Article 368 in Part XX of the Constitution deals with the powers of Parliament to amend the Constitution and its procedure.
Procedure for amendment
The procedure for amendment to the Constitution:
- An amendment to 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.
- After the President’s assent, the bill becomes an Act (i. e. , a consti tuti onal amendment act ) and the Constitution stands amended in accordance with the terms of the Act.
Types of amendment
The Constitution can be amended in three ways:
1. Amendment by simple majority of the Parliament,
2. Amendment by special majority of the Parliament, and
3. Amendment by special majority of the Parliament and the ratification of half of the state legislatures.
1. By simple majority of Parliament
A number of provisions in the Constitution can be amended by a simple majority of the two Houses of Parliament outside the scope of Article 368. These provisions include, among others, creation or reorganization of states, abolition or creation of legislative councils in states, Second Schedule related to pay and privileges to some constitutional posts, conferment of more powers to the Supreme Court, use of official languages, citizenship, etc.
2. By special majority of Parliament
The majority of provisions in the Constitution need to be amended by a special majority of the Parliament, that is, a majority (that is, 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 provisions which can be amended by this way includes: (i) Fundamental Rights; (ii) Directive Principles of State Policy; and (iii) All other provisions which are not covered by the first and third categories.
3. By special majority of Parliament and consent of states
Those provisions 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. The following provisions can be amended in this way:
- Election of the President and its manner.
- Extent of the executive power of the Union and the states.
- Supreme Court and high courts.
- Distribution of legislative powers between the Union and the states.
- Any of the lists in the Seventh Schedule.
- Representation of states in Parliament.
- Power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and its
- procedure (Article 368 itself).
Ingredients of ‘Basic Structure’
The present position is that the Parliament under Article 368 can amend any part of the Constitution including the Fundamental Rights but without affecting the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution. However, the Supreme Court is yet to define or clarify as to what constitutes the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.