Constitutional Law

Constitution of India

The Constitution of India is the supreme law of India. It lays down the framework defining fundamental political principles, establishes the structure, procedures, powers and duties of government institutions and sets out fundamental rights, directive principles and the duties of citizens. It is the longest written constitution of any sovereign country in the world.

The constitution – a living document – The Indian Constitution is first and foremost a social document, and is aided by its Parts III & IV (Fundamental Rights & Directive Principles of State Policy, respectively) acting together, as its chief instruments and its conscience, in realising the goals set by it for all the people.The Constitution’s provisions have consciously been worded in generalities, though not in vague terms, instead of making them rigid and static with a fixed meaning or content as in an ordinary statute, so that they may be interpreted by coming generations of citizens with the onward march of time, to apply to new and ever-changing and demanding situations, making the Constitution a living and an organic documentJustice Marshall asserts: “It is the nature of (a) Constitution that only its great outlines be marked”. It is a document intended “to endure for ages” and therefore, it has to be interpreted not merely on the basis of the intention and understanding of the its framers but on the experience of its working effectively, in the existing social and political context.

Basic structure doctrine

The Hon’ble Supreme Court has ruled in Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala case that an amendment cannot destroy what it seeks to modify, which means, while amending anything in the Constitution, it cannot tinker with the “basic structure” or its framework, which is immutable. Such an amendment will be declared invalid even though no part of the constitution is explicitly prevented from being amended, nor does the basic structure doctrine protect any single provision of the Constitution. Yet, this “doctrine of basic features” lays down that, the Constitution when “read as a whole”, that what comes to be understood as its basic features cannot be abridged, deleted or abrogated. What these “basic features” are, have not been defined exhaustively anywhere.The judgment in the Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala case laid down the following as the basic structure of the constitution of India:

Supremacy of the Constitution

Republican and Democratic form of Government

Secular Character of the Constitution

Separation of powers

The Federal Character of the Constitution

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