Amendment of the Constitution Notes

What is amendment and why it is needed?

In order to adjust constitution to the changing conditions and needs of the society, our constitution makers decided to make the constitution amendable.

Jawahar Lal Nehru in the constituent assembly observed – “While we want this Constitution to be as solid and as permanent a structure as we can make it, nevertheless there is no permanence in Constitutions. There should be a certain flexibility. If you make anything rigid and permanent, you stop a nation’s growth, the growth of a living, vital, organic people.”

The procedure for amendment laid down in the constitution of India is neither as easy as in British constitution nor as difficult as in American Constitution. The constitution is neither flexible nor rigid, but a blend of both.

The amendment procedure of the constitution is enshrined in part XX of the constitution having one article i.e. Article 368.

Types of Amendment

The constitution of India can be amended in three ways:

  1. By simple majority of the parliament (Do not come under the purview of A-368)
  2. By special majority of the parliament
  3. By special majority of the parliament and the ratification of half of the state legislatures.

Amendment by Simple Majority

This procedure requires simple majority of the parliament as required in ordinary bills. This procedure is outside the scope of Article 368. The provisions that can be amended through this procedure are:

  1. Formation of new states, alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing states
  2. Establishment or Admission of a new state
  3. Abolition or creation of legislative council in states
  4. Second, Fifth and Sixth schedule
  5. Quorum in parliament
  6. Salaries and allowances of MPs
  7. Rules of procedure in parliament
  8. Privileges of parliament
  9. Use of English language in the parliament
  10. Number of judges in SC
  11. Conferment of more jurisdiction over the SC
  12. Use of official language
  13. Citizenship – Acquisition and termination
  14. Elections to parliament and state legislature
  15. Delimitation of constituencies
  16. Union territories

Amendment by Special Majority

  • This procedure requires a majority of total membership of each house and a majority of two-thirds of the members of each house present and voting.
  • Constitutionally, the special majority is required only for voting at the third reading stage of the bill however, the requirement of special majority is provided at all stages in rules of procedure of the houses.
  • The provisions which can be amended by this majority is – Fundamental rights, DPSP and all other provisions which are not covered by the first and third categories.

Amendment by special majority of the parliament and the ratification of half of the state legislatures

This procedure requires special majority of the parliament along with the ratification of more than half states by a simple majority.

This procedure is required whenever there is an amendment in the federal structure of the constitution.

Following provisions can be amended by this procedure:

  1. Representation of states in parliament
  2. Election of president and its manner
  3. Supreme court and High courts
  4. Executive power of Union and States
  5. Distribution of legislative power between union and states
  6. GST council
  7. Any of the lists in the 7th schedule
  8. Power of parliament to amend the constitution.

Procedure for Amendment

  • Introduction of amendment bill in either house of the parliament. The amendment of constitution bill cannot be introduced in state legislatures.
  • The bill does not require the prior permission of president and can be introduced either by a minister or by a private member.
  • The bill must be passed in each house by the special majority and ratification of at least half states, where necessary.
  • In case of disagreement between the two houses of parliament, there is no provision of holding a joint sitting two houses to resolve the deadlock.
  • After duly passed by both the houses, the bill is presented to the president for his assent.
  • The President has to give the assent to the bill. He can neither withhold his assent to the bill nor return the bill for reconsideration.
  • After the assent of president, the bill becomes an act and the constitution stands amended.