Constitutional Identity, Gary Jeffrey Jacobsohn, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. London, England, 2010. Pages XVII + 1 – 368. Price Not Stated

Constitutional Identity, Gary Jeffrey Jacobsohn, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. London, England, 2010. Pages XVII + 1 – 368. Price Not Stated

Volume 6 Issue 2 ()

Admitting that “identity can be a complicated matter”, Amartya Sen tells us: “The illusion of destiny, particularly about some singular identity or other (and their alleged implications), nurtures violence in the world through omissions as well as commissions.” Directly relevant to the core theme of the book under review is his further remark:“In fact, a major source of potential conflict in the contemporary world is the presumption that people can be uniquely categorized based on religion or culture”. If that is true then one wonders whether search for identity is something worth pursuing. But sustaining the most outstanding, if not unique, characteristic of the Indian Constitution that its basic structure is beyond amendment, the Supreme Court has concluded that “the Constitution is a precious heritage; therefore you cannot destroy its identity”. Maybe while Sen is justified in his statement about human beings, the Supreme Court is justified in its treatment of the Constitution. In that case Gary Jeffrey Jacobsohn is also justified in investigating constitutional identity and titling his book as such. He has additional justification for his investigation and publication of the book in the fact that while the two constitutions or their provisions may look alike, they may receive different interpretation and application in different countries. Quite often the courts and lawmakers are faced with the question whether and to what extent they could rely on foreign precedents and practices in the application of their constitution. While a prima facie attraction exists for learning from the experiences of others, it is strongly pleaded that the constitution is an expression of aspirations and future vision of a particular society which may and does widely differ from society to society in view of its extant circumstances, history and culture. Therefore, the judges, jurists and policy makers continue to debate on the extent of reliance on precedents set in one country by another country.5 For that reason the difference between the constitutions of different countries becomes relevant. Moreover, as quoted above, the identity of a constitution has also become relevant for the purpose of amendment to the constitution…

Cite as: Prof. MP Singh, Constitutional Identity, Gary Jeffrey Jacobsohn, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. London, England, 2010. Pages XVII + 1 – 368. Price Not Stated, 6 NUJS L. Rev. 351 (2013)