Constitutional Interpretation

Constitution is a fundamental national code of our country. It has an unified aspect both at regional and national law. It has language of its own. It has to be read as whole. It is not standard document. It has historical and cultural evolution. It is a symbol of national unity. It is not devoid of political influence and it is not a book of pure legal norms. It has the characteristics of common law and some features of civil law. There is certain degree of rigidity. It cannot be amended easily the basic structure, national emergency. It lays down some standard in three areas – social, moral and legal standards. Interpreting constitution is interpreting dream.


In Marbury Vs. Madison (1803), American case, the question of interpreting constitution was raised by judiciary not by the legislature. In this case six assumptions were laid down as roadmap. They are-

  1. Constitution is set of rules and it is law.
  2. The rules laid down in it are supreme.
  3. The rules laid down in the legislature is inferior to rule laid down in constitution.
  4. In case of conflict, inferior rules should make way for superior rule.
  5. Judges must determine what rules to apply for interpreting constitution.
  6. The standard of assessing the constitutionality of the constitution itself not the what the judges would constitute to be.

There are six modes of constitutional interpretation-

1. Original intent (original history).
2. Textualism (literalism or plain word approach).
3. Logical (mathematical).
4. Prudentialism (doctrinal).
5. Precedent.
6. Structuralism

There are some technique used to interpret constitution-

1. Analytical reasoning.
2. Scientific or jurimetrics.
3. Legal realism.
4. Medical.
5. Marxist.
6. Post- Marxist.
7. Sociological.
8. Feminist.
9. Critical legal studies.
10. Sub-alternate approach.

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Post Contributed By:

Laxmi Khawas,
IILS, Dagapur



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