This article is written by Sambit Rath, a B.A. LL.B. student of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow. In this article, the author aims to go through the history of the 7th Amendment of Indian Constitution and its implications.

It has been published by Rachit Garg.

Introduction 

In 1895, a movement for the establishment of a separate state based on the language of its people was initiated. It was a first-of-its-kind linguistic movement. India has been a country with very diverse and rich cultures that have found their place here through the years. Naturally, with diversity comes differentiation, and India is no exception. Wars and battles throughout India’s history have been proof of this fact. Thus, it was not a surprise when people belonging to a modern-day state from eastern India raised demands for a separate state based on their mother tongue. The state we are talking about is modern-day Odisha. 

It started from one part of the country and soon every other linguistic majority wanted its own state. To meet the requirements of people from all over India, the Parliament enacted the States Reorganisation Act, 1956. But the proposed changes could not be made by merely enacting a law. A constitutional amendment was needed to fulfil this goal and in the same year, the Constitution (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956 was enacted. Along with the goal of bifurcating states on a linguistic basis, several other articles of the Constitution were to be amended.

History

Lokmanya Tilak was the first proponent of the reorganisation of states on a vernacular basis. This was as early as 1891. Up until 1947, there were major historical events that slowly pushed this agenda onto all parts of the country. Back in the 1940s, the present-day states were provinces, yet to be integrated into the Indian Union. After Independence, the provinces were politically integrated into the Union. These included Vindya Pradesh, Mysore, Bhopal, Madhya Bharat, etc. But the fresh wounds of partition made the government rethink the decision of reorganisation. This was mainly because there was fear of an uprising from the linguistically unified states. This could worsen the country’s unity. Reorganising Andhra became a hot topic after Independence. Thus, on June 17, 1948, the Dhar Commission was set up by President Rajendra Prasad to look into the matter of reorganisation of states. But due to disagreement of the masses with the recommendations of the committee, a new one was set up, called the JVP committee.   

Upon the adoption of the Constitution of India in 1950, states were distinguished into four types, Part A, B, C, and D. On October 1, 1953, Andhra became the first state to be reorganised on a linguistic basis. As soon as this happened, protests from all over the country took place, with linguistic groups demanding separate states. Viewing this, the Government of India set up the State Reorganisation Commission which was headed by Fazl Ali. It recommended the reorganisation of states on the basis of language. The Government accepted the recommendations with some minor tweaks and enacted the States Reorganisation Act, 1956, and the 7th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1956. Through these, the distinction between Part-A and Part-B states was removed and Part-C and Part-D states were abolished. On November 1, 1956, 14 states and 6 union territories were created after merging a few states.

States Reorganisation Act, 1956

The States Reorganisation Act, 1956 brought major reforms to the organisation of states in India. Several changes were introduced by the Act that led to the formation of most of the modern-day states. Even after these changes, various other states were reorganised in the following years and as of today there exist 28 states and 8 Union territories. 

Previous classification of states

Before we see what changes were introduced, let’s look at what exactly was being changed. As we saw earlier, states were classified into 4 types:

Part-A states 

  • These were the former governors’ provinces when India was under British rule. 
  • An elected governor used to rule the province along with a State Legislature.
  • These states included Bombay, Madras, Assam, Bihar,  Madhya Pradesh (earlier Central Provinces and Berar), Punjab (earlier East Punjab), Uttar Pradesh (the earlier United Provinces), Orissa, and West Bengal.

Part-B states  

  • These were the former Princely states or groups of princely states.
  • A Rajpramukh (ruler of a Constituent State and an elected legislature) used to govern the State. Just like the governors, a Rajpramukh was appointed by the President of India.
  • These states included Patiala and East Punjab States Union (PEPSU), Hyderabad, Jammu and Kashmir, and Travancore-Cochin, Madhya Bharat, Mysore, Rajasthan, and Saurashtra.

Part-C states  

  • These were provinces governed by former chief commissioners and some Princely states.
  • The President of India appointed the chief commissioner.
  • These states included Ajmer, Bhopal, Bilaspur, Coorg, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Cutch, Manipur, Tripura, and Vindhya Pradesh.

Part-D states  

  • This state was governed by a lieutenant governor.
  • The lieutenant governor was appointed by the central government.
  • It consisted of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. 

This Act and the 7th Amendment came into effect to restructure the organisation of states. It proposed the reorganisation of states by first abolishing the distinction of states into Parts. Part A and Part B states were replaced with just “states”. Union territories replaced Part C and Part D states. The Act implemented the recommendations of the States Reorganisation Commission which included the addition of Laccadive, Minicoy and Amindivi Islands, Himachal Pradesh and Tripura as Union Territories. A total of 14 states were added. These were Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Bombay, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Madras, Mysore, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal. 

Kerala was formed by merging the Travancore – Cochin State with the Malabar District of Madras and Kasargod of South Canara (was a district of the Madras Presidency of British India). Saurashtra and Kutch states were merged into Bombay, and Coorg was added into Mysore state. Ajmer state was merged into that of Rajasthan. Telugu-speaking areas of Hyderabad state were merged with the Andhra state to create Andhra Pradesh. Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh and Bhopal were merged to form Madhya Pradesh.

7th Amendment of Indian Constitution

The Constitutional (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956 was enacted to make way for the States Reorganisation Act 1956. The application of the Act’s provisions required changes to be made to various articles of the Indian Constitution. It modified the articles in the First Schedule to lay down new boundaries for different states. It also modified the Fourth Schedule by which the seats in the Council of States are allocated to the existing states. Earlier, seats were allocated according to the population of each state of Part-A and Part-B based on the formula, one seat per million for the first five million, and one seat for every additional two million or part thereof exceeding one million. 

Along with this, it also brought about changes to other provisions that needed changes in order to work efficiently. It brought changes to articles related to the governor’s powers and the Legislative Councils. So its main purpose was the reorganisation of states and the other ancillary modifications were done to facilitate proper governance of these new states. 

Articles amended in the 7th Amendment of Indian Constitution

Article 1 of Indian Constitution

The modifications made to Article 1 included the scrapping of the division of states based on Parts. states and provinces were reorganised into states and Union Territories. Part A and Part B states were replaced with just “states”. Union territories replaced Part C and Part D states. 14 states and 5 Union Territories were added.

Article 153 of Indian Constitution

Initially, when the Constitution came into effect, Article 153 provided for the appointment of a governor for each state. The original version of the article stated, “There shall be a Governor for each state.” 

A governor is meant to be the Constitutional head of the state and is bound by the advice of the Council of Ministers much like the President. The governor of a state is to the state government what the President is to the central government. So both their roles and powers are of the same nature. Along with that, the governor forms a link between the Union and the State Government. 

The appointment of a governor for each state became an issue of inefficiency. It was found that a governor could take charge of 2 or more states which would eliminate the requirement of appointing a governor for every state and territory. What was more logical was to allot more than one state to a governor in order to improve administrative efficiency. Due to the provision of the article, the President could not go ahead with it. Hence, an amendment was necessary and by the 7th Constitutional Amendment, Article 153 was modified to allow the allotment of more than one state to a governor wherever necessary. It added, “provided that nothing in this article shall prevent the appointment of the same person as Governor for two or more states.” Thus, the President could now allot more than one state to a Governor”.  

Article 168(1)(a) of Indian Constitution

The said provision provides for bicameral legislatures for certain states. It was amended to add a bicameral legislature for the newly formed Madhya Pradesh and to insert the word “Mysore” after the word “Madras”.

Article 171 of Indian Constitution

This article deals with the maximum strength of the legislative council of the state. Earlier, the upper cap of seats in legislative councils was one-fourth of the legislative assembly’s total strength. The problem with this arrangement was that only large states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar could benefit from the formula as it is adequate. But the same was not true for smaller states. 

Therefore, this formula needed to be modified in order to create a balance in every legislative council. Based on the proposal, the maximum strength was changed to one-third which is equal to 33% of the total strength of the legislative assembly.

Article 216 of Indian Constitution

This article allows the President to appoint as many judges as he may to a High Court when necessary and also fix the maximum number of judges for each High Court. Since the maximum number can be changed anytime, it was seen to be impractical and was thus omitted. 

Article 217(1) of Indian Constitution

Clause (1) of Article 217 was amended to add the words “in the case of an additional or acting Judge, as provided in Article 224, and in any other case” to the existing words of the provision “shall hold office until he attains the age of sixty years” 

Article 222 of Indian Constitution

This article was amended to remove the words “within the territory of India” in clause (1) and to omit clause (2) of the article entirely. It deals with the power of the President to transfer judges from one High Court to another. Clause (2) was removed because there was no need to provide an allowance in case of transfer. 

Article 230 and Article 231 of Indian Constitution

These articles deal with the establishment of High Courts in states. Earlier, only one High Court could be established in one state. After these articles were revised, a common High court could be set up for two or more states. Jurisdiction of a High Court could be extended to a Union territory, wherever necessary.

Articles newly inserted in the 7th Amendment of Indian Constitution

Article 258A of Indian Constitution

Article 258(1) of the Indian Constitution deals with the power of the President to entrust Union functions to a State Government or its officers. As we have seen above, the governor has powers of similar nature as that of the President. If the President can entrust Union functions to a state government, then the governor should be able to entrust state functions to the central government or its officers. This is necessary in order to ensure the smooth functioning of the administrations and establish cohesion between the Central and State Authorities. Article 258A was inserted to empower the governor of a state to entrust Union functions to the central government or its officers. 

Article 290A of Indian Constitution

This article was added to ensure annual payment to certain Devaswom Funds from the Consolidated Fund of the State of Kerala and the State of Madras for the maintenance of Hindu temples and shrines in the territories transferred to that State.

Articles 350A and 350B of Indian Constitution

These articles were inserted after Article 350. Article 350A provided for adequate facilities at primary level schooling for the provision of instruction in mother-tongue. Article 350B provided for the appointment of a Special Officer for linguistic minorities by the President, whose duty is to safeguard linguistic minorities and report to the President of issues related to the same.

Articles substituted in the 7th Amendment of Indian Constitution

Article 131 of Indian Constitution

The provision under this article was revised due to the disappearance of Part B states. It deals with the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Since the Part B states were altered, the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court required a revision.

Article 220 of Indian Constitution

Earlier, a provision under Article 220 of the Constitution prohibited High Court judges from practising after retirement. After the amendment, retired judges of High Courts practice in the Supreme Court and in High Court other than the one in which they were permanent judges. 

Article 224 of Indian Constitution

The substitute article deals with the appointment of additional and acting judges in case of absence or unavailability of the Chief Justice of a High Court. The President is empowered to appoint such additional or acting judges.

Article 230 and Article 231 of Indian Constitution

These articles deal with the establishment of High Courts in states. Earlier only one High Court could be established in one state. After these articles were revised, a common High court could be set up for two or more states. Jurisdiction of a High Court could be extended to a Union territory, wherever necessary.

Article 239 and Article 240 of Indian Constitution

These articles deal with the administration of Union territories by an administrator appointed by the President and the power of the President to make regulations for Union territories.

Article 298 of Indian Constitution

This substitute article extended the power of the Union and State governments to engage in trade and business activities.

Articles 81 and 82 of Indian Constitution

Clause 2 of Article 81 and Article 82 were proposed to be combined and revised to make provisions for Union Territories. The Parliament would fix a maximum for the total number of representatives assigned to the Union Territories. 

Article 371 of Indian Constitution

Article 371 was substituted with a new article which created a special provision for the states of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab and Bombay where the President could provide for the constitution of regional committees of the Legislative Assembly of a state.

Conclusion

The Constitutional (Seventh Amendment) Act, 1956 brought a slew of changes to the Constitution of India. Most of these changes rectified a lot of errors that were restricting crucial functions of the subjects concerned. The primary goal was to reorganise the states based on language. It is indeed an important aspect when it comes to uniting people. Irrespective of their caste, creed or religion, language is what brings people closer. The separation of states on this basis should not be seen as something unfortunate. This arrangement has in fact reduced tensions among people speaking different languages as they now have a land of their own. India is now truly a Union of States. Thus, it accurately displays India’s unique feature of “Unity in Diversity.”

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Which part of the Indian Constitution was deleted in 1956?

The Constitution initially had 22 parts in total during its formation. Part VII, which dealt with the Part-B states, was deleted by the Constitution (7th Amendment) Act, 1956.

What was the purpose of the Constitution (7th Amendment) Act, 1956?

The Constitution (7th Amendment) Act, 1956 was enacted to implement the changes suggested by the States Reorganisation Act, 1956. The provisions of the Act required Constitutional amendments in order to enable them to become effective.

What other major changes did the Constitution (7th Amendment) Act, 1956 bring?

The Constitution (7th Amendment) Act, 1956 brought major changes to the institution of the judiciary. It enabled retired High Court judges to continue practising in other High Courts or in the Supreme Court. It also enabled a High Court to have jurisdiction extending to more than one state or Union Territory.

Which schedules were part of the 7th Constitutional Amendment?

The 7th Constitutional Amendment inserted Articles 258A, 290A, 298, 350A, 350B, 371, 372A and 378A and amended part 8 and schedules 1, 2, 4 and 7. Schedule 1, which deals with the states and their jurisdiction, was modified completely and Schedule 4 which lays down the allocation of seats in the Council of States, was completely revised. Schedule 7 dealing with the allocation of powers between the Union and states was also revised due to the change in the status of states in Schedule 1.

References 


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