The Indian Constitution is the largest in the world. The Constitution proclaims India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic that ensures justice, equality, and freedom for its citizens and endeavours to promote brotherhood. Generally, there are two types of amendment procedures – Rigid and Flexible. Under the rigid system, it is very difficult for the people to amend the constitution. This type of system is followed in countries like the USA, Australia, etc. Under the flexible system, amendments can be made easily to the constitution. The Indian Constitution is considered rigid as well as flexible which means that some of its provisions can be amended by using a simple majority while some of them cannot. According to Article 368 of the Indian Constitution, the parliament can make amendments to the constitution. Article 368 of the Constitution of India provides for three types of amendments to the Constitution of India i.e., by a simple legislative majority (Lok Sabha & Rajya Sabha) and the second type of amendment is by a special parliamentary majority, and the third type is with the approval of a special majority and by half the total state. However, it was held in the landmark case of Kesavananda Bharati Ors. v. State of Kerala, that the parliament cannot amend the basic structure of the constitution. The basic structure of the constitution includes judicial review, Free and fair elections, the nation’s Federal nature and separation of powers, etc. So far 104 amendments have been made to the constitution.
The reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was set to expire on 26 January 2020 as mandated by the Ninety-Fifth Amendment. To stop this, the Constitution (One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2019 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Law and Justice, Mr Ravi Shankar Prasad. The Bill amended provisions related to the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs). The Constitution provides for reservation of seats for SCs and STs and representation of the Anglo-Indian community by nomination, in Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies of states. This has been provided for 70 years since the enactment of the Constitution and was going to expire on January 25, 2020. The Bill extended the reservation for SCs and STs by another 10 years till January 25, 2030. Although the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes have made considerable progress in the last 70 years, the reasons which weighed with the Constituent Assembly in making provisions concerning the aforesaid reservation of seats have not yet ceased to exist. Therefore, to retain the inclusive character as envisioned by the founding fathers of the Constitution, it is proposed to continue the reservation of seats for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes for another ten years i.e., up to 25th January 2030 – Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Law and Justice. The amendment does not, however, extend the period of reservation of the 2 Lok Sabha seats reserved for members of the Anglo-Indian Community and thus the practice of nominating two members from the Anglo-Indian community by the President of India under the recommendation of the Prime Minister of India was effectively abolished. The bill was unanimously passed by both the houses of the parliament and came into effect on 25 January 2020.
Although having provisions to amend the constitution was progressive to the fathers of our nation, such provisions mustn’t be misused. Misuse could lead to undue legislative or executive authority that could rip apart the fabric of our society. Indians may not always know all the procedural details of this lengthy and imperfect document, but they know the core — that it’s not the whims of political greed that govern them, but the constitutional words. And on Republic Day, this is worth celebrating. the conditions that led to 104 institutional changes and hundreds of interpretational amendments will make one miserable. Nevertheless, the Constitution lasted seven decades despite various attacks by the Parliament and the judiciary.
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