Indian Polity - How the Constitution works



  • A constitution is a set of fundamental principles according to which a state is constituted or governed.

  • The Constitution specifies the basic allocation of power in a State and decides who gets to decide what the laws will be.

  • The Constitution first defines how a Parliament will be organized and empowers the Parliament to decide the laws and policies.

  • The Constitution sets some limitations on the Government as to what extent a Government can impose rules and policies on its citizen. These limits are fundamental in the sense that the Government may never trespass them.

  • The Constitution enables the Government to fulfil the aspirations of a society and create conditions for a just society.

Distribution of Power

  • The Indian Constitution horizontally distributes power across the three following institutions, as depicted in the following illustration −

Distribution of Power

The Parliament

  • All the elected representatives collectively form a body called as Parliament.

  • The Parliament consists of two houses namely Rajya Sabha (Upper House) and Lok Sabha (Lower House).

  • The majority group (elected through the election) in the Parliament is called upon to make the government.

  • The government is responsible for making policies and other national decisions, which are generally taken up after intensive debate and meaningful discussions in the parliament.

  • The Prime Minister is the head of the government. The prime minister presided over the meetings of the cabinet in which the big decisions are taken.

The Executive

  • The President of India is the head of the State; however, he/she exercises only nominal powers.

  • The President’s functions are mainly ceremonial in nature (similar to the Queen of Britain).

  • The following diagram illustrates the hierarchy of the Indian Government −


The Judiciary

  • The judicial system in India contains a hierarchy of courts, where the Supreme Court is the apex court of India.

  • Besides, some constitutional and other independent statutory bodies, for example, the Election Commission has also been given independent power.

  • The distribution of power among different bodies in such a way ensures that even if one institution wants to subvert the Constitution, others can check its transgressions and maintain harmony.