Like any other written constitution in the world, the Constitution of India also provides for a constitutional amendment to adjust itself to changing circumstances and needs.
Article 368 in Part XX of the Constitution deals with the powers of Parliament to amend the Constitution and its procedure. It states that the Parliament may amend the Constitution by way of adding, altering, or repealing any provision in accordance with the procedure prescribed for that purpose.
However, the Parliament cannot amend the provisions that form the ‘Basic Structure’ of the Constitution. This was ruled by the Supreme Court in the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973).
Process of Constitutional Amendment
There are three ways in which the Constitution can be amended: Amendment by a simple majority of the Parliament. Amendment by a special majority of the Parliament. Amendment by a special majority of the Parliament and the ratification of at least half of the state legislatures.
Important Constitutional Amendments
First Amendment Act, 1951
To remove certain practical difficulties created by the court’s decision in several cases such as Kameshwar Singh Case, Romesh Thapar Case, etc. Issues involved in the cases included freedom of speech, acquisition of the Zamindari land, State monopoly of trade, etc
enabling the state to take special measures for the social and economic improvement of underprivileged groups. allowed for the preservation of rules governing the purchase of estates, etc. including a ninth schedule to shield additional laws and land reforms from the judicial examination. Articles 31A and 31B were added after Article 31. Public order, cordial relations with foreign governments, and incitement to a crime were included as three more justifications for limiting freedom of speech and expression. Moreover, it rendered the limitations “reasonable” and hence justiciable in nature. As long as the state is not violating anyone’s right to trade or do business when it engages in state trading or when it nationalizes any trade or enterprise.
Fourth Amendment Act, 1955
Made the scale of compensation given in lieu of compulsory acquisition of private property beyond the scrutiny of courts. Authorized the state to nationalize any trade. Included some more Acts in the Ninth Schedule. Extended the scope of Article 31 A (savings of laws).
Seventh Amendment Act, 1956
To implement the recommendations of the State Reorganization Committee and to implement the State Reorganization Act, 1956.
There were changes to the second and seventh schedules. eliminated the current division of states into Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D states and replaced it with a division into 14 states and 6 union territories. Union regions were added to the high court’s authority. gave instructions on how to set up a joint high court for two or more states. allowed for the high court’s acting and extra judges to be appointed.
Ninth Amendment Act, 1960
The West Bengali government disagreed with the Nehru-Noon agreement, which divided the Berubari Union’s territory between India and Pakistan. After this, the Union referred the issue to the SC, which concluded that the cession of Indian land to a foreign nation is not covered by Parliament’s ability to reduce a state’s area (under Article 3). As a result, only by modifying the Constitution in accordance with Article 368 can Indian land be surrendered to a foreign state. The result was the passing of the 9th Constitutional Amendment Act (1960).
Facilitated the cession of the Indian territory of the Berubari Union (located in West Bengal) to Pakistan as provided in the Indo-Pakistan Agreement (1958).
Tenth Amendment Act, 1961
Incorporation of Dadra, Nagar, and Haveli as a Union Territory, consequent to acquisition from Portugal.
Eleventh Amendment Act, 1961
Changed the way the vice president is chosen by substituting an electoral college vote for a joint session of the two Houses of Parliament. If there is no vacancy in the proper electoral college, the election of the president or vice president cannot be contested.
Twelfth Amendment Act, 1962
Incorporated Goa, Daman, and Diu in the Indian Union.
Thirteenth Amendment Act, 1962
Gave the status of a state to Nagaland and made special provisions for it.
Fourteenth Amendment Act, 1962
Incorporated Puducherry in the Indian Union. Provided for the creation of legislatures and council of ministers for the Union Territories of Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Tripura, Goa, Daman and Diu, and Puducherry.
Seventeenth Amendment Act, 1964
Prohibited the acquisition of land under personal cultivation unless the market value of the land is paid as compensation. Included 44 more Acts in the Ninth Schedule.
Eighteenth Amendment Act, 1966
Made it clear that the power of Parliament to form a new state also includes the power to form a new state or union territory by uniting a part of a state or a union territory to another state or union territory. It created new states namely, Punjab and Haryana.
Twenty-First Amendment Act, 1967
Included Sindhi as the 15th language in the Eighth Schedule.
Twenty Fourth Amendment Act, 1971
The Twenty-Fourth Constitutional Amendment Act was brought in response to the Golaknath ruling (1967) of the Supreme Court which held that the Parliament does not have the power to take away any fundamental rights through an amendment to the Constitution.
Affirmed the power of Parliament to amend any part of the Constitution including fundamental rights by amending Articles 13 and 368. Made it compulsory for the President to give his assent to a Constitutional Amendment Bill.
Twenty-Fifth Amendment Act, 1971
Curtailed the fundamental right to property. Provided that any law made to give effect to the Directive Principles contained in Article 39 (b) or (c) cannot be challenged on the ground of violation of the rights guaranteed by Articles 14, 19, and 31.
Twenty-Sixth Amendment Act, 1971
Abolished the privy purses and privileges of the former rulers of princely states.
Thirty First Amendment Act, 1973
An increase in the population of India was revealed in the Census of 1971.
Increased the number of Lok Sabha seats from 525 to 545.
Thirty-Third Amendment Act, 1974
Amended Articles 101 and 190 and provided that the resignation of the members of Parliament and the state legislatures may be accepted by the Speaker/Chairman only if he is satisfied that the resignation is voluntary or genuine.
Thirty-Fifth Amendment Act, 1974
Terminated the protectorate status of Sikkim and conferred the status of an associate state of the Indian Union. The Tenth Schedule was added laying down the terms and conditions of the association of Sikkim with the Indian Union
Thirty-Sixth Amendment Act, 1975
Made Sikkim a full-fledged State of the Indian Union and omitted the Tenth Schedule.
Thirty-Eighth Amendment Act, 1975
Made the declaration of emergency by the President non-justiciable.
Made the promulgation of ordinances by the President, governors, and administrators of Union territories non-justiciable.
Empowered the President to declare different proclamations of national emergency on different grounds simultaneously.
Thirty-Ninth Amendment Act, 1975
It was enacted in response to the ruling of the Allahabad High Court which declared the election of PM Indira Gandhi to Lok Sabha void on the petition of Raj Narain.
Placed the disputes relating to the president, Vice President, prime minister, and Speaker beyond the scope of the judiciary. They are to be decided by such authority as may be determined by the Parliament.
Included certain Central Acts in the Ninth Schedule.
Forty Second Amendment Act, 1976
Added three new words (i.e., socialist, secular, and integrity) in the Preamble.
Added Fundamental Duties by the citizens (new Part IV A).
Made the president bound by the advice of the cabinet.
Provided for administrative tribunals and tribunals for other matters (Added Part XIV A).
Froze the seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies on the basis of the 1971 census till 2001 – Population Controlling Measure
Made the constitutional amendments beyond judicial scrutiny.
Curtailed the power of judicial review and writ jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and high courts.
Raised the tenure of Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies from 5 to 6 years.
Provided that the laws made for the implementation of Directive Principles cannot be declared invalid by the courts on the ground of violation of some Fundamental Rights.
Empowered the Parliament to make laws to deal with anti-national activities and such laws are to take precedence over Fundamental Rights.
Added three new Directive Principles viz., equal justice and free legal aid, the participation of workers in the management of industries, and protection of the environment, forests, and wildlife.
Facilitated the proclamation of national emergency in a part of the territory of India.
Extended the one-time duration of the President’s rule in a state from 6 months to one year.
Empowered the Centre to deploy its armed forces in any state to deal with a grave situation of law and order.
Shifted five subjects from the state list to the concurrent list, viz, education, forests, protection of wild animals and birds, weights and measures and administration of justice, constitution and organization of all courts except the Supreme Court and the high courts.
Did away with the requirement of quorum in the Parliament and the state legislatures.
Empowered the Parliament to decide from time to time the rights and privileges of its members and committees.
Provided for the creation of the All-India Judicial Service.
Shortened the procedure for disciplinary action by taking away the right of a civil servant to make representation at the second stage after the inquiry (i.e., on the penalty proposed).
Forty-Third Amendment Act, 1977
Restored the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and the High Courts in respect of judicial review and issue of writs. Deprived the Parliament of its special powers to make laws to deal with anti-national activities.
Forty-Fourth Amendment Act, 1978
Restored the original term of the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies (i.e., 5 years).
Restored the provisions with regard to the quorum in the Parliament and state legislatures.
Omitted the reference to the British House of Commons in the provisions pertaining to the parliamentary privileges.
Gave constitutional protection to publication in a newspaper of true reports of the proceedings of the Parliament and the state legislatures.
Empowered the president to send back once the advice of the cabinet for reconsideration. But, the reconsidered advice is to be binding on the president.
Deleted the provision which made the satisfaction of the president, governor, and administrators final in issuing ordinances.
Restored some of the powers of the Supreme Court and high courts.
Replaced the term ‘internal disturbance’ with ‘armed rebellion’ in respect of national emergency.
Made the President declare a national emergency only on the written recommendation of the cabinet.
made certain procedural safeguards with respect to a national emergency and the president’s rule.
The right to property was removed from the list of fundamental rights and replaced with a legal right.
provided that the fundamental rights guaranteed by Articles 20 and 21 cannot be suspended during a national emergency.
Omitted the provisions that took away the power of the court to decide the election disputes of the president, the vice-president, the prime minister, and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.
Also, Read This: Constitutional Amendment Part – 2