The term constitution comes through French from the Latin word constitution, used for regulations and orders, such as the imperial enactments. A Constitution is a living document. It is a document that indicates the way in which a country is governed. A Constitution has three distinct but inter-related components to it.

  • Set of Rules:

It is a set of rules that sets out the structure, functions, powers, rights and duties of the three branches of the Government-the Legislature, the Executive and the Judiciary. It tries to ensure that each branch acts within the jurisdiction laid down for it by the Constitution. This is done by providing the other two branches adequate powers to check the third branch if it exceeds its jurisdiction.

Modelled after the Westminster system for governing the state, the Union government is mainly composed of the executive, the legislature, and the judiciary, in which all powers are vested by the constitution in the prime minister, parliament and the supreme court. The legislature makes laws, the executive enforces them and the judiciary applies them to the specific cases arising out of the breach of law.

  • Set of Rights:

It lists the rights of the citizens, the means for the protection of these rights, and the duties of the citizens. It ensures that all individuals and groups are given certain rights which will enable them to live freely and with dignity and self-respect. These rights are not unlimited. They are subject to certain limitations.

The Constitution of India also provides ways by which individuals and groups can protect their rights. Generally, the responsibility of protecting the rights of groups and individuals is entrusted with the Judiciary. Thus, these two components form the framework which governs the mutual relationship between the Government, the Society and the Individual.

  • Set of Objectives and Values:

The Constitution states the objectives and values that a given Constitution seeks to follow and fulfil. The third component tells us why a given Constitution has come into existence in the first place.

The Constitution of India is the longest written constitution of any country in the world, with 146,385 words in its English-language version, while the Constitution of Monaco is the shortest written constitution with 3,814 words. The Constitution of San Marino is the world's oldest active written constitution, having been established in 1600, while the Constitution of the United States is the oldest active codified constitution. Only half of all sovereign state constitutions around the world have functioned continuously for more than 19 years. Therefore, the Constitution of the United States of America, is the oldest existing one in the world.

Most Constitutions in the world are written. Such Constitutions have generally come into existence after long and detailed debates, and have been prepared by specially convened gatherings. Some countries have Constitutions which are unwritten, the best example being the United Kingdom. There are no written rules governing this, but it is assumed that the person, who commands a majority in the House of Commons, will be appointed.

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