This article has been written by Khyati Basant, pursuing BBA LLB from Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA. This article consists of a depth view of the major amendments that have been done in the Indian Constitution so far.
The Constitution of India is the largest constitution in the world. India’s Constitution is the supreme rule of law. The document sets out the framework for the demarcation of fundamental political code, structure, procedures, powers and responsibilities of government institutions and sets out fundamental rights, guidelines and citizens’ duties. The chairman of the drafting committee, B.R. Ambedkar, is generally regarded as the chief architect. The Constitution declares India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, ensuring justice, equality and freedom for its citizens, and endeavouring to promote brotherhood.
The original Constitution of 1950 is stored in the Parliament House in New Delhi in a helium-filled situation. During the Emergency the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ were added to the preamble in 1976. It was adopted by the Indian Constituent Assembly on 26 November 1949 and took effect on 26 January 1950. Article 368 of the Indian constitution lays that the government can amend the constitution. There are two types of amendment procedure – (i) Rigid and (ii) Flexible. Under the rigid system, it is very difficult for the people to amend the constitution. This is followed by the constitution of the U.S, Canada, Australia. Whereas, the Flexible procedure is where the amendment can be done in the constitution.
The Indian Constitution is both rigid and flexible, i.e. hard to amend but virtually flexible. In compliance with Article 368 of the Indian Constitution, a provision must be made in any of the houses, which must be passed by a large majority or by a simple majority later. If a vote approves the resolution, it will be submitted to the president for his assent. In 70 years of Indian Independence, the constitution has been amended 104 times. Starting with 395 Articles and 8 Schedules, it now stands at more than 450 Articles and 12 Schedules – arising from 104 amendments.
Amendment of Indian Constitution – Article 368
Under Article 368 of the Indian Constitution, the Parliament is empowered to amend it and its procedures. Amendments to the Indian Constitution are not easy to produce and require compliance with other provisions. Article 368 grants Parliament some powers allowing it to amend it while keeping its fundamental form just the same. Article 368 of the Constitution of India cites two types of amendments to the Constitution of India. The form of amendment is by a simple legislative majority (Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha), the second type of amendment is by a special parliamentary majority, and the third type is with the approval of a special majority and by half the total state.
Reason for Amendment Procedure by Article 368
The time is not static, it’s continuing to change. The Constitution needs to be revised. People’s social, cultural, and political situation is starting to shift. If the constitutional changes were not made, we would not be able to encounter the future difficulties and it would become a hurdle in the path of development. There is an explanation of why our founding fathers made the constitution as robust as it is today. It is to ensure the plans are changing with the country’s growth. Therefore, according to Article 368, Parliament’s powers to amend the constitution are unlimited in respect of parts of the constitution which it wishes to amend.
The basic structure of the Indian Constitution
In the Kesavanand Bharati case of 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that the Parliament could not change certain provisions which constitute the basic constitutional framework. Constitutional ideologies which are essential to constitutional survival. Some examples are Free and Fair Election, the nation’s Federal nature, Judicial Review, and Power Separation. It notes that some basic legislative frameworks and founding values constitute the foundation of the Constitution. These cannot be touched by anyone.
Major Amendments in the Constitution
First Amendment, 1951
- The Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951 empowered the State to make special provisions to advance socially and economically backward classes.
- Savings legislation allowing for the purchase of estates, etc.
- Added Ninth Schedule to protect from judicial review the land reforms and other legislation included in it. Articles 31A and 31B were added after Article 31, respectively.
- Three more reasons for restricting freedom of speech and expression have been added: public order, friendly relations with foreign states, and incitement to an offence. It also made the restrictions ‘reasonable’ and, therefore, in nature, justiciable.
- Issues in the cases included freedom of expression, possession of Zamindari estate, State trade monopoly, etc. These laws breach property rights, freedom of speech, and equality before the law.
The Constitution (7th Amendment), 1956
- Second and seventh schedules have been revised.
- The current division of states into four divisions (i.e., Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D states) was repealed and reorganized into 14 states and 6 federal territories.
- Extended high court authority to union territories.
- Provided for two or more States to establish a common high court.
- Provided that additional and acting High Court judges are appointed.
- Implementing the State Reorganization Committee recommendations, and implementing 1956, State Reorganization Act. Linguistic reorganization of States. Class A, B, C, and D discontinued.
The Constitution (9th Amendment Act),1960
- Facilitated the cession to Pakistan of the Berubari Union Indian territories (located in West Bengal) as provided for in the Indo-Pakistan Agreement (1958). Schedule 1 of the constitution was amended.
- Adjustments to Indian territory as a result of an agreement with Pakistan. After this Union referred the matter to SC, which ruled that the Parliament’s right to decrease a state’s area (under Article 3) did not include the cession of Indian territories to a foreign government. Indian territory can therefore, only be ceded to a foreign State by amending the Constitution pursuant to Article 368.
The Constitution (10th Amendment Act), 1961
- Incorporation as a Union Territory of Dadra, Nagar and Haveli, as a consequence of the acquisition from Portugal.
- It amended the Constitution under Article 240.
The Constitution (11th Amendment Act), 1961
- Changed the Vice President ‘s election procedure by providing for an electoral college, rather than a joint parliamentary meeting of the two houses.
- Provided that on the ground of any vacancy in the appropriate electoral college, the election of the President or Vice President can not be challenged.
The Constitution (12th Amendment Act), 1962
- Goa, Daman and Diu were incorporated as Union Territory in the Indian Union.
- It amended the Constitution under Article 240.
The Constitution (13th Amendment Act), 1962
- Formation of Nagaland State, with special protection provided for in Article 371A.
- Article 170 of the constitution was modified.
The Constitution (15th Amendment Act), 1963
- Enabled the High Court to issue writs to any person or authority even outside the jurisdiction of its terrorist if the cause of action arises within its territorial boundaries.
- High court judges increased their retirement age from 60 to 62 years.
- Provided that retired high court judges are appointed as acting judges of the same court.
- Provided the compensatory allowance for the transfer of judges from one High Court to another.
- Allowed the retired High Court judge to act as the Supreme Court’s ad-hoc judge.
- Provided for the age determination procedure of the judges of the Supreme Court and the High Court.
The Constitution (24th Amendment Act),1971
- Affirmed Parliament’s authority, by amending Articles 13 and 368, to change every aspect of the Constitution including constitutional rights.
- Made it compulsory that the President give his approval to a Constitutional Amendment Bill.
- The Twenty-fourth Constitutional Amendment Act was introduced in reaction to the Supreme Court’s Golaknath decision (1967), which ruled that the Parliament has no authority to revoke constitutional freedoms by amending the Constitution.
The Constitution (26th Amendment Act), 1971
- Abolished the privy purses and privileges of the former rulers of princely states.
- Changes were made in Article 366. Added Article 363A and Removed Articles 291 and 362.
The Constitution (31st Amendment Act), 1973
- The seats in Lok Sabha were increased from 525 to 545.
- This was done because of the increase in the population of the country.
The Constitution (36th Amendment Act), 1975
- Sikkim became the 22nd state of India Union.
- The 10th schedule was omitted.
The Constitution (37th Amendment Act), 1975
- Parliament passed it on April 26, 1975, to make way for a Legislative Assembly and a Council of Ministers for Arunachal Pradesh, the north-westernmost Union territory of the country.
The Constitution (39th Amendment Act), 1975
- The Bill was passed on August 7 by the Lok Sabha, and on August 9, 1975, it received presidential assent.
- The Act places in court the election of a person holding the office of Prime Minister or Speaker to Parliament, and the election of President and Vice-President, beyond challenge.
- In the case of the State of Uttar Pradesh v. Raj Narain 1976 (2) SCR 347, Article 329A was struck down by the Supreme Court for breach of the basic structure.
The Constitution (40th Amendment Act), 1976
- The Parliament was allowed to determine from time to time the borders of the territorial waters, the continental shelf, the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and India ‘s maritime zones.
- Included in the 9th Schedule 64 more Central and State laws, mostly concerning land reforms.
The Constitution (42nd Amendment Act), 1976
- In the Preamble, three additional terms (i.e. socialist, secular, and integrity) were included.
- The citizens have added fundamental duties (new part IV A).
- The President was made bound by the cabinet ‘s advice. Except for administrative and other matters tribunals (Added Part XIV A).
- Froze the Lok Sabha seats and the state legislatures on the basis of the 1971 census up to 2001 — Population Management Mechanism. The constitutional amendments were made without judicial review.
- The Supreme Court and high courts had curtailed the power of judicial review and written jurisdiction. Raised Lok Sabha tenure and state legislatures from 5 to 6 years.
- Added three new guidelines, namely equal justice and free legal assistance, employee participation in industry management and environmental protection, forests and wildlife.
- Facilitated declaration of a national emergency within a portion of India’s territories. Extended the one-time period of the law of the President of a State from six months to a year.
- Empowered the Center to deploy its armed forces to deal with a serious law and order situation in any state.
- Shifted five subjects from the state list to the concurrent list, namely education, forests, wildlife and bird protection, weights and measures and the administration of justice, constitution and organization of all courts except the Supreme Court and the high courts.
- The Parliament was empowered to determine the rights and responsibilities of its members and commissions from time to time. Established for the development of the Judicial Service of all India.
The Constitution (43rd Amendment Act), 1978
- This Act repeals the egregious fundamental clauses (42nd Amendment) legislation enacted during the Emergency. It restores civil liberties by deleting Article 31D which gave Parliament powers to curtail even legitimate trade union activity under the guise of anti-national activity prevention legislation.
- The new law, which, in accordance with the Constitution, has been ratified by more than half of the States, also restores legislative powers for the States to provide adequate provision for anti-national activities consistent with the fundamental rights. The Legislation also restored the judiciary to its rightful place.
- The Supreme Court will now have the power to invalidate state laws, a power which the 42nd Amendment Act takes away. The High Courts would now be able to resolve the question of the statutory legitimacy of Central Legislation requiring citizens residing in remote areas to seek timely justice without having to come before the Supreme Court.
The Constitution (44th Amendment Act), 1978
- Replaced the term ‘internal disturbance’ with the term ‘armed rebellion’ concerning the national emergency.
- Has made the President declare a national emergency only on the cabinet ‘s written recommendation.
- Has rendered some constitutional provisions for a national emergency and the law of the Constitution.
- Deleted the right to property from the Fundamental Rights register, and made it a legal right instead.
- Provided that, during a national emergency, the fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 20 and 21 can not be suspended.
- The original term of the Lok Sabha and the state legislatures (i.e., 5 years) was restored.
- Restored the rules in Parliament and state legislatures on quorum.
- Reference to the British House of Commons in the parliamentary privileges provisions were omitted.
- Gave fundamental immunity of the publishing of truthful accounts of legislative trials and state assemblies in a journal.
- The President was allowed to give the cabinet ‘s recommendations back once for reconsideration. The reconsidered opinion, however, is to be binding on the President.
The Constitution (52nd Amendment Act), 1985
- Provided for disqualification on the ground of defection of parliamentary members and state legislatures, and added a new Tenth Schedule containing the details in this regard.
- The Act made defection of another party unlawful after elections. Any member who defects after elections to another party will be disqualified from being a member of parliament or a legislature of the state.
The Constitution (58th Amendment Act), 1987
- Provided for an authoritative text of the Constitution in Hindi language and gave the Hindi version of the Constitution the same legal sanctity.
- This calls for special provisions for reserving seats for Scheduled Tribes in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya states. Upon amending Article 322 the seating change was suspended until 2000 A.D.
The Constitution (61st Amendment Act), 1989
- Reduced the voting age for Lok Sabha and state legislative assembly elections from 21 years to 18 years.
- That was explained by the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi as an expression of the full faith of the government in the country’s youth. The youth are educated and knowledgeable, and therefore, lowering the voting age will provide the nation’s unrepresented youth with an ability to let their emotions out and encourage them to potentially become part of the democratic process.
The Constitution (62nd Amendment Act), 1989
- It called for the extension for another ten years of reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes in Parliament and State Legislatures and reservation for election for the Anglo Indian population.
The Constitution (65th Amendment Act), 1990
- Article 338 of the Constitution has been amended to establish a National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes consisting of a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson and five other members appointed by a warrant under the Chairperson ‘s control and seal.
The Constitution (69th Amendment Act), 1991
- The Act of Parliament was to award Delhi Statehood as the ‘Delhi National Capital Territory’. This also provides for Delhi with a 70 member assembly and a 7 member ministerial council.
The Constitution (71st Amendment Act), 1992
- The amendment enables the inclusion of Nepali, Manipuri, and Konkani into the Constitution’s Eighth Schedule. The number of languages in the Eighth Schedule ascends to 18 with the inclusion of these three languages.
The Constitution (73rd Amendment Act), 1992
- On 22 December 1992, the Parliament passed the Seventy-third Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992, which was notified by the Central Government via the Official Gazette on 20 April 1993, when it was rectified by the legislators of the State and authorised by the President of India. The Panchayati Raj institutions have now become constitutional Legitimacy.
- Since Part VIII of the Constitution, a new section IX was added to the Constitution, with the inclusion of the powers and duties of Panchayati Raj Institutions in Article 243A and the fresh schedule called the Eleventh Schedule. The Act provides for Gram Sabha, a Panchayati Raj three-tier model, reservation of seats for SCs and STs in proportion to their population, and reservation of one-third seats for women.
The Constitution (76th Amendment Act), 1994
- This Amendment Act increases the reservation limit for government employment and admission seats in educational institutions to 69 per cent in Tamil Nadu in favour of socially and educationally deprived classes. Additionally, the Amendment Act was included in the Constitution’s Ninth Schedule to exempt it from the jurisdiction of judicial scrutiny.
The Constitution (77th Amendment Act), 1995
- This amendment has added a new clause (4-a) to Article 16 of the Constitution which empowers the State to make any reservation provisions in favour of SCs and STs in promotions in government jobs where it is of the opinion that they are inadequately represented in state services. This was done to nullify the effect of the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of the Mandal Commission (Indra Sawhney vs. Union of India), in which the Court held that quotas on promotions can not be made.
The Constitution (80th Amendment Act), 2000
- The Constitution (Eightieth Amendment) Act, 2000, introduced an alternate scheme for the distribution of taxes between the Union and the Province, based on the recommendations of the Tenth Finance Committee. Under the current income-sharing arrangement between the Union and the States, 26% of the total revenues of Federal taxes and duties are to be transferred to the States instead of their present portion of income tax, excise duty, special excise duties, and exemptions instead of taxes on rail passenger fares.
The Constitution (81st Amendment Act), 2000
- Under this amendment, the unfulfilled vacancies of one year reserved for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in compliance with the clause of Reservations made pursuant to Article 16 of the Constitution shall be regarded to be a distinct class of vacancies to be filled in every following year or year and these class of vacancies shall not be counted in accordance with the vacancies of the year in which they were filled to decide the limit of a quota of fifty per cent against the existing number of vacancies of that year.
The Constitution (84th Amendment Act), 2001
- The Act revised the terms of Articles 82 and 170(3) of the Constitution to readjust and rationalize the geographical constituencies of the States without altering the number of seats allotted to each State in the House of People and Parliamentary Assemblies of States, including Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Constituencies, on a population-based basis determined in the 1991 census to remove the gap created by unequal population/electoral growth in different constituencies.
The Constitution (86th Amendment Act), 2002
- In order to make the right to free and compulsory education a fundamental right, the Act inserts a new Article, namely Article 21A, which confers the right to free and compulsory education on all children aged between 6 and 14 years. The Law amends the Constitution in Part-III, Part -IV, and Part-IV(A).
- One of the most critical changes, with the aid of government support, the government forced private schools to accept 25 per cent of their class size from socially vulnerable or deprived classes in society by a random allocation process. This move was taken to seek to offer quality education to everyone.
The Constitution (88th Amendment Act), 2003
- Service tax collected and appropriated by the Union and States, levied by the Union. The Act amends Articles 268, 270 and VIIth schedule.
The Constitution (92nd Amendment Act), 2003
- The amendment encourages the inclusion of Bodo, Dogri, Maithili, and Santhali into the constitution’s VIIIth Schedule. The number of languages in the VIIIth Schedule ascends to 22 with the inclusion of these four languages.
The Constitution (95th Amendment Act), 2010
- The amendment aims to expand the quota of seats in the Lok Sabha and States for SCs and STs, legislatures from 60 to 70 years.
The Constitution (96th Amendment Act), 2011
- Replaced Odia for Oriya in Indian Constitution 8th Schedule.
The Constitution (97th Amendment Act), 2012
- Added the words “or cooperative societies” in Article 19(l)(c) after the word “or unions” and the insertion of Article 43B i.e., Promotion of cooperative societies and added Part-IXB i.e., Co-operative societies. The amendment aims to promote cooperative economic activities which in effect support rural India develop. It is required not only to ensure the independent and democratic operation of cooperatives but also to make the management accountable to members and other stakeholders.
The Constitution (99th Amendment Act), 2014
- It called for the setting up of the National Judicial Commission.
The Constitution (100th Amendment Act), 2015
- Exchange of other enclave lands with Bangladesh. Conferring citizenship rights to enclave residents arising from the signing of the Treaty of Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) between India and Bangladesh.
The Constitution (101st Amendment Act), 2016
- Goods and Services Tax (GST) commenced on 8 September 2016 with the enactment and subsequent notices of the 101st Constitution Amendment Act, 2016.
- The constitution incorporated Articles 246A, 269A, and 279A. The amendment allowed amendments to the constitution’s 7th cycle. Union List entry 84 earlier contained duties related to cigarettes, alcoholic liquors, marijuana, Indian hemp, medicines and drugs, medicinal and bathroom arrangements. Petroleum oil, high-speed gasoline, engine spirit (petrol), natural gas, and air turbine power, cigarettes, and cigarettes goods should be listed following the amendment.
- Entry 92 has been removed (newspapers and ads published therein), they are now under GST. Entry 92-C (Service Tax) is now deleted from the list of unions. Entry 52 (entry tax for in-state sale) has now been removed from the State register.
- Entry 54, Taxes on the export or purchasing of products other than newspapers, according to the provisions of Entry 92-A of the List I have now been supplemented by Taxes on the selling of petroleum oil, high-speed gasoline, motor spirit (petroleum), natural gas, aviation turbine fuel and alcoholic spirit for human consumption, but not including the sale or distribution in the form of inter-State commerce or commerce Reference 55 (Taxes on Advertising) was omitted. Entry 62 (Luxury taxes, including taxes on entertainment, entertainment, betting and gambling) has now been replaced by these taxes only to be levied by local authorities.
The Constitution (102nd Amendment Act), 2018
- The bill seeks to give the National Commission on Backward Classes a constitutional status. It seeks to insert into the constitution a new Article 338B which provides for NCBC, its mandate, composition, functions, and various officers. Inserted a new Article 342-A that empowers the President to notify that state/union territory ‘s list of socially and educationally backward classes.
The Constitution (103rd Amendment Act), 2019
- Two constitutional freedoms were changed: Articles 15 and 16. It makes provision for advancing the economically weaker sections of society. A significant 10 per cent of all government positions and college seats will also have a quota beyond the high-income class for voters. This bill is drafted with a commitment to enforce Article 46 of India’s Constitution, a Directive Principle which urges the government to protect the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of society.
The Constitution (104th Amendment Act), 2020
- This expanded seat quotas in the Lok Sabha for SCs and STs, and state legislatures.
Though young, over those seven decades, the Indian Constitution has undergone tremendous change. Such amendments have modified main elements of the constitution, such as human freedoms, federalism, political participation, judicial scrutiny, etc. Such amendments were not usually introduced to strengthen constitutional rights. India ‘s constitutional trajectory over the past seventy years — the weakening of our fundamental freedoms, the reforms made to our political structure, the role of fundamental degradation played by numerous institutions, and the struggle to defend the constitutional ethic. This democracy has its backbone in the Constitution.
Although having provisions to amend the constitution was progressive to the fathers of our nation, it is important that such provisions are not misused. Misuse could lead to undue legislative or executive authority that could rip apart the fabric of our society. Indians may not always know all the procedural details of this lengthy and imperfect document, but they know the core — that it’s not the whims of political greed that governs them, but the constitutional words. And on Republic Day, this is worth celebrating.
Article 368 is vague on whether or not the parliament has the right to change the basic structure, but this still does not mean this Article 368 imposes the restriction on the modification of the basic structure and Part III of the Constitution. The First Amendment, crafted by the Constitution’s framers, set the tone for the future. It was clear that, if there were good intentions, it was acceptable to use Constitutional amendments to remove government constraints. The conditions that led to 104 institutional changes and hundreds of interpretational amendments will make one miserable. Nevertheless, the Constitution lasted seven decades despite various attacks by Parliament and the judiciary.
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