The Indian Constitution is one of the longest and finest constitutions of the world. It is a federal constitution, the Indian federation being formed of a number of states. There is federal government at the center and the power of the state and central governments have been clearly defined. It provides for an independent judiciary and Supreme Court is the highest court of the country. It decides dispute between the state and the center, and between the people and the government. It provides for the paramilitary system of government, with the executive – the Prime Minister and his cabinet-being responsible to the legislature, and the Governors in the states, being merely titular heads, having no real power, which is exercised by the Chief Minister.
The Constitution guarantees to every citizen certain fundamental rights, namely, the right to equality, the right to freedom, the right to worship or freedom of religion, the right against exploitation, cultural and educational remedy. The constitution also embodies certain directives of state policy, which the state should keep in view in the governance of the country, and in the making of laws. These directives entitle the citizens to the right to work, to adequate means of livelihood, to a more equitable distribution of wealth, to security against old age and sickness, to humane condition of work, to free primary education, and to equal pay (for both men and women).
A constitution is a living and growing document and it should change with the change of circumstances. The framers of the Indian Constitution were quite conscious of this fact, and so have laid down quite an easy procedure for the amendment of the constitution. A member of either House of Parliament can initiate amendment by introducing a bill containing the proposal. The amendment bill, after it has been passes by both the House of Parliament by a two thirds majority, becomes law receiving the assent of the President. But in matter relating to the Supreme Court, election of the President, relation between the Center and the states etc, the measure should also be passed by at least one half of the legislatures of the states.
Since its inception in 1950, the constitution has been amended from time to time. But none of the amendments roused such interest, generated such heat, and gave rise to such criticism, as the 42nd amendment of 1976. This amendment is a comprehensive one. On the one hand it considerably curtailed the democratic rights and freedom of the people, and this rights of judiciary, and, on the other, it enhanced then power and rights of the executive. Quite naturally, this drastic amendment came in for a great deal of criticism. After the lifting of the emergency and the announcement of General elections, the opposition was most vocal against it. Some of the opposition parties went to the extent of saying that if they came to power, the 42nd amendment would be done away with ‘lock stock and barrel’. In their election campaign, the provisions of this amendment were distorted and misrepresented, and passions were roused against it. This amendment was made when the Janta Party came to power.
A fresh chapter has been added to the constitution extending the Panchayti Raj to urban bodies. The same norms have been laid down as regards the election to Municipalities and Corporations. Jawahar Rozgar Yojna has also been extended to the cities. The urban unemployed, over 10 lakhs, are to be provided jobs during the 9th plan period.
Indian Constitution is a flexible document and so it can easily change and grow with the change of tomes. Quite naturally it has to be modified from time to time. For example, it had to be modified to extend the President’s rule in Punjab for one year, instead if usual six months. A new chapter was added to it early in 1989 incorporating the details regarding Panchayati Raj institution, their constitution, power and duties. The purpose was to see that elections to the Panchayats at various levels were held regularly and power was really transferred to the people. It was again amended to make possible the extension of President Rule in Punjab for six months.
In short, the constitution has in built safeguard to face any exigencies.