Prelims 2021

Q. Which one of the following in Indian polity is an essential feature that indicates that it is federal in character?

a) The independence of judiciary is safeguarded.
b) The Union Legislature has elected representatives from constituent units.
c) The Union Cabinet can have elected representatives from regional parties.
d) The Fundamental Rights are enforceable by Courts of Law.

Correct Answer: a) The independence of judiciary is safeguarded.

Question from UPSC Prelims 2021 GS Paper

Explanation : 

Importance of an Independent Judiciary in a Federal System

The federal character of a polity typically refers to a system of government in which power is divided between a central authority and constituent political units (such as states or provinces). This division of powers is designed to ensure that different levels of government have autonomy and can operate independently within their own spheres of competence.

Let’s examine each option to understand why the independence of the judiciary is an essential feature that indicates that the Indian polity is federal in character:

1. Safeguarded Independence of the Judiciary

In a federal system, it is crucial to have an independent judiciary to arbitrate disputes between different levels of government (central and state) and to ensure that the division of powers is respected. An independent judiciary can interpret the constitution and protect the rights of states against encroachments by the central government. This is essential in a federal system to maintain the balance of power and to ensure that the rule of law is upheld across the entire federation.

2. Representation in the Union Legislature

While this is true in a federal system, it is not exclusively indicative of federalism. Even in a unitary system, the national legislature may have representatives from different regions of the country. What matters in federalism is not just representation but the division of powers and autonomy of the constituent units.

3. Regional Parties in the Union Cabinet

This is a feature of India’s multi-party democratic system rather than an indication of federalism. The presence of regional parties in the Union Cabinet reflects the diversity of India’s political landscape and the coalition nature of its politics, but it does not inherently relate to the federal structure of governance.

4. Enforceability of Fundamental Rights

While the enforcement of fundamental rights is crucial for a democratic system and the rule of law, it is not unique to federal systems. Both federal and unitary systems can have enforceable fundamental rights.

In conclusion, the safeguarding of the independence of the judiciary is an essential feature that indicates the federal character of Indian polity because it ensures that there is a neutral and impartial arbiter to resolve conflicts between the central and state governments, and to protect the constitutional framework that defines the division of powers within the federation.

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