Examining the living metaphor in the Indian Constitution

Gangwar, Shivangi and Pagedar, Aishwarya (2022) Examining the living metaphor in the Indian Constitution. Jindal Global Law Review, 13 (2). pp. 347-377. ISSN 2364-4869

[thumbnail of Examining the living metaphor in the Indian Constitution.pdf] Text
Examining the living metaphor in the Indian Constitution.pdf - Published Version

Download (1MB)


One popular understanding of the Indian Constitution is that it is a living document that evolves with time. Even though this metaphor has been used consistently by all three branches of the Indian state, its use in Indian legal texts is underexplored—as of most metaphors generally. In this article, we critically evaluate the application of the living metaphor in Indian constitutional discourse. We first provide an overview of the use of metaphors generally, and especially in the legal field. We then identify the origins and trace the use of the living metaphor by studying select Supreme Court judgments which have likened the Constitution to a living text and analyse the Court’s reasons, if any, for doing so. A comparative analysis of how the Canadian, US, and Australian courts have employed the living metaphor demonstrates how the Indian experience differs in its application of the metaphor. We find that the Supreme Court has used different variants of the living metaphor, primarily to expand the ambit of Part III of the Constitution. However, due to the inconsistent and unreliable use of this metaphor, we find that this has the potential to lead to illiberal results. We thus make a case for the formulation of a doctrine of living constitutionalism which we think will be more resilient to anti-democratic challenges.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Metaphors | Living Constitution | Constitution of India | Supreme Court | Constitutional Interpretation
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Social Sciences > Law and Legal Studies
JGU School/Centre: Jindal Global Law School
Depositing User: Amees Mohammad
Date Deposited: 01 Dec 2022 06:41
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2023 05:09
Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1007/s41020-022-00183-8
URI: https://pure.jgu.edu.in/id/eprint/4906


Downloads per month over past year

Actions (login required)

View Item
View Item