Q. The amendment procedure under Indian Constitution is a curious mixture of rigidity and flexibility. In this light discuss the different procedure for amendment reflecting such blend.
Structure of the answer:
- Introduction (Article 368)
- Different types of amendment process
- Reflection of rigidity and flexibility
- Way forward
The nature of the amending process envisaged by the makers of our Constitution has been explained by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru as reconciliation of a written Constitution with Parliamentary Sovereignty. Article 368 (Part XX) of the Constitution deals with the power of Parliament to amend the constitution and its procedures.
The Constitution provides a mix of flexible and rigid provision for amendment as noted bellow:
- Amendment of certain provisions of the constitution requires amendment by a simple majority of each house present and voting. Such changes are not deemed to be amendments for purposes of Article 368. For ex.- formation of new states, citizenship provisions, changes in 5th or 6th Schedule
- Whereas, special majority is required under Article 368(2). Here, Parliament can amend by 2/3 of the member’s present plus voting and majority of the numerical strength of the house. For ex- amending fundamental Rights.
- Certain features relating to the federation requires ratification by half of the states besides requiring special majority. For ex.- election of President; representation of states in Parliament
Thus, as discussed above the amending process prescribed by the Constitution has certain distinctive features as compared to other Constitutions of the world i.e. having a dual attribute of rigidity and flexibility.
However, some critics have described the amendment procedure to be too flexible in view of the ease with which more than 100 amendments have been passed in last 60 years of the working of the Constitution. Therefore, the use of the amendment procedure should be as a measure of last resort. Moreover, while passing the amendment the Parliament must preserve the basic framework (basic structure) of the Constitution.