Difference Between Written and Unwritten Constitution

A constitution is a live document, in which necessary amendments are made according to time and society. It is classified as per the political system prevalent in the country. One such classification is written and unwritten constitution.

The constitution which is systematically and rationally written down and embodied in a single document, bearing a specific date or different dates, is said to be written constitution. An unwritten constitution does not mean that no provisions or laws of the constitution will be found in written form, but it means that they are not legally incorporated in a single book, however, they are documented.

Definition of Written Constitution

Written Constitution, is that type of constitution wherein there is a legal and formal book or series of documents bound as a book containing the nature of the constitutional arrangement, the laws governing the entire system and the rights and duties of the citizens and the government.

Written Constitution is perfectly framed, duly passed and enacted after deep analysis and consideration, concerning the situation and conditions of the country. For the purpose of its enactment, a specialized body is assigned, who formulate and adopt the constitution.

The constitution gives a proper design to the government institutions, hierarchies, powers, functions, relationships, supremacy, etc. Further, the government is bound to adhere to the provisions of the constitutions and work accordingly.

A written constitution is preeminent because it is difficult to amend, as compared to ordinary law, as well as in the event of any dispute between the two rules of the constitution prevails. However, amendments can be made to the written constitution as per the definite procedure stated in the constitution itself.

Definition of Unwritten Constitution

Unwritten Constitution leads to a constitution wherein the fundamental laws, legal decisions and rules that govern the nation are not embodied in a single written document systematically.

However, they are defined by customs, usage, precedents, formal and legal enactments and instruments such as certificates, bonds, deeds, contracts, acts, writ, process, will, etc. as manifested in statutes and decisions taken by judiciary. The laws evolve through continuous use and practice, which become a part of the constitution.

In better words, the unwritten constitution is the constitution which is neither drafted nor enacted with a proper procedure by the constituent assembly. And so, it does not mean nothing is written, rather it means that it is not codified in a single legal document or book. Further, there is no specialized body assigned to enact of the constitution.

One can understand the provisions relating to the constitution with the help of reading explanation given by the judiciary, committees or experts. The information about it can be obtained from historical charters, principles, laws etc. The government is systematized and it works as per the well established and predefined rules. Further, all the citizens of the country follow these rules.

Difference Table

Ground Written Constitution Unwritten Constitution
Meaning Written Constitution is the constitution which is codified and compiled in a structured and logical manner. Unwritten Constitution refers to the constitution which is not embodied in a single document.
Nature Properly framed and enacted Evolved
Type Rigid, flexible or both Flexible
Supremacy Constitution is supreme Parliament is supreme
Judiciary Enjoys wide powers. Possesses limited powers.
Powers Unitary, Federal or Quasi Federal Unitary
Prevalent in USA, India, Canada, Sri Lanka, etc. UK, New Zealand, Israel, etc.

Author: Shubham siwach

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