Friday, March 24, 2017

Unitary Features of Indian Constitution that Ensures the Existence of our Federal & Combined Polity

Although India is a federation, in theory per se, but practically, the central government body is much stronger in power than the state governments.

In this article, we shall discuss the unitary features of the constitution.

Here we go:

1. Strong Centre

In an ideal federal state, there is a balance of power between the state and the central government.

In our constitution, the division of power is not equitable at all.

The balance of powers is in favor of the union government.

It will be clearer from the following examples:

In the union list, there are more subjects than the state list. This means that, the union government has a wider range of subjects upon which it can make laws and has control over than the state governments.

The subjects in the union list are much more important for the defence, economy and overall development of the nation than the subjects mentioned in the state list.

Concurrent list is supposed to be a list of subjects on which both the state and the union governments can make laws. 

But, even on these subjects, the union government has an overriding authority.

Residuary subjects means those subjects which are not mentioned in any of the lists. The power to make laws on these subjects has also been given to the union government as well. 

This is not the case in the United States of America, which is a perfect federal state. 

There, the states make the laws on the residuary subjects.

2. States not Indestructible

The states in India have no territorial rights.

This means that the union government, by the use of unilateral action, can change the name, boundary or area of any state.

What’s more is that it can be done with a simple majority and not a special majority.

Therefore the Indian federation is called as ‘an indestructible Union of destructible states”.

Whereas the American federation is known as ‘an indestructible union of indestructible states’.

3. Single Constitution

Generally, in a federation, the states also have their separate constitution apart form a union constitution.

However, in India, there is one supreme constitution.

The states have no power to frame their own constitution.

The constitution of India doesn’t only cover the centre, but also the states.

Governments at both the centre and state levels must function within the guidelines and laws of the constitution.

There is only exception.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir has its own state constitution.

4. Flexibility of the Indian Constitution

The Constitution of India is neither rigid nor flexible.

It means that the framers of the Indian Constitution made it in such a manner that it is neither too easy nor too difficult to amend the constitution.

Still, a considerable part of the Indian Constitution can be amended by the central government either by simple majority or a special majority.

Moreover, the states have no power to introduce or propose an amendment.

It can only be done by the central in the parliamentary houses.

While in the US, the states can also propose an amendment.

5. No Equality of Representation

In the United States, each state has 2 members in the senate.

The American Constitution is an agreement between the states and they are indestructible.

In India however, the number of members representing their respective states is proportional to the population of those states.

Simply stating, states with more population, have more members representing that particular state in Rajya Sabha.

6. Emergency Provision

According to the Indian Constitution, there are three kinds of emergencies- national, state and financial.

During any kind of emergency, the center holds all the power and the states are in full control of the center.

This means that India becomes a unitary nation from a federal country and it doesn’t even require a formal amendment that needs to be passed.

This is a very unique feature of our constitution.

7. Single Citizenship

Although India adopted a dual polity system in which the government acts on two levels, the center and the state, but India adopted the concept of single citizenship just like Canada.

In the US, every person has a citizenship of the country as well as their respective states in which, they enjoy certain additional rights.

Every Indian citizen has only one citizenship, and enjoys equal rights irrespective of the states they belong to.

8. Integrated judiciary

The judicial system of India is headed by the Supreme Court with all the state high courts under it.

It is a single judicial system and governs and imposes both the central and the state laws.

In US, there are two judicial systems where the federal judicial system imposes the federal laws and the state judiciary system imposes the state laws.

9. All India Services

In India, the center and state have their separate public services.

But in addition to these, India also has all India services like IAS, IFS, and IPS which serve both the centre and the state.

The members of these services are recruited and trained by the center are in ultimate control of the centre.

They are posted in different states all over the country at the discretion of the center.

10. Integrated Audit Machinery

The audits of the state and center accounts is done by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India who is appointed by the president without consulting the states.

This means that the financial monarchy of the states is compromised.

11. Parliament’s Authority over State List

The subjects in the state list are supposed to be the matters on which the states have exclusive and full autonomy.

But if a motion is passed in the Rajya Sabha due to national interest, then the parliament can have a discussion on those matters as well.

This can be done without any amendment to the constitution or even without any emergency.

12. Appointment of Governor

The governor of the states is appointed by the president for as long as he pleases.

The governor acts as the representative of the center in each state and keeps them in control.

13. Integrated Election Machinery

The Election Commission of India is constituted by the President.

It conducts election for both the states and the center and the states have no say in the appointment and removal of its members

14. Veto over State Bills

The President of India can veto certain types of bills that are passed in the state legislature.

This veto is not just suspensive veto, but absolute veto.

Any such bills are provided to the President by the Governor of that particular state.

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