Sources of Indian Constitution: Detailed Notes for Competitive Exams

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Sources of Indian Constitution
Sources of Indian Constitution

Our Indian Constitution holds the paramount status as the supreme legal framework guiding our nation. This foundational document outlines the essential political principles, organisational structure, procedural guidelines, powers, and responsibilities of governmental institutions in India. Additionally, it outlines the Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles, and obligations of citizens, thus aligning with the recommendations proposed by M. N. Roy. Remarkably, it stands as the lengthiest written national constitution globally. Read this blog to find out the Sources of Indian Constitution.

About the Constitution of India

Envisioned and endorsed by the Constituent Assembly of India on the 26th of November 1949, the Constitution officially came into effect on the 26th of January 1950. This significant constitutional transition marked the replacement of the Government of India Act 1935, hence establishing the Constitution as the primary governing document while transforming the Dominion of India into the Republic of India. A necessary step towards ensuring constitutional self-sufficiency was the repeal of prior acts of the British parliament, a step explicitly detailed in Article 395.

The commemoration of India’s constitution takes place annually on the 26th of January, celebrated as Republic Day, thus symbolising the nation’s commitment to the values and principles enshrined in this historic document. 

Sources of Indian Constitution in Short

Go through this table to understand the sources of Indian constitution in short.

The Part of our Indian ConstitutionCountry/Source
Administrative detailsThe Office of the GovernorFederal Scheme Public Service Commissions JudiciaryThe Emergency Provisions The 1935, the Government of India Act 
Election of the Rajya Sabha MembersThe Procedure for Amendment of the ConstitutionThe Constitution of South Africa
Nomination of Members to the Rajya SabhaThe Directive Principles of State PolicyThe Method of Election of the PresidentThe Constitution of Ireland
Procedure Established by LawThe Constitution of Japan 
The Concurrent List The authority of the National Legislature to enact Laws for the Implementation of Treaties extends beyond the typical Jurisdiction of the Federal Government. The Joint Sitting of the Parliament The Freedom of Trade and Commerce between States and within the CountryThe Constitution of Australia
During a National Emergency, the Suspension of the Fundamental Rights The Emergency Powers The Constitution of Canada
During a National Emergency, the Suspension of Fundamental Rights. The Emergency Powers The Constitution of the Weimar Republic (now Germany) 
The Planning Commission, to oversee the Development of the Economy which has been mandated by the Constitution. Under Article 51A, the Fundamental Duties In the Preamble, the idea of Social, Economic and Political JusticeThe Constitution of the Soviet Union (now Russia)
In the Preamble, Republic and the ideals of Liberty, Equality and FraternityThe Constitution of France 
Single CitizenshipParliamentary form of the GovernmentPost of Prime MinisterNominal Head of the State Rule of LawBicameral LegislatureLegislative Speaker and His RoleWritsLegislative Procedure Cabinet SystemThe Constitution of the United Kingdom  
The Fundamental Rights (Bill of Rights)The Preamble The Electoral CollegeThe Federal Structure of the GovernmentThe Supreme Court institution Judicial ReviewIndependent Judiciary- separation of the three powers of the Government Equal Protection under LawThe Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces is The PresidentImpeachment of the PresidentThe Removal of JudgesThe Functions and Role of the Vice PresidenA Written ConstitutionThe Constitution of the United States of America

The Sources of Indian Constitution in Detail

Now let us get into the details of the sources of our Indian Constitution:

The 1935, the Government of India Act

The origin of the 1950 Constitution can be traced back to the 1935 Government of India Act, a legislative milestone initiated by the British government. Additionally, it is distinguished as the lengthiest Act with 321 sections and 10 schedules. It included insights from different origins, namely the Simon Commission’s report, discussions at the Third Round Table Conference, the 1933 White Paper, and reports from Joint Select Committees.

Noteworthy reforms brought about by the Act included the abolition of the provincial dyarchy system. Instead, it proposed a dyarchy at the centre and envisioned a ‘Federation of India,’ comprising both the provinces of British India and a significant number of princely states.

A key development introduced by the 1935 Act was the establishment of the Office of the Governor, thus consolidating all executive powers and authority of the centre within this role.

Some other features of the 1935, Government of India Act are:

  • Provincial Autonomy: The Act empowered Provincial Governments to be accountable solely to Provincial Legislatures by facilitating their independence from external oversight. In addition, this legislative framework outlined powers between the central and provincial authorities through the allocation of subjects into 3 lists:
    • The Federal List (containing 59 items for the Centre)
    • The Provincial List (consisting of 54 items for Provinces)
    • The Concurrent List (including 36 items for both). 

Moreover, the Residuary powers were vested in the Viceroy hence establishing a clear division of authority between the central and provincial entities.

  • Federal Legislature: The legislation proposed the establishment of Two Houses which would comprise the Federal Assembly and the Council of States. Consequently, the Council of States would be serving as the upper house and constituted a permanent body with a three-year tenure. Additionally, comprising 260 members, of which 101 represented Princely Indian states and 156 represented British India. On the other hand, the Federal Assembly would function as the lower house. It would hold a term of up to five years and comprised 125 members from Princely states and 250 representatives from British India.

The Constitution of South Africa

The Indian Constitution borrowed from the Constitution of South Africa the procedure of the Elections of the Rajya Sabha members and the Procedure for the Amendment of our Constitution. 

Also Read: Composition of the Rajya Sabha according to Article 80

The Constitution of Ireland

The Indian Constitution from the Constitution of Ireland has borrowed the procedure for the nomination of members to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of India’s Parliament. 

Furthermore, the Indian Constitution has a distinctive feature inspired by the Irish Constitution which is the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP). It is within Part IV which are Articles 36 to 51 of the Indian Constitution. Additionally, the DPSP articulates the State’s obligation to integrate these principles into the legislative process. 

This constitutional provision encompasses three primary categories of principles which are:

  • Socialist Directives
  • Gandhian Directives
  • Liberal Intellectual Directives

The Constitution of Japan 

In addition, the Indian Constitution has borrowed from the Consitution of Japan the Procedure Established by Law. This means that the law is considered legally valid only when it has been properly enacted by the legislature or the relevant body, and the prescribed procedure has been meticulously adhered to.

Also Read: Article 21: Right to Life and Right to Personal Liberty

The Constitution of Australia

Furthermore, the Consitution of Australia’s influence on the Indian Constitution is recognised in the incorporation of provisions related to Freedom of Trade and Commerce. The constitutional framework governing these aspects can be found in Part XIII which are Articles 301-307 (Trade, Commerce and Intercourse Within the Territory of India) of the Indian Constitution. 

As well as that, Australia contributed to the adoption of the Concurrent List and the concept of a Joint Sitting of both Houses of Parliament in India. 

The Constitution of Canada

The framework of a Federal structure with a centre, the  Residuary Powers to the Centre, the selection of State governors by the Centre, and the advisory role of the Supreme Court are aspects adopted from the Constitution of Canada. 

Furthermore, Article 143 (which is in Part V, Chapter 4- The Union Judiciary establishes an advisory jurisdiction for the Supreme Court, hence allowing the President to solicit the Court’s opinion on public issues. The Supreme Court, in turn, can provide its opinion after thoroughly examining the case. 

Especially, Article 248 (which is in Part XI, Chapter 1- Legislative Relations) establishes the exclusive authority of the Parliament to legislate on matters not expressly listed in the Union and State lists. 

Also Read: How many Supreme Courts are there in India?

The Constitution of the Weimar Republic (Germany)

In addition, during a National Emergency, the Suspension of Fundamental Rights procedure was borrowed from the Constitution of the Weimar Republic. 

The Constitution of the Soviet Union (Now Russia)

Another Source of Indian Constitution is the Constitution of the Soviet Union and from them borrowed the idea of Social, Economic and Political Justice which is in the Preamble. Additionally, the Fundamental Duties in the Indian Constitution, Part IV A, Article 51A was also borrowed from the Constitution of the Soviet Union. 

Also Read: Salient Features of the Indian Constitution

The Constitution of France 

The ideals of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity in the Indian Preamble are traced back to the Constitution of France. Furthermore, the term “Republic of India” is also from the Constitution of France.

The Constitution of the United Kingdom

There are numerous elements embedded in the Constitution of India which are from the Constitution of the United Kingdom. Among these, notable elements are:

  • Single Citizenship: The concept of singular citizenship in India signifies that an individual, whether by birth or migration, is entitled exclusively to the political and civil rights of India, without concurrently holding citizenship in any other nation. Consequently, the Indian legal framework does not approve of dual citizenship. Additionally, India does not acknowledge state citizenship, emphasising the absence of distinctions between the citizens of different states within the Indian territory. This aspect reinforces the notion of a unified and undivided national identity, hence promoting a singular allegiance to the democratic principles in the Indian Constitution.
  • Parliamentary Form of Government: The Indian Constitution adopts a system where the country is administered by a Cabinet of Ministers led by the Prime Minister. In this structure, the Prime Minister serves as the head of the government, while the President, acting as the nominal head, holds the position of the Head of the State. A key characteristic of the Parliamentary system is the presence of opposition parties which is necessary for monitoring the actions of the ruling party and securing accountability.
  • Rule of Law: Moreover, this principle asserts that a state is governed not by individuals or popular sentiment but by the established laws of the country. It emphasises the equality of all individuals before the law, including those involved in its making. Article 14 in Part III of the Indian Constitution reinforces the idea that every citizen is subject to the same legal standards. 
  • Writs: Writs have an important role in upholding the Right to Constitutional Remedies which are Articles 32 to 35, in Part III of the Fundamental Rights. For the citizens of India, it is a power vested in the Supreme Court and the High Courts. The issuance of these writs guarantees the protection of individual liberties and acts as a legal recourse for those seeking justice. The five Types of Writs are as follows:
  1. Habeas Corpus: This writ mandates the production of a detained person before the court, and if the detention is deemed illegal, the individual must be released.
  2. Mandamus: It is an order from the Supreme Court or the High Court to a lower court, thus compelling it to perform a public duty that it is legally obligated to carry out.
  3. Certiorari: Additionally, this writ empowers the Supreme Court or the High Court to stop an order already passed by an inferior court.
  4. Prohibition: Issued by the Supreme Court or the High Court, this writ directs a lower court to cease ongoing proceedings by preventing it from continuing with certain procedures.
  5. Quo-Warranto: Moreover, this writ restrains a person from holding a public office to which they are not entitled, thus ensuring that individuals in public offices meet the prescribed eligibility criteria.

Consequently, Articles 32, in Part III and Article 226 in Part VI (Chapter 5- The High Courts in the States) of the Indian Constitution provide the legal framework for the availability and application of these writs. 

Also Read: What are Human Rights?

The Constitution of the United States of America

From the Constitution of the USA, the Indian Constitution has borrowed many elements such as the Electoral College, the Federal Structure of the Government, the Supreme Court institution, the President as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and the Functions and Role of the Vice President as well as the following elements:

  • The Fundamental Rights (Bill of Rights): Additionally, Articles 12 to 32 of Part III of the Indian Constitution include the Fundamental Rights of Indians. These Fundamental Rights guarantee an equitable standing for all in society. The 6 Fundamental Rights include:
  1. Right to Equality
  2. Right to Freedom
  3. Right against Exploitation
  4. Right to Freedom of Religion
  5. Cultural and Educational Rights
  6. Right to Constitutional Remedies
  • The Preamble: The Preamble of the Indian Constitution concisely tells us the guiding principles and aspirations of India. It includes justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity. Moreover, it serves as a prelude to our constitutional framework, hence summarising the collective idea of a sovereign, socialist, secular, and democratic republic.
  • Judicial Review: The concept of Judicial Review grants the Judiciary the authority to interpret the Constitution, hence granting it a key function in our governance structure. In addition, this empowerment allows the Judiciary to invalidate any directive issued by the legislative or executive branches if it contradicts the provisions laid out in our Indian Constitution.
  • Independent Judiciary- Separation of the Three Powers of the Government: The Legislative, Executive and Judiciary are all separate Powers of the government. If any two of them are united, there will be no Liberty. 
  • Equal Protection under Law: Additionally, Article 14 of the Indian Constitution ensures that every individual, regardless of their citizenship status, has the right to equality before the law and equal protection of the law within the borders of India. This Fundamental Right applies to both citizens and non-citizens present on our Indian territory.
  • The Impeachment of the President: Article 61 of Part V (Chapter 1- The Executive) of the Indian Constitution outlines the process for impeaching the President of India which is a mechanism that involves legislative procedures conducted by both houses of Parliament.
  • The Removal of Judges: Furthermore, Article 124(4) of Part V (Chapter 4- The Union Judiciary) of the Constitution of India and the provision of the 1968 Judges Inquiry Act deals with the removal of judges. 

Fun Fact! Our Constitution of India is a Written Constitution that has also been borrowed from early colonial America.   


What are the sources of the Indian Constitution?

The Sources of the Indian Constitution include the Government of India Act of 1935, the Constitution of South Africa, The Constitution of Ireland, The Constitution of Japan, The Constitution of Australia, The Constitution of Canada, The Constitution of Russia, The Constitution of Germany, The Constitution of the Soviet Union(USSR), The Constitution of France, The Constitution of the United Kingdom and the Constitution of the United States of America. 

What is the greatest source of the Indian Constitution?

The greatest source of the Indian Constitution is the Government of India Act of 1935. 

What is the source of the Constitution authority in India?

The source of the constitutional authority in India is the people of India. 

Who is the father of the Indian Constitution?

The father of the Indian Constitution is Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. 

Lastly, we hope you liked what you read and gained an insight into the Sources of Indian Constitution. Moreover, you may even read more blogs and empower yourself with knowledge regarding Civics and Polity. 

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