Usually the constitution is either federal or unitary in nature. In a unitary
constitution the powers of the government are centralised in one government i.e
central government. But in a federal setup the power is equally divided among
the centre and the state.
If we talk about Indian constitution there is a difference of opinion among the
experts. Some claim that our constitution is quasi federal and contains both
unitary and federal features. But the framers of the Indian constitution claim
that Indian constitution is purely federal.
Now to know the nature of the Indian constitution we have to examine the
arguments in favour and against the subject matter.
Arguments In Favour That Indian Constitution Is Federal
Division of powers In a federal setup the most essential feature is division of power between
the centre and state level. This feature can be seen in Indian constitution
. We have different government and legislature at centre and state. In
centre we have lok sabha and rajya sabha and in state level we have vidhan
sabha in all states and in addition vidhan parisad in some states. The
division of power is done in such a manner that the matters of national
interest like external affairs ,defence etc are with central government and
matters of regional importance like health, law and order are with state
Supremacy of the constitution A federal state derives its existence from the constitution. The
constitution is regarded as the supreme law of the land and no one is above
the constitution. The organs of the state i.e the executive, the legislative
and the judiciary perform their respective duties in accordance to the
Rigid and written constitution Every federal state has a written and rigid constitution. The setup of a
federal state is complex and it will be impossible for a country to run
without written rules. India contains the worlds lengthiest constitution.
And if we talk about rigidity in a rigid constitution the process of
amendment is quite difficult.
Independence of judiciary As we know in a federal setup the powers are divided between the central and
the state level so to maintain the division of power an independent and
impartial body is required. This independent body is court or the judiciary.
In India the supreme court is the highest court of law and it is empowered
to even strike down laws and amendments that are unconstitutional.
Arguments Against The Federation of Indian Constitution
Power of the governors The governors is the constitutional head of the state however they are
appointed by the president of India and are answerable to him. So it can be
said that they are not independent in their sphere.
Parliament power to legislate Under article 249 parliament can make law in matters enumerated in the state
list if rajya sabha passes the bill by 2/3 majority and the bill is in the
Parliament power over state boundary The parliament may form new state, diminish the existing one and can even
change the name of any state. Thus the sweet will of the state depends on
the union government.
Emergency provision If the emergency is proclaimed under article 352 (emergency due to war) then
the division power among the state and the centre undergo a vital change.
The executive body of the state is directly controlled by the union
If the emergency is proclaimed under article 356 (emergency due to failure of
constitutional machinery) then the whole state’s legislature is dissolved and
the normal division of power is suspended.
In short it may be concluded that the Indian constitution is a combination of
both unitary and federal state where more features are there for federal. Thus
Indian constitution is mainly federal with some unitary features for national
unity and growth.