Article 368 in Part XX of the Constitution deals with the powers of Parliament to amend the Constitution and its procedure.
Types of Amendments in Indian Constitution
1. Amendment by simple majority of the Parliament
2. Amendment by special majority of the Parliament
3. Amendment by special majority of the Parliament and the ratification of at least half of the state legislatures.
1. By Simple Majority of Parliament
These provisions include:
- Admission or establishment of new states.
- Formation of new states and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing states.
- Abolition or creation of legislative councils in states.
- Second Schedule-emoluments, Allowances, privileges and so on of the president, the governors, the Speakers, judges, etc.
- Salaries and allowances of the members of Parliament.
- Rules of procedure in Parliament.
- Privileges of the Parliament, its members and its committees.
- Conferment of more jurisdiction on the Supreme Court.
- Citizenship-acquisition and termination.
- Elections to Parliament and state legislatures.
2. By Special Majority of Parliament
- A majority (that is, more than 50 percent) of the total membership of each House and a majority of two- thirds of the members of each House present and voting.
- The special majority is required only for voting at the third reading stage of the bill but by way of abundant caution.
- The provisions which can be amended by this way include:
(i) Fundamental Rights;
(ii) Directive Principles of State Policy; and
(iii) All other provisions which are not covered by the first and third categories.
3. By Special Majority of Parliament and Consent of States
The following provisions can be amended in this way:
- Election of the President and its manner.
- Extent of the executive power of the Union and the states.
- Supreme Court and high courts.
- Distribution of legislative powers between
- The Union and the states.
- Any of the lists in the Seventh Schedule.
- Representation of states in Parliament.
- Power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and its procedure (Article 368 itself).
Constitutional Amendment Process
The procedure for the amendment of the Constitution as laid down in Article 368 is as follows:
- An amendment of the Constitution can be initiated only by the introduction of a bill for the purpose in either House of Parliament (Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha) and not in the state legislatures.
- The bill can be introduced either by a minister or by a private member.
- The bill must be passed in each House by a special majority, that is, a majority (that is, more than 50 per cent).
- Each House must pass the bill separately.
- If the bill seeks to amend the federal provisions of the Constitution, it must also be ratified by the legislatures of half of the states by a simple majority,
- After the president’s assent, the bill becomes an Act (i.e., a constitutional amendment act) and the Constitution stands amended in accordance with the terms of the Act.
Criticism of Amendment Procedure
The following are the criticisms of the Amendment procedure:
- The State Legislatures have a mere voice in the Amendment procedure.
- India lacks the provision of seeking public opinion on any Constitutional Amendment.
- Any time limit regarding ratification by States has not been provided. As a result such amendments can be killed if the States take no action.
- An amendment in order to be valid should be passed by both the Houses. There may be differences in opinion between the Houses but any procedure regarding solving it has not been provided in the Constitution.