The Constitution of India has a unique provision to make the Constitution relevant to changing conditions and needs but without changing the basic structure. Article 368 deals with the amendment of the Constitution. As per this article, the Parliament has the supreme power to initiate the amendment process. The procedures for amendment of the constitution are as follows:
1. Parliament may amend the constitution through by way of addition, variation or repeal any provision of this Constitution in accordance with the procedure laid down in this article.
2. An amendment of this Constitution may be initiated through the introduction of a Bill in either House of Parliament, and when the Bill is passed in each House by a majority of the total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members of that House present and voting, it shall be presented to the President who shall give his assent to the Bill.
3. The bill must be passed in each house by a special majority, that is, majority by more than 50 percent of the total membership of the house and a majority of two-thirds of the members of the house present and voting. Each house must pass the bill separately. In case of a disagreement between the two houses, on issues concerning amendment there is no provision for holding a joint -sitting of the two houses. 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, that is, a majority of the members present and voting in such legislatures.
4. After duly passed by both the houses of parliament and ratified by the state legislatures wherever necessary, the bill is forwarded to the President for assent. The President must give his assent to the bill. He can neither withhold his assent to the bill nor return the bill for reconsideration of the Parliament. After 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.
The constitution can be amended in three ways:
1. Simple majority of the parliament,
2. Special majority of the parliament, and
3. Special majority of the parliament and the ratification of half of the state legislatures.
According to Article 368 a number of provisions in the constitution can be amended by a simple majority of the two houses of parliament. These provisions include
o Admission or establishment of new states, formation of new States and alteration of areas, boundaries, or names of existing states.
o Abolition or creation of legislative councils in states.
o Second schedule - emoluments, allowances, privileges and so on of the President, the Governors, the Speakers, judges, etc.
o Quorum in parliament.
o Salaries and allowances of the members of parliament.
o Rules of procedure in parliament.
o Privileges of the parliament, its members and its members and its Committees.
o Use of English language in parliament.
o Number of judges in the Supreme Court.
o Conformant more jurisdiction on the Supreme Court.
o Use of official languages.
o Citizenship – acquisition and termination.
o Elections to parliament and state legislatures.
o Delimitation of constituencies.
o Union territories.
o Fifth schedule – administration of schedule areas and scheduledtribes
o Sixth schedule – administration of tribal areas.
The majority of the provisions in the constitution need to be amended by a special majority of the parliament, that is, a majority (i.e., more than 50 per cent) of the total membership of each house and a majority of two-thirds of the members of each house present and voting. The expression total membership of the house is irrespective of fact whether there are vacancies or absentees. The special majority is required only for voting at the third reading stage of the bill. The constitution’s clauses which can be amended in 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.
The basic structures of the constitution which are related to the federal structure of the polity can be amended by a special majority of the parliament and also with the consent of half of the state legislatures by a simple majority. There is no time limit within which the states should give their consent to the bill. The following provisions can be amended in this way:
o Election of the President and its manner.
o Extent of the executive power of the union and the states.
o Supreme Court and high courts.
o Distribution of legislative powers between the union and the states.
o Any of the list in the seventh schedule.
o Representation of states in parliament.
o Power of parliament to amend the constitution and its procedure (Article 368).