Salient Features of the 66th Amendment of the Constitution

Introduction

The constitution of India, 1950 is the most lengthiest and most detailed of all written constitutions of the world. While the American constitution originally consisted of 7 Articles, Australian constitution 128, Canadian constitution 147 and Indian constitution originally had 395 Articles divided into 22 parts and 8 schedules. Through Amendment acts many more articles have been added, deleted and later changed by amendment acts. Currently, Indian constitution consists of 448 Articles divided into 25 parts and 12 schedules.

Amendment

Amendment simply means to alter or make some changes by adding or deleting of some provisions. So, constitutional amendment, simply means to make some changes in the constitutional provisions by adding or deleting something. According to Article 368 of the Indian constitution the power of amending the constitution has been given to the parliament by the farmers of the constitution. Though the parliament has the power to amend the constitution, but it has some restrictions too, that they cannot amend the basic structure of the constitution as per Article 368(1) PART XX.

Basic structure doctrine

The basic structure theory of the Indian Constitution applies only to constitutional amendments, which states that the Parliament cannot alter or destroy the basic features of the Constitution of India. These features includes (1) Supremacy of the constitution. (2) Republican and democratic form of govt. (3) Secular character of constitution. (4) Separation of power. (5) Federal character of constitution.

Bills to amend the constitution can be introduced only in the Parliament, but this power of the parliament is not absolute. If the Supreme Court finds any law made by the Parliament as inconsistent with the constitution, it has the power to declare that law as invalid. Thus, in order to preserve the ideals and philosophy of the original constitution, the Supreme Court has laid down a doctrine called as the basic structure doctrine. According to this doctrine, the Parliament cannot destroy or alter the basic structure of the constitution.

The Supreme Court gave this landmark judgement in the case of the famous case Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala.

This case is also known as the Fundamental Rights case. This case was decided on 24 April, 1973.

The nine signatories to the statement were

  1. Chief Justice S M Sikri
  2. J. M. Shelat
  3. K. S. Hegde
  4. A. N. Grover
  5. B. Jaganmohan Reddy
  6. D. G. Palekar
  7. H R Khanna
  8. A. K. Mukherjee
  9. Y.V. Chandrachud.

Four judges did not sign the judgment

  1. A. N. Ray,
  2. K. K. Mathew
  3. M. H. Beg
  4. S. N. Dwivedi.

Procedure for amendment of the constitution

Our Indian constitution provides for three categories of amendment.

In the first category, the amendment can be done by the both houses of the parliament simple majority of the members present and voting of before sending it for the president’s assent.

In the second category, a special majority is required for the amendment. Such an amendment can be passed by the each house of the parliament by a majority of the total members of that House as well as by 2/3rd majority of members present and voting in each House of the parliament and send for the president’s assent which cannot be denied by him.

In the third category of the amendment, along with the special majority mentioned in the second category, the same has to be also approved by a minimum of 50% of the state Legislatures.

So, Our constitution provides for various types amendments ranging from the simple to the most difficult type by depending on the nature of the amendment.

66th Constitutional Amendment

The 66th constitutional amended was amended on 7 June, 1990

STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS

Article 31B of the Constitution confers on the enactments included in the Ninth Schedule to the Constitution immunity from legal challenge on the ground that they violate the fundamental rights enshrined in Part III of the Constitution.

 In the past, whenever it was found that progressive legislation which was conceived in the public interest was endangered by litigation, the recourse was taken to the Ninth Schedule. Several State enactments related to the land reforms and ceiling on agricultural land holdings have already been included in the Ninth Schedule. Since the Government is committed to give importance to land reforms, it is decided to include all land reform laws in the Ninth Schedule so that they are not challenged before the courts. The State Governments of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and administration of the Union territory of Pondicherry have suggested the inclusion of some of their Acts relating to land reforms in the Ninth Schedule.

 Since the Amendment to Acts which are already placed in the Ninth Schedule are not automatically immunized from legal challenge, some amending Acts are also proposed to be included in the Ninth Schedule. The Acts which are proposed to be included in the Ninth Schedule have been examined. In order to ensure that implementation of these Acts is not adversely affected by litigation, it is proposed to include them in the Ninth Schedule.

 So, the 66th constitutional amendment happened on 7 June, 1990 amended the 9th schedule by placing land reforms acts and amendments to these acts under schedule 9 of the constition.

Conclusion

Every country has a constitution as it helps and guides in governing the country. Likewise, Indian also has a constitution which is the most lengthiest of all the written constitutions of the world. The constitutions can be of different types. They can be written or unwritten, rigid or flexible, enacted or evolved etc. The Indian Constitution is a written constitution which is framed over a period of 2 years 11 months and 18 days. Unlike, our Indian constitution the British constitution is an unwritten constitution which is evolved over a long period of time. As the framers of the constitution gives power to the parliament to amend the constitution but they cannot amend the basic structure of the constitution.  The Indian constitution has gone through a total of 105 amendments so far.

Reference

  1. 66th Amendment in Constitution of India | 66 Constitutional Amendment (indianconstitution.in)
  2. Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala – Wikipedia

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