Every country must have a constitution as is the supreme law and plays like guide in governing the country. Indian constitution is the supreme law of the land and is one of the lengthiest constitutions of the world. It originally had 395 articles divided into 22 parts and 8 schedules. But after many amendments, it now consists of 448 articles divided into 25 parts and 12 schedules. The Indian constitution is a combination of both rigidity as well as flexibility.
Amendment simply means to make some changes in the constitutional provisions. So, it means adding or deleting some provisions of the constitution. The framers of our constitution have given the power to the parliament to amend the constitution as per Article 368 of the Indian constitution. Though, the parliament has the power to amend but it cannot amend the basic structure of the constitution as per Article 368 (1) PART XX. As of now, there have been 105 amendments of the constitution of India since it was first enacted in 1950. This amending power is very much necessary and useful as it helps in changing with the change in society. As we know in this fast developing era mind set of the people changes rapidly, when it happens society too needs a change that only way to make law useful to the society which is almost possible with the amendment power of the parliament
Basic structure Doctrine
The basic structure doctrine means that any amendment which tries to change the basic structure of the constitution is considered as invalid as it talks about the essence and aim of this text . The word ‘basic structure’ is not mentioned anywhere in the constitution. This was held in the landmark case of Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala. So, the Supreme Court in this case gave a very important judgement which restricts the parliament from making unnecessary constitutional amendments.
Justice Hans Raj Khanna stated in this case basic structure doctrine which makes it clear that the basic structure cannot be altered by the amendments of the parliament. Though basic structure is not defined anywhere in the constitution, it reflects through some of its constituents (as many time defined and narrated by the judiciary), i.e. Republic nature of India, sovereignty, Rule of Law, republic nature of Indian polity, liberty, judicial review, secularism, Separation of power etc.
The main purpose of this doctrine is to protect the soul idea and philosophy and aim of the original constitution. This doctrine only applies to constitutional amendments, mainly those amendments that can destroy or alter the basic philosophical ideas of the original constitution. So any law which violates basic structure doctrine is declared as null or void by Supreme Court.
So, in the Beruberi case, the Supreme Court held that the preamble is not a part of the constitution. Article 368 empowers the parliament to amend the constitution only. But, in Kesavananda Bharati v state of Kerala case, it was held that parliament can amend the preamble as well but it cannot amend the basic structure of the constitution.
Procedure for amendment
Our Indian constitution mainly provides for three ways of amendment as following:-
- Simple Majority:-
First method of amendment, amendment can be done by the two houses of the parliament simple majority of the members present and voting of before sending it for the assent of the president.
- Special Majority:-
Special majority is required for the amendment in which 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.
- Special Majority with Ratification:-
In the third category of the amendment, besides 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.
8th constitutional amendment
- This amendment amended Article 334 of the Constitution.
- Extended the period of reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and the Anglo-Indians in the Lok Sabha and the State Legislative Assemblies.
- Earlier, the reservation period was for ten years. Through this amendment, it was extended upto twenty years.
- The Indian constitution has amended 105 amendments so far. Article 334 of the constitution gives special powers to the parliament to amend the constitution. The 8th amendment to the constitution of India happened on 16th November 1959 made amendment to the Article 334 of the Indian constitution which is regarded of reservation. Reservation period was for ten years. Through this amendment, it was extended upto twenty years.
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