NCERT Textbook - Constitution as a Living Document Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Political Science Class 11

Created by: Uk Tiwary

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Constitution as a Living Document Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


196
Indian Constitution at Work
Chapter Nine
CONSTITUTION AS A
LIVING DOCUMENT
INTRODUCTION
In this chapter, you will see how the Constitution has worked in the last fifty-
five years and how India has managed to be governed by the same Constitution.
After studying this chapter you will find out that:
± the Indian Constitution can be amended according to the needs of the time;
± though many such amendments have already taken place, the Constitution
has remained intact and its basic premises have not changed;
± the judiciary has played an important role in protecting the Constitution and
also in interpreting the Constitution; and
± the Constitution is a document that keeps evolving and responding to changing
situations.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Page 2


196
Indian Constitution at Work
Chapter Nine
CONSTITUTION AS A
LIVING DOCUMENT
INTRODUCTION
In this chapter, you will see how the Constitution has worked in the last fifty-
five years and how India has managed to be governed by the same Constitution.
After studying this chapter you will find out that:
± the Indian Constitution can be amended according to the needs of the time;
± though many such amendments have already taken place, the Constitution
has remained intact and its basic premises have not changed;
± the judiciary has played an important role in protecting the Constitution and
also in interpreting the Constitution; and
± the Constitution is a document that keeps evolving and responding to changing
situations.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
197
Chapter 9: Constitution as a Living Document
ARE CONSTITUTIONS STATIC?
It is not uncommon for nations to rewrite
their constitutions in response to changed
circumstances or change of ideas within
the society or even due to political
upheavals. The Soviet Union had four
constitutions in its life of 74 years (1918,
1924, 1936 and 1977). In 1991, the rule
of the Communist Party of Soviet Union
came to an end and soon the Soviet
federation disintegrated. After this political
upheaval, the newly formed Russian
federation adopted a new constitution in
1993.
But look at India. The Constitution of
India was adopted on 26 November 1949.
Its implementation formally started from
26 January 1950. More than fifty-five
years after that, the same constitution
continues to function as the framework
within which the government of our
country operates.
Is it that our Constitution is so good
that it needs no change? Was it that our
Constitution makers were so farsighted
and wise that they had foreseen all the
changes that would take place in the
future? In some sense both the answers
are correct. It is true that we have inherited
a very robust Constitution. The basic
framework of the Constitution is very
much suited to our country. It is also true
that the Constitution makers were very
farsighted and provided for many
solutions for future situations. But no
constitution can provide for all
eventualities. No document can be such
that it needs no change.
France had numerous
constitutions in the last
two centuries. After the
revolution and during the
Napoleonic period, France
underwent continuous
experimentation about a
constitution: The post-
revolution constitution of
1793 is called the
period of the first
French republic. Then
commenced the second
French republic in 1848.
The third French republic
was formed with a new
constitution in 1875. In
1946, with a new
constitution, the fourth
French republic came into
being. Finally, in 1958, the
fifth French republic
came into being with yet
another constitution.
It seems to me that
constitutional changes are very
closely linked to political
developments.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Page 3


196
Indian Constitution at Work
Chapter Nine
CONSTITUTION AS A
LIVING DOCUMENT
INTRODUCTION
In this chapter, you will see how the Constitution has worked in the last fifty-
five years and how India has managed to be governed by the same Constitution.
After studying this chapter you will find out that:
± the Indian Constitution can be amended according to the needs of the time;
± though many such amendments have already taken place, the Constitution
has remained intact and its basic premises have not changed;
± the judiciary has played an important role in protecting the Constitution and
also in interpreting the Constitution; and
± the Constitution is a document that keeps evolving and responding to changing
situations.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
197
Chapter 9: Constitution as a Living Document
ARE CONSTITUTIONS STATIC?
It is not uncommon for nations to rewrite
their constitutions in response to changed
circumstances or change of ideas within
the society or even due to political
upheavals. The Soviet Union had four
constitutions in its life of 74 years (1918,
1924, 1936 and 1977). In 1991, the rule
of the Communist Party of Soviet Union
came to an end and soon the Soviet
federation disintegrated. After this political
upheaval, the newly formed Russian
federation adopted a new constitution in
1993.
But look at India. The Constitution of
India was adopted on 26 November 1949.
Its implementation formally started from
26 January 1950. More than fifty-five
years after that, the same constitution
continues to function as the framework
within which the government of our
country operates.
Is it that our Constitution is so good
that it needs no change? Was it that our
Constitution makers were so farsighted
and wise that they had foreseen all the
changes that would take place in the
future? In some sense both the answers
are correct. It is true that we have inherited
a very robust Constitution. The basic
framework of the Constitution is very
much suited to our country. It is also true
that the Constitution makers were very
farsighted and provided for many
solutions for future situations. But no
constitution can provide for all
eventualities. No document can be such
that it needs no change.
France had numerous
constitutions in the last
two centuries. After the
revolution and during the
Napoleonic period, France
underwent continuous
experimentation about a
constitution: The post-
revolution constitution of
1793 is called the
period of the first
French republic. Then
commenced the second
French republic in 1848.
The third French republic
was formed with a new
constitution in 1875. In
1946, with a new
constitution, the fourth
French republic came into
being. Finally, in 1958, the
fifth French republic
came into being with yet
another constitution.
It seems to me that
constitutional changes are very
closely linked to political
developments.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
198
Indian Constitution at Work
Then how does the same Constitution continue to
serve the country? One of the answers to such questions
is that our Constitution accepts the necessity of
modifications according to changing needs of the society.
Secondly, in the actual working of the Constitution, there
has been enough flexibility of interpretations. Both
political practice and judicial rulings have shown maturity
and flexibility in implementing the Constitution. These
factors have made our Constitution a living document
rather than a closed and static rulebook.
In any society, those responsible for drafting the
constitution at a particular time would face one common
challenge: the provisions of the constitution would
naturally reflect efforts to tackle the problems that the
society is facing at the time of making of the constitution.
At the same time, the constitution must be a document
that provides the framework of the government for the
future as well. Therefore, the constitution has to be able
to respond to the challenges that may arise in the future.
In this sense, the constitution will always have something
that is contemporary and something that has a more
durable importance.
At the same time, a constitution is not a frozen and
unalterable document. It is a document made by human
beings and may need revisions, changes and re-
examination. It is true that the constitution reflects the
dreams and aspirations of the concerned society. It must
also be kept in mind that the constitution is a framework
for the democratic governance of the society. In this sense,
it is an instrument that societies create for themselves.
This dual role of the constitution always leads to
difficult questions about the status of the constitution: is
it so sacred that nobody ever can change it? Alternatively,
is it so ordinary an instrument that it can be modified
just like any other ordinary law?
The makers of the Indian Constitution were aware of
this problem and sought to strike a balance. They placed
the Constitution above ordinary law and expected that
I know that the Constitution
of  the US came into existence
more than 200 years ago and so
far it has been amended only 27
times! Isn’t that very interesting?
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Page 4


196
Indian Constitution at Work
Chapter Nine
CONSTITUTION AS A
LIVING DOCUMENT
INTRODUCTION
In this chapter, you will see how the Constitution has worked in the last fifty-
five years and how India has managed to be governed by the same Constitution.
After studying this chapter you will find out that:
± the Indian Constitution can be amended according to the needs of the time;
± though many such amendments have already taken place, the Constitution
has remained intact and its basic premises have not changed;
± the judiciary has played an important role in protecting the Constitution and
also in interpreting the Constitution; and
± the Constitution is a document that keeps evolving and responding to changing
situations.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
197
Chapter 9: Constitution as a Living Document
ARE CONSTITUTIONS STATIC?
It is not uncommon for nations to rewrite
their constitutions in response to changed
circumstances or change of ideas within
the society or even due to political
upheavals. The Soviet Union had four
constitutions in its life of 74 years (1918,
1924, 1936 and 1977). In 1991, the rule
of the Communist Party of Soviet Union
came to an end and soon the Soviet
federation disintegrated. After this political
upheaval, the newly formed Russian
federation adopted a new constitution in
1993.
But look at India. The Constitution of
India was adopted on 26 November 1949.
Its implementation formally started from
26 January 1950. More than fifty-five
years after that, the same constitution
continues to function as the framework
within which the government of our
country operates.
Is it that our Constitution is so good
that it needs no change? Was it that our
Constitution makers were so farsighted
and wise that they had foreseen all the
changes that would take place in the
future? In some sense both the answers
are correct. It is true that we have inherited
a very robust Constitution. The basic
framework of the Constitution is very
much suited to our country. It is also true
that the Constitution makers were very
farsighted and provided for many
solutions for future situations. But no
constitution can provide for all
eventualities. No document can be such
that it needs no change.
France had numerous
constitutions in the last
two centuries. After the
revolution and during the
Napoleonic period, France
underwent continuous
experimentation about a
constitution: The post-
revolution constitution of
1793 is called the
period of the first
French republic. Then
commenced the second
French republic in 1848.
The third French republic
was formed with a new
constitution in 1875. In
1946, with a new
constitution, the fourth
French republic came into
being. Finally, in 1958, the
fifth French republic
came into being with yet
another constitution.
It seems to me that
constitutional changes are very
closely linked to political
developments.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
198
Indian Constitution at Work
Then how does the same Constitution continue to
serve the country? One of the answers to such questions
is that our Constitution accepts the necessity of
modifications according to changing needs of the society.
Secondly, in the actual working of the Constitution, there
has been enough flexibility of interpretations. Both
political practice and judicial rulings have shown maturity
and flexibility in implementing the Constitution. These
factors have made our Constitution a living document
rather than a closed and static rulebook.
In any society, those responsible for drafting the
constitution at a particular time would face one common
challenge: the provisions of the constitution would
naturally reflect efforts to tackle the problems that the
society is facing at the time of making of the constitution.
At the same time, the constitution must be a document
that provides the framework of the government for the
future as well. Therefore, the constitution has to be able
to respond to the challenges that may arise in the future.
In this sense, the constitution will always have something
that is contemporary and something that has a more
durable importance.
At the same time, a constitution is not a frozen and
unalterable document. It is a document made by human
beings and may need revisions, changes and re-
examination. It is true that the constitution reflects the
dreams and aspirations of the concerned society. It must
also be kept in mind that the constitution is a framework
for the democratic governance of the society. In this sense,
it is an instrument that societies create for themselves.
This dual role of the constitution always leads to
difficult questions about the status of the constitution: is
it so sacred that nobody ever can change it? Alternatively,
is it so ordinary an instrument that it can be modified
just like any other ordinary law?
The makers of the Indian Constitution were aware of
this problem and sought to strike a balance. They placed
the Constitution above ordinary law and expected that
I know that the Constitution
of  the US came into existence
more than 200 years ago and so
far it has been amended only 27
times! Isn’t that very interesting?
2015-16(20/01/2015)
199
Chapter 9: Constitution as a Living Document
the future generations will respect this document. At the same time,
they recognised that in the future, this document may require
modifications. Even at the time of writing the Constitution, they were
aware that on many matters there were differences of opinion.
Whenever society would veer toward any particular opinion, a change
in the constitutional provisions would be required. Thus, the Indian
Constitution is a combination of both the approaches mentioned
above: that the constitution is a sacred document and that it is an
instrument that may require changes from time to time.  In other
words, our Constitution is not a static document, it is not the final
word about everything; it is not unalterable.
Check your progress
After reading the section above, a number of
students in the class were confused. They made the
following statements. What would you say about
each of these statements?
± The Constitution is like any other law. It simply
tells us what are the rules and regulations
governing the government.
± The  Constitution is the expression of the will of
the people, so there must be a provision to change
the Constitution after every ten or fifteen years.
± The  Constitution is a statement of the philosophy
of the country. It can never be changed.
± The  Constitution is a sacred document.
Therefore any talk of changing it is against
democracy.
HOW TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION?
Article 368:
…Parliament may in exercise of
its constituent power amend by
way of addition, variation or
repeal any provision of this
Constitution in accordance with
the procedure laid down in this
article.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Page 5


196
Indian Constitution at Work
Chapter Nine
CONSTITUTION AS A
LIVING DOCUMENT
INTRODUCTION
In this chapter, you will see how the Constitution has worked in the last fifty-
five years and how India has managed to be governed by the same Constitution.
After studying this chapter you will find out that:
± the Indian Constitution can be amended according to the needs of the time;
± though many such amendments have already taken place, the Constitution
has remained intact and its basic premises have not changed;
± the judiciary has played an important role in protecting the Constitution and
also in interpreting the Constitution; and
± the Constitution is a document that keeps evolving and responding to changing
situations.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
197
Chapter 9: Constitution as a Living Document
ARE CONSTITUTIONS STATIC?
It is not uncommon for nations to rewrite
their constitutions in response to changed
circumstances or change of ideas within
the society or even due to political
upheavals. The Soviet Union had four
constitutions in its life of 74 years (1918,
1924, 1936 and 1977). In 1991, the rule
of the Communist Party of Soviet Union
came to an end and soon the Soviet
federation disintegrated. After this political
upheaval, the newly formed Russian
federation adopted a new constitution in
1993.
But look at India. The Constitution of
India was adopted on 26 November 1949.
Its implementation formally started from
26 January 1950. More than fifty-five
years after that, the same constitution
continues to function as the framework
within which the government of our
country operates.
Is it that our Constitution is so good
that it needs no change? Was it that our
Constitution makers were so farsighted
and wise that they had foreseen all the
changes that would take place in the
future? In some sense both the answers
are correct. It is true that we have inherited
a very robust Constitution. The basic
framework of the Constitution is very
much suited to our country. It is also true
that the Constitution makers were very
farsighted and provided for many
solutions for future situations. But no
constitution can provide for all
eventualities. No document can be such
that it needs no change.
France had numerous
constitutions in the last
two centuries. After the
revolution and during the
Napoleonic period, France
underwent continuous
experimentation about a
constitution: The post-
revolution constitution of
1793 is called the
period of the first
French republic. Then
commenced the second
French republic in 1848.
The third French republic
was formed with a new
constitution in 1875. In
1946, with a new
constitution, the fourth
French republic came into
being. Finally, in 1958, the
fifth French republic
came into being with yet
another constitution.
It seems to me that
constitutional changes are very
closely linked to political
developments.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
198
Indian Constitution at Work
Then how does the same Constitution continue to
serve the country? One of the answers to such questions
is that our Constitution accepts the necessity of
modifications according to changing needs of the society.
Secondly, in the actual working of the Constitution, there
has been enough flexibility of interpretations. Both
political practice and judicial rulings have shown maturity
and flexibility in implementing the Constitution. These
factors have made our Constitution a living document
rather than a closed and static rulebook.
In any society, those responsible for drafting the
constitution at a particular time would face one common
challenge: the provisions of the constitution would
naturally reflect efforts to tackle the problems that the
society is facing at the time of making of the constitution.
At the same time, the constitution must be a document
that provides the framework of the government for the
future as well. Therefore, the constitution has to be able
to respond to the challenges that may arise in the future.
In this sense, the constitution will always have something
that is contemporary and something that has a more
durable importance.
At the same time, a constitution is not a frozen and
unalterable document. It is a document made by human
beings and may need revisions, changes and re-
examination. It is true that the constitution reflects the
dreams and aspirations of the concerned society. It must
also be kept in mind that the constitution is a framework
for the democratic governance of the society. In this sense,
it is an instrument that societies create for themselves.
This dual role of the constitution always leads to
difficult questions about the status of the constitution: is
it so sacred that nobody ever can change it? Alternatively,
is it so ordinary an instrument that it can be modified
just like any other ordinary law?
The makers of the Indian Constitution were aware of
this problem and sought to strike a balance. They placed
the Constitution above ordinary law and expected that
I know that the Constitution
of  the US came into existence
more than 200 years ago and so
far it has been amended only 27
times! Isn’t that very interesting?
2015-16(20/01/2015)
199
Chapter 9: Constitution as a Living Document
the future generations will respect this document. At the same time,
they recognised that in the future, this document may require
modifications. Even at the time of writing the Constitution, they were
aware that on many matters there were differences of opinion.
Whenever society would veer toward any particular opinion, a change
in the constitutional provisions would be required. Thus, the Indian
Constitution is a combination of both the approaches mentioned
above: that the constitution is a sacred document and that it is an
instrument that may require changes from time to time.  In other
words, our Constitution is not a static document, it is not the final
word about everything; it is not unalterable.
Check your progress
After reading the section above, a number of
students in the class were confused. They made the
following statements. What would you say about
each of these statements?
± The Constitution is like any other law. It simply
tells us what are the rules and regulations
governing the government.
± The  Constitution is the expression of the will of
the people, so there must be a provision to change
the Constitution after every ten or fifteen years.
± The  Constitution is a statement of the philosophy
of the country. It can never be changed.
± The  Constitution is a sacred document.
Therefore any talk of changing it is against
democracy.
HOW TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION?
Article 368:
…Parliament may in exercise of
its constituent power amend by
way of addition, variation or
repeal any provision of this
Constitution in accordance with
the procedure laid down in this
article.
2015-16(20/01/2015)
200
Indian Constitution at Work
We have already seen that the makers of our
Constitution wanted to strike a balance. The Constitution
must be amended if so required. But it must be protected
from unnecessary and frequent changes. In other words,
they wanted the Constitution to be ‘flexible’ and at the
same time ‘rigid’. Flexible means open to changes and
rigid means resistant to changes. A constitution that can
be very easily changed or modified is often called flexible.
In the case of constitutions, which are very difficult
to amend, they are described as rigid. The Indian
Constitution combines both these characteristics.
The makers of the Constitution were aware of the fact
that there may be some faults or mistakes in the
Constitution; they knew that the Constitution could not
be totally free of errors. Whenever such mistakes would
come to light, they wanted the Constitution to be easily
amended and to be able to get rid of these mistakes. Then
there were some provisions in the Constitution that were
of temporary nature and it was decided that these could
be altered later on once the new Parliament was elected.
But at the same time, the Constitution was framing a
federal polity and therefore, the rights and powers of the
States could not be changed without the consent of the
States. Some other features were so central to the spirit of
the Constitution that the Constitution makers were
anxious to protect these from change. These provisions
had to be made rigid. These considerations led to different
ways of amending the Constitution.
I don’t understand how a
constitution can be flexible or
rigid. Isn’t it the politics of that
period which makes the
constitution rigid or flexible?
How to amend the
Constitution
Similar to ordinary
law: simple majority
in Parliament: as
mentioned in some
articles
Special majority in
Parliament in both
Houses separately:
as per article 368
Special majority
+
Legislatures of half
the states: article
368
2015-16(20/01/2015)
Read More
Offer running on EduRev: Apply code STAYHOME200 to get INR 200 off on our premium plan EduRev Infinity!

Complete Syllabus of Humanities/Arts

Dynamic Test

Content Category

Related Searches

ppt

,

Extra Questions

,

Free

,

Summary

,

NCERT Textbook - Constitution as a Living Document Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

,

Important questions

,

NCERT Textbook - Constitution as a Living Document Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

,

MCQs

,

Previous Year Questions with Solutions

,

Exam

,

practice quizzes

,

past year papers

,

study material

,

NCERT Textbook - Constitution as a Living Document Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

,

mock tests for examination

,

video lectures

,

Sample Paper

,

pdf

,

Objective type Questions

,

shortcuts and tricks

,

Semester Notes

,

Viva Questions

;