A constitution, whether rigid or flexible, grows under the influence of (a) usages and customs, (b) judicial interpretation, and (c) formal constitutional amendments.

(a) Usages and Customs:

Usages and customs play an important part in the growth of a constitution. Even in a rigid constitution the development of customs and usages supplements the constitutional laws and helps in the expansion of the constitution by imparting elasticity to it.

The U.S. Constitution which is proclaimed as the most rigid consti­tution of the world is being developed by customs and usages. It is by usages that indirect election of the President has been changed into a direct one. Political parties and the Cabinet have also arisen as a matter of convention.

The fact of the matter is that the American Constitution would have been unworkable without the useful role played by conven­tions and traditions.

(b) Judicial Interpretations:


Judicial decisions have also moulded the character of the constitutions in almost all the countries. The American constitution is said to be a judge made constitution.

The Supreme Court of America has interpreted and re-interpreted the consti­tution and has added flesh and blood to its dry bones. The Constitution was framed in the 18th century, when it was a pastoral-cum agricultural country.

Naturally, the framers of the Constitution could not visualize the needs of the 20th century industrialism. The American Constitution would thus have been unsuitable and unworkable without the new mean­ings given to it by the Supreme Court.

(c) Formal Constitutional Amendments:

A written constitution generally provides for special procedure for its amendments. Amend­ments to the constitution are generally made to make it suitable for the new needs of society. The pace of constitutional amendments depends upon the nature and amount of rigidity of a constitution.


The American Constitution could not allow sufficient room for its amendment because of its extreme rigidity. It is interesting to note that only 23 amendments could be made in this constitution during its working of 185 years.

Numerous amendments to the Soviet Constitution were made during the last 50 years of its working because of its mild rigidity. A number of amendments have been made in the Indian Constitution due to its partially flexible character.

Points to Remember

1. A good constitution should have the following features :


(a) It must be well defined and precise.

(b) It should be sufficiently comprehensive covering the whole range of government functioning.

(c) It should neither be very rigid nor very flexible.

(d) It should embody fundamental rights of the people.


(e) It should represent the social, political and economic needs of the people.

2. Growth of the Constitution:

(a) Usages and customs play an important part in the growth of a constitution. Even most rigid constitu­tions are full of conventions.

(b)Judicial interpretation sometimes mould the nature of the consti­tution.


Formal constitutional amendments also change and modify the nature and spirit of the constitution.