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Amendments: Procedure and Issues


Article 368 in Part XX of the Constitution outlines how Parliament has the authority to make changes to the Constitution and the process involved. This article allows Parliament to modify, expand, or remove any part of the Constitution using the prescribed procedures. However, it’s important to note that certain fundamental elements, known as the ‘Basic Structure‘ of the Constitution, cannot be altered by Parliament.


  1. Bill to amend constitution is initiated in either house of parliament
  2. Bill can be introduced either by a minister or by a private member and does not require prior permission of the president.
  3. Bill must be passed in each House by a special majority (i.e. 50% of total membership of the House and a majority of two-thirds of the members of the House present and voting)
  4. Each House must pass the bill separately. In case of disagreement between houses there is no provision for joint sitting.
  5. Bill seeking to amend the federal provisions of the Constitution must also be ratified by the legislatures of half of the states by a simple majority
  6. President must give his assent to the bill. He can neither withhold his assent to the bill nor return the bill for reconsideration of the Parliament

Constitution can be amended in three ways:

  1. Changes to Laws by Regular Majority in Parliament (These are not considered Constitutional Amendments under Article 368).
  2. Revisions to Laws with Strong Parliamentary Support.
  3. Legal Modifications with Strong Parliamentary Backing and Half of State Legislatures’ Approval.

To keep up with evolving needs and address emerging challenges, the Indian Constitution is designed to be adaptable and ever-evolving, requiring periodic amendments. Over the past six decades, more than 100 amendments have been made to the constitution. This doesn’t mean that the Indian Constitution is easily amendable; in fact, it strikes a delicate balance. It allows the central government to make minor amendments with a simple majority, but for significant changes, it imposes stricter requirements, demanding a 2/3 majority. Most notably, it upholds federalism by mandating that amendments related to center-state relations must be accepted by at least half of the states.

Why amendments are needed?

  1. The Constitution Evolves: The Constitution of India is a dynamic document that evolves over time to align with the changing aspirations of its people.
  2. Reflecting People’s Desires: Amendments to the Constitution not only mirror these evolving aspirations but also underscore the people’s determination to shape their own future.
  3. Empowering the Will of the People: Through constitutional amendments, the will of the Indian population is empowered to actively participate in crafting their destiny.

Why frequent amendment can be bad?

  1. Potential Political Motivation: Critics often suggest that amendments to the Indian Constitution may be driven by political motives.
  2. Controversial 42nd Amendment: The 42nd amendment, enacted during the Emergency period under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, is frequently cited as an example of such controversial changes.
  3. Frequent Amendments: The Indian Constitution has been relatively easy to amend, with more than one amendment occurring, on average, every year.
  4. Ineffectiveness of Some Provisions: Although the Indian Supreme Court can declare constitutional amendments unconstitutional, it lacks the authority to repeal them. Consequently, certain ineffective provisions persist within the Constitution.
  5. Hasty Amendments and Basic Structure: Some amendments have been rushed through by an enthusiastic legislature, sometimes offending the core principles of the constitution.

Judicial Pronouncements

Judicial rulings have limited Parliament’s authority to amend the constitution, specifically when it does not alter the fundamental framework of the Constitution.

Mainly 3 judgement are responsible for this:

  1. Golaknath v State of Punjab (1967): Protecting Fundamental Rights through Constitutional Amendments
    • In the Golaknath case, it was firmly established that changes to the Constitution via Article 368 would be subject to the protection of fundamental rights.
  2. Keshavananda Bharati Judgment (1973): Safeguarding the Core Values of the Constitution
    • The Keshavananda Bharati judgment of 1973 introduced the concept of the Constitution’s fundamental structure, empowering the judiciary to assess and nullify amendments that sought to modify this foundational framework.
  3. Minerva Mills Case: Defining the Limits of Constitutional Amendments
    • The Minerva Mills case played a pivotal role in further refining the basic structure doctrine. It unanimously declared that Parliament could not wield unrestricted authority to alter this fundamental structure, especially when it encroached upon individual rights such as liberty and equality.

Read Also: Panchayati Raj in Madhya Pradesh

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