The Indian Constitution is the longest written document in the world. It was formulated by the constituent assembly headed by Dr. B.R Ambedkar in 1949. It comprises of 448 Articles divided into 25 Parts and 12 Schedules with 101 amendments. It was with this Constitution that India was freed from the British Rule which had been continuing since almost a century. Unlike the Indian Constitution the Constitution of USA is a short one, it only comprises of 7 Articles with 27 ratified amendments.
Though the Indian Constitution as well as the USA Constitution are Supreme laws of their respective countries, they differ at various levels of their structure. Without going into the depth of the differences between the two I have formulated a brief table below for better understanding.
|S. No.||POINT OF DIFFERENCE||USA||INDIA|
|2.||No. of Constitutions||Two – where one is applicable on the Centre and the second is applicable on the State. Each State has its own Constitution.||One – which is applicable on the entire country including States.|
|3.||Form of Government||Presidential||Parliamentary|
|4.||Legislature||Divided into House of Representatives and Senate.||Divided into Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.|
|5.||Judiciary||Supreme Court does not have Appellate Jurisdiction.||Supreme Court has both Civil and Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction.|
|6.||Residuary Powers||Lies in the Centre||Lies in the States|
|7.||Inception||Formulated at the time of revolution.||Formulated at the time of communal disharmony and turmoil.|
|8.||Rights||Bill of Rights||Fundamental Rights|
|10.||Federation||Legislative Federation||Executive Federation|
Part III of the Indian Constitution talks about Citizenship. In India a person in entitled to one citizenship that is of the Centre and not of the State, but in the USA a person is entitled to dual citizenship one of the Centre and the other of the State. Citizenship is a very important part of the USA Constitution as it determines on the basis of citizenship weather a person can run for the position of the President and Vice – President in USA, only a natural born citizen is eligible for the same. The 14TH Amendment has defined Natural-Born Citizen as follows, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
The Constitution of a country forms the basic law of every country in the world which formulates the rights and duties of its citizens and the structure and power of the Government. I have classified above how the Constitution of USA and India differ in forms of their Governments. USA is a purely federal state where the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary work independently all three forming the Government. The President who heads the executive checks on the administration of the country, the legislature is responsible for making the laws and the Judiciary is responsible for the interpretation of law. What makes USA purely federal is that none of the various heads of the country interfere in each other’s functions, they are all independent from each other. The Executive and Legislature are both elected by the citizens of the country for a fixed term and the Judges are jointly appointed by the executive and legislature for lifetime.
On the other hand India has Parliamentary form of government where the executive and legislature assist each other in their functions making India a Quasi-Federal State. The President is the head of the State whereas the Prime Minister is the real head of the government. The Prime Minister with his Cabinet of Ministers assists and controls the functions of the President.
The Parliamentary form of government was adopted in 1947 after Independence, therefore our form of government is influenced by the British form of government mostly. Both Presidential and Parliamentary forms of Governments have their own pros and cons. On one hand the States in USA are meant to be self sufficient and run independently, the States in India are governed by the Centre. The centre always tends to supersede the state in India due to the existence of the Parliamentary form of government.
Before the Constitution of USA was formulated on 17th September, 1787 and ratified on 21st June, 1788, the country was governed by the Articles of Confederation. During that time, there was no definite form of Government due to which States functioned as separate countries in USA. In 1787, the delegates decided to form a federal government with three branches under it, the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. James Madison Jr. is called “Father of Constitution” for his crucial contribution in drafting and aiding the USA Constitution and its Bill of Rights. USA remains the oldest country where people elect their own government directly.
The Indian Constitution came into effect on 26th January, 1950. It was formulated by the constituent assembly which was headed by Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. Dr. B.R Ambedkar is popularly also known as “Father of Indian Constitution”. It was after Independence that India came to adopt the Constitution, therefore our form of government is a lot similar to the British system. After Independence India needed a process to form a government and power to govern the country. That is why Indian Constitution has many elements from the other Constitutions of various countries around the world.
The USA Constitution evolved during the time of revolution whereas the Indian Constitution evolved during the period of religious disharmony and violence, therefore the USA Constitution focuses on giving rights to people also known as Bill of Rights and the Indian Constitution focuses on securing peace and unity.
Law of land needs to be equipped and enhanced from time to time to the changing requirements, situations, living standards, outlooks of the citizens of any country. Being supreme law of a country, the Constitutions of both USA and India enclose articles which can bring about amendments in it. In India amendments in the Constitution is not as rigid as amendments in the USA Constitution, there are only 27 ratified amendments which have taken place in the USA Constitution as compared to 101 ratified amendments in the Indian Constitution.
The First amendment in the USA Constitution was made to add Freedom of Speech and freedom of press in the Bill of Rights, which is present in the Indian Constitution under Article 19. However, the Indian Constitution has certain enabling restrictions which are absent in the Constitution of USA.
The Fourth amendment guards the citizens against unwarranted search and seizures, Indian Constitution enumerates the same under Article 22 which provides protection from arrest and detention, except in the cases of preventive detention. However, the concept of preventive detention is not mentioned in the Constitution of USA.
During the period between 1951 and 1967, there were many amendments in the Indian Constitution encroaching upon fundamental rights, federal and parliamentary form of government. However, in 1967 SC ruled that the Parliament has no power to amend the Basic Features of the Indian Constitution which limited the powers of the Parliament to amend the Constitution of India.
Amendment is a necessity due to the development of the society and its people. But it can also turn into evil if misused.
When the Indian Constitution was made, there was not much time to frame it from scratch therefore the Constituent Assembly borrowed a lot of essential features of other Constitutions into one and drafted the longest Constitution in the world. The Indian Constitution has borrowed multiple features from the USA Constitution as well. Below is the list of some of those multiple features:
- Fundamental Rights
- Impeachment of President
- Functions of the President and vice-president
- Removal of Supreme Court and High Court Judges
- Preamble of the Constitution
- Independence of Judiciary
- Judicial Review
On the other hand if we talk about the Constitution of USA, it is the oldest Constitution in the world and it has not borrowed any of its features from any other Constitution in the world.
USA and India are the largest democracies in the world. They both function on Federal form of Government with slight difference between the two. Both Constitutions are quiet similar in a lot of other aspects. Both the Constitutions have a written constitution unlike United Kingdom. Both countries practise separation of power among institution namely Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. USA and India both have Bicameral Legislation. Since the inception of the Indian Constitution, it has been influenced by the American Constitution a number of times. Therefore, a number of principles laid down in the Indian Constitution are similar to that of the American Constitution. Right to Equality is mentioned in both the Constitutions and practised judiciously in both the countries. The upliftment of women in Indian since the past few years showcases interpretation of ‘equal protection of the laws’. Both the Constitutions showcase a number of similarities and differences, but it is its interpretation in both the countries which has caused both USA and India to become the largest democracies in the world.