Unitary Features of the Indian Constitution

Unitary Features of the Indian Constitution

India has a federal arrangement that highlights several unitary features of the Indian Constitution.

It is essential to examine in detail to understand what are the Unitary features of the Indian Constitution? It is said that the Indian constitution has a federal structure, but there is a strong unitary bias. There are several unitary features of the Indian constitution. They are discussed in detail.

Important Unitary features of the Indian Constitution

Among the several unitary features of the Indian constitution, the following are considered important. 

Strong Centre

It is said that the power is divided between the centre and the states. However, this division of power is not uniform and is heavily in favour of the centre. The division of power is unequal. The Union list has a greater number of subjects in comparison with the state list. The most important subjects have been listed in the central list. Even in the concurrent list, the centre has the overriding power.

Single Constitution

India has a single constitution that governs both the centre and the states. Both the states and the centre are expected to perform with this single framework.

Destructible States

States in the country have no geographic sovereignty. The centre has the authority to change the area, boundary, and the name of any state.


 In case of an emergency as contained in the Part XVIII of the constitution, when an emergency is proclaimed, the centre becomes all-powerful, and the states go in total control of the centre.

Single Citizenship

There is only one citizenship for the entire nation. The Indian constitution deals with the subject of citizenship in Articles 5 and 11 under part 2.

What are the unitary features of the Indian constitution, other than the above stated? Read on.

All India Service

All India service officers (IAS, IFS and IPS) are common to the centre and the states. These three service cadres violate the essential principles of federalism.

Governor Appointment

The Governor is appointed by the President, and he is expected to function as the agent of the centre. It is through the Governor that the centre exercises its power in the states.

One Election Commission

The election commission conducts elections both at the centre and the states. However, the commission is consttuted by the President. States have no role in the constitution of the Election Commission.

Integrated Judiciary

Integrated Judiciary means that any ruling made by a higher court is binding on the lower courts. Hence, it is obvious that the supreme court incorporates all the courts in the country from Gram Panchayats to State High Courts.

Integrated Audit Machinery

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India has the authority not only to audit the central government but also all the states through the officers of Indian Audit and Accounts Services.

Veto of State Bills

The State Governor has the power to hold certain Bills of the State for a review by the President. The President has the right to refuse to sign the bill both the first time and the second. Therefore, the President has the absolute veto power over the state legislatures. 

Financial Dependence of States

In a federal structure, the states must be financially independent so that they have the utmost autonomy. In India, however, the states depend on the centre for their funds and all development. The States in India have few revenue avenues but have immense expenditure requirements. This creates a financial dependence on the centre. This has historical roots, that Indian Federation was not formed by a voluntary agreement of independent states, that kept the subjects that they preferred to, to themselves and handed over the rest to the centre. In India till 1935, the governance was centralized and this led to the current state of federal structure. 


The constitution in India which is singular to both the centre and the State is said to be federal in structure. However, the constitution also has a very strong Unitary bias. The unitary bias is exhibited in several features that the Indian system has like a Strong centre, single constitution, destructible states, emergency provisions, single citizenship, all India Services, Governor appointment, the integrated election Machinery, integrated judiciary, integrated audit machinery, the power to veto over state bills among a few others.