Amendment of the Constitution in India

Article 368, in Part XX of the Constitution, deals with the powers of Parliament to amend the Constitution and its procedure.

The procedure laid down for its amendment is neither as easy as in Britain nor as difficult as in USA.

The Indian Constitution is neither flexible nor rigid but a synthesis of both.

The Parliament cannot amend those provisions which form the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution. This was ruled by the Supreme Court in the Keshavananda Bharati case (1973).


Procedure for Amendment

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 and not in the state legislatures.

The bill can be introduced either by a minister or by a private member and does not require prior permission of the president.

The bill must be passed in each House by a special majority, that is, a majority (that is, more than 50 per cent) 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, there is no provision for holding a joint sitting of the two Houses for the purpose of deliberation and passage of the bill.

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 of the House present and voting.

After duly passed by both the Houses of Parliament and ratified by the state legislatures, where necessary, the bill is presented 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 the president’s assent, the bill becomes an Act.