1ST AMENDMENT OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION 1951

“AN AMENDMENT ENSURING  EQUALITY   FOR  OPPRESSED CLASSES BY CURBING  THE  FUNDAMENTAL  AND   CIVIL    RIGHTS.”

The 1st amendment of indian constitution was made less than 16 months after the enactment of constitution and took mere 16 days to get passed by the parliament, this account has been rightly called as 16 stormy days by Tripurdaman singh in his book written on this account. How can a finest, lengthiest and one of the most sophisticated pieces of legislation which took 2 years, 11 months and 16 days in its formation fall short on its promises in a duration of less than 16 months of its enactment?

This amendment paved the path for the 1st revolution in independent india. Even before we had green, white, yellow or blue revolution, we had the nehruvian revolution laying the foundation of the nehruvian state.

This amendment taught us the importance of a strong opposition to run a perfect democracy.

The Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951.   

Date of introduction in parliament 10.may.1951
Referred to select committee16.may.1951
Passed in parliament2.june.1951
Enforcement date18.June. 1951
Total no. of amendments14
objectTo overcome the difficulties brought in line by the judicial decisions areas such as:1.Article 192. Article 313.in implementing agrarian reforms.

History behind the 1st Amendment

The Constitution blessed the Indians with a strong and independent judiciary which came to the rescue of people from any kind of atrocities. After independence the judiciary passed certain landmark judgments to undermine which this amendment was brought into light.

In Brij Bhushan v. state of Delhi 1950 AIR 129The supreme court upheld the liberty ofPress and said that pre censorship violates fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression.
Romesh thapar v. State of Madras 1950 AIR 124The court held that the order of the state government banning the entry of weekly magazine in certain parts of madras is invalid and held that freedom of speech and expression includes freedom to propagate ideas by circulating the magazine.
3.Champakam Dorairajan v. State of Madras 1951AIR 1951 SC 226The madras high court and later on supreme court declared government orders providing caste based reservation unconstitutional.

With elections around the corner the govt choose to go for an amendment which made the following changes:

Salient feature of constitution 1st amendment

Reservation under Article 15(4) ( Article 15 : prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth)The state has the right to frame any law for socially and educationally backward classes and for SC/ST.
Reasonable restriction on freedoms under Article 19 :protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc.Article 19(2) curb free speech in the name of :A.interest of security of the state.B.friendly relations with foreign.C.public order.D.decency or morality.E.contempt of court.F.defamation.G.incitement of offense.Article 19(6) state can prescribe any prerequisites for carrying profession, occupation and trade.
Insertion of Article 31A : saving of laws providing for acquisition of estates etc.Give a blanket protection to all kinds of land acquisition laws providing acquisition by state shall stand valid irrespective of anything contained in part 3 of constitution
Insertion of Article 31B: validation of certain Acts and regulations. (constitutional vault) along with the 9th schedule of constitution.Any law added in 9th schedule shall be immune to judicial review. A total of 13 Acts were added in the 9th schedule with this amendment. All in one way or another deal with land reforms.

These are the most controversial amendments made in 1951 because they :

1 Directly attack the fundamental rights given to citizens.

2 ousted the judiciary from reviewing the land acquisition laws.

3 try to please one sector of society thereby building a strong vote bank.

4 create a deadly provision such as the 9th schedule in which any law that violates the fundamental rights given by constitution or secured by any judgment, decree, order of court or tribunal shall still remain valid and operative. Moreover it also is beyond the powers of the judiciary to review.

Besides these some other amendments that were not significant enough to grab attention were some minor changes in the provisions of:

  1. Article 85 session of parliament, prorogation and dissolution.
  2. Article 87  special address by president.
  3. Article 174 session of state legislature, prorogation and dissolution.
  4. Article 176 special address by governor.
  5. Article 341 scheduled caste.
  6. Article 342 scheduled tribes.
  7. Article 376 provisions as to judges of high court.

Judicial response to 1st amendment

Golak nath v. state of punjab1967 AIR 1643, 1967 SCR(2) 762The Supreme Court held that parliament has no power to make any amendment that curb or take away the fundamental rights.
Kesavananda bharati v. state of kerala(1973) 4 SCC 225; AIR 1973 SC 1461The parliament can amend any part of the constitution but cant amend the basic structure.The doctrine of basic structure was formulated.
Waman rao v. union of india(1981) 2 SCC 362, 1981 2 SCR 1The additions made in 9th schedule before 24 april 1973 are held as valid but any amendment made after this date shall be open for judicial review.
I.R. Coelho v. state of tamil naduAppeal (civil) 1344-45 of 1976Any amendment made in 9th schedule after 24 april 1974 shall be tested on the basis of its validity under Article 14, 19 and21.The 9th schedule is valid and not open for challenge.

In current times all the amendments made in the 1st amendment are applicable subject to the judgments of supreme court in I.R. Coelho case. The supremacy of judiciary is still intact which is necessary for a healthy democracy as said by John Rutledge 

“So long as we have an independent judiciary, the great interests of the people will be safe.”

This article is written by Daman preet kaue, pursuing law from punjabi university, patiala.

Bibliography 

Universal bare act on constitution of india.

Legislative.gov.in

Constitutionofindia.net

Tribuneindia.com

Caravanmagazine.in

https://www.legalserviceindia.com

indianexpress.com

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