NATIONAL

Land boundary Bill set to become a landmark

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.

The first amendment to India’s Constitution, passed by its Constituent Assembly, laid “reasonable restrictions” on the freedom of speech, secured the constitutional validity of zamindari abolition laws and laid the grounds for affirmative action. Indira Gandhi’s government from 1971 to 1977, which included the Emergency years, passed the most Constitutional amendments (19). The five Constitutional amendments which have been struck down by the Supreme Court so far all date to this period, according to analysis by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy. The next highest number was under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government (14).