The constitution is a document that lays down the framework demarcating fundamental political code, structure, procedures, powers, and duties of government institutions and sets out fundamental rights, directive principles, and the duties of citizens. The constitutions work as Social Contract between the political class and rest of the citizens in a country as advocated by a trio of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau. The police states were replaced by the welfare states soon after the second world war. The decolonisation process along with the emphasis on Sovereignty gave birth to many new States. The judiciary played a very crucial role in interpreting the constitution and set a limit on the executive powers to amend or modify the basic ideal of the constitution.
However, Haya Tinawi argues that authoritarian rule has a norm in the developing world after independence in the middle east. Nic Cheeseman in his book argues that the colonial-era strengthened the power of “Big Men” – powerful local leaders – over their communities. This undermined pre-existing checks and balances. In this way, the colonial era helped institutionalise repressive forms of government. The unstable authoritarian pathway that so many states followed after the colonial rule was no accident. It was facilitated by the ways in which European empires undermined democratic elements within African societies. Syed Farid Alatas claims that there are three conditions under which democracy can survive in post-colonial states, based on the experience of Malaysia and Indonesia, are (1) the absence of mass resistance against the state, (2) a homogeneous ruling elite, and (3) an internally strong state
In South Asia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were part of British India. Both Pakistan and Bangladesh have experienced military coups after Independence. India, fortunately, continued to maintain democratic character without any military coup after the Independence. However, many still argue that India is becoming an authoritarian state under the Modi government. Asim Ali argues that PM Modi is just like Iran’s Ali Khamenei and faces no political costs for the suffering he causes, while Prabhas Ranjan poses a deep question if India is becoming an elected autocracy? The United States of America under President Donald Trump has experienced several constitutional challenges which many scholars might not have imagined earlier.
The above-mentioned arguments pose several questions; Whether the constitutions are being amended and interpreted to supported authoritarianism? Whether the constitutionalism or basic structure of a constitution can be used as a weapon against the growing trends of authoritarianism and elected autocracy? What role can be played by the trans-migration of constitutional values towards international rule of law? What is the role of constitutional morality in preserving constitutionalism?
In the above background, we invite scholars, academicians, legal professionals, and students to contribute an article on the theme – “Constitutions in 21st Century.” The contributors can take any topic based on contemporary issues of constitutional law.