CBSE Class 8 Civics - Indian Constitution important notes. Learning the important concepts is very important for every student to get better marks in examinations. The concepts should be clear which will help in faster learning. The attached concepts made as per NCERT and CBSE pattern will help the student to understand the chapter and score better marks in the examinations.
- A constitution signifies independence. Every independent country prepares a Constitution of its own.
- A Constitution lays down the basic structure of the government under which its people are to be governed. It establishes the main organs of the government – the legislature, the executive and the judiciary.
- A constitution not only defines the powers of each organ, it demarcates the responsibilities of each. It regulates the relationship between the three organs and also with the people.
- A Constitution is a fundamental legal document according to which the government of a country functions.
- A constitution is superior to all the laws of a country. Every law enacted by the governmental machinery, has to be in conformity with the Constitution.
- Laws written in the Constitution, which are also called basic laws, act as the source according to which rules and regulations of government of a country are framed.
- In a democratic country like India, the importance of the Constitution is still more significant. In a democratic government, the citizens participate in the functioning of the government directly or indirectly, government's powers are clearly spelt out and citizens’ rights are mentioned clearly.
Important things for examinations:-
- Constitution: - The term constitution comes from a Latin term which mean 'an important law' a constitution is a body of laws through which a country is governed. It determines and specifies the rights of citizen the powers of the government and how the government should function. It defines the relation between the different organs of government and citizen. Almost all the independent countries in the world today where democracy monarchy or any other form of government exists, have its own constitution.
- Constitution Assembly: - An assembly of people's representative that writes a constitution for a country.
- Constitutional amendment: - A change in the constitution made by the supreme legislative body in a country.
- Fundamental Duties: - Duties specified in the constitution which every citizen should fulfil.
- Fundamental Rights: - Some basic human rights guaranteed by our constitution for the development of the personalities.
- Preamble: - An introductory statement of the constitution stating its aim and philosophy.
- Socialism: - System of social organisation in which all factor of production are owned by the government.
- Reservation Policy :- The policy of keeping a fixed number of jobs or places in school, colleges, parliament state, assemblies etc. for people who are member of scheduled caste, scheduled tribes or other backward classes.
The Indian Constitution
How was it framed?
The Nehru Report (1928) was the first attempt by Indians to frame a full-fledged constitution for their country. The report embodied not only the perspective of the contemporary nationalist opinion but also an outline of a draft constitution for India.
The demand for a constitution assembly was for the first time authoritatively conceded by the British Government, though in an indirect way and with important reservation, in what is known as the 'August offer' of 1940.
Cabinet Mission: - With the outbreak of world war II, the national struggle for freedom in India gathered momentum. In July 1945 a new government came to power in England. Government's intention to convene a constitution making body was announced. The British government sent three of its ministers (Sir Stafford Cripps, Lord Pethic Lawrence and Mr. A.V. Alexander) to find a solution to the question of India's Independence. This team of minister was called Cabinet Mission.
The Constituent Assembly:-
- According to the suggestion made by the cabinet Mission elections for the 296 seats assigned to the British-Indian provinces were completed by July August 1946.
- With the independence of India, the constituent assembly became a fully sovereign body. The assembly started working from the 9th December 1946.
- The constituent Assembly had members belonging to different communities and regions of India. There were more than 30 members from scheduled castes as well.
- Anglo-Indian community was represented by Frank Anthony while Parsis were represented by H.P. Modi.
- Constitutional experts like Alladi Krishanswami Aiyar, B.R. Ambedkar, and K.M. Munshi were also members of the Assembly.
- Sarojini Naidu and Vijaylakshmi Pandit were important women members.
- Sachidanand Sinha was the first President of the constituent Assembly. Dr. Rajendra Prasad was the first elected President of the Constituent Assembly. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (also known as the architect of the Indian Constitution) was appointed the Chairman of the Drafting committee.
- The constituent Assembly met for 166 days spread over a period of 2 years, 11 months and 18 days. The Constitution was adopted on 26 November 1949.
Sources of Constitution of India:-
Our Indian constitution is wider and unique because it was made by collecting information from many sources like:-
Ideals of justice in social, Education, Economic and political – Russian Revolution 1917.
Ideals of liberty, Equality and Fraternity – French Revolution 1789.
Federal system, office of Governor, Judiciary Public Service commission, Emergency, Administrative details – From Government of India Act-1935.
Parliamentary form of Government, Rule of law, legislature, single citizenship, cabinet form of government – British Constitution...
Fundamental rights, Independent judiciary, Judicial review, impeachment of President, removal of Supreme Court judges, Vice Presidential ship – USA Constitution.
Directive Principle of state policy, nomination of members to Rajya Sabha, electoral office and method of president election – Ireland Government.
Federation with strong centre, Residuary power with centre, appointment of state Governor by centre, advisory/review of Supreme Court – Canada (Pure federal country)
Concurrent list, Freedom of trade, commerce and interstate trade, joint sitting in the parliament – Australia
Fundamental duties, Preamble – USSR.
Procedure for amendment, election to the Rajya Sabha members – South Africa.
Procedure established by law: - Japan.
Suspension of fundamental rights during emergency. – Weimer Constitution of Germany.
The Needs for Laws
Laws are important to regularise the civic life of the people and establish peace and order in the state.
Laws aim at individual as well as general welfare.
Murders, robberies, torture, violence, kidnapping are examples of violation of laws. Social evils and customs hamper the progress of the society and do injustice to people. Thus law plays an important and essential role in stopping crime and establishing peace in the society.
Types of Constitution:-
The constitution may be written, Unwritten, rigid or flexible.
A constitution in which the fundamental laws of governance are lays down in a formal document. It is the result of conscious effort.It is created by a constituent Assembly. Countries like America, France, China, Russia, Japan, Germany, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc. have written constitution.
- A constitution in which the fundamental laws of governance are not lays down in a formal document.
- It is not created by any particular Constituent Assembly but depends upon customs and conventions.
- The British Constitution is a classic example of an unwritten constitution.
- It is wrong to believe that unwritten constitution is totally unwritten.
- The British constitution has five components of which two are unwritten.
- The unwritten components are: - (i) The common laws and (ii) the conventions.
- The written component are
- Statutes passed by the parliament.
- Great charters and other land marks.
- Judicial decisions.
Flexible constitution is the one that can be easily amended and it does not require a special majority for amendment. British constitution is an ideal example of a flexible constitution.
A rigid constitution is the one that requires a special procedure for amendment. It need special majority for amendments. The constitution of the USA is highly rigid.
The Indian constitution is both flexible and rigid because some of its provision can be amended easily, while many others require difficult methods of amendment.
- The Preamble of the constitution outlines the main contours of the Indian Republic and its objectives.
- The Preamble, contains the ideals and basic principles of the Indian Constitution. The Preamble is not a part of the Constitution. It is not enforceable by the court of law. Still the Preamble serves as the guiding light of the Constitution.
- The Preamble remained unchanged till 1976. In 1976, the words 'Socialist', 'Secular', and 'Unity and Integrity of the Nation' were added through 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act.
- Sovereign: - The term Sovereign implies that like other independent countries. India is an independent country and is free to govern itself. It has the power to make its own laws on any matter without foreign interference.
- Socialist: - The term socialist and secular were added by the 42ND Amendment (1976). Socialism means being free from social, political and economic exploitation. It has to minimise the gap between the rich and the poor and stop exploitation of the poor.
- Secular: - The word Secular means that the state must not give importance to any particular religion. The citizens are free to have faith in any religion. There is no state religion. All religions must command equal respect and importance from the state.
- Democratic: - The term Democratic implies that the Government is to be formed by the elected representatives of the people. All adult citizen of India vote and elect their representatives to govern the country.
- Republic: - The term Republic implies that the head of the state is an elected person. It also means that India has no place for Monarchy (Kings) or Feudal (Zamindari) system. He/she is elected by the elected members of the Parliament and state legislature. For e.g. India, America and France have elected President, but in England King and queen has constitutional Monarchy.
Objective of Indian Constitution:-
The Indian Constitution aim to provide its citizen:-
- Social, economic and political justice.
- Freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship.
- Equality of status and opportunity and
- Fraternity (brotherhood) based on dignity of the people and unity of country.
Features of Indian Constitution:-
The features of our constitution are:-
Written Constitution: - The constitution of India is in a written form. It is the lengthiest constitution of the world. The Indian constitution was adopted in 1950, consisted of 395 articles and 8 schedules. After several amendment the constitution of India present consist of 447 Articles and 12 schedules.
Important things for examinations
Index-wise access to Constitution of India
Partly rigid and partly flexible: - The Indian Constitution is flexible because some of its provisions can be amended by a simple majority like an ordinary law making procedure in the parliament.On the other hand, it is also rigid because many of its provisions require special methods for amendment in the constitution.
Single Citizenship: - Our constitution provides single citizenship i.e. the citizenship of India. In America there is double citizenship. I.e. the citizenship of the state in which a person born as well as the citizenship of America.
Secular State: - Indian Constitution has granted the freedom of religion. They have the liberty to profess and practice any religion (Article 25). There is no state religion. The state does not favour any particular religion.
Fundamental Rights: - Our constitution has granted six fundamental rights in Part III of the Indian constitution. So that each and every citizen can develop their personality.
Independent and Impartial Judiciary:-
The constitution has provided for the establishment of an independent and impartial judiciary. India has two sets of governments, the central or union government and the state governments. In case of a conflict between the two sets of governments the Judiciary is expected to play an impartial role.The Constitution has laid down that dispute between centre and the state on constitutional matters will be decided by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is the apex court in our judiciary.
The Indian Constitution in keeping to its size, have a number of distinctive features. Other than basic features which play a very important role in the functioning of the government, there are other very important features like the Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State Policy and the Fundamental Duties.
Emergency provisions are yet another very important feature of the Indian Constitution. There are times when the country could not be run as in ordinary times. To cope with such difficult times, the Constitution provides for the emergency provisions.
A Welfare State:-
The Constitution spells out the establishment of a welfare state. A welfare state is the state which performs functions aimed at the welfare of the people.Such a state regards subjects like education, public health or agriculture as important as looking after the defence or the foreign affairs of the country.
Our Constitution did not give the status of a national language to any one language.Hindi was identified as the official language. Besides Hindi, there are 22 other languages recognised as scheduled languages by the Constitution.States too have their own official languages. Much of the government work takes place in the official language of the concerned state.According to the Constitution, the use of English for official purpose was to stop in 1965. However, many non-Hindi speaking States demanded that the use of English continue. The Central Government, through an Act passed in the Parliament agreed to continue the use of English along with Hindi for official purposes.
India has a parliamentary form of government. In a parliamentary system, the parliament is supreme and represents the people. The legislature in the centre is called the parliament or the Sansad. The Parliament is bicameral which means it has two houses.
Though the government is carried on in the name of the President at the centre and the Governor in the states, actual administration is carried on by the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister in the centre and Chief Minister in the states.The Council of Ministers is responsible to the legislature which comprises the representatives of the people. This makes the legislature or the parliament supreme.
Fundamental Duties: - The constitution of India has listed to fundamental duties for its citizens.
Quazi Federal: - India is described by the constitution as a 'Union of States'. The Indian political system works as a federation with strong centre. India has same features of federal and has some features of Unitary due to this, it is known as Quazi federal.
Protection of the interest of Minorities: - The constitution guarantees protection of language script and culture of the minorities like Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs etc.
Universal Adult Franchise: - The constitution provides the right to vote to all the citizens of 18 years and above.
The Indian Constitution is called a 'living document.' The members of the Constituent Assembly were conscious of the fast changing Indian society. They argued that the Constitution must be able to adapt itself to the changing conditions. This would have been possible only with a suitable amending procedure. The First Constitutional Amendment Act was passed in the year 1951.
There are three categories of amending procedures.
Amendment by Simple Majority:-
An amendment of the Constitution can be initiated in the Parliament only.
In the Concurrent List, the Constitution gives greater powers to the centre.
Besides the division of powers, in federation normally we find dual citizenship. In the USA which is a federation, every person is a citizen of the United States and also a citizen of his/her state. But in India we have single citizenship only.
In an election, a citizen votes as an individual or an Indian and not as a Bengali, a Punjabi, a Tamil, or a Gujarati.
Finally there are some provisions in the Constitution known as emergency provisions. The Constitution specifies certain conditions when an emergency can be declared. At the time of emergency, the Central Government has surely been given more powers.
Amendments can be done by a simple majority of members present and voting, before sending it for the President's assent.
Amendments related to changes in the names and boundaries of the States, creation or abolition of the Legislative Councils in the States, salaries and allowances of the president, governors and Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts, etc., can be made by parliament by passing a law by simple majority.
Amendment by Special Majority:-
Such an amendment can be passed by each House of Parliament by the two third majority of the members present and voting and then sent to the President for his assent (major portion of the constitution can be amended by this process).Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State Policy and other amendments which does not fall under the first and third category lies in this category.
Ratification by the State Legislatures:-
Besides the special majority mentioned in the second category, the same has to be approved by at least 50 percent of the state legislature.This category includes election ad election process of the President, extension of the powers in the Union and State list, Federal Judiciary, financial relations between centre and state, State's representation in the Parliament etc. are part of this category.
A Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic:-
India is free from external control. Internally, India can frame or form its own policies.
India cannot be dictated by any other foreign power. India can formulate its own foreign policy.
People of India elect their governments at all the levels (central, state and local) by the method of Universal Adult Franchise. Every citizen of India, who is 18 years of age and above and who is not otherwise debarred by law, is entitled to vote in the elections.Originally in India voting age was 21 years which was later on reduced to 18 years by 61st Constitutional Amendment Act.
It means that the head of the State, i.e., the President is elected by the people.
The President is not a hereditary ruler like the British monarch.
Democracy with its theory of universal adult franchise, gives political equality to its citizens. But equality remains incomplete if it is not extended to social and economic life.India strives for a society where there will be no major economic inequality between people.
All citizens, irrespective of their religious beliefs are equal in the eyes of the law.The government cannot formulate such policies which discriminate between various religious communities which live in India.
In a federal government, there are two sets of governments. The union (as we call in India) government and the state governments. The Constitution specifies to both the sets of governments clearly marked areas of functioning.
The Constitution of India does not use the term 'Federal'. It says India is a 'Union of States'.
The Constitution clearly mentions the subjects on which the central and the state governments can pass laws. This is called division of power between the centre and the state governments.
Subjects of national importance like defence, foreign affairs, atomic energy, banking, post and telegraph are included in the Union List.
The central government can pass laws on the subjects mentioned in the Union List.
The Union list has 97 subjects.
The State List:-
Comprises those important subjects on which the state government can pass laws.Subjects like police, local government, trade and commerce within the state, agriculture are included in the State List.
The State List has 66 subjects.
The Concurrent List:-
Subjects which are of common concern both to the centre and the state governments.
Ordinarily both the central and the state governments can frame laws on these subjects. However, if there, is a conflict between the central law and the state law, over a subject in the Concurrent List the central law would be effective.
This list includes subjects like criminal and civil procedure, marriage and divorce, education, economic planning, trade unions.
The Concurrent List has 47 subjects.
Matters which are not included in the division of powers, are known as residuary powers.
The central government has been given the power to legislate on these 'residuary' subjects.
A Unitary biased Federation
Unlike other federations, in India, the centre clearly has advantages over the states.
The Union List has more subjects and has subjects of national importance.
Indian Constitution and Legitimacy of law:-
The constitution assign the law making functions to the parliament and the state legislatures.
At the central level, law are passed by majority votes in the parliament and signed by the President.
At the state level, laws are passed by the state legislature and signed by the Governor.
All these laws become legitimate only when they are in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.
A law can be rejected by the Supreme court by judicial review, if it violates the constitutional provisions, then the constitution has made Supreme Court the Guardian of the Constitution.
The law and Dissent:-
Generally the purpose of law is to ensure order, development and welfare of the people and the society. Sometimes unjust laws are made to fulfil the interests of the ruler or a particular section of the society at the cost of others. People accept good laws and render obedience to them. Unjust laws invite opposition from the people. World history is full of many revolutions and changes of rulers and forms of governments, which happened due to people's opposition to unjust laws. The Glorious Revolution (1688) of England, the America war of Independence (1775–83), the French Revolution (1789), The Russian Revolution (1917), the Indian struggle for Independence against the British colonial rule, etc. are some notable examples of dissent of the people.
The Rowlatt act was passed in 1919 to (i) Further control the press; (ii) try political dissenters without the help of juries; and (ii) arrest and detain a person on suspicion of anti-government activity for any length of time without holding a trial. Mahatma Gandhi started a countrywide campaign against the Rowlatt Act. Thus the Non co-operation movement of 1920, the civil disobedience movement of 1930-31 and Quit India Movement of 1942 against the British have been major Landmarks of dissent.
The prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002 (POTA):- Also invited huge dissent. The parliament passed this Act to curb terrorism. However, this Act was widely misused. As result, the POTA invited huge public anger and was withdrawn by the Central Government. The dissent is an important feature of democratic system. Which prevents the government from becoming dictatorial and autocratic.