A flexible constitution is a constitution that may be amended by the ordinary process of legislation and is therefore relatively easy to amend. Flexible constitution is a constitution that is not defined or set apart in a distinct document and that is not distinguishable from other laws in the way in which its terms can be legislatively altered.
Merits of Flexible Constitution
- A flexible constitution can keep pace with time. It can successfully adapt to changes which take place with the passage of time. If there take place changes in environment and condition, necessary changes can be inserted in the constitution through easy amendment.
- A flexible constitution discourages/prevents rebellion and revolution.
- A flexible constitution can deal with any type of emergency.
Demerits of Flexible Constitution
- The ruling party is inclined to frequently amend the constitution in order to fit its narrow interests.
- It may create problems for a federal system. The centre is inclined to grab powers by amending the constitution.
- A flexible constitution may invite political instability. The administration will be weak if the constitution is amended frequently.
- As a flexible constitution is frequently amended, doubts arise about its stability. As a result, its purity and legitimacy suffer erosion.
- As it is easy to amend a flexible constitution, the ruling class may exploit this to deprive the citizens of their fundamental rights and their rights to protest against a bad government.
Too much should not be read into the distinctions between rigid and flexible constitutions. No constitution is fully rigid or fully flexible. The American constitution which is one of the best examples of a rigid constitution has undergone significant changes. It has already been amended 27 times.
Further, periodical judicial interpretations have led to important changes in the meanings of different provisions of the constitution. At the other end, the British constitution which is a good example of flexible constitution has not as frequently changed as one would expect. It has evolved gradually through long process of consultations and deliberations.
What matters is not so much the easy or difficult procedure of amending a constitution as the alertness of people. They should be watchful. They should go for only those changes in the constitution which are very necessary; and should not allow any unnecessary change in it.
In general, the written constitution is better than an unwritten one. Most of the countries of the world have opted for written constitution. The only important exception is Britain in which the administration is mainly based on customs and traditions. The constitution should not be very rigid or very flexible.
Some parts of the constitution of India are rigid and some other parts of it are flexible. There is thus balance in the constitution. The constitution of a country should be based on its local condition, history and culture. One constitutional blue-print cannot fit all countries.