National Law School of India University
Two Day International Conference On
Constitutional Conventions and Practices
8th and 9th January 2018 at International Training Centre, NLSIU
A.V Dicey in his work Law of the Constitution has defined Constitutional Conventions as the “rules for determining the mode in which discretionary powers (prerogative powers) ought to be exercised.” Another working definition given by Hood Philips in his book Constitutional and Administrative Law states that Constitutional Conventions are “rules of political practice which are regarded as binding by those to whom they apply, but which are not laws, as they are not enforced by the Courts or by the Houses of Parliament”. Conventions of the Constitution consist of maxims, practices, customs and precepts which, though they regulate the ordinary conduct of Ministers and other persons under the Constitution, are not considered to be legal in a strict sense. It is a rule of behaviour accepted as obligatory by those concerned in the working of the Constitution (Kenneth Wheare). These rules may be enforced by some other means such as informal sanctions, public opinion etc. and even though these enforcements seem weak in comparison to legal enforcements, they have for a long while been a basic feature of our political institutions and the sanction behind them is more moral and political in nature.
Constitutional conventions like customs and practices together with statutes constitute the Law of the land. If one thoroughly wants to understand the legal framework of the land by looking only at Statute law, ignoring Conventions, such a study will be incomplete and inaccurate. Constitutional Conventions ensure that the Constitution maintains a certain amount of flexibility and operates in tune with the prevailing times. Conventions, more often than naught serve as the means through which Constitutional developments can be brought forth without initiating any formal amendments to the law. It would be difficult to find a system of government that does not have Conventions regardless of whether it has a written or unwritten Constitution. This is because it is impossible for any written document to answer every normative question that crops up with every issue.
The Constitution of India is one such example of a written Constitution, which despite being extremely comprehensive still has many grey areas, which Conventions fill. In fact, many of the mandatory provisions of our Constitution are Conventions of the British Constitution. Dr BR Ambedkar had consistently emphasised on the fact that we had chosen the British Model of Government and called for adherence to Westminster system. Ivor Jennings stated that “the machinery of Government in India is essentially British and the whole collection of British Conventions has apparently been incorporated as Conventions”. The Conventions of the Constitution that set the norms for behaviour for those in power and which regulates the working of the different parts of the Constitution are crucial, if not more important than the written words of the Constitution itself. Taking the example of India, under the Constitution, the President is empowered to appoint the Prime Minister. But no guidance is provided in the written words of the Constitution as to who should be appointed as Prime Minister. In such an instance the Conventions regarding the appointment of the Prime Minister play an imperative role in guiding the President.
Another interesting aspect of Constitutional Conventions is its relation to Constitutionalism. Constitutionalism in simple terms can be referred to the idea that the powers of the Government should be legally limited and that its legitimacy is dependent on that limitation. These ideas were propounded by many jurists and scholars like John Locke, David Fellman etc. The theories and ideas relating to Constitutionalism propose that such limitations should be entrenched in the Constitution and form a body of fundamental law. The clash with Constitutional Conventions comes due to many scholars claiming that such limitations should not just be entrenched but also enshrined in written words in the Constitution. It was Dicey, who by giving the example of the British Constitution stated that the Constitutional System had various Constitutional conventions that limit the Government effectively. But the question that remains is whether legal limitations in the form of written text prove to be more efficient in limiting Government power or whether the flexibility of the Constitution and its conventions are better in the long run to ensure governmental limitation. Another aspect in relation to Constitutionalism is the argument that, even if such limitations are inscribed in the Constitution and a comprehensive written constitution exists, it is not necessary that Constitutionalism is truly followed in spirit in such instances.
Not enough attention has been paid to the evolution, adherence and the proper application of Constitutional Conventions. Lately, many instances have been noticed, where codes and conventions which were being observed for a long period of time have being broken easily. Such an approach is resulting in the recourse to extra constitutional methods for resolving issues, which is a complete subversion of the intention of the Constitutional makers, who left certain aspects of the document uncodified so that the Constitution stayed flexible and open to adapt to the future times.
The Conference will invite presentations and papers on the following themes:
- Constitutional Conventions in the exercise of Legislative Functions
- Constitutional Conventions in the exercise of Judicial Functions
- Constitutional Conventions in the exercise of Executive Functions
- Constitutional Conventions in the exercise of President’s Authority
- Constitutional Conventions in the exercise of the PMO’s Functions
- Constitutionalism and Constitutional Conventions
- Others; For Example, Constitutional Conventions in the Office of Profit / Conflict of Interest Principles
- Abstract Submission: December 10th , 2017
- Communication for Acceptance of Abstract: December 15th, 2017
- Submission of Draft Full Length Papers: January 5th, 2018
- Last Date for Registration: 20th December, 2017
- Date of Conference: 8th and 9th January, 2018
Submissions – Details and Guidelines:
Abstracts of not more than 500 words, for original researched papers on the above mentioned themes are invited. Authors of shortlisted abstracts shall be required to send their full length papers. Authors of accepted papers shall have the privilege of presenting their paper at this conference. Papers of outstanding quality shall be published. There can be maximum only one Co-author.
The full length research papers in case of short articles should be 3500 – 5000 words (inclusive of foot notes), and around 8000 words (inclusive of foot notes) in case of long articles. Potential contributors are required to adhere to a uniform mode of citation (20th edition of The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation is recommended). Abstracts and papers should be submitted as Word documents, with a covering letter containing the name and designation of the author(s), and should be emailed to the email addresses listed below.
- Conference Registration : Rs.3000/- per author / per participant [Non Residential]
- Last Date for Registration : 20th December, 2017
Participants may register either as paper presenters or as delegates (participants).
Presenters/Delegates must make their own arrangements for accommodation with breakfast and dinner and the organizers are not responsible for the same.
Registration fee covers the following: Admission to all academic sessions, Conference material, Tea/Coffee and lunch during the designated breaks for the duration of the conference.
Registration fees may be paid by DD drawn in favour of National Law School of India University and sent along with the Registration Form attached herewith or through NEFT transfer, as per the bank details given. Once the NEFT is done the participant/s must send the BANK TRANSACTION ID to email@example.com.
Invited Professors will be provided with accommodation at our cost.
- Submission of Abstracts and Full Papers: Ms. Architha Narayanan, Teaching Associate, NLSIU firstname.lastname@example.org , +91 9980157385
- For clarifications on Conference: Ms. Raagya Zadu, Teaching Associate, NLSIU email@example.com, +91 8392816954
- For Registration and Payment of Fees: Ms. Baba R S, Secretary, NLSIU firstname.lastname@example.org, +91 9880525646