Transformative Amendments to the Constitution

Transformative Amendments to the Constitution

Question: The Land Boundary Agreement passed recently is going to be the 100th constitutional amendment of India. How is the Constitution amended? Discuss the transformative amendments to the Constitution of India so far.

The LS recently passed the Land Boundary Agreement Bill which once ratified by the RS becomes the 100th constitutional amendment of the nation.

How Constitution is Amended

• A368 of the Indian Constitution empowers the Parliament to amend the Constitution through a process which is simple

• Bills that seek to amend the Constitution must secure a majority of the total membership of the House and majority of no less than 2/3rd of members present and voting.

• This must hold true for both Houses of the Parliament: RS as well as LS

Certain special cases such as amendments that affect State governments, HC or SC must secure
ratification of half of the State legislatures in the nation

Transformative Constitutional Amendments

Seventh Constitutional Amendment: 1956

• Once linguistic states were demanded, the 7th amendment radically transformed the boundaries of existing States
• Boundaries were redrawn on linguistic and ethnic lines
• This was as per the report of the Fazi Ali Commission or the First States Reorganisation Commission

Twenty Sixth Constitutional Amendment: 1971

• This amendment sought the abolishment of a privy purse instead of massive revenues Indian princes got from their kingdom.
• The amendment came about when the ordinance abolishing the same was struck down by the apex court.

Thirty Ninth Constitutional Amendment: 1975

• This amendment was passed to protect the rights of Indian PM Indira Gandhi whose election had been annulled by the Allahabad HC.

Forty Second Constitutional Amendment: 1977
• This landmark amendment added the words socialist and secular to the Preamble and reduced Fundamental Rights besides changing judicial independence.
• This is considered one of the most extensive constitutional amendments

Forty Fourth Constitutional Amendment: 1978

• This was an amendment which sought to undo the effect of the previous constitutional amendment.
• This amendment restored the judiciary’s independence and enforced fundamental rights as well as judicial review
• It did not re-introduce right to property as a fundamental right, choosing to place it as a constitutional right instead

Fifty Second Constitutional Amendment: 1985

• For curbing increased instances of political defections, the 10th schedule was introduced for disqualification of MLAs or MPs who defected from party either through:
- Loss of membership
- Voting

Sixty First Constitutional Amendment: 1989

• This reduced the voting age to 18 and opened up elections to a larger part of the population

Seventy Third and Seventy Fourth Constitutional Amendments: 1992

• These 2 amendments sought the devolution of power to the Panchayats

Eighty Sixth Constitutional Amendment: 2002

• This was introduced as an enforceable Fundamental right; it was earlier part of DPSP/Directive Principles of State Policy

Facts and Stats

• The government under PM Indira Gandhi from 1971-1977 passed the maximum number of constitutional amendments which was 19.

• The second highest number of amendments (14) were passed under the Vajpayee government

• 5 Constitutional Amendments have been struck down by the SC so far namely:

- Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala (1973): This undid the part of the 25th Amendment which sought to end judicial review of land reform laws

- Indira Gandhi vs Raj Narain (1975): This struck down the section of the 39th Amendment for eliminating the judicial review of the Speaker and the PM

- Minerva Mills vs Union of India (1980): This judgement struck down a section of the 42nd AA for making DPSP superior to Fundamental Rights and removing judicial review regarding Constitutional Amendments

- P Sambamurthy vs State of Andhra Pradesh (1987): This SC judgement struck down sections of the 32nd AA for permitting the AP government to change orders of Administrative tribunals before making the decision to implement them

- L Chandra Kumar vs Union of India (1994): This struck down part of the 42nd AA for taking away the power of HC to review tribunal judgements
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