An ‘Amendment’ is a formal alteration to a statute, contract, constitution, or another legally binding instrument. Essentially, the goal of any change is to make things better. The modification could be an update, with elements of these agreements being added or removed. Only the legislative branch has the authority to make adjustments and participate in the amendment process.
Ways in which the Constitution can be amended
There are 3 ways by which amendments may take place. Those ways are as follows:
- The amendment must be approved by a simple majority of the Parliament.
- The amendment must be approved by a special majority of the Parliament.
- Amendments must be approved by a special majority of Parliament and at least half of the state legislatures.
Need for Amendments
The Indian Constitution is the supreme law of the country, outlining the country’s core political code, structure, procedures, powers, and responsibilities of government institutions, as well as citizens’ fundamental rights, directive principles, and responsibilities. Over time, amendments are required to change insufficient provisions, adapt to new demands, and supplement rights, among other things. A constitution’s wording cannot otherwise reflect social realities and political requirements throughout time.
Article 356 of the Indian Constitution
This provision was taken from Section 93 of the Government of India Act of 1935. It was met with fierce opposition from independence fighters at the time, forcing the British authorities to put it on hold. However, for the sake of preserving democracy, federalism, and stability in the post-independence age, this provision was placed into the Constitution.
‘Provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in State,’ according to Article 356. This article, also known as the ‘State Emergency,’ gives the Indian President the authority to suspend state government and impose President’s rule on any state in the country “if he is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the state’s government cannot be carried on by the provisions of the Constitution.” In other words, it permits the Union government to take direct control of state machinery if a state administration fails to operate by constitutional obligations.
Article 356 as stated in the Constitution:
356. Provisions in case of failure of constitutional machinery in State
(1) If the President, on receipt of the report from the Governor of the State or otherwise, is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the government of the State cannot be carried on by the provisions of this Constitution, the President may be Proclamation
(a) assume to himself all or any of the functions of the Government of the State and all or any of the powers vested in or exercisable by the Governor or anybody or authority in the State other than the Legislature of the State;
(b) declare that the powers of the Legislature of the State shall be exercisable by or under the authority of Parliament;
(c) make such incidental and consequential provisions as appear to the president to be necessary or desirable for giving effect to the objects of the Proclamation, including provisions for suspending in whole or in part the operation of any provisions of this constitution relating to anybody or authority in the State Provided that nothing in this clause shall authorise the President to assume to himself any of the powers vested in or exercisable by a High Court or to suspend in whole or in part the operation of any provision of this Constitution relating to High Courts
(2) Any such Proclamation may be revoked or varied by a subsequent Proclamation
(3) Every Proclamation issued under this article except where it is a Proclamation revoking a previous Proclamation, cease to operate at the expiration of two months unless before the expiration of that period it has been approved by resolutions of both Houses of Parliament Provided that if any such Proclamation (not being a Proclamation revoking a previous Proclamation) is issued at a time when the House of the People is dissolved or the dissolution of the House of the People takes place during the period of two months referred to in this clause, and if a resolution approving the Proclamation has been passed by the Council of States, but no resolution with respect to such Proclamation has been passed by the House of the People before the expiration of that period, the Proclamation Shall cease to operate at the expiration of thirty days from the date on which the House of the People first sits after its reconstitution unless before the expiration of the said period of thirty days a resolution approving the Proclamation has been also passed by the House of the People
(4) A Proclamation so approved shall, unless revoked, cease to operate on the expiration of a period of six months from the date of issue of the Proclamation: Provided that if and so often as a resolution approving the continuance in force of such a Proclamation is passed by both Houses of Parliament, the Proclamation shall, unless revoked, continue in force for a further period of six months from the date on which under this clause it would otherwise have ceased to operating, but no such Proclamation shall in any case remain in force for more than three years: Provided further that if the dissolution of the House of the People takes place during any such period of six months and a resolution approving the continuance in force of such Proclamation has been passed by the Council of States, but no resolution with respect to the continuance in force of such Proclamation has been passed by the House of the People during the said period, the Proclamation shall cease to operate at the expiration of thirty days from the date on which the House of the People first sits after its reconstitution unless before the expiration of the said period of thirty days a resolution approving the continuance in force of the Proclamation has been also passed by the House of the People
(5) Notwithstanding anything contained in clause (4), a resolution concerning the continuance in force of a Proclamation approved under clause (3) for any period beyond the expiration of one year from the date of issue of such proclamation shall not be passed by either House of Parliament unless
(a) a Proclamation of Emergency is in operation, in the whole of India or, as the case may be, in the whole or any part of the State, at the time of the passing of such resolution, and
(b) the Election Commission certifies that the continuance in force of the Proclamation approved under clause (3) during the period specified in such resolution is necessary on account of difficulties in holding general elections to the Legislative Assembly of the State concerned: Provided that in the case of the Proclamation issued under clause (1) on the 6th day of October 1985 concerning the State of Punjab, the reference in this clause to any period beyond the expiration of two years
Major Drawbacks of Article 356
This article has been abused by numerous governors, and the result has been a terrible chapter in Indian history. The following are some of the significant flaws of Article 356 that have been identified as “Political Misuse”:
- The Sarkaria Committee said in 2015 that it has been utilised over 100 times since independence. It was nearly always employed for political reasons rather than to solve a genuine problem.
- Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi utilised Article 356 27 times to depose majority governments based on political stability, lack of a clear mandate, or withdrawal of support, among other reasons.
- When the Janata administration became the government for the first time in 1977, they dismissed nine state Congress governments.
- Because of the state’s profoundly fractured internal politics and long periods of conflict, Manipur has seen the most frequent use of Article 356.
- With their fractured polities, the politically important states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been on the centre’s radar.
The 67th Amendment of the Constitution
An Act to modify the Indian Constitution was introduced on October 4, 1990. This Act was known as the ‘Sixty-Seventh Amendment Act, 1990,’ and it allowed the President’s administration in Punjab to be extended for a total of four years.
Article 356 has been amended numerous times since its inception. The following is a list of proposed amendments to Article 356:
- 38th Amendment
- 42nd Amendment
- 44th Amendment
- 48th Amendment
- 59th Amendment
- 63rd Amendment
- 67th Amendment
- 68th Amendment
A few more adjustments may be on the horizon, since the law-making body may discover more flaws in this article over time and make changes for the betterment and welfare of the people.
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