Constitutional Amendment Bills: India’s Constitution, a cornerstone of its democratic framework, is not static but can be adapted to evolving needs through Constitutional Amendment Bills. Article 368 of the Indian Constitution delineates the process for amending the Constitution, ensuring a balance between flexibility and preserving its essential character.
The Amendment Process
Article 368 empowers Parliament to amend any part of the Constitution, including Fundamental Rights, as long as it doesn’t infringe upon the Constitution’s “basic structure.” Amendments can be achieved in two ways:
- Special Majority of Parliament: A Constitutional Amendment Bill can be passed by a special majority in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
- Special Majority with State Ratification: In some cases, even after the special majority approval in Parliament, half of the total states must ratify the amendment for it to take effect.
Once approved, the President must give assent to Constitutional Amendment Bills.
A Rich History of Amendments
As of October 2021, India has witnessed 105 Constitutional Amendments since the Constitution’s inception in 1950. These amendments have reshaped various aspects of Indian governance and society.
- The 128th Amendment Bill: This bill, also known as the “Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, 2023,” seeks to reserve one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies for women. It was unanimously passed by both houses of Parliament and received presidential assent. The bill introduces amendments to Article 239AA and inserts three new articles—330A, 332A, and 334A. It extends the quota to seats reserved for SC/STs and will be implemented after the delimitation exercise following the first census after the Act’s commencement.
- The 125th Amendment Bill: Enacted in 2019, this amendment focuses on the administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram. It also amends provisions related to the Finance Commission and the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. Key provisions include safeguarding tribal rights, amending Article 280 to empower the Finance Commission, and establishing Village and Municipal Councils.
The 2023 Constitutional Amendment Bill
The 2023 Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Eighth Amendment) Bill, also known as the “Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam, 2023,” aims to reserve one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies for women. The bill was introduced by the Union Minister of Law and Justice, Arjun Ram Meghwal, and received unanimous support from both houses of Parliament. It proposes to amend Article 239AA and insert three new articles: 330A, 332A, and 334A. Seats will be reserved by rotation in different constituencies and extended to SC/ST seats. Implementation will occur after the delimitation exercise following the first post-Act census.
A Growing Legacy of Amendments
As of August 2023, India has seen 127 Constitutional Amendments, reflecting the nation’s dynamic legal landscape. These amendments, guided by the Constitution’s principles, continue to shape India’s future.
Please note that this information is for reference purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. For specific legal matters, consult a qualified lawyer.