Constitution Types – Written, Unwritten, Rigid And Flexible
The constitution is a national law that governs the relationship between individual and state and the system of public administration.
Constitution does not contain the whole of the legal system but it deals with rights, powers, and duties.
The constitution is the body of law that sets out fundamental principals in the account of which state is governed.
It defines the roles and powers of the various branches of the government and the basic rights of the people.
Constitution evolves over time and interpreted by legislative bodies and courts.
Written and Unwritten
The written constitution is originated in the French Revolution and the American war of independence. In the written constitution, most of the provisions are written down in one document.
A written constitution is very definite and it is very easy for the masses to understand. The major defect of the legal constitution is that it may fail to keep itself with the change.
The written constitution can be referred to as a single formal document that describes the arrangement of the governance.
A written constitution is framed in a single document in a systematic manner by a representative body called constituent assembly after many deliberations and discussions.
The written constitution is generally rigid in nature. It is usually precise and systematic.
A written constitution may be a single document having one date like India, USA, etc or it may be a series of documents bearing different dates like France and Australia.
Countries- India, USA, Russia, Switzerland, France, Nigeria.
An unwritten constitution is not embodied in one single document, it is interpreted in a number of sources.
An unwritten constitution does not mean it is not documented, it means it is not legally incorporated in a single document but it is in written form.
Supreme power lies in parliament. Power is centralized that is it is unitary. Judiciary has limited power.
Amendment procedure is simple that’s why it is flexible in nature and evolves over a period of time that’s why it is called the evolved constitution.
The Magna Carta can be considered as the timeliest unwritten constitution. Charter was signed by King John of England on 15-6-1215.
In Magna Carta, it promised to protect the rights of nobility from the crown.
It is called a cumulative constitution because it is derived from various sources.
Countries- Britain, Israel, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Canada.
A flexible constitution is a constitution that can be amended easily by the ordinary procedure of legislation.
Defined by Dicey as “one under which every law of every description can legally be changed with the same ease and in the same manner by one and the same body.”
There is no special process required to amend a Constitution. In a flexible Constitutions, there is absolutely no distinction with regard to the procedure of passing ordinary and Constitutional laws.
The merit of a constitution is that it can be changed according to the changing circumstances of society. To there is less revolt in a country practicing a flexible constitution.
Main Demerit- the danger of instability it can become a plaything in the hands of unscrupulous politicians and statemen. It can create an atmosphere of uncertainty constitution should be flexible to some extent it will lead to chaos and confusion and people started diminishing their faith in it.
The constitution can be amended only by the use of constituent power by adopting special procedures. The rigid constitution cannot be easily amended. In a rigid constitution, the constitution is supreme of all. There is required a special majority to pass or amend a constitution. The rigid constitution is found in countries such as the United States of America, Australia, Canada, etc.
Dicey said a rigid constitution as one under which certain laws generally are known as constitutional or fundamental laws cannot be changed in the same manner as ordinary laws.
In India, we adopted the middle path which is neither rigid nor flexible.
A large number of provisions of the constitution are open to amending by the ordinary procedure of law.
Reason for its flexibility was introduced by Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru he said-
“While we want this Constitution to be as solid and permanent as we make it, there is no permanence in the Constitution. So, there should be certain flexibility. Because if you make something rigid and permanent you stop the growth of the nation, the growth of a living vital organic people what we may do today may not be applicable to tomorrow.
The merit of the rigid constitution;
- No political party or unscrupulous can changed it overnight.
- The atmosphere of assurance and growth among the population of a state.
- No fear regarding the future.
The demerit of Rigid constitution
- Cannot be changed according to the changing occurrences.
- People started to rebel against that constitution.
As Dr. Garner says- “It is like an attempt to fit a garment to an individual, without taking into consideration his future growth and changes in size.”