What is the difference between written and unwritten constitution?
is the difference between written and unwritten constitution?
constitution is one which is found in one or more than one legal documents duly
enacted in the form of laws. It is precise, definite and systematic. It is the
result of the conscious and deliberate efforts of the people. It is framed by a
representative body duly elected by the people at a particular period in
always promulgated on a specific date in history. The Constitution of India,
for example, is a written constitution. It was framed by a representative
Constituent Assembly and was promulgated on a definite date, i.e., 26th January
constitution is generally rigid and a procedure separate from that of enacting
ordinary law is provided for its amendment or revision. In other words a
distinction between constitutional law and ordinary law is maintained. The
first is regarded as superior to the second. A written constitution may also be
termed as an enacted constitution.
written constitutions owe their origin to the charters of liberty granted by
the kings in Middle Ages. But the first written constitution framed by a
representative constituent assembly was that of the United Suites of America.
This example was followed by France. During the 19th century a number of states
framed their constitutions, all of which were written, with the exception of
the constitution of England.
unwritten constitution is one in which most of the principles of the government
have never been enacted in the form of laws. It consists of customs,
conventions, traditions, and some written laws bearing different dates. It is
unsystematic, indefinite and un-precise. Such a constitution is not the result
of conscious and deliberate efforts of the people.
generally the result of historical development. It is never made by a
representative constituent assembly at a definite stage of history, nor is it
promulgated on a particular date. It is, therefore, sometimes called an evolved
or cumulative constitution. The constitution of England is a classical example
of an unwritten constitution. It is mainly the result of historical growth.
foundation of the English Constitution was laid in the 13th century by King
John, who issued the first charter of British freedom known as the Magna
Charta. Since then it has been in the process of making through conventions and
between written and unwritten constitution is, however, not scientific. There
is no constitution which is wholly written. Nor is there any which is
completely unwritten. Every written constitution has an unwritten element in it
and every unwritten constitution has a written element.
constitution of the U.S.A. is a classical example of a written constitution.
But even then it is overlaid with conventions and traditions. As for example,
the Constitution of America provides for an indirect election of the President,
but as a matter of convention, presidential election has become direct.
based on the theory of separation of powers and the President was given only,
executive powers. But today, he is not only the 'Chief Executive' but also the
'Chief Legislator'. Even in the Indian Constitution, which has been written so
recently, conventions have grown.
though the Constitution gives discretion to the President and the Governor to
appoint any person as Prime Minister and Chief Minister respectively, but
convention has grown that the leader of the majority party is appointed so. In
fact, no country in the world can have an absolutely written constitution.
Since social and economic life of society is dynamic, the constitution is bound
to change with changed requirements of the society and very often through
convention rather than law.
Constitution of England is typical example of an unwritten constitution. The
major part of the constitution relating to the powers of the Monarch, the
Cabinet, the Parliament and mutual relations between the various organs of the
Government arc all the result of Conventions.
the major portion of the Constitution of England is based on conventions and
traditions yet there arc many written laws in it like the Magna Charta 1215,
the Petition of Rights 1628, the Bill of Rights 1689, the Habeas Corpus Act
1679, the Acts of Settlement 1701, various Reforms Act of 1832, 1867, 1884,
Parliamentary Act of 1911, and the Crown proceedings Act, 1947, etc., etc.