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Unitary Features of the Constitution

Unitary Features of the Constitution

  1. Single Citizenship:
  1. The Indian federation is a dual polity with a single citizenship for the whole of India.
  2. There is no State citizenship.
  3. Every Indian has the same rights of citizenship, no matter in which State he resides.
  1. A Strong Centre:
  1. The result of the distribution of powers between the federation and the units is that the State Governments are governments of limited and enumerated powers.
  2. Though the Union Government is also a government of limited and enumerated powers, it has, under certain circumstances, power even over the State Governments and the residuary power over the whole territory.

  1. Single Constitution for the Union and the States:
  1. The Indian Constitution embodies not only the Constitution of the Union but also those of the States.
  2. Furthermore, the States of the Indian Union have a uniform Constitution.
  3. The amending process both for the Constitution of the Union and the States is also the same.

  1. Centre can change the name and boundaries of States:
  1. In India, the Centre has a right to change the boundaries of the States and to carve out one State out of the other.
  2. In fact, this has been done in India, not only once but several times.
  3. In the fifties, Andhra Pradesh was carved out of Madras State.
  4. Shortly thereafter, the States Reorganisation Commission was established and a chain of events unfolded.
  5. There is perhaps no State whose boundaries have not been changed at one stage or another.
  6. The right of the Centre to change the boundaries of the States is against the federal set-up.

  1. Single Unified Judiciary:
  1. In India, the Supreme Court and the High Court’s form a single integrated judicial system.
  2. They have jurisdiction over cases arising under the same laws, constitutional, civil and criminal.
  3. The civil and the criminal laws are codified and are applicable to the entire country.
  4. To ensure their uniformity, they are placed in the Concurrent List.

  1. Unitary in Emergencies:
  1. The Indian Constitution is designed to work as a federal government in normal times, but as a unitary government in times of emergency.
  2. Under the Constitution, the President of the Republic has been given emergency powers.
  3. An emergency can arise both in the political and financial fields.


  1. Common All-India Services:
  1. The Constitution has certain special provisions to ensure the uniformity of the administrative system and to maintain minimum common administrative standards without impairing the federal principle.
  2. These include the creation of All-India Services, such as the Indian Administrative and Police Services and placing the members of these services in key administrative positions in the States.

  1. Inequality of Representation in the Council of States:
  1. There is bicameralism in India but in the Council of States, States have not been given equal representation.
  2. Here population system has been followed and bigger States have been given greater representation than the smaller ones.

  1. Appointment of Governor by President:
  1. The Heads of the State—the Governor—are appointed by the President.
  2. They hold office during his pleasure.
  3. This enables the Union Government to exercise control over the State administration.

  1. Appointment of the High Court Judges by the President:
  1. Appointments to the High Courts are made by the President, and the Judges of the High Courts can be transferred by the President from one High Court to another.

  1. The Office of the Comptroller and Auditor-General:
  1. The Comptroller and Auditor-General of India has an organisation managed by the officers of the Indian Audit and Account Services, a central service, who are concerned not only with the accounts and auditing of the Union Government but also those of the States.
  1. Centralized Electoral Machinery:
  1. The Election Commission, a body appointed by the President, is in charge of conducting elections not only to Parliament and to other elective offices of the Union, but also to those of the State Legislature.

  1. Flexible Constitution:
  1. The Indian Constitution is not very rigid. Many parts of the Constitution can be easily amended.

  1. Special Powers of Council of State over State List:
  1. The Parliament is also authorized by the Constitution to make laws on any subject mentioned in the State List, if the Council of States passes a resolution by a two-thirds majority declaring a particular subject or subjects to be of national importance.
  2. Similarly, the Parliament can pass laws on the items of State List, if it is deemed essential by the Government of India to honor an international obligation.
  3. In short, in India the Centre can encroach on the field reserved for the States as and when it feels neces­sary.

  1. Control over State Laws:
  1. Certain laws passed by the State Legislature cannot come into operation unless they have been reserved for the approval of the President of India.
  2. Thus, all the laws concerning the acquisition of property, all laws on Concurrent List which are contrary to the laws passed by the Parliament; and the laws concerning the sales-tax on essential commodi­ties, etc. need the approval of the Central Government.
  3. Moreover, the Governor of a State reserves the right to reserve any Bill passed by the State Legislature for the consideration of the President. The President may accord his approval to such a bill or may withhold his assent.

  1. Financial Dependence of States:
  1. In a federation, as far as possible, States should be finan­cially self-sufficient so that these enjoy maximum autonomy.
  2. But in India, the States depend on the Centre for all development.
  3. They have much less sources of income but many more needs of expenditure.
  4. This financial dependency has very much hindered the growth of States on federal lines.

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