State PCS

Edit Template
Edit Template

42nd Amendment of Indian Constitution

42nd Amendment

The 42nd Amendment of the Indian Constitution in 1976 brought about significant changes in the balance of power between the Supreme Court and High Courts regarding the validation of constitutional laws. This pivotal amendment reshaped the legal landscape of the country, impacting its growth and future. In this article, we’ll delve into the comprehensive details of the 42nd Amendment, shedding light on how it influenced India’s administrative decisions, judicial rulings, and legislative laws. Understanding these constitutional changes is vital for anyone preparing for the UPSC exam, as they play a crucial role in shaping the nation’s governance and structure.


The Constitution of India holds immense significance as it forms the bedrock of our government structure. It not only delineates the distribution of power among various state organs but also outlines the nation’s core principles, including secularism, unity, and democracy. Furthermore, it safeguards the fundamental rights of individuals, which are vital for their well-being.

One pivotal milestone in the evolution of the Indian Constitution was the introduction of the 42nd Amendment Act in 1976, during the leadership of Indira Gandhi and the Indian National Congress. Often dubbed the “Mini-Constitution,” this amendment brought about numerous changes to the Indian Constitution. The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 plays a crucial role in UPSC Political Science for both Prelims and Mains GS-II, as well as in the Political Science optional papers, making it a key topic for IAS Exam preparation.

42nd Amendment Act:

  • Enacted in 1976 during Emergency by Indira Gandhi Government
  • It is regarded as one of the most controversial amendment

Amendment had four major purposes:

  1. Eliminate Court Involvement in Election Disputes
  2. Empower the Central Government Over States
  3. Safeguard Social Revolutionary Laws from Legal Challenges
  4. Streamline the Judiciary to Preserve Parliament’s Policies

42nd Amendment Act, 1976

The 42nd Amendment to the Indian Constitution, known as the Constitutional Amendment Act of 1976, made significant and somewhat controversial changes. These changes were based on recommendations from the Swaran Singh Committee, which was established by Mrs. Indira Gandhi. The amendment impacted the Preamble, added 40 clauses, modified the Seventh Schedule, and introduced 14 new Articles to the Constitution. While we can’t cover every small change, let’s focus on the key alterations that shaped public perception during the emergency period. Notable changes brought by this amendment include the following.


Many people view the preamble as a reflection of the constitution, and in the constitution’s preamble, two noteworthy changes have been made. Firstly, it now describes India as a “Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic” instead of a “Sovereign Democratic Republic.” Secondly, the phrase “unity and integrity of the nation” has replaced “unity of the nation.” These alterations have sparked considerable interest and discussion in both legal and public circles throughout the country, as they represent a revised representation of the Indian Constitution on the global stage.

Judicial Power

Prior to this alteration, citizens could challenge the Union Legislature’s laws in their respective State High Courts. It was a relatively straightforward process for the public to contest these laws in their local high courts. However, this recent change has restricted the High Courts’ jurisdiction. The modification, as outlined in Articles 226A and 228A, now empowers High Courts to only address the legality of State legislation. Additionally, Article 131A grants the Supreme Court exclusive authority to review the legality of central legislation. Apart from these amendments, the addition of Article 144A and Article 228A has sparked debates regarding the scope of judicial authority in our Constitution.

Suspension of the Fundamental Rights

Since the Constitution was first enacted, it has consistently protected the fundamental rights of the people. However, the 42nd amendment brought in crucial provisions allowing for the temporary suspension of these rights in times of necessity. When an external emergency is declared, Article 358 comes into play, temporarily suspending the rights guaranteed by Article 19 of the Constitution without prior notice. This means that Article 19 is temporarily suspended nationwide during the emergency, and the laws enacted during this period are granted legal immunity.


The changes made to the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) brought about a mix of constructive and less constructive adjustments. One major point of contention surrounded the modification of Article 31C, which was introduced in the 25th Constitutional Amendment of 1971 and expanded in the latest revision. This clause used to allow legislation that complied with Articles 39(b) and 39(c) of the Constitution, even if it infringed on fundamental rights.

On a more positive note, two other DPSP updates received widespread approval. Article 39-A now mandates the provision of free legal assistance to economically and socially disadvantaged individuals to prevent injustices. Additionally, Article 39(f) was amended to protect children and youth from exploitation and abandonment, garnering significant support from the community. These changes reflect a balance of views on the revisions to the DPSP.

Delimitation of Parliamentary Seats

The 42nd amendment made a significant alteration to the process of changing parliamentary constituency boundaries. It essentially put a hold on any adjustments until the first census following the year 2000, which took place in 2001. This meant a wait of 26 years after the amendment was passed before any changes could be made. Additionally, it also temporarily stopped the reassignment of reserved seats for women, SCs, and STs during this period. Before this amendment, Article 82 required the revision of parliamentary and state legislative districts every decade, aligning with each census and the data it provided.

Induction of Fundamental Duties

Since the inception of the Constitution, it has included distinct sections dedicated to fundamental rights and Directive Principles. However, to foster a harmonious relationship between the government and its citizens, both recognized the importance of individuals bearing some responsibilities towards the State. Consequently, during the 42nd Amendment in 1976, the Constitution was enriched with 10 fundamental duties incorporated as Part IVA. These duties, though integral, are non-judicial and lack enforceability, aligning with the democratic essence of our nation.

Alteration in Article 74

This change simply formalized a well-established tradition in the country, without making any substantial alterations. When we look at how power is distributed in our nation, the Prime Minister is seen as the true leader, while the President holds a more symbolic role as the constitutional head of state. While this tradition wasn’t explicitly outlined in the Constitution or any other legal document, the President typically followed the recommendations of the cabinet before the amendment to Article 74.

Legislative and Judicial Reactions

After the 1977 nationwide general elections, following a state of emergency, the Janata Party coalitions emerged victorious, beating the Congress party. Mr. Morarji Desai led the newly established government, with their primary goal being to restore the Constitution to its pre-emergency state. However, they didn’t reverse all of the Constitution’s amendments. Instead, they addressed the changes introduced by the 42nd amendment through the 43rd and 44th Amendment Acts in 1977 and 1978. These amendments granted the High Courts and Supreme Courts more authority, replaced “Internal Unrest” with “Armed Rebellion,” and made other significant modifications.


The 42nd Amendment significantly transformed the Indian Constitution, giving more authority to Parliament and reducing the role of the courts in resolving election disputes. It also strengthened the central government, emphasizing a unitary system over a federal one. This amendment limited the judiciary’s power to challenge legislation, which had implications for democracy and the protection of fundamental rights.

Read Also: Amendments: Procedure and Issues

Demo Class/Enquiries

blog form

More Links
What's New
IAS NEXT is a topmost Coaching Institute offering guidance for Civil & Judicial services like UPSC, State PCS, PCS-J exams since more than 10 years.
Contact Us
Social Icon

Copyright ©  C S NEXT EDUCATION. All Rights Reserved