What is Constitution?
A constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established rules according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is. When these principles are written down into a single document or set of legal documents, those documents may be said to embody a written constitution.
- RULE OF LAW.
- Rules state the rights and duties of a man towards his fellow citizens, society and nation.
- They also state the political structure of the government, the function of various organs of government, how they meet the constitutional objectives, and the safeguards installed to protect citizens from various encroachment on their rights and liberties.
- For good governance we need clear principles, guidelines and rules regarding the structure, formation and powers of the government, the rights and responsibilities of the citizens, the Judicial processes and other important matters affecting the nation.
NEED FOR LAWS.
- James Madison has rightly pitted the need for laws in a single sentence that, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” But Man is no angel; he is only too human and fallible, which is why laws are needed to restrain man within the social contract and to control those in power.
- Democracy is a system in which all are equal before law, and where ruler and ruled are supposed to live together, constrained by built – in constitutional safeguards that protect not only citizens’ rights but the fabric of the Constitution as well.
- India’s legacy of social/caste hierarchy since long has impacted on the lives of women-determining their status as ‘subordinate’ from birth.
- THE BASIC VALUES ENSHRINED IN THE CONSTITUTION.
- The Constitution of every country is based on certain basic values. The Preamble to the Indian constitution cherished the basic values of the Constitution.
- The stirring words of the Preamble – obviously inspired by the Preamble to the constitution of the United States of America – make the following declaration to the people of India:
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 them all.
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty – six days of November 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
- THE CONSTITUTION AS THE PRIMARY SOURCE OF ALL LAWS.
- The Indian constitution provides a framework for the law-makers and gives direction to the policy makers.
- There are six basic principles which are embodied in the constitution and which form the foundation of democracy in India. These are as follows:
- Sovereignty of the People means that the people – the source as well as repository of all power – nave the supreme right to make decisions on internal as well as external matters.
- Fundamental rights not only give freedom to individual, they also check the misuse of power by the government.
- The Directive principles of State Policy are guidelines for the gradual removal of social backwardness, which would steer the Nation towards progress.
- Judicial independence makes it possible for the supreme court to safeguard the fundamental rights of the citizens and uphold the sanctity of the Constitution.
- Federal form of the Constitution divides the power between Centre and State.
- Parliamentary form of government constitutes the President and the two houses of the Parliament – Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha
- LAWS AND DISSENT.
- To elaborate the concept of laws and dissent, we will discuss two incidents in two different political contexts – before Independence and after Independence
- Salt Satyagraha: The foremost example of dissent was civil disobedience, i.e., breaking the law. The British had a monopoly on the manufacture of salt in India, and to earn more revenue, they had imposed tax on collection of salt – a substance used by all sections of the populace. Heavy taxation had already brought the populace to the verge of starvation, and this law was unbearable and exploitative. Gandhiji decided that drastic and demonstrative actions was needed to ignite the Nation and serve as the expression of the will of the general. On 6th April 1930, Gandhiji picked up a small lump of natural salt, at Dandi thus violating the law. The Salt Satyagraha campaign demonstrate to the world near-flawless use of a new instrument of peaceful militancy against the oppressive and exploitative British law. It was the first series of movements using the principle of Civil disobedience which panicked the British and made them unleash violent and brutal measures to suppress the menace posed by the
- Anti – liquor Agitation: Anti-liquor agitation in independent India carry forward the legacy of Satyagraha as established by Mahatma Gandhi. It was part IV of the Indian constitution under the Directive Principles of State Policy. The protest against the liquor laws can be considered as dissent, i.e., protest against a law, claiming it does not protect the citizen’s fundamental rights of healthcare, besides violating the Directive principles, which recommended the prohibition of consumption of alcoholic liquor. Women are severely affected by alcoholism, as their domestic life gets disturbed and they are often subjected to physical abuse.
- LAWS AS EVOLVING AND CHANGING.
- Law is necessary for the protection, peace, development and prosperity of any nation. Without law, there can be no order – and without order there can be no peace and progress.
- The social, economic and political conditions of the people go on Changing so the Constitutional law of the country must also change in order to match the changing needs and Changing lifestyle of the people.
- Thus, provisions for amendment of the Constitution, known as ‘constitutional amendments’, is made with a view to overcome the difficulties which may crop up in future.
- The Indian Constitution is one of the most frequently amended constitution in the world.
- The Constitution of India is the longest written constitution of any sovereign country in the world, containing 444 articles in 22 parts, 12 schedules and 118 amendments, with 146,385 words in its English-language
- The Constitution of Monaco is the shortest written constitution, containing 10 chapters with 97 articles, and a total of 3,814 words.