Important amendments in the Constitution of India

By | January 20, 2021
Important amendments in the Constitution of India

The present article ‘Important amendments in the Constitution of India’ aims to provide a depth overview of the major amendments brought in the Indian Constitution so far. The article provides an introductory explanation on article 368 of the Constitution of India that deals with the process of amendment in the constitution.

The provision enlists certain reasons in which scenarios, bringing an amendment to the constitution will be valid. It also discussed the basic structure of the Indian constitution that is said not be amended in any case, except when necessary. Therefore, the article will cite the reasons when an amendment can be done in the constitution and lists all the amendments brought yet so far in the Indian constitution. Each of the major constitutional amendments is listed with the respective year they were brought and then are discussed briefly.

Introduction

The Constitution of India is both rigid and flexible, meaning it is hard to amend but virtually flexible. Article 368 of the constitution empowers the parliament to amend it and its procedures, except the basic structure of the constitution. However, the process to bring amendment in the constitution must be through a provision which must be made in any of the houses of parliament and passed through a large majority or by a simple majority later. After the resolution is passed, it is submitted before the President for his/her assent.

The provision under Article 368 states three forms of constitutional amendments. The first form is by a simple legislative majority in both the houses of parliament, and the second one is by a special parliamentary majority, and the third one is amendment brought by approval of special majority and by half of the total state.[1] But it is noteworthy that the basic constitutional framework is not amenable, as held by the Supreme Court in the landmark Kesavananda Bharati case[2] of 1973.

List of Important amendments

The Indian Constitution has been amended more than a hundred times since 1950, the year of independence, and presently has 450 Articles and 12 Schedules. To name major amendments[3] brought so far in the constitution, below provided is the quick list with the respective year in which the amendment act was passed.

S. No.Name of AmendmentYear of amendment
1.1st Amendment1951
2.7th Amendment1956
3.9th Amendment1960
4.10th Amendment1961
5.11th Amendment1961
6.12th Amendment1962
7.13th Amendment1962
8.15th Amendment1963
9.24th Amendment1971
10.26th Amendment1971
11.31st Amendment1973
12.36th Amendment1975
13.38th Amendment1975
14.39th Amendment1975
15.40th Amendment1975
16.42nd Amendment1976
17.43rd Amendment1977
18.44th Amendment1978
19.52nd Amendment1978
20.58th Amendment1985
21.61st Amendment1987
22.62nd Amendment1989
23.65th Amendment1990
24.69th Amendment1991
25.71st Amendment1992
26.73rd Amendment1992
27.76th Amendment1994
28.77th Amendment1995
29.80th Amendment2000
30.81st Amendment2000
31.82nd Amendment2000
32.84th Amendment2001
33.86th Amendment2002
34.88th Amendment2003
35.89th Amendment2003
36.91st Amendment2003
37.92nd Amendment2003
38.95th Amendment2010
39.96th Amendment2011
40.97th Amendment2012
41.99th Amendment2014
42.100th Amendment2015
43.101st Amendment2016
44102nd Amendment2018
45.103rd Amendment2019
46.104th Amendment2020

The Constitution (First Amendment), 1951

The amendment empowered the states to make special provisions for the advancement of socially and economically backward classes. It added the ninth schedule in the constitution to protect the land reforms and other legislation from judicial review. Further, it made the restrictions under article 19 ‘reasonable’, meaning they are justifiable and added three new reasons for restricting freedom of speech and expression of citizens: public order, friendly relations with foreign states, and incitement to an offence.

The Constitution (7th Amendment), 1956

The act amended the second and seventh schedule to implement the State Recognition Act, 1956 on the State Recognition Commission’s[4] recommendation. The division of states into four parts from Part A to Part D was repealed and reorganized into 14 states and six union territories. It extended the high court authority to concerned union territories and provided two or more states with a common high court. It also provided provisions for the appointment of additional and acting High court judges.

The Constitution (9th Amendment Act), 1960

The ninth amendment facilitated the cession of Indian Territory of Berubari Union (located in West Bengal) to Pakistan pursuant to the Indo-Pakistan Agreement, 1958. The power of cession of Indian territories to a foreign state doesn’t rest with the parliament and can be only done by constitutional amendment as per article 386.

The Constitution (10th Amendment Act), 1961

The act amended the Constitution under Article 240 and incorporated Dadra, Nagar and Haveli, as a Union Territory as a consequence of the acquisition from Portugal.

The Constitution (11th Amendment Act), 1961

The eleventh amendment changed the election procedure of the Vice President through an electoral college, instead of by join-parliamentary meeting of the two houses. It additionally provided that the election of the President or the Vice President can’t be challenged on the ground of any vacancy in the Electoral College.

The Constitution (12th Amendment Act), 1962

The act amended article 240 of the constitution and incorporated Goa, Daman and Diu as Union Territory in the Indian Union.

The Constitution (13th Amendment Act), 1962

The amendment was brought to accord Nagaland the status of state with special protection under Article 371A.

The Constitution (15th Amendment Act), 1963

  • It allowed the High Court to issue writs to any person or authority, even outside the jurisdiction of its territory, on the basis that the cause of action has arisen within its territorial boundaries.
  • The retirement age of the High Court judges was increased from 60 to 62 years. It also provided a compensatory allowance for the transfer of judges from one High Court to another.
  • Enables the retired High Court judge to act acting judge of the same court and as the ad-hoc judge of the Supreme Court.

The Constitution (24th Amendment Act), 1971

The amendment act amended article 13 and article 368 of the constitution to grant power to the parliament to bring any change in the constitution, including the constitutional rights. It also made it compulsory for the President to give approval to the Constitutional Amendment Bill. It was introduced pursuant to the Supreme Court judgment in the 1967 Golaknath Case[5] which held that the parliament has no power and authority to revoke constitutional freedoms by constitutional amendment

The Constitution (26th Amendment Act), 1971

The act abolished the privy purses and privileges of the former rulers of princely states.

The Constitution (31st Amendment Act), 1973

The act increased the seats in Lok Sabha from 525 to 545 in consideration of the increasing population of the country.

The Constitution (36th Amendment Act), 1975

The amendment added Sikkim as the 22nd state of Union India and omitted the tenth schedule.

The Constitution (38th Amendment Act), 1975

It made the declaration of national emergency by the President non-justiciable and promulgation of ordinances by the President, governors, and administrators of Union territories non-justiciable as well. Further, the act empowered the President to declare different proclamations of national emergency simultaneously on different grounds.

The Constitution (39th Amendment Act), 1975

The amendment act was brought in pursuant to the Supreme Court judgment in the case of State of Uttar Pradesh v. Raj Narain that struck down the article for violation of the basic structure of the constitution.

The Constitution (40th Amendment Act), 1976

The amendment allowed Parliament to determine the borders of the territorial waters, the continental shelf, the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and maritime zones in India from time to time. It also included 64 new central and state laws in the ninth schedule, mostly concerning land reforms.

The Constitution (42nd Amendment Act), 1976

The 42nd amendment was one of the major amendment brought in the constitution with the following changes:

  • It added socialist, secular, and integrity as additional terms in the preamble.
  • Added new part IV-A in the constitution entitled as ‘Fundamental duties’ for the citizens.
  • Added new part XIV-A for administrative tribunals and tribunals for other matters
  • It made the President of India to be bound by the cabinet’s advice
  • It made the constitutional amendments beyond judicial review
  • Froze the seats in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assembly till 2001 on the basis of 1971 census concerning as population controlling measure
  • It curtailed the power of the Supreme Court and high courts on judicial review and writ jurisdiction.
  • Added three new directive principles: Equal justice and free legal aid, the participation of workers in the management of industries, and protection of the environment, forests, and wildlife.

The Constitution (43rd Amendment Act), 1977

The amendment restored the jurisdiction of the Apex Court and High Courts pertaining to judicial review and issue of prerogative writs which was taken away with the 42nd amendment. It further deprived the parliament of its special powers to enact laws regarding anti-national activities.

The Constitution (44th Amendment Act), 1978

The 44th amendment act is considered very important as it brought many significant changes in the constitution. These are listed below:

  • Substituted the term ‘internal disturbance’ with ‘armed rebellion’ in respect of national emergency.
  • The act made the President declare a national emergency only based on the written recommendation of the cabinet.
  • It provided that the fundamental rights guaranteed under article 20 and article 21 of the constitution cannot be suspended even during a national emergency.
  • Removed ‘right to property’ as a fundamental right to legal right of the citizens.
  • It restored the original term of 5 years of the Lok Sabha and state legislatures and the rules in Parliament and state legislatures on quorum.
  • It omitted the parliamentary privileges provision regarding reference to the British House of Commons.
  • Provided constitutional protection to the publication of truthful accounts of legislative trials and state assemblies in a newspaper.

The Constitution (52nd Amendment Act), 1985

The amendment was brought to disqualify parliamentary members and state legislatures on the ground of defection, hence adding a new tenth Schedule. The anti-defection laws made defection of another party unlawful after elections, and any member doing so stands disqualified from being a member of parliament or state legislature.

The Constitution (58th Amendment Act), 1987

The act provided an authoritative text of the Indian Constitution in Hindi language and gave this Hindi version the same legal sanctity. It also provided special provisions for seat reservation for STs in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya.

The Constitution (61st Amendment Act), 1989

The amendment act reduced the voting age for the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assembly elections from 21 years to 18 years.

The Constitution (62nd Amendment Act), 1989

The amendment called for the extension for another ten years of seat reservation for the SCs and STs and election for the Anglo-Indian population in the Parliament and State Legislatures.

The Constitution (65th Amendment Act), 1990

Article 338 of the Constitution was amended to establish a multi-member National Commission for SCs and STs consisting of a Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson and five other members that are to be appointed by a warrant under the Chairperson’s control and seal.

The Constitution (69th Amendment Act), 1991

The amendment act accorded the Act of Parliament with Delhi Statehood as the ‘National Capital Territory of Delhi’ and also provided Delhi with a seventy member assembly and a seven-member ministerial council.

The Constitution (71st Amendment Act), 1992

It included 3 new languages namely, Nepali, Manipuri, and Konkani into the 8th schedule of the constitution which ascends the number of recognized languages in the schedule to 18.

The Constitution (73rd Amendment Act), 1992

The amendment act granted constitutional status and protection to the Panchayati Raj institution by insertion of new Part IX in the constitution and also added a new eleventh schedule containing 29 functional items of the Panchayats.

The Constitution (76th Amendment Act), 1994

This act increased the reservation limit for government employment and admission seats in educational institutions to 69% in Tamil Nadu in favour of socially and educationally deprived classes of society. Additionally, the act was included in the 9th Schedule to exempt it from the jurisdiction of judicial scrutiny.

The Constitution (77th Amendment Act), 1995

It inserted a new clause (4-a) to Article 16 which empowers the State to make provisions for reservation in favour of SCs and STs for promotions in government jobs where it is of the opinion that they are inadequately represented in state services. The amendment was brought to nullify the effect of the Supreme Court judgment in the case of the Mandal Commission Indra Sawhney v. Union of India[6], which held that quotas on promotions could not be made.

The Constitution (80th Amendment Act), 2000

An alternate scheme of devolution of taxes between the Centre and states was introduced, based on the recommendations of the Tenth Finance Committee. As per current income-sharing arrangement between the Centre and the state, 26% of the total revenues obtained from central taxes and duties are distributed among the States.

The Constitution (81st Amendment Act), 2000

Under this amendment, the state was empowered to consider the unfilled vacancies of a year for SCs and STs as a separate class of vacancies to be filled up in any succeeding year. It ended the 50% ceiling on the reservation in backlog vacancies.

The Constitution (82ndAmendment Act), 2000

It provided for the making of any provision favouring of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes for relaxation in qualifying marks in any examination, or lowering the evaluation standard for them for reservation in matters of promotion to the Central and state public services.

The Constitution (84th Amendment Act), 2001

The amendment extended the ban on the readjustment of seats in the Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies up to 2026 to encourage population limiting measures. It further provided for the readjustment and rationalization of states territorial constituencies under Articles 82 and 170(3) based on the population figures of 1991 census.

The Constitution (86th Amendment Act), 2002

The aim of the act was to make the right to free and compulsory education a fundamental right, hence inserted a new Article 21A, which made elementary education free and compulsory for all children aged between 6 and 14 years. It changed the subject matter of article 45 in DPSPs. Also, it added a new fundamental duty of under article 51-A for private schools to accept 25% of the class size from the socially vulnerable or deprived class of society.

The Constitution (87th Amendment Act), 2003

It provided for the readjustment and rationalization of states territorial constituencies based on the 2001 census population figure, and not 1991 as provided by earlier 84th amendment act, 2001.

The Constitution (89th Amendment Act), 2003

The act bifurcated the National Commission for SCs and STs into two separate bodies: National Commission for Scheduled Castes (Article 338), and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (Article 33-A).

The Constitution (91st Amendment Act), 2003

The act was introduced to strengthen the anti-defection law, limit the size of the council of ministers, and debar the defectors from holding public offices. Following provisions were added in consideration to that:

  • The number of ministers (including the Prime Minister) in the Central Council of Ministers shall not exceed more than 15% of Lok sabha’s total strength. Similarly, the number of ministers (including the Chief Minister) in the State council of ministers should not exceed 15% of the state legislative assembly’s total strength and should not be less than 12.
  • Members who are disqualified on the ground of defection shall also be disqualified to be appointed as a minister, hold any remunerative political post, and have no more protection on the ground of splits by 1/3rd members the legislative party.

The Constitution (92nd Amendment Act), 2003

The amendment added four new languages in the eighth schedule with Bodo, Dogri, Maithili, and Santhali, making the total tally of recognized languages in India to 22.

The Constitution (95th Amendment Act), 2010

The amendment expanded the reservation quota of SCs and STs, and representation of the Anglo-Indians in the Lok Sabha and States legislatures from 60 to 70 years.

The Constitution (96th Amendment Act), 2011

The act amended the 8th schedule dealing with the list of recognized languages to replace Odia for Oriya.

The Constitution (97th Amendment Act), 2012

The act amended article 19(1) (c) to add “or cooperative societies” after “or unions”. It inserted article 43B that deals with the promotion of cooperative societies and also added Part-IXB governing Co-operative societies. The aim was to encourage cooperative economic activities, which would support rural India development and ensure cooperatives’ independent and democratic operation, with management accountability for members and other stakeholders.

The Constitution (99th Amendment Act), 2014

The 99th constitutional amendment called for the establishment of the National Judicial Commission for the appointment and transfer of judges to the higher judiciary in India.

The Constitution (100th Amendment Act), 2015

The amendment ratified the Treaty of Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) between India and Bangladesh to exchange other enclave lands with Bangladesh. The agreement was to confer citizenship rights to enclave residents arising out of it.

The Constitution (101st Amendment Act), 2016

The amendment introduced a national Goods and Services Tax (GST) that replaced all indirect taxes to be levied on goods and services by the central and state government with a single levy and collection of GST in the course of inter-state trade or commerce. GST is a comprehensive, multistage, destination-based tax which subsumed almost all the indirect taxes except a few state taxes.

The Constitution (102nd Amendment Act), 2018

The amendment was brought to give constitutional status to the National Commission on Backward Classes and insert a new provision for NCBC, its composition, functions, mandate, and various officers under Article 338B. It also added new article 342-A to empower the President to notify the state/union territory’s list of socially and educationally backward classes.

The Constitution (103rd Amendment Act), 2019

The amendment was brought to enforce article 46 of the constitution that talks about DPSP of the government to protect the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of society. It changed two constitutional freedoms: Articles 15 and 16 and made provision for advancing the condition of economically weaker sections of the society. Also, it added that a significant 10% of all government positions and college seats would have a quota beyond the high-income class for voters.

The Constitution (104th Amendment Act), 2020

The last amendment expanded seat quotas in the Lok Sabha for SCs and STs Community, and the state legislatures.

Conclusion

As of now, the constitution of India has been amended 104 times. All of the amendments have brought significant changes in the course of Indian polity and governance, but there are few of them that were considered as a major change in the constitution. Therefore, this article has listed all such major constitutional amendments that will enhance readers’ knowledge and help them in due course of cracking particular competitive exams.


[1] INDIAN CONST. art. 368.

[2] AIR 1973 SC 1461.

[3] PM Bakshi, ‘The Constitution of India’, 14th edn. (2017).

[4] Thorpe and Thorpe, General Studies: Vol-II – Indian Polity 2019. N.p., Pearson Education India.

[5] 1967 AIR 1643.

[6] AIR 1993 SC 477.


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