- Article 368 of the Indian Constitution deals with the legislative procedure for amending the Constitution.
- The First Constitutional Amendment Act was passed in 1951.
- The Seventh Constitutional Amendment Act, 1956 reorganised states on a linguistic basis.
- The 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 is known as the ‘mini constitution’.
- Preamble was amended and Fundamental Duties were enlisted by the 42nd Amendment Act.
- Anti-defection laws were added by the 52nd Amendment Act, 1985.
- The 73rd and 74th Amendment Acts provided for self-governing institutions such as Panchayati Raj in villages and urban local self-governing bodies.
- The 86th Constitutional Amendment Act made Right to Education a fundamental right.
- The 104th Constitutional Amendment Act amended the Citizenship Act, 1955.
The Constitution of India came into being on 26th January 1950. Since then, 105 amendments have been brought about in it, as of October, 2021. Constitutional amendment is the process by which changes are made on the supreme and fundamental laws of India, according to procedures laid down in Article 368, Part XX. The legislative procedure for amending the Constitution was inspired from the South African Constitution.
Such amendments have often paved way for discourses on the dynamics between the Legislature and Judiciary. The most important of them all is the basic structure doctrine that was laid down in the Keshavananda Bharti case, by which the Supreme Court laid down that no amendment can violate the fundamental principles and values on which the Constitution was found upon.
The Article 368 provides for the legislative procedure that is to be followed to bring about an amendment to the Constitution. Accordingly, there are two types of amendments:
i) To be passed by special majority of Parliament.
ii) To be passed by special majority of Parliament and ratification by at least half of the total number of state legislatures.
Though not mentioned in Article 368, there are amendments that can also be passed by a simple majority of Parliament, that is, a majority of the members of each House present and voting.
Constitutional amendments are an important topic to be covered while preparing for any law entrance examination. A list of the most important Constitutional Amendments is given below.
Important Constitutional Amendments of India
- 1st Constitutional Amendment Act, 1951
- First amendment to be passed in independent India.
- Part III amended to bring about reasonable restrictions to Article 15 and 19.
- Empowered the State to make special provisions for the advancement of backward classes.
- Ninth Schedule added which would be exempted from judicial review.
- Land Reform Acts moved to Ninth Schedule.
- Legislative sessions, appointment of judges and provisions regarding reservation of seats affected.
- 7th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1956
- To implement recommendations of the State Reorganisation Commission.
- Reorganisation of 14 States and 6 Union territories on linguistic basis.
- Special provisions for states of Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and Bombay.
- 15th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1963
- Retirement age of High Court judges raised from 60 to 62 years.
- Extension of jurisdiction of High Courts.
- 18th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1966
- Clarified that Parliament can form a new state by uniting part of any state or Union territories to any other.
- Created the new states of Punjab and Haryana.
- 21st Constitutional Amendment Act, 1967
- Sindhi added to Eighth Schedule as a regional language.
- 24th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1971
- Parliament given authority to amend any part of Constitution including Fundamental Rights.
- Brought about to overturn the judgement ofGolaknath v. State of Punjab [1967 AIR 1643, 1967 SCR (2) 762], which saidthat Parliament has no authority to revoke constitutional freedoms by means of amendment.
- Made it compulsory that the President give assent to a Constitutional Amendment Bill.
- 26th Constitutional Amendment, 1971
- Privy purse and other princely privileges abolished.
- 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976
Known as ‘mini constitution’.
- Words ‘secular’, ‘socialist’, and ‘integrity’ added to the Preamble.
- Fundamental Duties listed by Part IV A.
- Provisions for declaration of Emergency listed.
- Attempted to reduce the power of the Supreme Court and the High Courts.
- Transferred the following five subjects from the state list to the concurrent list:
iii. Weights & Measures
iv. Protection of Wild Animals and Birds
v. Administration of Justice
- 44th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1978
- Fundamental right to property abolished. Now it is only a legal right under Article 300 A.
- Terms of Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies reduced to 5 years.
- Articles 20 and 21 not to be suspended during Emergency.
- The term ‘internal disturbances’ concerning declaration of National Emergency under Article 352 replaced by ‘armed rebellion’.
- 52nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1985
- Provisions regarding Anti-defection lawadded by Schedule X.
- 61st Constitutional Amendment Act, 1988
- Minimum age to vote reduced from 21 to 18 years.
- 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992
- Passed on 22nd December 1992. Panchayati Raj given constitutionality.
- Part XI of the Constitution inserted to deal with functioning of Panchayati Raj institutions.
- 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992
- Part XI-A added providing for Municipalities and their functioning.
- 77th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1995
- Inserted Clause 4(A) to Article 16.
- Reservation and promotion of persons from SC/ST category in public services.
- 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002
- Inserted Article 21(A). Provided for Right to Education as a Fundamental Right.
- State to provide free and compulsory education to all children between 6 and 14 years of age.
- 99th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2014
- Established National Judicial Appointments Commission to oversee appointment of judges.
- However, this was replaced by the collegium system in 2015 according to Supreme Court’s order.
- 101st Constitutional Amendment Act, 2016
- Introduced Goods and Services Tax (GST). Came into force on 1st July 2017.
- 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act,2019
- 10% reservation for Economically Weaker Sections in Central Government jobs and admissions to government educational institutions.
- 104th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2019
- Amended the Citizenship Act, 1955. Provisions for Indian citizenship to be given to persecuted religious minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis or Christians, and arrived in India before the end of December 2014.
- Nomination of Anglo-Indian members to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies by Article 331 to be discontinued.
- 105th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2021
- Separate list of Socially and Economically Backward Communities (SEBC) to be prepared and added to both Central and State Lists.
The Constitution of India has undergone a lot of changes since its inception. This is necessary as the social, cultural, and political fabric of the nation must be taken into consideration while deciding the rules by which people are going to be governed. As the nation moves forward in its path of progress the concepts of federalism, fundamental rights, independent judiciary,etc. achieve new meanings. Therefore, it is necessary that our Constitution is able to keep up with these changes and also to imbibe them accordingly.