Salient Features of the Indian Constitution: Important Provisions and Cases

Author-Kamaljeet Kaur, University Five Year Law College, University of Rajasthan


“The Indian Constitution is a testament to the values of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity, enshrining them as the guiding principles of our nation’s governance.”

After a long haul of efforts and back breaking work,  the constitution of india was enacted finally on 26th January 1950, after a long period of 2year 11months and 18days, WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA  laid down the fundamental framework for the functioning of the government, gaven the rights and duties to ourselves, directive principles of state policy (guidelines for state to  work in a manner). From the the Preamble to the accurate balance of powers between the branches of government, the Indian Constitution assures the commitment of justice, equality, and the rule of law. In its important provisions, the Indian Constitution delineates the salient features that form the intristic example for all other countries.The salient features of the Indian Constitution encompass a robust framework designed to uphold the values of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity, and also provides ways for the resolution of disputes and the protection of individual liberties.

Indian Constitution is centrally focused on important provisions, which provides the powers and responsibilities of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. These provisions of the supreme law of india  establish a system of checks and balances, ensuring that no single entity may misuse and overuse their powers. The fundamental rights, guaranteeing every citizen certain liberties and protections against arbitrary state action. Additionally it lays down directive principles of state policy, and the objectives of  socioeconomic justice and the welfare of the people from which the constitution has been driven. In the que there is also directive principles of state policy that give guidelines to state authorities to not to rule on people but to rule for people.

Keywords :Preamble,  Equality, Justice, Liberty, Fraternity


We, the people…adopt enact and give to ourselves this Constitution”

The Preamble of the Indian Constitution serves as a beacon of hope, indroductory statement, prologue. It serves as a outlining of the fundamental principles and objectives, also gives light to the provisions upon which the Constitution is based i.e. justice, liberty, equality, fraternity and brotherhood as core values to be upheld by the nation for all its citizens and thus declares india to be a sovereign, socialist, secular, and democratic republic. It abridges the ideals, aspiration, thinking and values of Constitution framers and Indian people, and thus  sought to uphold in the governance of the country.

It has been interpreted by the judiciary in its various landmark judgements  ensuring that (Article 13) any amendments that violate its spirit and the basic structure of the constitution are deemed to be  unconstitutional and can be separated apart. It sets the tone and a base for the entire constitutional framework as a introduction to a chapter and serves as a milestone for assessing the constitutionality of laws and actions by the government. Thus preamble is also known as the ‘BACKBONE’ of the constitution due to all these reasons.

The Indian Constitution’s Preamble was amended in the one and only historic case of Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (1973), in which the Supreme Court upheld the concept of the “basic structure” of the document. That is to say while the Parliament can amend the Constitution it cannot alter any of its fundamental components or framework. In reaction to this lawsuit the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 was passed which altered the Preamble for the first time in its history to include the terms socialist and secular in order to more accurately reflect the ideals of the Indian Constitution. .


Citizens fundamental rights are the primary and most significant element of the Indian constitution. No one can imagine a state without the rights given to citizens otherwise it can be called as monarchy or autocracy. Fundamental rights assure citizens a safe a secure life. It  guarantees certain freedoms as a fellow human being and that the exercise of those freedoms is upon oneself with certain restrictions. It can be read in Part III of the Constitution. At the time of enforcement of the constitution there were a total of  7 FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS given to the citizens, but after the 44th Constitutional Amendment  Article 31 (Right to Property) was removed as a fundamental right and only remained as a constitutional right or legal right  that can’t be enforced. Thereafter only 6 Fundamental Rights remained within the hands of the citizens. Those are :-

  • Right to Equality (Article 14-18)
  • Right to Freedom (Article 19-22)
  • Right against Exploitation (Article 23-24)
  • Right to Freedom of Religion (Article 25-28)
  • Cultural and Educational Rights (Article 29-30)
  • Right to Constitutional Remedies (Article 32)

The right to constitutional remedies is regarded as the fundamental component of the Indian constitution since it provides citizens with writs (Habeas Corpus Mandamus Certiorari Quo Warranto and Prohibition) as a means of redress in the event that their rights are infringed upon by an oppressive government. Along with protecting citizens rights over the government it also serves as a barrier against arbitrary state action. The judiciary which constitutes the fourth pillar of democracy has been instrumental in both interpreting the rights accurately over time and in broadening their scope through a number of significant rulings over the years.

Thus, it protect and strengthen individual rights in India. Thus the legal or constitutional rights are not enforceable in court unlike the fundamental rights which are as in the case of the right to property after it is formed as a fundamental right (Article 31) to legal right (Article 300A).

Within the historic Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India (1978) the supreme court established the notion of due process of law broadened the definition of the right to life and personal liberty and in a different case of A. K. Gopalan versus. The State of Madras Supreme Court (1950) outlined the parameters of Article 21 i. e. Right to Life and Personal Liberty and decided that the protection provided by Article 21 is only applicable to preventive measures taken by the executive branch and does not cover preventive measures taken by the legislature.

October 2023: Following the Shafin Jahan v. constitutional bench case a five-judge panel declared that there is no such thing as a civil union and that there is no fundamental right to marry under the constitution. KK. m. Article 21s protection of the right to marry as one pleases extends to Asokan cases.


In Dr. B. R. Ambedkar’s words, the directive principles are defined as a “new aspect”  of the Indian Constitution. The Directive Principles of State Policy are described in the Part IV of the Indian Constitution from article 36-51 that aim to direct the state and are guidelines in establishing a just society by promoting socioeconomic justice.  DPSP’s  are  not enforceable by courts, these are only fundamentals to govern and serve as a moral obligations for the state in likewise as money will not be concentrated in the hands of a small number of people and to end the big difference between rich and poor, thus aims to establish just, fair and equitable society. They include provisions for equal distribution of wealth, ensuring equal pay for equal work, promoting educational and cultural interests, protecting the environment, and striving towards a welfare state.

It emphasize the state’s duty to work towards achieving social and economic equality and improving the quality of life of its citizens, protection of enivornment, thereby reflecting the commitment of the Indian Constitution to social justice and welfare..

The four new articles of Directive Principles of State Policy were added by the 42nd amendment act 1976 i.e. Article 39, Article 39 A, Article 43 A, Article 48 A. Supreme court in its landmark judgement of “Raj Narain Singh v. Chairman, Patna Administration Committee (1955)” highlighted the duty of the state to implement DPSP and emphasized that DPSP are not only written declarations but are fundamental to the governance of the country, and the state has a duty to strive towards their good governance.


As per K C Wheare, the Indian Constitution is “government in structure however unitary in soul” and “semi bureaucratic.” The division of abilities between the public government and the states, which finds some kind of harmony among decentralization and solidarity, recognizes the country’s variety and provincial goals while maintaining the country’s respectability and solidarity, and advances helpful federalism, characterizes the administrative arrangement of government laid out by the Indian Constitution. The bureaucratic design permits the two legislatures to work autonomously inside their particular areas of ward while likewise participating on issues of public significance or intergovernmental issues through establishments, for example, the Between State Committee and the Zonal Chambers, which cultivate coordination and collaboration between the national government and the state legislatures. The Constitution’s Seventh Timetable depicts the allotment of abilities between the Association, or focal government, and the states government.

The Constitution’s Seventh Schedule delineates the allocation of powers between the Union, or central government, and the states. Significant clauses pertaining to the federal system are

i. Article 245, which gives the Union and the states legislative authority
ii. Article 246 which addresses the division of state and union legislative powers and
iii. Article 356 addresses the president’s authority in the event that state constitutional machinery malfunctions.

Three lists are also included in the Constitution:
1. Union List: It includes topics like foreign policy, military, and currency over which the Union government alone has legislative responsibility.
2. State List: This comprises topics like agriculture, public health, education, communication and law enforcement where state governments alone possess the power to enact laws.
3. Concurrent List: It contains topics like bankruptcy, succession, adoption, wills, criminal law intestacy and marriage that are subject to both federal and state legislation.

The Apex Court in a landmark case of  State of West Bengal v. Union of India (1963), held that  the Union government was not at all permitted to compel states to perform these functions against their will where the case was that the state challenged the constitutionality of an act passed by the parliament and. The Harla v. State of Rajasthan (1951) ruling also dealt with the interpretation of the doctrine of repugnancy between federal and state laws. It stated that federal law would take precedence over state law if there was a disagreement on a topic covered by the Concurrent List.


India got the  parliamentary system of government by the constitution of india from the Part V of the Constitution that trifurcates, the State into three equal constituents’ viz. Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. The parliamentary system  can be said as a relationship between the executive and legislative and other branches of government but in contrast to that is a Presidential form of democracy whereby the executive does not form part of, nor is appointed by, the parliamentary or legislative body. This system is based on the “British model of governancewhich means that ministers get their legitimacy from Parliament as it is continuing from the colonization. The parliamentary system of india can be said as based on the Westminster model in which the President is considered as the head of the state (the first man of the country), while the real executive power is vested in the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister. Prime Minister is appointed by the President after the Lok Sabha Elections and should be the head of the majority or coalition .

  • The Rajya Sabha represents the states and union territories, with members elected by the state legislative assemblies
  • while the Lok Sabha members are directly elected by the people of India.

The parliament consists of The president and the two houses: The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

The proceedings in the Parliament begins from introducing a bill in either of the house and later on to passing it as an act. The bill goes through several stages, including introduction- discussion-consideration by a committee-voting. For becoming a bill to law it must be passed by both the houses.

The Articles related to parliamentary proceedings are as follows:-

  • The Article 118 of Indian constitution says about powers of  each house of Parliament to make rules for regulating its procedure and conduct of business.
  • Article 105 pertains to the privileges and immunities granted to Members of Parliament (MPs) concerning their speech and voting within the Parliament.

The Supreme Court clarified the governors function in a parliamentary democracy in the Rameshwar Prasad v. case especially with regard to the establishment of the government. Union of India (2006) and further held that the Governor should exercise serious consideration keeping in mind democratic and constitutional principles when using his or her discretionary power to invite a party or coalition to form the government..


During judicial review a judge will determine the constitutionality of a law or decision made by a public body. Under articles 13, 32 and 226 of the Indian Constitution the judiciary is granted the authority to review or analyze laws. Article 226 specifically indicates that a person can approach high courts on similar grounds even though Article 32 allows a person to petition the Supreme Court for any violation or infringement of their fundamental rights.

In this way by keeping an eye and ensuring for the protection of citizens, the judiciary also serves as a watchdog over the legislative and executive branches of government preventing abuse of authority. That is the reason the judiciary is regarded as the protector of the Constitution it makes sure that laws and government actions comply with its provisions and do not violate any citizens fundamental rights. The judiciary retains the power of reversing or overturning the  law or government action if it is found to be unconstitutional.

India adheres and follows to the Rule of Law and consequently the Indian Constitution is regarded as the supreme law of the nation. . The scope of judicial review in India is broad it encompasses both the substantive and procedural aspects of laws including executive actions policies administrative decisions and government actions. As a result courts have the authority to assess not only the legitimacy of legislative and executive decisions but also their reasonableness and equity.

Additionally the constitution grants courts the authority to issue writs to enforce other legal rights including fundamental rights. The judiciary which has consistently demonstrated through numerous significant rulings that it is the third pillar of democracy has been essential in interpreting the Constitution and defending citizens rights and liberties. By doing so it has strengthened Indias legal system settled constitutional disputes and preserved the values of justice equality and the rule of law. The ruling made by the Supreme Court in Mohammed Ahmed Khan v. By giving Muslim women who had divorced the right to maintenance under Section 125 of the Code of Criminal Procedure independent of their personal laws Shah Bano Begum (1985) demonstrated the validity of judicial review. This ruling demonstrated the Courts dedication to judicial review in defending fundamental rights by upholding the principles of gender justice equality before the law and the Rule of Law.

In a separate Vishaka v. Since sexual harassment of women in the workplace violates their fundamental rights under Articles 14 19 and 21 of the Constitution the Supreme Court of the State of Rajasthan (1997) established guidelines to prevent such harassment. The ruling highlighted how the Court can use judicial review to enforce fundamental rights and correct societal injustices. .


“A constitution is not a mere lawyer’s document, it is a vehicle of life, and its spirit is always the spirit of the age.”

                                                                           – by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar

We the people of India provided a sense of unity according to the preamble of the Indian Constitution. The constitution which  has been  furnished after a great efforts stands as a bedrock of democratic governance, embodying a series of salient features that define its essence and character, justice, and equality. It reflects the aspirations and values of a diverse by embodying  a robust framework. Numerous notable authors and figures have expressed that the Indian Constitution is a dynamic document that adapts to the evolving needs of society while preserving the core principles it contains. This is so because the judiciary is thought of as the democarcys third pillar.This can be determined by carefully examining its significant provisions and historic judicial pronouncements by the courts. The Constitution is a representation of the aspirations and goals of a diverse country aiming for advancement and prosperity not just a set of legal guidelines.

Preamble sets out the ideals and objectives of the Constitution and as a introduction part to the constitution, serving as a guiding light for governance and interpretation of law

  • Fundamental Rights are absolute and ensure the protection of individual liberties and freedoms, while Directive Principles of State Policy guide the state in promoting social and economic justice and are of obligatory nature only.
  • The federal structure balances powers between the Union and states, fostering cooperative federalism and regional autonomy but in the sense of unity in some circumstances.

This is not all but there are many salient features discussed that serves as a roadmap for governance, guiding the state in its duty to serve the people and uphold their rights and freedoms.

The  salient features of the Indian Constitution are of  progressive nature, developing nature with tine  aiming to foster a just and equitable society and reflects the aspirations and values of a diverse nation. However, it is important to continue evaluating and evolving these features to address emerging challenges, changing with the need of the time  and ensure the effective functioning of the Constitution in the ever-changing socio-political landscape of the country.


Leave a Reply