Amendments of Constitution

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The Indian Constitution, like every other written constitution, includes provisions for change in order to adapt to new circumstances and demands. However, the process set forth for its revision is neither as simple as that of Britain nor as challenging as that of the USA. In other words, the Indian Constitution is a mixture of both rigidity and flexibility.
The Constitution’s Part XX, Article 368, details the methods by which Parliament may modify the Constitution. It provides that the Parliament may alter any provision of the Constitution by way of addition, variation, or repeal in line with the procedure established for that purpose. However, the Constitution’s ‘fundamental structure‘ cannot be changed by the Parliament. The Supreme Court ruled on this in the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973).

Constitutional changes in India

Process

Article 368 of the Indian Constitution specifies the steps to change the document. A two-thirds majority of the members present and voting must approve an amendment for it to be adopted in either the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. They also require approval from at least half of the state legislatures.

Significant Changes

  1. The First Amendment (1951): This amendment made a number of amendments, including the addition of justifiable limitations on the freedoms of speech and expression, of assembly, and of organization and of union-forming. Additionally, in order to support land reforms, the term “estate” was redefined.
  2. The Forty-Second Amendment (1976): Introduced during the Emergency, this contentious amendment greatly increased the power of the federal government. Additionally, it narrowed the scope of judicial review of constitutional modifications and inserted the word “secular” to the preamble.
  3. The third and fourth amendments to the constitution, passed in 1992: In addition to seat reservations for members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, these revisions also included measures relating to local self-government (Panchayats and Municipalities).
  4. The One Hundred and First Amendment (2016): (2016)’s The One Hundred and First Amendment The Goods and Services Tax (GST), a major indirect tax reform that replaced numerous levies at the state and federal levels, was established by this amendment.

Constitutional changes in the United States

Process

Article V of the American Constitution describes the amendment procedure. A national constitutional convention may be called for by two-thirds of the state legislatures or by a vote of both houses of Congress with a two-thirds majority. Ratification can take place through conventions held within the states or through the support of three-fourths (38 out of 50) of state legislatures.

Significant Changes

  1. The Bill of Rights (1791): The U.S. Constitution’s first ten amendments, often referred to as the Bill of Rights, were added in 1791 to safeguard individual liberty. They cover things like the right to freedom of speech, of religion, and of the bear weapons.
  2. The Thirteenth Amendment (1865): This amendment ended institutionalized racial discrimination by outlawing slavery in the United States.
  3. The Nineteenth Amendment (1920): The Nineteenth Amendment (1920) gave women the right to vote, which was a significant development in the fight for gender equality.
  4. The Twenty-Sixth Amendment (1971): By lowering the voting age from 21 to 18, the Twenty-Sixth Amendment (1971) gave young adults the ability to exercise their right to vote.
  5. The Twenty-first Amendment (1933): The Eighteenth Amendment, which had established Prohibition, was repealed by the Twenty-first Amendment (1933), which put an end to the prohibition on the sale and consumption of alcoholic drinks.

Comparative Viewpoint

  1. Flexibility vs. Rigidity: In terms of revisions, the Indian Constitution is more adaptable, permitting alterations to a wider range of sections. The U.S. Constitution, in comparison, is more rigorous, making modifications less common and more difficult to accomplish.
  2. Role of the Judiciary: The judiciary’s role is crucial in both nations’ interpretation and maintenance of the constitution’s fundamental principles. In India, the judiciary has occasionally overturned constitutional modifications that it determined to have violated the document’s fundamental principles, as in the instance of the Kesavananda Bharati ruling.
  3. Evolution: Both constitutions have undergone modifications throughout time to reflect shifting social, political, and economic circumstances. These changes are a result of the need for structural and legislative reforms as well as changes in societal values.

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