Amendments to the Constitution, Procedure (Article 368) Constitution

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Amendments to the Constitution

Procedure (Article 368)

The methods of Amendment are three - according to the subject matter of the Article concerned:

  • Articles that may be amended by a simple majority.
  • Articles that may be amended by a two- thirds majority of both Houses of Parliament - these are comparatively important matters.
  • Articles that require not only a two-thirds majority of the Parliament but also ratification by at least one-half of the State Legislatures. Some important recent Constitutional Amendments are

The Constitution (Forty-Second Amendment) Act, 1976

It is a piece of comprehensive legislation containing 39 clauses, the main features of which may be summarised as follows:

  • The Preamble has been altered from ‘sovereign, democratic republic’ to ‘sovereign, socialist, secular democratic republic’ and ‘unity of the nation’ has been modified to ‘unity and integrity of the nation’ .
  • Provision of Fundamental Duties.
  • Directive Principles brought under legal purview and given precedence over Fundamental Rights.
  • Division of jurisdiction between the Supreme Court and the High Courts in the matter of determination of the constitutional validity of central and state laws.
  • Limitation of the jurisdiction of High Courts in certain respects and provision, or for creation of Administrative Tribunals for adjudication for service matters.
  • Duration of the Lok Sabha and the State Assemblies increased from 5 to 6 years.
  • Provision for dealing with anti-national and communal activities.
  • Proclamation of Emergency may be made applicable to any part of the country (instead of the whole country) , and emergency could be lifted from any part of the county while it remained in force in other parts.

The Constitution (Forty-Third Amendment) Act, 1978

  • This amendment repealed the obnoxious provisions of the Constitution (Forty-Second Amendment) Act passed during the emergency. The duration of the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies was restored to five years.
  • The special privileges for the Prime Minister and the Speaker in disputes pertaining to their elections to the Lok Sabha were annulled.

The Constitution (Forty-Fourth Amendment) Act, 1979

This amendment reversed many of the provisions of the Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act and also made far-reaching changes in many of the provisions of the Constitution.

  • The right to property has been deleted from the list of Fundamental Rights. Now it becomes an ordinary legal right.
  • The amendment provides that the fundamental right to life and liberty cannot be demolished even during the operation of emergency.
  • The right of information, media, and especially the press, has been guaranteed, to freely report without censorship, the proceedings in Parliament and State Legislatures.
  • Restored the jurisdiction and powers of the Supreme Court and High Courts as they existed before the forty-second Amendment Act.
  • Term of the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies was again reduced from 6 years to 5 years.

The Constitution (Fifty-Second Amendment) Act, 1985

  • Defection has been prohibited by this amendment. If an elected representative changes his party, he would lose his seat in the State/Central legislature.
  • However, in case at least one-third of the members of the party change affiliation, it shall not be termed as defection.
  • A nominated or an independent representative cannot join any party for 6 months after nomination or election.

The Constitution (Fifty-Fourth Amendment) Act, 1986

This amendment increased salaries of the Chief Justice, Judges.

The Constitution (Fifty-Eighth Amendment) Act, 1987

Hindi version of the Constitution accepted as authoritative and that the translation of this Constitution shall have the same meaning as the original text in English.

The Constitution (Fifty-Ninth Amendment) Act, 1988

To facilitate proclamation of emergency by the President, the phrase ‘armed rebellion’ in the Article 39 has been replaced by internal disturbance.

The Constitution (Sixty-First Amendment) Act, 1989

It has reduced the voting age from 21 years to 18 years for the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.

The Constitution (Sixty-Second Amendment) Act, 1989

It extended reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for a further period of 10 years, i.e.. , up to 2000.

The Constitution (Seventy-First Amendment) Act, 1992

It included Konkani, Manipuri and Nepali in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution. The Eighth Schedule now has 18 languages.

The Constitution (Seventy-Third Amendment) Act, 1993

Article 40 of the Constitution which enshrines one of the Directive Principles of the State Policy lays down that the state shall take steps to organise village ‘Panchayat’ and endow them with such powers and authorities as may be necessary to enable them to function as a unit of self-government.

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