Extra Constitutional Devices


Mechanisms, acts, or practices that take place outside of a constitution’s formal structure are referred to as extra-constitutional devices. Although a country’s constitution is its fundamental set of laws, extra-constitutional means are frequently used to advance certain political, social, or economic goals. These tools can come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including executive orders, emergency powers, unofficial gatherings, and open demonstrations. The goal of this essay is to offer a thorough analysis of extra-constitutional tools, their historical context, their influence on governance, and the moral issues raised by their usage.

Historical Setting

Extra-constitutional devices are a concept with roots in political theory and governmental history. Throughout history, at times of crisis or when confronted with strict constitutional restrictions, leaders and society have frequently turned to such devices. Roman Republic is one well-known historical instance, where the Senate would install dictators with extraordinary powers in times of need, circumventing regular constitutional procedures. The development of extra-constitutional tools is best illustrated in more recent history by the presidents of the United States, starting with George Washington, who used executive orders.

Extra-Constitutional Device Types

  1. Administrative Orders: A head of state can issue orders that are legally binding through executive orders without the necessity for parliamentary consent. They can be used to avoid the legislative process, potentially consolidating power in the executive branch, even though they are a frequent part of many democratic regimes.
  2. Powers in an Emergency: Governments have the right to use emergency powers to enact extraordinary actions in times of need. Curfews, censorship, and the suspension of civil liberties are only a few examples of these authorities. They are frequently contentious because they have the potential to erode democratic values and the rule of law.
  3. Plebiscites and Referenda: These are straightforward democratic processes for asking the public to approve of certain problems or policies. Although they can be useful tools for decision-making, leaders can also use them to seize control or deflect attention from more pressing issues.
  4. Informal etiquette: Unwritten customs and norms that regulate political behavior are known as informal conventions. They can be used to fill up any gaps in the formal constitutional requirements, but they can also cause confusion and disagreements.
  5. Civil disobedience and public demonstrations: These are examples of extra-constitutional actions that people use to express their complaints and have an impact on government policies. They can cause unrest and violence even if they are crucial tools for political expression.

Influence on Governance

  1. Adaptability and Flexibility: Extra-constitutional devices can provide flexibility in government, allowing leaders to adjust to quickly changing conditions. For instance, executive orders can speed up decision-making in emergency situations.
  2. Checks and balances are being lost: However, the use of these tools may weaken the checks and balances and the division of powers. For instance, a heavy dependence on executive orders may diminish the function of the legislative branch.
  3. Democratic Regression: In some instances, leaders may use extraconstitutional means of securing their hold on authority, which could result in democratic backsliding and the deterioration of democratic institutions.
  4. Popular Involvement: Public demonstrations and referendums can increase citizen participation in politics, but they must be carefully controlled to prevent tampering or anarchy.
  1. Accountability and Legitimacy: Extra-constitutional methods cast doubt on the reliability of governmental decisions and the responsibility of officials. In order to keep the public’s trust, leaders must defend their employment of such tactics.
  2. Act of Balancing: The necessity for flexibility in administration and the defense of constitutional ideals must be balanced carefully. Leaders must carefully strike this balance.
  3. Honesty & Transparency: Extra-constitutional device use should be open, equitable, and scrutinized by the general public. This prevents their exploitation for partisan or personal advantage.
  4. Individual Rights: It is crucial to defend the liberties and rights of citizens. For instance, it is best to only deploy emergency powers under very specific conditions in order to avoid abuse.

A case study

  1. American States: The use of executive orders by U.S. presidents, such as the New Deal initiatives of Franklin D. Roosevelt and current revisions to immigration law, shows the function of executive authority in influencing policy outside of the legislative process.
  2. Turkey: Turkey’s transition to a presidential system and President Erdogan’s use of emergency powers and referendums serve as an example of how extra-constitutional tools can be used to strengthen political institutions and undermine democratic ones.
  3. India: A presidential order suspending Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir is an example of how important constitutional changes can be made without the approval of the affected regions.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here