UPSC : Amendment of the Constitution
Amendment of the Constitution
- The Indian Constitution is neither flexible nor rigid. Synthesis of both.
- Article 368 in Part XX of the Constitution deals with the powers of Parliament to amend the Constitution.
- The Parliament may amend any provision of the Constitution.
- The Parliament cannot amend the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.
- This was ruled by the Supreme Court in the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973).
Procedure for amendment:
- The procedure for the amendment is laid down in Article 368.
- An amendment can be initiated in either House of Parliament and not in the state legislatures.
- The bill can be introduced by a minister or a private member.
- Does not require prior permission of the president.
- To pass the bill special majority is required (more than 50 per cent of the total membership of the House and a majority of two-thirds of the members of the House present and voting).
- Each House must pass the bill separately (no provision for holding a joint sitting of the two Houses).
- To amend the federal provisions of the Constitution, the legislatures of half of the states by a simple majority is required (simple majority - majority of the members of the House present and voting).
- After duly passed by both the Houses of Parliament, the president must give his assent to the bill.
- The President cannot withhold his assent to the bill and can’t return the bill.
- After the president’s assent, the bill becomes a constitutional amendment act.
Types of amendments:
- Article 368 provides for two types of amendments, that is, by a special majority of Parliament and also through the ratification of half of the states by a simple majority.
- Other articles provide for the amendment (a simple majority of Parliament)
The Constitution can be amended in three ways:
- By simple majority of the Parliament.
- By special majority of the Parliament.
- By special majority of the Parliament and the ratification of half of the state legislatures.
The following provisions can be amended by a simple majority of the two Houses of Parliament.
- Admission or establishment of new states / Formation of new states and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing states.
- Abolition or creation of legislative councils in states.
- Salaries and allowances of the members of Parliament.
- Citizenship—acquisition and termination.
- Elections to Parliament and state legislatures.
- Fifth Schedule—administration of scheduled areas and scheduled tribes.
Special Majority (Parliament and Consent of States)
- Election of the President and its manner.
- Extent of the executive power of the Union and the states.
- Supreme Court and high courts.
- Distribution of legislative powers between the Union and the states.
- Any of the lists in the Seventh Schedule.
- Representation of states in Parliament.
- Power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and its procedure (Article 368 itself).