A constitution is a fundamental legal document according to which the government of a country functions. It is the basic law which defines and delimits the main organs of government and their jurisdiction as well as the basic rights of the citizens.
A Constitution, thus, is superior to all other laws of the country and no law can be enacted which is not in conformity with the constitution.
A government looks after law and order in a society. It does so by making laws and maintaining order. But a government cannot make laws and administer a country according to its own whims and forces.
Every government has to function in conformity with basic law of the land. The Constitution contains those laws which act as the source according to which the rules and regulations of governing a country are framed.
A democratic government is one in which the citizens participate in the functioning of the government, directly or indirectly. It is a government in which the government's powers are limited and clearly spelt out.
Conversely, it is also a government under which citizen's rights is also given clearly. Now, how are these limits placed on the activity of the Government? This is done by what is called a constitution.
A Constitution is considered the source of powers and authority of government. It lays down precisely what the powers of a particular government agency are what this it can, or cannot do.
The idea is to minimize confusion and conflict of operation between the various organs of the government. A constitution is concerned with two aspects-the relation between different organs of government; , and between the government and the citizens.
More than anything else a Constitution is an instrument of controlling the abuse of power by the government. That is why the Constitution is a very important document.
"We, the people of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens: Justice, Social, Economic and Political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and unity and integrity of the Nation; in our Constituent Assembly this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this Constitution".
The Preamble sets out what the objectives of Indian government the kind of value system the Constitution wishes to set up in India. It declares India a sovereign state. Sovereignty means absolute independence, a government which is not controlled by any other power. When India was under British rule, it could not be called a sovereign country.
Besides, the Constitution provides for democratic society in India. Here every citizen enjoys equal political rights. The country is governed by the elected representatives of the people.
There is no state religion of India. The state does not favor people of any particular religion. The citizens are free to follow and practice the religion of their own choice. The Constitution also declares socialism to be one of the objectives.
The ideal of equality remains incomplete if it is restricted only to the political sphere. It must extend to social and economic life too. The Preamble declares India to be a Republic. It means that the head of the state is not a monarch, but a president indirectly elected by the people.
Secular Government The government under the Indian Constitution has to be secular. This means that the government must not formulate policies which discriminate between various religious communities which live in India.
Universal Adult Franchise
Indian constitution establishes a system of universal adult franchise. Under this system, every Indian citizen above the age of 18 years has the right to vote and participate in choosing the government.
Building a Just Society
Indian constitution has one part dealing with the fundamental rights and fundamental duties of the citizens. Another part contains provisions which are called directive principles of the state policy. These are instructions which the Constitution gives to the States (the government at both the central and the state level) for achieving a just society in India.
Indian Constitution, also, has several provisions which seek to protect the interest of those people who have been traditionally poor and socially deprived, the directing the state to give him work.
But if he is jailed by the policy without reason, he can go to the courts. And the courts will direct the government to free him. The government must obey courts' order.
Fundamental Duties have been incorporated by the forty-second Amendment of the Constitution, with the purpose of making citizens patriotic, help them to follow a code of conduct that would strengthen the nation, protect its sovereignty and integrity of India.
(i) To defend the country and render national service when required,
(ii) To promote the common brotherhood of all people in India and renounce any practice derogatory to the dignity of women,
(iii) To value and preserve the rich heritage of the nation's composite character,
(iv) To protect and improve natural environment and have compassion for living creatures,
(v) To develop scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry,
(vi) To safeguard public property and abjure violence, and
(vii) To strive for excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity.