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chidananda sahani (student)     24 August 2009


Is indian constitution a federal constitution???


 3 Replies

AEJAZ AHMED (Legal Consultant/Lawyer)     24 August 2009

Dear Chidananda Sahani

" The Indian Constitution is not only regarded as Federal or Unitary in the strict sense of the terms. It is often defined to be quasi-federal in nature also. Throughout the Constitution, emphasis is laid on the fact that India is a single united nation. India is described as a Union of States and is constituted into a sovereign, secular, socialist, democratic republic....."

Kindly go through the following site in response to your query for detail  discussion on Federal Nature of Constitution.


SIMRAN BHASIN   03 June 2021

When we talk about the nature of a constitution it is considered to be either unitary or federal. To further explain this, a unitary form is where the power of the government is centralized with the government at the central level, and the state form of government is considered to be subordinate to the center.

While a federal system will be where the division of power between the center and the state will continue, but both of them will be independent.

While a federal constitution is considered to be important for a written constitution, the constitution of India is not entirely federal but is more of a quasi-federal constitution.  This can be further explained because our government exists at a dual-level which is the center as well as the state. The power has been divided between these two levels in the form of lists which are the union list, the state list and also the concurrent list.

Our constitution is also considered to be the supreme law of the land, stating that all authorities irrespective of the union or the state level will be subjected to the power and the authority of the constitution.

However, al constitution is also unitary in nature as it has been provided under article one of the constitution itself. Our government is also empowered to take the decision of separating or altering the boundaries of the states as it has been laid down in article three of the constitution. Another important thing to note is that our constitution except the basic structure can be amended by the unilateral action of the parliament.

We also have a single citizenship for the union as well as the states.

Thus, it would be fair to say that our constitution is federal as well as unity in its nature and stands as a solid combination of both.

Harshita Jain   09 July 2021

The constitution of any country is either federal or unitary in nature. However, the Constitution of India is an exception as it is a combination of both federal and unitary features.

So, to better understand the nature of Indian Constitution, it is important to understand the federal and unitary features individually.

Federal features:

The most important feature of federal constitution is that the constitution is the supreme law of the land.It means that rules, regulations, customs, notifications etc. all has the force of law. the existence of the federal state is derived from the constitution.

The next important feature is that our constitution contains a Preamble that reflects the hopes and aspirations of the people of India. Further, it contains the Directive Principles of State Policy that provides the manner in which the people’s objective can be attained by the government of the country. Adding to it are the Fundamental Rights available to the citizens against the State.

The other features of federal constitution are: a written constitution, both rigid and a flexible constitution and the separation of powers between the center and the state.

Unitary Features:

Some of the unitary features of the Indian Constitution are:

  • In India, the division of power is unequal that is, the central government has been given more powers than the state government.
  • India has one single constitution for the entire nation. The state does not have its own constitutions.
  • There is single citizenship for the country.
  • India has a unified judiciary. The Supreme Court is the highest court with the High Court and other subordinate courts under it.

Thus, by understanding the federal and unitary features we can easily conclude that the Indian Constitution is quasi-federal in nature as has been said by K.C Wheare.


Harsh*ta Jain


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