Sources of Constitution of India – UPSC Notes

The Constitution of India is a fundamental document that acts as the backbone of democracy in India. According to Dr B. R. Ambedkar, “Indian Constitution express the feelings and aspirations of the people of India”. That’s why our Constitution lawmakers had made the Constitution a dynamic entity so that it adapts itself to the ever-changing social, economic, and political aspirations of people. Several features of our Constitution have been borrowed from the Constitutions of other countries. Our Constitutional founder fathers had analyzed about 60 Constitutions in the world before drafting the Indian Constitution on 26 November 1949.

Main Sources of the Indian Constitution

Government India Act of 1935

The Government of India Act 1935 is one of the main sources of the Constitution of India. Even Indian Constitution is considered to be the by-product of the legacy started by this Act. Some provisions of the Government India Act of 1935 that are vested in the Constitution are as follows:

  • Federal Scheme: In a federal system, powers are divided between the national and regional governments by the Constitution itself, and both operate independently in their respective jurisdiction. Schedule VII of the Constitution deals with the allocation of power between Union and State, containing three lists under Article 246. This provision of distribution of subjects in the Constitution was borrowed from the 1935 act.
  • Office of Governor: Article 153 of the Indian Constitution provides the Governor in each State of India. The Governor is the chief executive leader of the State. Like the President, he is a nominal executive head of the State and acts as an agent of Central government.
  • Judiciary: The 1935 Act laid out the provision of the federal court to settle disputes of federal nature. This federal court came to be known as the ‘Supreme court of India’ in August 1947. Article 124 to 147 in Part V of the Constitution deals with the Supreme Court.
  • Public Service Commission: Part XIV (fourteen) from Article 315 to 323 of the Indian Constitution laid out the establishment of the Public Service Commission for the Union and the States. Parallel to Union Public Service Commission, each State in the country has its Public Service Commission.
  • Emergency Provisions: Part XVIII (eighteen) of the Constitution of India deals with the Emergency provisions. The President of India can impose an emergency rule in any part or over the entire State on the ground of external aggression, war, or armed rebellion.

American Constitution

American Constitution was the first written constitution in the world. Like the USA Constitution, Indian Constitution is also a written one. Provision borrowed from the American Constitution includes:

  • Fundamental Rights: Part III of the Indian Constitution relates to the Fundamental Rights of the citizens of the country. Fundamental Rights are the basic Human Rights of individuals, also included in the USA constitution. Six fundamental Rights in the Constitution of India are the Right to Equality, Right to Freedom, Right against Exploitation, Right to Freedom of Religion, Cultural and Education Rights, and Right to Constitutional Remedies.
  • Independence of Judiciary: To maintain the independence of the Judiciary, the Supreme Court and High Court judges are appointed by the Collegium system. Also, the removal of judges of the Supreme court and the High court is under Article 124(4) of the Indian Constitution.
  • Judicial Review: The Concept of Judicial Review is borrowed from the USA Constitution. Supreme Court of India describes the Judicial Review as the Doctrine of the Basic Structure of the Constitution of India. Judicial Review means if any of the orders by the legislature or executives is in conflict with the Constitution, the judiciary can declare its as null or void.
  • Post of Vice-President: In the USA, the Vice-President of the USA is the ex-office chairperson of the USA senate. Similarly, in India, the Vice-President of India is also the ex-office chairperson of the Rajya Sabha.
  • Impeachment of President: Article 61 of the Indian Constitution deals with the impeachment of the President. It talks about the President’s removal on the ground of violation of the Constitution. The impeachment resolution is passed by the majority of two-thirds of the total membership of that house.

British Constitution

Some of the provisions of the Constitution of India are derived from the British Constitution. Indian Parliamentary form of government is based on the West Minister model of the British Parliamentary government. The Indian legislative branch consists of the President, Upper House (Rajya Sabha), and Lower House (Lok Sabha).

  • Rule of Law: Rule of Law basically suggests that State is governed only by the law of that country, not by any representatives or people. Article 14 of the Indian Constitution laid out everyone is equal before the law, which codifies the concept of the Rule of Law.
  • Single Citizenship: Article 5 to 11 in Part II of the Indian Constitution provides only single citizenship to an individual. It means each citizen of India enjoys the political and civil rights provided by the Constitution of India, not by another country at the same time.
  • Bicameralism: The concept of Bicameralism is taken from the British Parliament. In British Parliament, the House of Commons is the lower house, and the House of Lords is the upper house of Parliament. Similarly, Lok Sabha is the lower house, and Rajya Sabha is the upper house of the Indian Parliament.
  • Prerogative Writs: To make the Right to Constitutional Remedies to Indian citizens, Article 32 of the Indian Constitution empowers the Supreme court to issue prerogative writs. Similarly, Article 226 of the Constitution empowers the High court of State to issue writs.

Irish Constitution

Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) is the main provision borrowed from the Irish (Ireland) Constitution. Article 36 to 51 in Part IV of the Constitution of India deals with DPSP. These are constitutional instructions provided to State in legislative, executive, and administrative matters.

The other provision borrowed from the Constitution of Ireland includes the President nominating 12 members in the Rajya Sabha (upper house). Method of Election of President is also borrowed from Irish Constitution.

Australian Constitution

The provisions of freedom of trade, commerce, and intercourse between the State within the country have been borrowed from the Australian Constitution. Article 301 to 307 in Part XIII of the Indian Constitution deals with the Freedom of trade, commerce, and intercourse.

The second provision borrowed is the Concurrent List, which comes under Article 246 of the Constitution of India. The joint sitting of both the house of Parliament is also received from the Australian Constitution.

Canadian Constitution

India is a federation with a strong Centre government. This concept of a quasi-federal form of government has been taken from the Canadian Constitution. The other borrowed provisions from the Canadian Constitution include the Residuary Power, advisory jurisdiction of the apex court, and the appointment of State Governer by the Centre.

Article 248 of the Indian Constitution deals with the Residuary power of the Centre. Likewise, Article 143 of the Constitution deals with the advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.

Weimar Constitution of Germany

From Germany’s Weimar Constitution, we borrowed a special provision of the Suspension of Fundamental Rights during the imposition of an emergency. Articles 358 and 359 of the Constitution of India deal with the Suspension of enforcement of Fundamental Rights during an emergency.

Japan Constitution

The Concept of “Procedure established by the law” was received from the Japanese Constitution. The term ‘Procedure established by law’ comes under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which laid out that no person shall be denied the Right to life and liberty as per the procedure established by law.

French Constitution

The term ‘Republic’ in the Indian Constitution has been borrowed from the France Constitution, which means the head of the State is elected. The ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity in the Preamble of India Constitution have been received from the French Constitution.

South African Constitution

From the Constitution of South Africa, we borrowed a special provision to amend the Constitution of India. Article 368 in Part XX of the Constitution of India empowers the Parliament to amend the Constitution and provides the procedure for amending the Constitution.

Provisions borrowed in the Indian Constitution from Constitutions of different Countries

Australia1. Concurrent list.
2. Freedom of trade, commerce, and intercourse.
3. Joint sitting of both houses of Parliament.
4. Power of National legislature to enact laws for implementing treaties, even on those matters which are outside normal federal Jurisdiction.
Canada1. Quasi-federal form of Government, meaning a federal system with a strong central government.
2. Distribution of power between the Centre and State governments.
3. Residuary power vested with the Centre.
4. Appointment of Governors of State by the Centre.
5. Advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
France1. Republic.
2. Idea of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.
Germany1. Suspension of Fundamental Rights during an emergency.
Ireland1. Directive Principles of State Policy.
2. Nomination of members to Upper House of Parliament (Rajya Sabha).
3. Election procedure of President.
Japan1. Procedure established by law.
South Africa1. Procedure for the amendment in the Constitution.
2. Election of Rajya Sabha members.
UK1. Parliamentary form of government.
2. Single Citizenship.
3. Rule of Law.
4. Prerogative Writs.
5. Bicameralism.
6. Speaker in the lower house.
7. Lawmaking (legislative) procedure.
8. Cabinet system of ministers.
9. Parliamentary privileges.
USA1. Concept of Written Constitution.
2. The Preamble
3. Fundamental Rights.
4. Independence of Judiciary.
5. Judicial Review.
6. Equal Protection under the law.
7. Electrol college.
8. Post of Vice-President.
9. President as Supreme commander of Defence forces.
10. Impeachment of President.
USSR1. Fundamental duties.
2. Ideal of Justice in the Preamble.

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