A constitution is a set of rules and regulations on how a country should be governed. The constitution of a country lays the foundational law and principles on which the people are to be governed and also carves out the basic structure of the political system. The roles and responsibilities of different organs of the government, that is the executive, the judiciary, and the legislature are divided in the constitution for smooth and good governance. In terms of size, the Indian constitution is the lengthiest all over the world. Originally the Indian constitution consisted of 395 articles 22 parts and 8 schedules. The Constitution of India was adopted on November 26, 1949, and it came into force on the 26th of January,1950. 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. 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.
THE CONSTITUTION (SEVENTY SEVENTH AMENDMENT) ACT,1995
For the welfare and upbringing of the standard of living of unrecognized groups who faced severe discrimination and untouchability in the past, the constitution under article 341 and article 342 provides reservations for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes have been enjoying the facility of reservation in the promotion since 1955. The reservation for scheduled caste and scheduled tribes were provided in educational institutions, in public employment ,in Lok sabha, and so on. Even though reservation is provided to scheduled caste and scheduled tribes the standard of living and their position in the society hasn’t changed much. There is still discrimination some sort of negligence against them. To change this the government decided to provide reservations for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes to promotion of jobs. But the Supreme Court in its judgment dated 16th November 1992 in the case of Indra Sawhney and Others vs. Union of India and Others, observed that reservation of appointments or posts under Article 16(4) of the Constitution is confined to initial appointment and cannot extend to the reservation in the matter of promotion. The reservation should not cross the 50% mark. This ruling of the Supreme Court will affect the interests of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. Since the representation of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes in services in the States has not reached the required level, it is essential to continue the existing policy of providing reservation in promotion in the case of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
The Government to protect the interest of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes has decided to continue the existing policy of reservation in promotion for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. To carry out this, it is necessary to amend article 16 of the Constitution by inserting a new clause (4A) in the said article to provide for reservation in promotion for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes. Article 16 of the Indian constitution deals with equality of opportunity in matters of public employment. The seventy-seventh amendment of the constitution amends article 16. The amendment inserts clause 4A to article 16 of the Indian constitution.
An Act further amended the Constitution of India.
It was enacted by Parliament in the Forty-sixth Year of the Republic of India as follows:-
1. Short title.-This Act may be called the Constitution (Seventy-seventh Amendment) Act, 1995.
2. Amendment of article 16.-In article 16 of the Constitution, after clause (4), the following clause shall be inserted, namely:-
“(4A) Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for reservation in matters of promotion to any class or classes of posts in the services under the State in favor of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes which, in the opinion of the State, are not adequately represented in the services under the State.”.
From the above information, we may conclude that the seventy-seventh amendment of the constitution extends the reservation of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in promotions. Constitutions need to be amended from time to time by removing the outdated provisions which are inadequate and adding the new provisions in response to new needs in the society. Hence amendments are important.
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