COMPARISON OF INDIAN CONSTITUTIONAL SCHEME WITH OTHER COUNTRIES
CONSTITUTION A BRIEF DEFINITION
The constitution is a fundamental law of a country that reflects the fundamental principles on which the government of the country is based.
A standard operational definition of written constitutions is the one developed by the principal investigators of the Comparative Constitutions Project (CCP), which involves a set of three conditions to assess a law’s status as a “Constitution”:
- The document is identified explicitly as the Constitution, Fundamental Law, or Basic Law of a country
- The document contains explicit provisions that establish it as the highest law, either through entrenchment or limits on future law
- The document defines the basic pattern of authority by establishing or suspending an executive or legislative branch of government.
The first condition is sufficient to qualify a document as a constitution, whereas the others are applied as supplementary tests if the first is not met.
According to this operational definition, the United Kingdom is the only country in the world without a written constitution.
IMPORTANCE OF CONSTITUTION:
The role of a constitution is to make certain that the government operates efficiently and in a fair and responsible manner. It does this in three ways:
- The primary function of a constitution is to lay out the basic structure of the government according to which the people are to be governed.
- It holds the government to the law. The constitution does not simply provide a recipe for an efficient government, but also deals with limitations on power.
- It provides distinction of power so that no one part of the government is any more powerful than another.It effectively regulates the relationship between these organs as well as the relationship between the government and its people.
- It provides a series of checks and balances so that when laws are made or amended, the government follows the correct procedure to pass a Bill.
- A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity
- The constitution of a particular country lays down the national goals which form the basic edifice on which the nation rests upon.
- The constitution of a country guarantees some rights and provision for any individual or group of people on behalf of which they can ensure their well-being and dignity.
SALIENT FEATURES OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION
- Indian Constitution is a constitution made by the people of India acting through their duly elected and representative body—the Constituent Assembly that was organized in December 1946. Its first session was held on 9th December, 1946. It passed the Objectives Resolution on 22 January, 1947.
- Thereafter, it initiated the process of constitution-making in the right earnest and was in a position to finally pass and adopt the constitution on 26th November, 1949. The constitution became fully operational with effect from 26th January 1950. We celebrate this day as our Republic Day.
A) Main Features
- Written constitution
The Indian constitution is one of the bulkiest constitution of the world, comprising of 395 articles, 22 parts and 12 schedules.
- Mix of Rigid and flexible
The Indian constitution is combination of rigidity and flexibility, which means some parts of it can be amended by the Parliament by a simple majority, whereas some parts require a two-third majority as well as not less than one-half of the state legislatures.
- Parliamentary system of governance
The Indian constitution provides for a parliamentary system of government, i.e., the real executive power rests with the council of ministers and the President is only a nominal ruler (Article 74).
The Preamble to the Constitution of India is a well drafted document which states the philosophy of the constitution. It states in nutshell the nature of Indian state and the objectives it is committed to secure for the people.
- Unitary State with a Federal character
The Indian constitution described India as a ‘Union of States’ (Article 1), which implies that Indian federation is not the result of any agreement among the units and the units cannot secede from it.
While describing India as a Union of States, the Constitution provides for a federal structure with a unitary spirit. Scholars describe India as a ‘Quasi-Federation’ (K.C. Wheare) or as ‘a federation with a unitary bias, or even as ‘a Unitarian federation.’
- Fundamental Rights and Duties
The Indian constitution provides an elaborate list of Fundamental Rights to the citizens of India, which cannot be taken away or abridged by any law made by the states (Article 12–35). Similarly, the constitution also provides a list of 10 duties of the citizens, known as the Fundamental Duties (Article 51A). The Indian constitution mentions certain Directive Principles of State Policy (Article 36–51) which that government has to keep in mind while formulating new policy.
- India a Socialist and Secular State:
In 1976 that the Preamble was amended to include the terms ‘Socialist’ and “Secular. It is now regarded as a prime feature of Indian state. India is committed to secure social, economic and political justice for its entire people by ending all forms of exploitation and by securing equitable distribution of income, resources and wealth. The constitution makes India a secular state by detaching from religious dogmas. Indian secularism guarantees equal freedom to all religions. The Constitution grants the Right to Religious Freedom to all the citizens.
- India a Democratic Republic
The Constitution of India provides for a democratic system. The authority of the government rests upon the sovereignty of the people. Free fair and regular elections are held for electing governments. India is world’s largest working democracy.
The Preamble declares India to be a Republic. India is not ruled by a monarch or a nominated head of state. India has an elected head of state (President of India) who wields power for a fixed term of 5 years.
- Independent Judiciary
The constitution provides an independent judiciary (Article 76) which ensures that the government is carried on in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and acts as a guardian of the liberties and fundamental rights of the citizens.
- Single Citizenship
The Indian constitution provides a single citizenship for all the people residing different parts of the country.
- Bicameral Legislature
The Indian constitution provides a bicameral legislatures at centre consisting of Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and Lok Sabha (House of the People)(Article 79).
- Emergency provisions
The constitution vests extraordinary powers, known as Emergency Powers in the President during emergencies out of armed rebellion or external aggression or due to failure of constitutional machinery in the state (Article 352–360).
- Special Provisions
The constitution makes special provisions for minorities, Scheduled castes, Scheduled Tribes, etc. by granting them certain special rights and provisions. Basically those are some of the interesting features of Indian constitution. Moreover, the constitution also has many other features such as, Panchayati Raj, Rule of Law, Provisions for Independent Bodies, etc. which are very unique in nature.
- Judicial Review
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The Supreme Court acts as the guardian protector and interpreter of the Constitution. It is also the guardian of the Fundamental Rights of the people (Article 32). For this purpose it exercises the power of judicial review. By it, the Supreme Court determines the constitutional validity of all laws made by the legislatures. It can reject any law which is found to be unconstitutional. (Article 136 and Article 226(High courts)).
- Constitution Drawn from several Sources
In formulating the Constitution of India, the founding fathers used several sources. The values and ideals of the national movement guided their path. Some provisions of Government of India Act 1935 were used by them and several features of foreign constitutions influenced them, and were adopted by them.
OTHER MAJOR CONSTITUTIONS
The present constitution of United States of America was adopted at the famous Philadelphia convention held in 1787. It came into force in 1789.It is the oldest written constitution of the world.
Following are some of the specific features of the Constitution of USA.
- Written character:-
American constitution is written in form. It was the product of the Philadelphia convention. It established a federal government allowing maximum liberty to the states. At the time of adoption of the constitution, 13 states joined the federation and later the number has arisen from 13 to 50.
- Rigid in Nature
The constitution of USA is the most rigid constitution of the world. A lengthy and complicated process can amend it. The amendment necessitates the participation of both the sets of government. Only 26 amendments have been made so far.
- Federal character:-The American constitution is federal in character. Originally it was a federation of 13 states but due to admission of new states, it is now a federation of 50 states. A constitutional division of powers has been made between the centre and the federating units.
- Supremacy of the Constitution:-The constitution is the supreme law of the land. Neither the Centre nor the states can override the constitution. The Supreme Court of America can declare a law or an executive order repugnant to the constitution unconstitutional and invalid.
- Separation of Powers
This is also a feature of the American constitution. It is based on the doctrine of the ‘separation of powers’ as expounded by Montesquieu in his ‘Spirit of Laws’.
- Checks and balances
The framers of the constitution introduced a new doctrine called‘checks and balances’. The powers of one organ were so devised as to exercise a check upon the powers of others.
- The President through his veto power checks the Congress but the Congress can override his veto by a two-thirds
- The President has also another power known as ‘pocket veto’. By using this power he can kill a bill presented to him.The Congress,in turn, checks the President through its power to appropriate money and to impeach the President.
- The Supreme Court depends upon the Congress in several In turn the SC enjoys the power to supervise over the legislature and executive. The SC can declare a law passed by the Congress, or an executive order of the President as unconstitutional and invalid, if it violates the any provisions of the constitution.
- Bill of rights
The Constitution guarantees fundamental rights of person, property and liberty. These rights were not enumerated in the original constitution but incorporated in it by a number of amendments. The rights of citizens are enforceable by recourse to the judiciary. These rights cannot be suspended except by a constitutional amendment
- Judicial review
The SC and the lower federal courts possess the power of judicial review. It can declare any legislation or executive order null and void if the same is found to be inconsistent with the constitution.
The USA is a republic with the President as its elected head. The Constitution derives its authority from the people. Moreover, every federal state of USA has a republican form of government.
- Presidential form of government
The constitution provides for a presidential form of government in USA. All executive powers are vested with the president. Constitutionally his election is indirect but in practice it has become direct.
- Dual citizenship:-The US constitution provides for dual citizenship for the people of USA.
- Popular Sovereignty:-The American constitution is based on popular sovereignty. The ultimate sovereignty in USA is attributed to the people.
- Rule of Law
The US Constitutional Doctrine is Due Process of Law as opposed to the Procedure Established by Law doctrine of the Indian constitution
The former is Indian constitutional doctrine and the latter is American
- Bicameral Legislature
USA has a bicameral legislature: House of Representatives (lower house) and Senate (Upper house). Unlike other upper houses in the world, the upper house of USA, senate, is more powerful than the lower. It is equipped with legislative, executive and judicial powers. It is described as the most powerful upper chamber in the world. It is a compact house consisting of 100 members. Its tenure is six years. The lower house consists of 435 members and they are elected for only two years.
B) United Kingdom
The official designation of GREAT BRITAIN is “United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” The British constitution is the product of evolution. It is derived from different sources: conventions, charters, statutes, judicial decisions and eminent works done by scholars on the subject.
Some important characteristics of the British constitution are:
- Evolved constitution
British constitution is the result of evolution of political institutions over centuries. It is based on conventions which are modified by judicial decisions and laws of parliament.
It has an unwritten character. The rules and principles controlling the distribution and regulation of governmental powers have never been written anywhere else. Most of the constitutional principles have grown by experiences. The unwritten nature of the British constitution does not mean that none of the principles are written. There are several written parts, like Magna Carta, Bill of rights, Reforms Acts, and Parliamentary Acts of 1911 and 1949.
- Flexible character
In Britain there is no difference between ordinary law and constitutional law .The British parliament is supreme. The power to make and amend the constitution is vested with it. By the simple process of law making anything can be added and deleted from it. Since the method of amendment is simple; British constitution isflexible in nature.
- Difference between theory and practice
There exist a great gap between the constitutional theory and governmental practice in Britain. Theoretically the government of Britain is vested with the Crown. All of the government are the servants of the Crown. No law is effective without the Crown’s consent. The King is the commander in chief of all armed forces. The King alone can declare war and peace treatises In practice the King has become merely a figurehead.
- Parliamentary sovereignty
In Britain the parliament is sovereign to make or unmake any law. No institution in England is competent to challenge the Acts of parliament. There is no judicial review. Whatever the parliament does is legal and constitutional.
- Unitary Constitution
British political system is unitary and not federal in form. In Britain all functions of the government are exercised by one single Central government. There is no division of powers between central and provincial governments
- Parliamentary form of government
England is the mother of parliamentary form of government. The Executive (Cabinet) is always responsible to the parliament. The cabinet (council of ministers) constitute the real executive and they are selected from the parliament. The cabinet is always collectively and individually responsible to the parliament.
- Rule of law
Another unique feature of the British constitution is the system of rule of law, It means that the government acts according to the system of laws. It has never been enacted as a statute but implicit in the various acts of the parliament; judicial decisions and in the common law. It actually implies the supremacy of law in England. There is no act which lays down the fundamental rights of the people. The fundamental rights of the citizens are protected by the principle of rule of law.
- Independence of judiciary
Independence of judiciary has been assured in British constitution. Appointed judges, rather than elected judges, enjoying security of tenure and emoluments, have been accepted, as factors responsible for the maintenance of judicial independence.
- Checks and balances
British constitution is based on the principle of Checks and Balances. The parliament can pass a law but no law can be implemented unless and until the Queen signs it. Likewise no order of the queen is valid unless and until it is counter signed by some minister .The cabinet is always responsible to the parliament and the parliament can vacate the cabinet by passing a no-confidence motion.
- Absence of the doctrine of separation of powers:-The doctrine of the separation of powers does not apply completely in The Queen is the head of the executive and judiciary and is also an integral part of the legislature. The Lord Chancellor is a member of the cabinet; president of the House of Lords and the head of the judiciary. The cabinet is the chief executive and the cabinet ministers head all the departments of the government. At the same time, the ministers are the members of the parliament. Hence under the British constitution the cabinet, the legislature and judiciary are closely and continuously associated. Their relation is not in the nature of separation.
- Blend of Monarchy, Aristocracy and democracy
British constitution has harmoniously blended within itself the three different features of Monarchy, Aristocracy and Democracy. The King represents the Monarchy, which rests on the hereditary principle. The House of Lords is Aristocratic representing the lords and nobles of the land. The House of Commons, the lower house of the parliament is democratic, representing the people of the country.
- Cabinet system:-The cabinet is the real executive in Britain. The cabinet has become the supreme directing authority and the pivot of the whole political machinery
A small ministerial committee headed by Michel Debre under the authority of General De Gaulle drafted the constitution of French Republic. It came into force after a referendum held on 28thSeptember, 1958.
The features of the constitution are as follows
The constitution contains a preamble which affirms the Declaration of human rights of 1789.TheDeclaration was based on the doctrine of ‘natural law and ‘general will’ and was guaranteed by the right of free speech, press, assembly, and religion. But the Preamble is only a statement of principles without any legal basis
- Written Constitution
The constitution of Vth Republic is a written document, enacted by a constitutional committee under the leader of Gen De Gaulle. It consists of 92 articles grouped into XV titles. The constitution incorporates five principles:-universal suffrage, responsibility of the government to the parliament, separation of the legislature and the executive, independence of judiciary, and the provision of organising the relationship between the Republic and the associated people.
- Rigid Constitution
This constitution includes a special procedure for amendment.-Article 89.According to this Article, a proposal for revision must, to be effective, to be voted first in identical terms by both the houses of parliament and then ratified by a referendum or, if the president decides otherwise, by a three-fifth(3/5) majority of both houses meeting in joint session. The republican form of government is not subject to revision.
- A mixture of parliamentary and Presidential forms
The constitution seeks to combine two different principles–the principle of parliamentary democracy and the principles of presidential democracy. The head of the state and the head of the government are different. The Prime Minister and his colleagues are responsible to the parliament. The President is the real executive like the president of America. The decisions of the government are taken in accordance with his wishes. It shows the traits of presidential government.
- Popular sovereignty
The constitution declares France as an indivisible,secular, democratic, and social republic. The motto of the republic is ‘liberty, equality, and fraternity’ and its principle, is the government of the people,by the people and for the people.
- Republican form of government
France is indivisible, secular and democratic republic. It assumes equality before law of all citizens without distinction of race, origin and religion.It respects all beliefs. The head of the state-the President-is elected directly by the people.
- Separation of legislative and executive powers
Another important feature of the 1958constitution is the separation of legislative and executive powers.
- Constitutional council:-
The constitutional council is a unique institution of France. It has given the function of deciding the constitutionality of governmental or parliamentary acts. The constitutional council supervises the election of the president of the Republic. It examines electoral petitions.
- Recognition of political parties
The constitution recognises the existence of political parties. Act 4 of the constitution says that political parties and groups may compete for the expression of the suffrage.
- Advisory and judicial organs
One of the advisory organs set up by the constitution is Economic and Social Council. It gives opinion on the government bills,ordinances and orders and private member’s bills submitted to it by the government. Another advisory body is the High Council of Judges and Public Prosecutors. Its function is to advice the government on appointments to a limited number of higher judicial posts.
- Untidy, vague and Ambiguous
The 1958 constitution of France has been called as an untidy constitution which is in some places vague, and in others ambiguous. It does not completely describe the system of government and has omitted provisions for a number of extremely important institutions.
The Republic of Switzerland is a small country, situated in the heart of Western Europe. They speak four different languages. In 1938 Romansh was adopted as the official language. There is no uniformity of religious belief as well. Despite all these differences on the basis of religion, language and race, the Swiss constitute a coherent nation Apart from being a home of direct democracy, all of the institutions are based on democratic principles. Another distinctive fact of Switzerland is its dynamic neutrality. This policy of neutrality has brought peace and prosperity to the country.
Following are the salient features of the Swiss constitution.
- A written and a lengthy Constitution.
This is Swiss constitution of 1874 is a written document like that of USA. It is double in size of American constitution and consists of three chapters containing 123 articles.
- Rigid Nature.
Swiss constitution is rigid in character, though not so rigid as the US constitution. The procedure laid down for its amendment is difficult and complicated. Evidently this constitution is far more rigid than the Indian constitution but less so than US constitution.
- Republican constitution
Switzerland is one of the oldest Republics of Europe. The constitution establishes Republic not only at the centre but also in various cantons. Republicanism is infact the breath of the Swiss way of life. All political institutions in Switzerland are elective in character.
- Federal form of government
The Republic of Switzerland is a Federation. The powers of the government have been divided between National and Cantonal governments on the American pattern. The Federal government has been vested with powers of National importance and the residuary powers have been given to Cantons. The Cantons, however enjoy supremacy in the own sphere. But the union of Cantons is permanent and the secession is not permitted.
- Democratic character
Switzerland and Democracy have in recent years become almost synonyms. This statement is justified because as a form of government the people have direct or indirect share in it and it is under their control. The constitution made all citizens equal before the law and introduced to universal adult suffrage. Initiative and referendum are used more extensively in Switzerland than in any other company and plays effective sovereignty in the Swiss people
- Rights of the citizens
The Swiss constitution doesn’t contain a formal Bill of rights as we find in India. Instead of being consolidated in a single chapter of the constitution, references to specific rights of the citizens are scattered all over the constitutions.
- Plural Executive
The constitutions vest the executive with the Federal council, which consists of seven members, elected by the Federal assembly for four years. The president of the constitution who is elected by the Federal assembly for a period of one year only is simply first among equals. He in no way enjoys a superior position to that of the rest of the colleagues.
- Position of Judiciary
The Swiss judiciary plays a less vital role than the judiciary in the US or in India. The Swiss Federal Judiciary has limited judicial review. It can only declare a cantonal law unconstitutional. The court shall apply laws voted by the Federal Assembly. The election of judges by the Federal Assembly further establishes the inferior position of judiciary in Switzerland
- Bicameral legislature.
The Swiss legislature is bicameral in character. The upper house-Council of states represents the cantons on equal basis as that of the Senate of USA. It is a small house consists of 44 members. The lower chamber is the National Council, which consists of 200members. Both these houses are kept on a par with each other in respect of their powers.
- Dynamic constitution
The constitution of Switzerland is dynamic in character. It has been adapting itself to the exigencies of time and keeping pace with the social aspirations of people. For instance, the traditional freedom of speech and association were curtailed to some extent during the two World Wars.
It was in 1954 that All China People’s National Congress was elected. The work of drafting a new constitution had started two years earlier and the first draft was completed in March 1954 and after further discussions and deliberations in various forums the final draft was approved on September 1954.After two intervening versions enacted in 1975 and 1978, the current Constitution was declared in 1982 and was adopted by the 5th National People’s Congress on December4, 1982
The Chinese constitution has five sections, which are
- General principles,
- Fundamental rights and duties of citizens,
- Structure of the state (which includes such state organs as the National People’s Congress, the State Council, the Local People’s Congress and Local People’s Governments and the People’s Courts and the People’s Procuratorates),
- The national flag, the National anthem, the national emblem and the Capital
The salient features of the Chinese constitution are summarized as follows:
- Enacted constitution
The new constitution of People’s Republic of China (PRC), 1982 is an enacted constitution having 138 articles grouped into four chapters. The Preamble of the constitution throws light on the achievements of the past and the goals of the future.
- Rigid Constitution
The constitution of PRC is famous for its rigidity.National People’s Congress (the Parliament) has been empowered to make any amendment in it by two–thirds majority.
- Unitary state
The constitution provides for a unitary system ofgovernment. There is no division or distribution of power between National and Provincial powers. All the powers are with the Central government.
- Unicameral system.
The constitution of China provides for a unicameral legislature.
- Fundamental Rights and Duties
The new constitution of PRC provides for a set of fundamental rights and duties to the citizens. Chapter II (Articles 33 to 56) deals with the fundamental rights and duties. The Constitution also incorporates a set of fundamental duties like the supporting of the leadership of the communist party, strengthening the socialist system and abiding by the constitution and the laws of the country.
- Democratic Centralism:
The constitution adopts the principle of the democratic centralism to the organization of the communist party and the government. The leading roles of the party at all levels shall be elected through democratic consultation. The whole party must observe strict discipline. The individual is subordinate to the organization; the minority is subordinate to majority. The lower level is subordinate to the higher level and the entire party is subordinate to the central committee.
- Central military commission
Another salient feature of the constitution is the provision for the establishment of a Central Military Commission consisting of a Chairman, Vice–Chairman and some members. The basic function of the body is maintenance of the armed forces of the country. Its members shall be elected by the NPC and shall be accountable to it.
- A Socialist State
The constitution declares that China is a Communist state. It is people’s democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants. There shall be two kinds of ownership of the means of production-socialist ownership by the whole people and socialist collective ownership by the working people.
FEATURES OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION COMPARED WITH OTHER COUNTRIES
A) Listed below are some comparisons between of Indian, UK, US, Swiss and French constitution
COMPARISON BETWEEN INDIAN AND AUSTRALIAN CONSTITUTION
A) CONSTITUTIONAL SIMILARITIES
- Constitutional Democracies:
Both India and Australia are parliamentary democracies. Their national governments are elected by direct popular vote in national polls conducted by secret ballot
- Federal System:
India and Australia have federal systems of government. Although the federal character is more clearly stamped on the Australian constitutional system as in India, the Union Parliament has exclusive powers to make laws with respect to any of the matters enumerated in the ‘Union List’ in the schedule. Although the federal division of powers in India is an important feature of the Constitution, its federal character is not amongst the stated essential characteristics
- Rule of Law:
In both India and Australia, the rule of law is a strong feature of constitutionalism. In India the law declared by the Supreme Court of India is binding on all courts in the territory of India and the law declared by a High Court is binding on all subordinate courts within the state. In the Australian Constitution, there is a separate chapter of the Constitution, Ch. III, and dealing with ‘the Judicature’. This separate treatment has been held to have important consequences for the independence, work and role of the courts in Australia.
- Character of Supreme Court
In both India and Australia, the appellate jurisdiction is integrated. The Supreme Court is not confined substantially to federal constitutional and legal issues and orders. The final national court is a general court of law, resolving both constitutional and general legal disputes and those arising in state as well as federal jurisdiction.
- Responsible and Representative Government
Both in India and Australia, the Prime Minister is formally appointed by the Head of State (the President or in Australia Governor-General representing the Queen. In neither Constitution is there an express power in the President or the Governor-General to dismiss a Prime Minister for a perceived breach of duty.
- Separating head of state and government
The Indian and Australian forms of constitutional government separate the ceremonial, military and bureaucratic functions of the chief executive from the functions of Head of Government.
- Legal traditions
Many of the distinctive legal traditions of India and Australia are identical or similar. Under the provisions of the respective constitutions, the appointment of superior court judges is made by the Executive Government.
Both in India and Australia, territories are generally the constitutional responsibility of the Federal Government, with an administrator appointed to be the Chief Executive.
- Common market
One of the most important provisions of the Australian Constitution was that which ensured that throughout the continental nation there would be a common single market. In the Australian case, the provision (which became one of the most litigated under the Constitution), s.92, declared that ‘on the imposition of uniform duties of customs, trade, commerce and intercourse among the states, whether by means of internal carriage or ocean navigation, shall be absolutely free’. This provision was influential in the drafting of article 301 of the Indian Constitution. This declared that ‘subject to the other provisions of this Part, trade, commerce and intercourse throughout the territory of India shall be free’. The adoption of a common market in both the countries has been an extremely important contribution by the constitution and lawyers to the economic advancement of each country.
- Specially vulnerable citizens
Both in India and Australia, it was recognized that there were specially disadvantaged groups and individuals who might need extra protection under the constitution and legal differentiation for that purpose. The vulnerable communities were, in each case, a product of history. In Australia, the point of differentiation was generally race, skin color and ethnic culture. In India the points of differentiation were caste, religion and associated prejudices.
B) CONSTITUTIONAL DIFFERENCES
- Autochthonous law
The Australian Constitution is, historically, a product of an Imperial statute enacted by the UK Parliament. The Constitution of India was prepared by the Constituent Assembly and derives its power from the Citizens of India
- Crown and republic
A fundamental feature of the basic structure of the Constitution of India is that it is a sovereign, democratic Republic. Australia, on the other hand, is a constitutional monarchy. ‘
- Subject and citizen
At the time of Federation, Australians enjoyed a single nationality, namely that of British subject. This had also been the status of all persons in British India. Upon the advent of the republic in India, the status of subject of the British Crown was terminated. Provision was made for the citizenship of persons born in the territory of India or either of whose parents had been born in that territory. The status of citizenship of Australia was not expressly mentioned in its Constitution. No power was conferred expressly to enact a law on citizenship;
- Fundamental rights
‘Fundamental Rights’ are collected in Part. III of the Indian Constitution. They include the rights to equality; to freedom; to protection against exploitation; to freedom of religion; and to cultural and educational rights. By way of contrast, the Australian document basically leaves the protection of such rights to the enactments of the Parliament
The commitment to a ‘secular’ republic in the Preamble to the Constitution of India confirms that the Indian State has no official religion. Reinforcing this ideal, article 25 of the Constitution declares that ‘all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion being available to all religions equally’.
In Australia, because of the narrow interpretation of the prohibitions in of the Australian Constitution, controversial decisions have sometimes upheld contested taxation advantages for religious institutions.
- Emergency provisions
There is no express provision in the Australian Constitution for the suspension of the Parliament or any other constitutional institution and the substitution of emergency rule. In the Indian Constitution, express provision is made for the proclamation of an emergency.
- Amendment provisions
In the 117 year history of the Australian Commonwealth only 8 amendments have succeeded. Constitutionally speaking, Australia is therefore a nation where it is extremely difficult to secure a formal amendment to the Constitution. The amendment of the Indian Constitution is markedly simpler and more flexible. A power is granted to the Parliament of India, to add to, vary or repeal any provision subject to the ‘Basic Structure’ of the Constitution
- Constitutions, written or unwritten, form the backbone of governance in any state. They are an archive of all the laws, principles and guidelines that are required to maintain law and order in the country and prevent internal or external fallouts.
- Each nation has constructed its constitution on the basis of efficiency of governance. Over the decades, it has continuously been amended to keep up with the times, the transforming demographics and modern ideologies.
- No matter the differences or similarities between the different constitutions of the world, each nation wants to secure the interests of its citizens prior to everything else. In doing so, they are prioritizing the nation’s interest in growth, security and stability. Constitution provides the basis of decisions and policies that are made to support this.
- A good constitution is a prerequisite of an empowered nation. India, with its extensive written constitution in place, already possesses this prerequisite.
- The Indian constitution finds many similarities with the other constitutions in the world, yet it has its own unique features which make itself special in its own way.