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Constitutional Safeguards and Democratic Values in India

Democracy in India: The Indian Constitution, with its democratic and liberal values, serves as the bedrock of the nation’s governance. However, recent developments have raised concerns about the subversion of its identity. Beyond textual transformations, the Constitution’s core elements face threats from external forces that challenge its democratic environment. This article explores the various factors endangering the Constitution’s identity and the vital role the judiciary plays in safeguarding it.

Democracy in India Why in the news?

A show of concern for democratic institutions in India coming from certain parts of the US elite is nothing more than cynical realpolitik. If New Delhi’s interests are aligned with those of Washington, then it could care less about anything else.


A democracy is a type of government in which rulers are elected by the people through elections that are free and fair, on the basis of universal adult franchise, and are governed on the basis of certain fundamental rules such as a constitution.


Federalism is a form of government that involves the division of powers between two or more levels of government, such as between the central government and the states or government. Within the context of a broader political entity, federalism makes room for both diversity and the sovereignty of distinct geographic areas. The basic tenets on which the two democratic systems are based are:

Written constitution

  • Both the United States of America and India have a written constitution, which serves as the basis for the establishment of their respective federal political structures and the operation of their respective federal governments.
  • Both constitutions have provisions for altering the constitution in order to adapt it to the changing socioeconomic, political, and legal landscapes.

Bill of Rights and Fundamental Rights

  • The constitution of the United States of America has guaranteed its citizens fundamental rights, such as the right to equality, freedom, freedom from exploitation, freedom of religion, freedom from oppression in cultural and educational matters, and so on.
  • Articles 14 to 34 of Part III of the Indian Constitution are the ones that are responsible for guaranteeing the fundamental rights of the Indian people.

Supremacy of the Federal or Union Government

  • Both in the United States and India, states that have acceded to the federal setup do not have the unilateral ability to secede from either the Federal Government or the Union Government.


  • The legislative branch is responsible for enacting laws, while the executive branch is in charge of governing the country and the judicial branch is in charge of enforcing those laws.


The President of the United States serves as the country’s chief executive officer, but in India, the Union Cabinet, which is led by the Prime Minister, is the genuine top executive body.

Rule of Law and Republicanism

Both of these nations have written constitutions that guarantee fundamental rights to their citizens and ensure that a republican form of government is in place. Both of these nations adhere to a republican form of government and give their adult citizens the right to vote.

Independent Judiciary

  • Both of the political systems that are being compared here include an independent judiciary that is tasked with interpreting the Constitution and carrying out the law.
  • However, in India, a single system of courts is responsible for enforcing both central laws and state laws.
  • This is not the case in the United States, where the federal judiciary is responsible for enforcing federal laws and the state judiciary is responsible for enforcing state laws.

Residual Powers

  • In the case of India residual powers are vested in the center, in the case of the United States, it is the states that hold these powers.

Political stability

  • In the event that a resolution of no confidence is passed, the government risks losing its mandate if it is unable to demonstrate that it maintains a majority in the Lok Sabha.
  • This would result in elections being held halfway through the term.
  • The power of the President in the USA is not dependent on the majority of the legislative body. If he is not removed from office due to incapacity or impeachment during the course of his four-year tenure, he will continue to hold the presidency.

Benefits of a Democratic Form of Government


  • Democracy is more accountable to the people it serves so that it can better address their concerns and fulfill their requirements.
  • Example: Due to the emphasis placed on ensuring food supplies after India’s independence, the country did not experience a famine in the decades that followed, in contrast to Communist China, which did.

Quality Governance

  • In a democracy, the use of rigorous consultation and discussion helps to produce better-quality decisions.
  • One example of this is the special status given to scheduled areas and the North-East in the Constitution of India, reflecting their culture.

Citizen Rights

  • Citizens’ dignity is elevated when democracy is in place. Freedom rights enable individuals to grow to their greatest potential while also allowing them to take responsibility for their own actions.
  • This eliminates the possibility of any violent consequences in the event that citizens are dissatisfied with the government that is in power.
  • For example, the Arab Spring and the overthrow of dictatorships in the Middle East were both caused by the lack of any form of protest instrument under such governments, which led to the Arab Spring.

Freedom of Speech and Expression

One of the most alarming trends is the erosion of freedom of speech and expression. Recent incidents, such as the raids on the news portal NewsClick and the subsequent arrests of its founder and Editor-in-Chief, have raised serious questions about the state of journalism in India. The police action, which involved invoking the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, has sent a chilling effect throughout the media fraternity.

The allegations against NewsClick, accusing the news organization of accessing funds from pro-China elements and undermining India’s internal security, have been vehemently denied. However, the use of a terrorism law against journalists highlights the growing threat to freedom of speech and expression. These actions not only hinder the media’s ability to report truthfully but also undermine the democratic fabric of the country.

Position of Religious Minorities

In addition to the erosion of freedom of expression, the increasingly precarious position of religious minorities adds to the concerns regarding the Constitution’s identity. Religious violence and demonization have become persistent issues, perpetuating a cycle of fear and discrimination. The Constitution, which guarantees the right to freedom of religion, is being tested as these minority communities face marginalization and violence.

Secularism, a fundamental principle enshrined in the Indian Constitution, is essential for maintaining a harmonious and inclusive society. However, when hate speeches and actions against minorities go unchecked, the secular identity of the nation is undermined. The Constitution’s commitment to protecting the rights of all citizens, regardless of their religious beliefs, must be upheld to preserve its democratic essence.

Role of the Court in Protecting Democracy

Given the challenges to the Constitution’s identity, the role of the judiciary becomes crucial in protecting democracy. The question of the extent of a court’s reach in a democratic system has long been debated. While the judiciary is unelected, it has a responsibility to safeguard the democratic process and ensure the integrity of the system.

Legal scholars, such as John Hart Ely, argue that the courts should focus on protecting the processes that sustain democracy. While decisions on societal rules and values are primarily left to the elected representatives, the courts have an obligation to ensure the fairness and integrity of the democratic process. By doing so, they safeguard the legitimacy of the representative body and prevent the erosion of democratic conditions.


Despite the fact that the political systems of the United States and India are comparable in a number of ways, each is the product of its own particular past, socio-economic environment, and distinct political culture. Nevertheless, they should work together on a variety of fronts in order to offer mankind, which is currently confronted with a number of difficulties, a glimmer of hope.


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