The following are the merits of a flexible constitution:
Merits of Flexible Constitution
(1) It prevents internal revolts and revolutions:
In a flexible constitution the nation is protected against internal revolts and revolutions. For instance, there have been fewer revolts and revolutions in England because of the flexible constitution of that country. The life of the people because of the flexible constitutions of that country.
The life of the people has not been disturbed there quite often, while in France, which is very close to England, monarchy has been abolished and so far five constitutions have been enacted because of revolutions and odd circumstances.
Freeman, while praising the British Constitution, remarks, “The continued national life of the people, notwithstanding foreign conquerors and internal revolutions, has remained unbroken for fourteen hundred years. At no moment has the tie between the present and the past been wholly rent asunder, at no moment have Englishmen sat down to put together a wholly new constitution in obedience to some dazzling theory. Each step in our growth has been the natural consequence of some earlier step, each change in our law and constitution has not the bringing in of any-thing wholly new but the development and improvement of something that was already old”.
Adaptability or elasticity is the chief merit of a flexible constitution. It enables the people to keep pace with changes in society. The British Constitution, for instance, has been able to undergo imperceptible alterations, apart from deliberate amendments in recent years. There has been a tremendous change in the powers of the monarch.
Now absolute monarchy remains in theory in England and in practice the powers of the monarch have become limited. The monarch has only the power to warn, to advice and to encourage his or her ministers and to seek any information from them regarding the administration.
(3) With the maturity of the nation, the constitution alto develops:
A flexible constitution is very useful for a developing country, because it is a great expression of its development. Judge Cooley has rightly said, “Of all the constitutions which may come into existence for the Government of the people, the most excellent is obviously that which is the natural outgrowth of the national life and which have grown and extended as the nation has matured is likely at any particular time to express principles of civil and political liberty”.
Demerits of Flexible Constitution:
The following are the demerits of a flexible constitution:
A flexible constitution is said to be in a state of perpetual flex and it is less stable than a rigid constitution because it can be easily amended. It is liable to fall a prey to the whims and caprices of political demagogues who are moved by passions and emotions rather than by reason.
(2) Instrument in the hands of the Judges:
A flexible constitution becomes a plaything of judicial courts, because they interpret it according to their own will and give it a meaning of their own liking and choice.
(3) Unsuitable for politically backward people:
It is most unsuitable for countries which are not politically advanced. That is why a flexible constitution is not useful for most of the countries of the world and in place of flexible constitution, they have enacted written constitutions. The British Constitution is the only example of a flexible constitution in the world; otherwise almost all other countries of the world have rigid constitutions.
Since the British people are politically advanced, they have been successful in the working of their flexible constitution.
(4) Vague and indefinite:
An important defect of a flexible constitution is that it is vague and indefinite and the politicians give it meanings of their own choice. That is why vague and indefinite constitutions are not suitable for democracies.
In the end we can say that a flexible constitution is not needed in modern times and it can work successfully only under the following conditions:
According to Bryce, “A flexible constitution can work only under three conditions:
(a) The supremacy must remain in the hands of a politically educated and politically upright minority,
(b) The bulk of the people must be continuously and not fitfully interested in and familiar with politics and
(c) Though legally supreme, they must remain content while prescribing certain general principles to let the trained minority manage the details of the business of the Government”.