Procedure for Amemdments in Indian Constitution - Seeker's Thoughts

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Procedure for Amemdments in Indian Constitution


A bill is introduced in the Parliament in either house.

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Who passes bill?]
It states that the Parliament may, in exercise of its constituent power, amend by way of addition, variation or repeal any provision of the Constitution in accordance with the procedure laid down for the purpose. However, the Parliament cannot amend those provisions which form the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution
Article 368 in Part XX of the Constitution deals with the powers of Parliament to amend the Constitution and its procedure
TYPES OF AMENDMENTS
Article 368 provides for two types of amendments, that is, by a special majority of Parliament and also through the ratification of half of the states by a simple majority. But, some other articles provide for the amendment of certain provisions of the Constitution by a simple majority of Parliament, that is, a majority of the members of each House present and voting (similar to the ordinary legislative process). Notably, these amendments are not deemed to be amendments of the Constitution for the purposes of Article 368. Therefore, the Constitution can be amended in three ways: 
(a)Amendment by simple majority of the Parliament, 
(b) Amendment by special majority of the Parliament, and 
(c) Amendment by special majority of the Parliament and the ratification of half of the state legislatures.
(a) 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:

1. Admission or establishment of new states.
2. Formation of new states and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing states. 
3. Abolition or creation of legislative councils in states.
 4. Second Schedule—emoluments, allowances, privileges and so on of the president, the governors, the Speakers, judges, etc.
5. Quorum in Parliament.
 6. Salaries and allowances of the members of Parliament.
 7. Rules of procedure in Parliament. 
8. Privileges of the Parliament, its members and its committees.
 9. Use of English language in Parliament.
10. Number of puisne judges in the Supreme Court.
11. Conferment of more jurisdiction on the Supreme Court. 
12. Use of official language.
13. Citizenship—acquisition and termination.
14. Elections to Parliament and state legislatures.
15. Delimitation of constituencies. 
16. Union territories. 
17. Fifth Schedule—administration of scheduled areas and scheduled tribes.
18. Sixth Schedule—administration of tribal areas.
(b) By Special Majority of Parliament
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 vote. 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.
(c)By Special Majority of Parliament and Consent of States
The procedure for the amendment of the Constitution as laid down in Article 368 is as follows:
1. 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.
2. The bill can be introduced either by a minister or by a private member and does not require prior permission of the president.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5.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 ofthe House present and voting.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. After the president’s assent, the bill becomes an Act (i.e., a constitutional amen-dment act) and the Constitution stands amended in accordance with the terms of the Act
The following provisions can be amended in this way:
 1. Election of the President and its manner.
2. Extent of the executive power of the Union and the states.
3. Supreme Court and high courts.
4. Distribution of legislative powers between the Union and the states.
5. Any of the lists in the Seventh Schedule.
6. Representation of states in Parliament.
7. Power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and its procedure (Article 368 itself).sssss
CRITICISM OF THE AMENDMENT PROCEDURE
The constituent power is vested in the Parliament and only in few cases, in the state legislatures.
The power to initiate an amendment to the Constitution lies with the Parliament. Hence, unlike in USA4, the state legislatures cannot initiate any bill or proposal for amending the Constitution except in one case, that is, passing a resolution requesting the Parliament for the creation or abolition of legislative councils in the states. Here also, the Parliament can either approve or disapprove such a resolution or may not take any action on it.
The Constitution does not prescribe the time frame within which the state legislatures should ratify or reject an amendment submitted to them. Also, it is silent on the issue whether the states can withdraw their approval after according the same.
5. There is no provision for holding a joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament if there is a deadlock over the passage of a constitutional amendment bill. On the other hand, a provision for a joint sitting is made in the case of an ordinary bill.
6. The process of amendment is similar to that of a legislative process. Except for the special majority, the constitutional amendment bills are to be passed by the Parliament in the same way as ordinary bills.
7. The provisions relating to the amendment procedure are too sketchy. Hence, they leave a wide scope for taking the matters to the judiciary.

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