SALIENT FEATURES OF THE 76TH AMENDMENT OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION

Introduction

The constitution contains the rights and duties of citizens along with the set of rules and regulations defining the relationship between the state and the citizens, the duties and powers of the state, and its instrumentalities. The constitution is adopted on the 26th of November 1949 and on the 26th of January 1950 it came into force. The constitution of a country is often called the supreme law as it forms the basis and is the origin of all the other laws. The constitution may be written or unwritten. Indian constitution is a written constitution. It is the lengthiest written constitution in the world. No law can be made in contravention of the constitution. The constitution defines the powers of the legislature to make laws. The legislature can make the laws only to the extent that is allowed to do so by the constitution. The constitution can be of two kinds. It can be rigid or flexible. But our Indian constitution is both rigid and flexible.

What is an amendment?

An amendment is a process of altering or amending a law or a document such as a constitution by the parliamentary or constitutional procedure. 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.

The constitution of any country is an everchanging document, more so of a country like India with the longest written constitution of an independent country. Amendments or modifications to the constitution are an inevitable part of democracy, forgoing with changing times and changing ideologies. The founding fathers of the constitution accordingly drafted the amendment provisions of the constitution.

Amendment of Indian constitution

Article 368 of the Indian constitution deals with the power of parliament to amend the constitution and its procedure. Indian constitution is both rigid and flexible. The process is, however, not that easy. It has been mentioned that the Parliament can change its procedures but cannot amend those provisions which are the basis of the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution. In the Kesavanand Bharati case, the supreme court ruled that the basic structure of the constitution cannot be amended. There are primarily three types of amendment procedure provided for amendment of the Indian constitution, namely those requiring:

  • Simple majority
  • Special majority and
  • Special majority with ratification by half of the state legislatures

The 76th amendment of the Indian constitution

Statement of Objects and Reasons appended to the Constitution (Eighty-fifth Amendment) Bill, 1994 which was enacted as THE CONSTITUTION (Seventy-sixth Amendment) Act, 1994

STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS

1. The policy of reservation of seats in Educational Institutions and reservation of appointments of posts in public services for Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes has had a long history in Tamil Nadu dating back to the year 1921. The extent of reservation has been increased by the State Government from time to time, consistent with the needs of the majority of the people and it has now reached the level of 69 percent.

2. The Supreme Court delivered its judgment in Indira Sawhney and others Vs. Union of India and Others (AIR 1993 SC 477) on 16th November 1992, holding that the total reservations under Article 16(4) should not exceed 50 percent.

3. The issue of admission to educational institutions for the academic year 1993-94 came up before the High Court of Madras in a writ petition. The High Court of Madras held that the Tamil Nadu Government could continue its reservation policy as hitherto followed during that academic year and that the quantum of reservation should be brought down to 50 percent. during the academic year 1994-95. The Government of Tamil Nadu had filed a Special Leave Petition against the High Court of Madras so that the present reservation policy of the State Government should be reaffirmed to ensure to continue the advancement of the Backward Classes. However, the Supreme Court of India passed an interim order reiterating that the reservation should not exceed 50 percent. in the matter of admission to educational institutions.

4. In the special Session of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly held on 9th November 1993, it had been unanimously resolved to call upon the Central Government to take steps immediately to bring a suitable amendment to the Constitution of India as to enable the Government of Tamil Nadu to continue its policy of 69 percent. reservation in Government Services and for admission in Educational Institutions as at present. An all-parties meeting had also been held on 26th November 1993 in Tamil Nadu urging that there should not be any doubt or delay in ensuring the continued implementation of 69 percent. reservation for the welfare and advancement of the backward classes.

5. The Tamil Nadu Government enacted legislation namely Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institution and of appointments or posts in the Services under the State) Bill, 1993 and forwarded it to the Government of India for consideration of the President of India in terms of Article 31-C of the Constitution.

6. Given the importance and sensitive nature of the matter, the Union Home Minister held meetings with the leaders of Political Parties on 13th July 1994 to discuss the provisions of the Bill. The consensus among the leaders was that the Bill should be assented to. Accordingly, the President gave his assent to the Bill on 19th July 1994.

7. The Tamil Nadu Government accordingly notified the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and appointment or posts in the Services under the State) Act, 1993 as Act No. 45 of 1994 on 19th July 1994.

8. The Tamil Nadu Government requested the Government of India on 22nd July 1994 that the aforementioned Tamil Nadu Act 45 of 1994 be included in the Ninth Schedule to the Constitution of India for the reasons given below:-

“The said Act attracts article 31C of the Constitution, as falling within the purview of clauses (b) and (c) of article 39 and articles 38 and 46 of the Constitution-vide section 2 of the Act. The Act has been passed relying on the directive principles of State Policy enshrined in Part IV of the Constitution and in particular, articles 38, 39 (b) and (c) and 46 of the Constitution. As the Act is to give effect to the directive principles of State Policy contained, inter alia, in articles 39(b) and (c), the said Act will get the protection of Article 31C of the Constitution and therefore, cannot be challenged under articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution, regarding which article 14, the reservation exceeding 50 percent. has been struck down by the Supreme Court. Now it has been decided to address the Government of India for including the Act in the Ninth Schedule to the Constitution, so that the law cannot be challenged as violative of any of the fundamental rights contained in Part III of the Constitution including articles 15 and 16, and gets protection under article 31B of the Constitution.”

9. The Government of India has already supported the provision of the State legislation by giving the President’s assent to the Tamil Nadu Bill. As a corollary to this decision, it is now necessary that the Tamil Nadu Act 45 of 1994 is brought within the purview of the Ninth Schedule to the Constitution so that it gets protection under article 31B of the Constitution in regard to the judicial review.

10. The Bill seeks to achieve the aforementioned objective.

NEW DELHI; SITARAM KESRI.

The 23rd August, 1994.

THE CONSTITUTION (SEVENTY-SIXTH AMENDMENT) ACT, 1994

[31st August, 1994.]

An Act further to amend the Constitution of India.

BE it enacted by Parliament in the Forty-fifth Year of the Republic of India as follows:-

1. Short title.-This Act may be called the Constitution (Seventy-sixth Amendment) Act, 1994.

2. Amendment of the Ninth Schedule.-In the Ninth Schedule to the Constitution, after entry 257 and before the Explanation, the following entry shall be inserted, namely:-

“257A. The Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institution and of Appointments or Posts in the Services under the State) Act, 1993 (Tamil Nadu Act 45 of 1994).”.

Conclusion

Society in any country is not static. It changes from time to time. The people who think some act as a crime in past may not consider it a crime in the future. One of such things is child marriages which are common and part of our tradition in the olden days but now the practice of child marriage is an offense. Triple talaq was a religious and acceptable way of giving instant talaq to the wife by the husband. Triple talaq was acceptable in the olden days but now it is a crime. From the above things, we may conclude that as the society and thinking of people change in a country the laws should also mold according to those changes, which makes a better society and a fascinating country to live in. Hence amendments are necessary, without amendments to constitution which is the supreme law the country will be in anarchy.

References

  1. https://www.india.gov.in/my-government/constitution-india/amendments/constitution-india-seventy-sixth-amendment-act-1994
  2. https://www.jagranjosh.com/general-knowledge/important-amendments-to-the-constitution-1292048897-1#:~:text=The%20Constitution%20(76th%20Amendment)%20Act,Scheduled%20Castes%20and%20Scheduled%20Tribes.

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