When the Lok Sabha passed the land boundary agreement Bill on Thursday, it might just have made legislative history. Once the Bill is ratified by at least half the legislatures of the country and gets presidential assent, it will likely be India’s 100th constitutional amendment.
Article 368 of the Constitution of India gives Parliament the power to amend the Constitution, through a procedure described by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly as one of the simplest in the world. For a Bill seeking to amend the Constitution to pass, it must secure a majority of the total membership of the House and a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting, in each House of Parliament. Some special cases — amendments that affect the functioning of State governments, High Courts or the Supreme Court for example — also require the ratification of half the State legislatures in the country.
What are some of the most fundamentally transformative amendments that India’s Constitution has seen over the years? We asked Alok Prasanna Kumar, Senior Fellow at the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy for his opinion, and here are his Top 10.
Indira Gandhi’s government from 1971 to 1977, which included the Emergency years, passed the most Constitutional amendments (19). The next highest number was under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government (14).
Only five constitutional amendments have ever been struck down by the Supreme Court, according to analysis by the Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy: Kesavananda Bharati v State of Kerala (1973) which struck down part of the 25th Amendment for taking away judicial review of land reform laws; Indira Gandhi v Raj Narain (1975) which struck down part of the 39th Amendment for taking away judicial review of elections of the PM and Speaker; Minerva Mills v Union of India (1980) which struck down parts of the 42nd Amendment for making Directive Principles superior to Fundamental Rights and for removing judicial review over amendments to the Constitution; P Sambamurthy v State of Andhra Pradesh (1987) which struck down part of the 32nd Amendment for permitting the Government of Andhra Pradesh to modify or change orders of Administrative Tribunals before it decides to implement them and L Chandra Kumar v Union of India (1994) which struck down part of the 42nd Amendment for taking away the power of the High Court to review judgments of tribunals.
Here at a glance are all of India's 99 constitutional amendments: