Generally the following are the classifications of the constitutions:
(1) Evolved and Enacted;
(2) Legal and Real;
(3) Written and Unwritten;
(4) Flexible and Rigid;
Now we discuss these constitutions one by one:-
(1) Evolved and Enacted Constitution:
Many writers are of the view that there are two types of Constitutions-evolved and enacted. An evolved constitution is the result of the historical development. It is not framed at a particular time. For example, the British Constitution has neither been enacted by any special Constituent Assembly at a particular time nor has the Monarch given it to the people. Constitutionally, England is still an absolute kingship, but in practice her position is different.
In practice all the powers are in the hands of the Cabinet and the Monarch has only nominal powers. This is the result of the centuries’ long struggle of the British people against their Monarchs. For example, till Tudor period, the British Monarchs were quite absolute.
The Stuart Kings wanted to become more powerful and thus, a civil war broke out during their regime which resulted in the success of the British Parliament. The Stuart King Charles I was awarded death penalty. When again James II tried to enhance his powers arbitrarily, the Glorious Revolution took place against him in 1688. After-words when William and Mary became the rulers, they had to sign the Bill of Rights. During the period of George I and II, the Cabinet system developed in England.
When George III tried to establish his self-rule, he could not succeed. During the regime of Queen Victoria, Constitutional or Limited Monarchy was established in England. Since the rule of Queen Victoria, till today, the British Constitution has developed very much and the conventions have contributed a let to its development.
Enacted constitutions are framed at a particular time, like the American Constitution which was framed by a Constituent Assembly after the declaration of Independence. In France, the first constitution was framed in 1830, the second in 1848, the third in 1871, the fourth in 1946 and the fifth in 1958. After Second World War, new Constitution of India was completed on November 26, 1949 and it was introduced on January 26, 1950.
(2) Legal and Real Constitution:
Sometimes the constitutions are classified in this way also. The written elements of the constitution constitute legal constitution and when the conventions and decisions of the courts are added to it, it becomes the real constitution. For example, the Constitution of America can be read in a few hours, but one cannot get real and complete information about the constitution in this way.
Real knowledge can only be acquired when besides the constitution; we study the decisions of the judges, and also customs and conventions. The Constitution of America was very rigid, but because of conventions and a liberal interpretation of the constitution by the judges, it has become quite viable.
(3) Written and Unwritten Constitution:
According to Dr. Garner, the difference between the evolved and enacted constitution is similar to that of written and unwritten constitution. An unwritten constitution is one whose major portion is not written. Mostly it includes customs and the decisions of the courts. Such type of constitutions is not framed by any Constituent Assembly.
Thus the constitution is not enacted but it is evolved”. Written constitution is one whose basic principles are written. According to Dr. Gamer, “A written constitution is generally an instrument of special sanctity distinct in character from all other laws, proceeding from the different sources, having a higher legal authority and alterable by a different procedure”.
Sometimes some written constitutions are issued in the form of charts by the Monarchs in order to suppress the rebellion or to silence the people. For example, in Germany after 1815 several liberal Monarchs issued charters.
In the early part of the nineteenth century, the Portuguese Monarch gave a charter to his people. Besides that, the written constitutions are enacted by a Constituent Assembly. In 1787, the Constitution of America was enacted by the Constituent Assembly.
In India, a new constitution was enacted by the Constituent Assembly. Great Britain is the only country where there is an unwritten constitution. This is the glaring example of an evolved constitution.
The second difference between the written and unwritten constitution generally relates to the ordinary and constitutional laws. In England, the Parliament has the right to amend both the ordinary and constitutional laws but in America, France and India this is not the case, because in these countries there is a special procedure to amend the constitutional laws. Generally an unwritten constitution is flexible, while a written constitution is rigid.
There is no scientific basis for the difference between a written and an unwritten constitution. Though the British Constitution is an unwritten Constitution, yet it includes a large part of laws passed by the Parliament.
In England, many Acts and the Charters like Magna Carta of 1215, Bill of Rights, 1688, Habeas Corpus Act, 1679 and Reform Acts of 1832, 1867 and 1884 and the decisions of the judges have become an integral part of the constitution.