The major functions of the Constitution: Learn more about the roles and functions of a constitution in any country.
The Constitution plays a major role in a country as it is the basic norm. It is worthy of note that the Constitution is the primary determinant of the things obtainable in a state. The Constitution functions in a way that the system of government, socio-economic, political, cultural and most aspects of human life are determined by the Constitution.
For the citizens to be happy or sad, it depends on the Constitution and the type of Constitution a country adopts. The Constitution has some roles to play in ensuring the happiness of every citizen. This is one of the reasons the Constitution is critical in every society.
Moreso, a lawless society is a chaos society. Any state or country which does not have a law cannot function well. Now, the question is, what “exactly” is the function of the Constitution? The answer is, the Constitution maintains order in a country. It does this by laying down rules and regulations for such a country.
Before we go properly into the roles of the Constitution, it is important to state that the Constitution is supreme. Nobody is above it, especially in a democratic state. However, some forms of government allow top officials to be above the law. Still, it is not so in a democratic society. Since the Constitution is above everyone, it sees everyone as equal and plays its roles similarly.
Major functions or roles of the Constitution
Under this subheading, we shall examine the roles a constitution plays in a country.
Laying down rules and regulations
The Constitution itself, in its definition, is a set of rules and regulations. It tells all the principles acceptable in society. If any citizen goes against its provisions, the Constitution has a way of punishing such citizens.
It is important to state that the Constitution contains offences and the punishment that follows each offence. One cannot be punished outside the dictates of the Constitution.
Anything which the Constitution sees to be right is right. Nobody goes against it. And if anyone does, he will be punished by the law. However, the Constitution is a product of the members of the parliament. It may contain some laws that work hardship to the people since the parliamentarians are humans. In a case like this, the Constitution can be amended or repealed by the parliament.
The fact that it is superior does not mean it cannot be changed. Therefore, any rule or regulation in the Constitution inconsistent with public good will be repealed or amended.
The Constitution provides the form of government in a country
A form of government refers to the type of government in which a country operates. Examples of forms of government are: Federalism, the parliamentarian system, the presidential system, the unitary system of government and so on.
The Constitution defines and adopts the system of government of a country. A country only exists by drafting its Constitution. In other words, it prepares for the type of government to operate. The type of government a country runs defines the efficiency of the country. It also explains the structure of government. For instance, a country that adopts a unitary system of government can have a different government structure from a federal system of government.
Provision for Separation of Power | Roles of the Constitution
The Constitution provides for Separation of power between the arms of government in a country. All the arms work together to achieve good governance, yet they have different roles. None of the arms of government interferes with the duties of another.
The executive arm enforces the law, legislature makes law and the judiciary interprets the law. These are the basic functions of the arms of government. They perform their roles according to the dictates of the Constitution.
Ensuring fundamental human rights of citizens
One of the major functions of the Constitution is to provide and protect the fundamental human rights of its citizens. Some fundamental rights include right to life, freedom of speech, freedom of movement, an so on.
The Constitution protects their jealousy through the judicial arm. It does this by ensuring that no one unlawfully deprives another of his rights. However, human rights have limitations.
When a person feels he has been deprived of his rights, he can approach the court (judiciary) to grant him justice.
It is important to add that one’s rights could be taken away lawfully when the law supports it. The Constitution states that when a person takes the life a person, his own life will also be taken. By this, the state can take away to right to life of a murderer.
It directs the states in making legislation | Roles of the Constitution
Laws are not made blindly. It has its own special procedures of making it. The Constitution directs the law-making body on how to pass a bill till it becomes law.
In Nigeria, before the parliament makes a law, it passes through some stages. For instance, in Nigeria, the parliament passes bills through the following stages first reading > second reading > committee stage > report stage > third reading > Assent. If the parliament skips any if these stages, such law will not be accepted because they didn’t follow the Constitutional procedure.
Attachment of punishment to offences
Just like I said above, the Constitution provides offenses and punishments. No one has the right to punish a person outside the dictates of the Constitution. The Constitution understands the nature of man and how wicked he could be even to a fellow human. For such reason, it decides to spell out the offences and the appropriate punishment following each.
It provides the system of administration
It is one of the functions of the Constitution to show a country how their government will be. The essence of this is to ensure efficiency.
Let’s take an instance here. The Constitution of Nigeria provides for the different roles of the arms of government. It also provides for periodic elections. The general election of Nigeria holds every fours years according to the Constitution. It also stipulates the mode of swearing in the newly elected officials into their various offices. It also states the functions of the administrative bodies.
The Constitution upholds the sovereignty of the country
The Constitution of a country shows that a country is able enough to run its affairs and anyone within the country is bound by such Constitution except the ambassadors from other countries.
Conclusion – The functions of the Constitution
If the Constitution is there, but the administration is poor, then the Constitution won’t function effectively. If the Constitution is not there at all, things will be in their worst state. Therefore, both efficient administration and Constitution are needed for good governance.
Finally, the lawmakers operate under the dictates of the Constitution even after making it. They can also repeal or amend the same Constitution. However, it has to follow some procedures before making changes.