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Features of Indian Constitution -Federal Features

The key federal features of Indian Constitution are as per the constitution of India that is seen as being the supreme and nothing can supersede it. Read on to know more.

In a federal constitution just like the Federalism in India, the powers are divided between the central and the states. There is a clear distribution of power, and both are independent in their areas. This is to say that there is a dual polity that is set up. The federal constitution defines the distribution of power between the states and the centre, this defines the distribution of legislative, executive, and financial powers. 

Indian Constitution

The Indian constitution clearly defines Federalism in India. There have been many opinions that said that the Indian constitution is unitary. However, it is proved by the reports of the Sarkaria Commission that the system is Federalist in nature. The supreme court also clearly said that there is a federal nature in the Kesavananda Bharati Case. It is thus proved that federal nature is one of the fundamental constitutional features.

Key features of Federalism in India

Federalism in India is an essential feature of the constitution that limits the government. The Supreme court of India put down conditions that are necessary to be fulfilled for the constitution to be federal. This was through a ruling in the case of State of West Bengal vs Union of India. These conditions are:

  1. A contract with the princely states to cede to the Union. The powers are generally shared between the states and the centre.
  2. The constitution is said to be supreme, and only the Parliament has the authority to alter it.
  3. Distribution of the powers between the centre and the state in their respective areas.
  4. Courts have the final authority in interpreting the constitution, and they would invalidate any action that would violate it.

Features of Federalism / Key Features of Federalism 

There are six important features of Federalism in India. They are:

  • Division of Power: This is one of the important features of the federal constitution. The Division of Power is done by the constitution itself. The constitution identifies the powers that are rested with the union and the states. Both the governments at the union and states are independent in their charge. Items of national importance like defence, foreign affairs, the currency of the country, etc. are union or central subjects, and subjects like health, land agriculture fall under the domain of the states
  • Constitution being supreme: The constitution is said to be the main source of power to all the three wings of Indian democracy – the legislative, the executive, and the Judiciary. Supremacy of the constitution is important for the coordinated and smooth functioning of the democracy
  • Written Constitution: The federal constitution must be written and unambiguous. Without the written constitution the demarcation of powers between the union and the states would be immensely difficult. It would be a tough challenge to maintain constitutional supremacy if there cannot be a reference to a written text. Federal Polity is indeed immensely complex, and clarity is essential
  • Constitutional Rigidity: If the constitution is immensely rigid and hence it is easy to amend it. Also, since it is rigid it is easy to maintain its supremacy. Amendments to the constitution can be made by simple majority, special majority, or special majority along with a ramification of the Union
  • Judiciary: It is clear that in a federal structure consisting of the state and the centre, there would obviously be contentious issues. To adjudicate in case of disputes there is a need for an independent authority who can interpret the constitution authoritatively. This role is played by the Judiciary and in case of any constitutional disputes, the stance taken by the judiciary is binding on all the parties
  • Bi-cameral legislature: India has bi-cameral legislature – it is one of the essential features of Federalism in India. The Indian Parliament has the lower house (Lok Sabha) and the upper house (Rajya Sabha). Any amendments need the approval of both houses. Few of the states also follow the bi-cameral legislature. Examples of these states are Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar, among others


Federalism in India is guaranteed by the Indian constitution which is seen as supreme. There are several important features of federalism like the division of power, Constitutional supremacy, written constitution, rigidity, independent judiciary and a bi-cameral legislature.