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21-october-2023

1.  Constitution is a mere skeleton whereas constitutionalism is the soul of democracy. Discuss.

ANSWER:

  • According to Lord Bryce, the Constitution is a mere skeleton of various laws and rules in the form of a written code. However, the working of the Constitution is ensured through the process of Constitutionalism. It is the doctrine through which all powers of the organs of the State are restrained by the Constitution and they must act within the defined boundaries of the Constitution. Constitutionalism is the supremacy of the Constitution.

CONSTITUTION AS A SKELETON OF DEMOCRACY

  • Constitution is a document that provided certain basic elements necessary for functioning of the democracy. It contains essential elements like the form and structure of the government, aspects related to separation and division of powers, the process of governance, and the rights and duties of the citizens.

CONSTITUTIONALISM IS THE SOUL OF DEMOCRACY

  1. Limitation on arbitrary powers of the government: The basic principle of Constitutionalism is the limitation of powers of the Government and restraint on arbitrary powers of the Government. This doctrine is reflected in various Articles of the Constitution such as Articles 14, 15, 16, 25, 32, 226, etc.
  2. Basic Structure Doctrine: The evolution of the basic structure of the Constitution is a testament to the adherence of the principle of Constitutionalism. The Constitution is the structure while the basic structure is the soul of such structure.
  3. Stability of Governance: Since there is protection against arbitrariness and well-defined rules, there is assurance

of stability of governance. There are fewer chances of revolts against the States and there is almost no chance of anarchy.

  1. Aspirations of Citizens: The Doctrine of Constitutionalism ensures that the diverse aspirations of the citizens are catered to. It works as a light to the Government to ensure that governance is done according to the principles enshrined in the Constitutions.
  2. Protects Rights of the Citizens: Constitutionalism requires the Government to act in a manner that the fundamental rights of the citizens are protected. For e.g., Fundamental Rights cannot be abridged by the Executive or the Legislature.
  3. Supremacy of the Constitution: Constitutionalism ensures that the supremacy of the Constitution is maintained while giving space for necessary amendments according to the changing dynamics of society.
  4. Ensures Equality, Justice, and Fairness: Constitutionalism ensures fairness in governance, and inclusivity to the underprivileged and hitherto ignored sections of society. For e.g., the reservation principles ensure that there is equal ground for opportunities for all sections of society.

In I.R. Coelho’s Case, the Supreme Court stated that the principle of constitutionalism requires control over the exercise of Governmental power to ensure that it does not destroy the democratic principles upon which it is based. However, the Constitution is not just the mere skeleton but the fundamental bedrock for adherence to the principles of Constitutionalism

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