Under the Constitution, India declares itself as a ‘Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic’ country. The Constitution of India was passed by the constituent assembly on 26 November 1949, and it came into effect on 26th January 1950.
No Written Constitution is complete without providing amending provisions; in some respects, the amending provision is the most important part of the Constitution. The term ‘amendment’ derives from the Latin word ‘amendere.’ The term ‘amend’ generally means to make right, to make a correction or to rectify. In common parlance ‘amendment’ conveys the sense of a slight change.
The object of the amending clause in a Constitution is to ensure that the Constitution is preserved. A State cannot be static. A Constitution should be dynamic and adaptable in nature to keep up with the changing needs of society. A change in society will require a change in the Constitution. Article 368 of the Indian Constitution lists down the procedure of Amendment.
The amending provision in the written Constitution assumes great importance because it gives a chance to the successive generation to grow it as per their needs. The amending process is an opportunity to express state-related concerns without derogating from the basic fundamental constitutional principles. The constitution was framed nearly 70 years ago, the framers then, could not possibly anticipate the current Indian political and socio-economic condition. An amendment is made with a view to overcoming the difficulties which may arise in future in the working of the Constitution.
There are two types of amending procedures; Rigid: difficult to amend the constitution (e.g. US, Canada) and Flexible: easy to amend with passing normal legislation.
The Indian Constitution is both rigid as well as flexible, i.e. it is difficult to amend but under necessary conditions practically flexible. The formal method of an amendment is described in Part- XX of the Constitution, which consists of Article 368 only.
An amendment may be introduced by way of a Bill in either House of Parliament, and when the Bill is passed in each House by a simple majority or a special majority or by a majority of not less than two thirds of the total members of that house present and voting, it shall be then presented to the President who shall give his assent to the Bill. The Constitution shall then stand amended in accordance with the terms of the Bill.
The amendment shall also be ratified by the Legislature of not less than one half of the States by resolutions before the Bill is presented to the President for assent.
However, it is crucial to take into consideration that the Parliament is a part of the Constitution, no doubt Parliament can amend the Constitution, but that does not mean that Parliament could so amend provisions of the constitution so as to change its own constituent power beyond any recognition.
From Keshavananda Bharathi case to I.R.Coelho case, the Supreme Court repeatedly stressed on the point that the Parliament has no power to bring an amendment to the basic structure of the Constitution. The basic structure includes but is not limited to the concept of supremacy of the Constitution, republican and democratic form of government, secular character of the Constitution, separation of powers between the legislature, executive and the judiciary etc. Thereby it imposes implied limitations upon the power of Parliament.
List of some amendments:
- Empowered the state to make the advancement of socially and economically backward classes. – In 1951
- Included a new subject in the Union list, i.e. taxes on the sale and purchase of goods in the course of inter-state trade and commerce and restricted the state’s power in this regard. – In 1956
- Incorporation of Dadra, Nagar and Haveli as a Union Territory, consequent to acquisition from Portugal – 1961
- Enabled the High court’s to issue writs to any person or authority even outside its territory’s jurisdiction if the cause of action arises within its territorial limits – 1963
- The Act extends reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in Parliament and the State Assemblies and the representation of Anglo-Indians by a nomination for a further period of 10 years – 1980
- It confers Statehood on Goa and forms a new Union Territory of Daman and Diu. Goa thus became the 25th State of the Indian Republic – 1987
- To ensure direct election to all seats in Panchayats; to reserve seats for SCs and STs in proportion to their population, and for reservation of not less than one-third of the seats in Panchayats for women – 1992
- It deals with an alternative scheme for sharing taxes between the Union and the States – 2001
- Provides Right to Education until the age of fourteen and early childhood care until the age of six – 2002
- Provided for 27 per cent reservation for other backward classes in government as well as private higher educational institutions – 2006
- The amendment provides for the formation of a National Judicial Appointments Commission – 2014
- Reorganization of Jammu Kashmir; The Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir with a legislature, and the Union Territory of Ladakh without a legislature. The Union Territory of Ladakh will comprise Kargil and Leh districts, and the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir will comprise the remaining territories of the existing state of Jammu and Kashmir –2019