 and 30): Protection of minorities (Art. 29); Right of minorities to have their own educational institutions
  5. Right to constitutional complaints (Art. 32 to 35): If someone feels that his fundamental rights are impaired, he may, in accordance with Art. 32, go to the Supreme Court and lodge a constitutional complaint.

The deletion of Article 31, which guaranteed the right to property, in 1978 was and is particularly controversial.

Guiding principles of the state

Part IV of the Indian Constitution names a number of guiding principles, according to which the governments and parliaments at the federal and state levels should be guided. These include above all social rights such as the right to work, education and state welfare as well as social obligations of the state such as the general increase in the standard of living and the creation of a just social order, humane working conditions and suitable framework conditions for the participation of employees in companies. According to Art. 43, the state has to ensure a subsistence level. In Art. 45 he commits himself to the introduction of free compulsory schooling for all children up to the age of 14 years and in Art. 46 to the promotion of disadvantaged sections of the population (in particular the lower castes and the Adivasi ).

In addition to the social goals mentioned, Part IV of the Indian constitution also contains some political principles, such as the separation of powers between the judiciary and the executive (Art. 50) and the formation of panchayats (councils of local self-government in the villages; Art. 40).

The articles on the protection of the environment and nature (Art. 48A), the protection of monuments (Art. 49) and the maintenance of international peace and friendly relations between nations (Art. 51) are formulated in very general terms.

In contrast to its other, very detailed and extensive nature, the constitution is very vague at this point. None of the aforementioned guiding principles is legally enforceable. They therefore have a rather ideal character.

Separation of powers

In India there are three independent powers that are exercised on behalf of the people. The executive or executive power lies at the state level with the President and the Council of Ministers. The legislative or legislative power comprises the parliament, whereby the President may, according to Art. 123, issue ordinances during the breaks in parliament, which have the force of law but must be submitted to parliament afterwards. Strict separation of executive and legislative branches, the judiciary or judicial power, headed by the Supreme Court ( Supreme Court stands).

At the state level, the legislature lies with the parliament, which can consist of one or two chambers (Art. 168). Unicameral bear the name Legislative Assembly ( Legislative Assembly ). In bicameral systems, the Legislative Assembly acts as the lower house; next to an upper house called the Legislative Council exists ( Legislative Council ). The states are free to establish or abolish a House of Lords by parliamentary resolution (Art. 169). The executive is represented by the governor appointed by the central government and the chief minister elected by the state parliament . The jurisdiction is in the hands of the high courts .


India is a federal state. However, the constitution opposes the federalist principle with a strong central power, the Indian Union. The Indian parliament can determine the territorial organization of the country by separating new constituent states from existing ones, amalgamating existing states or correcting borders. Part VI of the constitution provides a basic political order for every federal state by defining the tasks and rights of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the states. The political structure of the states is similar to that of the Union. In the event of an emergency, the Union can almost completely override federalism. For the young Indian state, which was politically and economically weakened by the secession of Pakistan and whose independence was accompanied by violent clashes between Hindus and Muslims, this “federalism from above” resulted from the need for a strong central state to safeguard national unity create. On the other hand, an excessively strong federalist element, feared the drafters of the constitution, could have fostered separatist efforts and thus a further splitting of India into independent individual states.

Local self-government has only been constitutionally regulated since 1992. At the village and district level, there are panchayats (Hindi: “Council of Five”), the introduction of which Mahatma Gandhi made a particular contribution. The composition and function of the Panchayats are anchored in Art. 243 to 243O, those of the municipal self-governing bodies in Art. 243P to 243ZG.

Official language

The official language regulation is of particular importance for the multi-ethnic state of India. According to Art. 343, the official language of the Union is Hindi in Devanagari script and with the internationally accepted Arabic numerals . English may also be used for all official purposes. However, the status of English as an additional official language must be confirmed by parliament every 15 years. An official language commission set up by the President under Article 344 is to advise the President on the use of the official languages ​​- for example the promotion of Hindi and restrictions on the use of English - and, among other things, to represent the interests of non-Hindi-speaking communities.

The federal states have the option of making Hindi or one or more regionally spoken languages ​​the official language (Art. 345). In communication between the Union and the federal states and between the federal states, however, only one of the official languages ​​of the Union, i.e. English or Hindi, is used (Art. 346).

English is the language of proceedings at the Supreme Court of India and at the high courts of the states, although the governor of a state may, with the consent of the president, also permit the restricted use of Hindi or another regional official language in the high court responsible for his state . The English version is authoritative for all bills, laws and other legal norms that are submitted to, or passed by, the Union parliament or a state parliament or issued by the president or governor of a state (Art. 348).

Petitions to government agencies and authorities can be submitted in any language used at Union or State level (Art. 350).

Emergency regulations

The Indian Constitution contains a number of emergency provisions that take into account three cases: the national emergency, when the entire state or a substantial part of it is in a threatening situation, the regional emergency when a state has become ungovernable, and the financial emergency when the financial stability or India's creditworthiness are at risk. The last case has never happened before.

According to Art. 352, the President can declare a national emergency if he considers the internal or external security of India to be seriously threatened by a state of emergency , for example an imminent or already broken out war or an armed uprising. When the state of emergency comes into force, the power of the central government will be significantly strengthened. According to Art. 353, it may issue instructions to the state governments, while parliament is empowered to delegate the powers of the states to the Union by law. In addition, the President can revoke all fundamental rights listed in Part III of the Constitution (Art. 359). The fundamental rights contained in Art. 19 (including freedom of expression, assembly and association) are automatically revoked in the event of an emergency (Art. 358). This means that the democratic and federal character of the constitution largely loses its validity in the event of a national emergency.

In addition to the national emergency, there are emergency provisions for the federal states (regional emergency), which are regulated in Art. If the governor of a federal state informs the president that his state is in a special situation that makes the state ungovernable, the president can take over executive power of the state government by proclamation. In this case, the legislature passes to the Indian parliament and can be passed on to the president according to Art. 357. The transfer of executive power from the government of a member state to the President of the Union is known as the President's rule .

Constitutional amendment

According to Article 368 of the Constitution, the Indian Parliament can amend, supplement or delete constitutional provisions. A corresponding legislative proposal can be introduced in the upper or lower house, but must be passed by both chambers with an absolute majority of all MPs and a two-thirds majority of those present. Changes to certain parts of the constitution that affect the federal system must also be approved by the parliaments of at least half of all states. Once passed by parliament, the amending law must be signed by the president before it comes into force.

Footnotes and individual references

  1. ^ Constituent Assembly of India Notification: The Constitution of India . In: The Gazette of India Extraordinary . New Delhi November 26, 1949, p. 234 (English, [PDF]).
  2. ^ India Code: The Constitution (Amendment) Acts
  3. ^ " WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC " ( from the preamble of the Indian constitution )
  4. Archived copy ( memento of the original from March 28, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. India Code: The Constitution (Forty-Second Amendment) Act, 1976, Section 2 (a). @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. ^ Dietmar Rothermund: Parliamentary Democracy and Federalism. In: Dietmar Rothermund (Ed.): India. Culture, history, politics, economy, environment. 1995, p. 391 ff.


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