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Federal features of Indian Constitution
Indian Constitution possesses several federal features
Federalism requires a written Constitution. There are many governments in any federal system and for their smooth and friction free functioning their powers must be stated in crystal clear terms. There are Twenty Eight State Governments and One national government at present operating in Indian federalism and therefore their powers and functions must be clearly defined.
The Constitution must be the supreme legal document in the country. All governments must follow the terms and conditions, procedures contained in the Constitution. NO government can claim powers above the Constitution.
The distribution of powers between Centre and States is the cardinal principle of any federal system. Indian Constitution distributes powers between the two levels of governments in a comprehensive scheme. There are three lists of power distribution unlike in the classical federalism of American Constitution where there is only a single mode of distribution.
The federal Constitutions provide for bicameralism. It refers to parliament having two houses. Indian Parliament is bicameral as it consists of two houses. The upper house is called RajyaSabha or Council of States while the lower house is known as LokSabha or House of the People. The Council of States is the guardian of States’ rights and it consists of the representatives of the States. All over the world the upper house is deemed to be the protector of States’ rights and interests.
A Constitution will be called a rigid Constitution if its provisions can be amended only through a special process of Constitutional amendment or through a separate amendment body and not through ordinary legislative process. Federal Constitutions do not permit Constitutional changes through ordinary legislative process. They prescribe a tougher, rigid process of amendment like greater majority. The rationale behind this rigidity is the desire to protect States’ rights. The article 368 in Part XX Indian Constitution provides a separate amendment procedure for amending Constitutional provisions and therefore our Constitution is rigid one and to some extent protects the States.
Indian Supreme Court acts as the umpire of the federal system and protector of the Constitution. It possesses the powers of interpretation and adjudication. If any disagreement or contradiction arises among the Central and State Governments the Supreme Court resolves them. The Constitution endows the Supreme Court with Original Jurisdiction. It means that the Supreme Court alone possesses the exclusive powers to resolve any federal dispute between Union Government and State governments or among State governments. If a problem arises between Tamil Nadu and Union Government or between Tamil Nadu and any other State only Supreme Court has powers to resolve it.
Indian Constitution is described to be a federal one on the grounds of the aforementioned factors
There are important differences between Union of States and Territory of India. Union of State refers to the twenty eight states and Central Government. Territory of India means:
1. Twenty Eight States
2. Nine Union Territories
3. Acquired Territory (Any territory acquired by India like Pondicherry, Daman Diu after they became part of India and before they were made Union Territories)
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