Article

Constitutional Interpretation

Chintan Chandrachud

in The Oxford Handbook of the Indian Constitution

Published in print March 2016 | ISBN: 9780198704898
Published online February 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780191774034 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/law/9780198704898.003.0005

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Law

Constitutional Interpretation

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This chapter examines the question of interpretation with regard to the Indian Constitution. It begins with an overview of two meta-judgments underlying constitutional interpretation, the first of which relates to the legitimate source of the Constitution’s authority and the second to the tools and techniques that can be relied upon in order to expound constitutional meaning. It then considers the three historical phases of the Indian Supreme Court’s interpretive philosophy: textualism, structuralism and ethicalism, and panchayati eclecticism. It also explains how the Court started deciding cases based on self-conceptions of its own role, resulting in the adoption of various interpretive approaches that are not only incongruent, but also often producing incoherent constitutional jurisprudence.

Keywords: authority; constitutional interpretation; constitutional jurisprudence; ethicalism; Indian Constitution; Indian Supreme Court; panchayati eclecticism; structuralism; textualism

Article.  11551 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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