A written constitution is necessary but not sufficient condition to ensure constitutionalism. In this context, highlight provisions of Indian constitution that ensures constitutionalism.

The constitutionalism refers to limiting powers of the state, agreement on minimum standards to cooperate and fulfill the aspirations of people through a commonly agreed upon charter called constitution, which defines and gives power to the government.

It seeks to fulfill the mandate of the people who created the constitution. Constitution across democracies can be either written (India) or unwritten (UK).

Written constitutions are necessary but not sufficient condition to ensure constitutionalism.

Why Necessary:

  • Explicit codification of laws.
  • Separation of powers between executive, judiciary and legislature.
  • Enumerates how to fulfill aspirations.
  • Source of rights and claims of citizens in return for their loyalty.
  • Leaves lesser room for ambiguity among various groups.

Why not sufficient:

  • Should be seen to be favoured by large sections to enjoy legitimacy (e.g. Taliban).
  • Should create representative institutions else can become cause of conflict.
  • Can empower dictatorial tendencies and usurping of power by few (Russia).
  • Nations with unwritten constitutions function quite well on precedents like UK.

Enabling provisions from Indian Constitution:

  • Fundamental rights – political equality
  • Directive principles of state policy to create socio-economic equality.
  • Independent judiciary with judicial review powers.
  • Flexible legislature with amendment powers to make corrections.
  • Less stable but more powerful & responsible executive to usher in social reform.

Thus, we can see that the Indian constitution seeks to fulfill the goals of liberty, equality, fraternity and justice as articulated in our Preamble by ensuring constitutionalism.


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