Main Sources of the Indian Constitution | Overview
The present article aims to mention all the major sources of the Indian constitution and what are all the essential features borrowed from these sources.
The Constitution of India has absorbed many essential features from the constitution of other nations, which were suitable to include considering the problems and aspirants of the country. In conclusion, the article adds that though some features of the Indian constitution are borrowed from constitutions of other nations; it has its own characteristics and value, with no exact copied provisions from others.
The Constitution of India was rather a result of the framers’ hard-working efforts from the constituent assembly that studied the constitution of other countries and gave their research a final shape in our constitution. Therefore, to say, that the Indian constitution is completely the result of borrowed features from others, is contemptible.
26 Jan 1950, the date of adoption of the Constitution of India when Indians welcomed it with warm-heartedly. The Indian constitution is said to be the most comprehensive constitution in the world, and fairly enough since one factor contributing to its framework is that it has been influenced by the features of constitutions of different countries. The Constituent assembly assessed different constitutions and drafted one adopting all the provisions, considering the diversity of religion, culture, and languages present in India.
But, even after today of almost 74 years of independence of India from the British, the debate and often criticism on the Indian constitution that it is adopted or a complete borrowed bag of provisions from other constitutions, is still going on.However, it is pertinent to remember that the objectives of the makers of the constitution were to make a functional constitution and not an original one. Adopting some of the features from other constitutions does not make it second-handed at all.
II. Main sources of the Indian Constitution
The main sources of the Indian Constitution are as follow:
Government of India Act, 1935
Federal Scheme: The federalism in India represents the distribution of legal authorities over national, state, and neighbourhood governments in the country. It sets up a bureaucratic structure for the government of India, proclaiming it as a “union of states”.
Office of Governor: Article 153 of the Indian constitution mandates designation of governor in each state of India who represents as the chief executive leader of a state. A specially constituted Electoral College elects the governor.
Judiciary: The Indian judiciary is integrated with the system, unlike the legislature or executive branches. Chapter IV under Part V of the Indian constitution talks about the Union Judiciary, where article 124 to 147 concerns the constitution and jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
Emergency Provisions: Emergency provisions are mentioned in Part XVIII of the constitution which vests power with the President to impose emergency rule in any part or all states of India, concerning the security or war reasons.
Administrative details: The administrative section gives an insight into the governance and administration system of India at the central, state, and local level.
Parliamentary form of government: Parliamentary government suggests greater representation in government. The legislative branch comprises The President, the Rajya Sabha, and The Lok Sabha.
The Rule of law: The Rule of law concept suggests that the state is governed not by its ruler or the nominated representatives by the people but by the law.
Legislative Procedure: The procedure is for the central government requiring any proposed bills to pass through the two legislative houses of the Parliament: The upper house, Rajya Sabha (Council of states), and the Lok Sabha (House of the people).
Single Citizenship: The conferment of Indian citizenship is governed under Article 5 to article 11 of the constitution. Indian nationality law follows citizenship by right of blood instead of citizenship by right of birth within its territory.
Cabinet System: The cabinet system suggests a formal system where state officials have the duty to advise to the president on any concerned subject.
Writs: A prerogative writ is an official order that directs the behaviour of government’s other arms that are the courts, government officials, and agencies.
Parliamentary privileges: Article 105 of the constitution deals with parliamentary privileges. It says that the members of parliament are exempted from any civil or criminal liability for any statement made, or act done in the course of their duties.
Bicameralism: Indian Parliament is the supreme legislative body in the country. We have a bicameral legislature consisting of the President and the two houses: Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha.
President Impeachment: Impeachment of the president is governed under Article 61 of the constitution which talks about the President’s removal on violation of the constitution. The impeachment charge shall be done by passing a resolution through the parliament house, requiring a majority of not less than two-thirds.
Removal of Supreme Court and High Court judges: It is governed under Article 124 (4) of the constitution which vests the power with the president to remove a judge on the ground of misbehaviour or incapacity, with a majority of not less than two-thirds of members of each house of parliament.
Judicial Review: It is the power given to the judiciary to interpret the constitution and declare any concerned law or order void if it stands in violation of the constitution.
Preamble and Fundamental Rights: The Preamble is the heart and soul of Indian constitution since it enshrines the basic structure and principles, and overview of the whole constitution. Further, the constitution envisages six fundamental rights of Indian citizens.
The main provision borrowed from the Irish constitution is of Directive Principles of State Policy which becomes listed in Part IV of the Indian constitution. The provision provides for the duty of the state to apply the principles of Socialist, Gandhian, and Liberal Intellectual directives in the law-making process.
Federation with a strong Centre: Since India’s diversity comprises different races, religions and language, the country has a federal system of government at each level; Union, State, and local level for the smooth functioning of the government.
Vesting of residuary powers in the Centre: Following the separation of powers in the three lists of the constitution, a situation may arise when a particular matter is not mentioned in any of the lists. In such cases, article 248 of the constitution will come into picture which vests the residuary powers of legislation with the Union.
Advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court: Article 143 of the Indian constitution refers to the special advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in matters which may specifically be referred to the court by the President of the country.
The basic principles of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity as enshrined under the Indian Preamble are borrowed from the French constitution.
The provisions of freedom of trade, commerce, and intercourse within the country and between the states are laid down under Article 301 to 307 of the Indian constitution. Further, the provisions of the concurrent list and joint-sitting of both the houses of parliament was also adopted from the Australian constitution.
Weimar Constitution (Germany)
The suspension of fundamental rights during an emergency is governed under Article 352 of the constitution. The provision states that the fundamental rights of the right to freedom of the citizens can be suspended during a national emergency, except the right to life and personal liberty.
Constitution of South Africa
Amendment: Part XX of the Indian constitution provides article 368 that governs the procedure for amendment of the constitution. The provision states that parliament may include, amend, or repeal any provision of the constitution in accordance with the procedure set down for this reason.
The concept of ‘procedure established by law’ was adopted from the constitution of Japan. The concept means that the procedure established by law is implicitly appropriate, pursuing the right procedure as authorized by the concerned body or legislature. Following this concept, an individual can be denied his rights and freedom, as indicated under the procedure established by law.
So, these were the main sources of the Indian Constitutions. Below provided is a quick list of all the sources and the features borrowed from them.
III. List of the Sources
|S. No.||Source||Features borrowed|
|1.||Constitution of the United States of America|| |
|2.||British Constitution|| |
|3.||Canadian Constitution|| |
|4.||Irish Constitution|| |
|5.||French Constitution|| |
|6.||Australian Constitution|| |
|7.||Constitution of Soviet Union (USSR)|| |
|8.||Constitution of South Africa|| |
|9.||Constitution of Germany|| |
|10.||Constitution of Russia|| |
|11.||Constitution of Japan|| |
|12.||Government of India Act, 1935|| |
The Constituent Assembly of India took almost three years of a time period for framing the constitution of India. While deliberating on the provisions and features to be adopted in our constitution, the constituent assembly borrowed various features from other nations’ constitution, which were relevant as per the Indian scenario.
Though some features are adopted from other countries, it is noteworthy that the concerned provisions were not exactly copied, but adopted because they suited with India’s polity and governance. Through various deliberations and detailed study, the framers have drafted the world’s most comprehensive constitution, which is just a commendable job.
 M. Laxmikanth, INDIAN POLITY, 5th edn. (2017).
 INDIAN CONST. art. 105.
 INDIAN CONST. art. 124 (4).
 INDIAN CONST. art. 368.
 INDIAN CONST. art. 21.