Constitutional Amendment

VSAT 2022

What is An Amendment?

An amendment in the books of law and government can be used to represent the additions or alterations that have been made to any constitution, legislative bill, resolution, or statute. It is possible to make amendments to existing statutes and constitutions. However, these amendments are also made to certain bills throughout their entire course of passage through the legislature.

Since the amendments that are made are capable of changing the governing institutions or political systems, there is a specifically prescribed procedure in which such amendments need to be submitted. In this article, students will learn what is constitutional amendment and the different types of amendments that have been made.


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For students who want to know what is an amendment, this article is going to provide them with all the important details for sure. Any constitutional amendment can be described as a particular modification that takes place in the constitution of an organization, polity, or any other entity. The amendments tend to be interconnected with the relevant sections that exist in the constitution and they directly alter the text of the constitution. Conversely, amendments can also be appended into the constitution as codicils or supplemental additions. Hence, they have an important role to play in changing the entire government frame without actually making any changes in the existing text in the document.

According to amendment in law, most of the constitutions have a requirement that amendments need to pass through a special procedure in order to be enacted. This procedure is stricter than the ordinary legislation requires. Some of the major examples of such procedures include the direct approval through an electorate in the referendum or the supermajorities present in the legislature.

Depending on the procedure of Amendment, the constitution can either be flexible or rigid or actually a blend of both. For example, the constitution of India is a fantastic blend of both flexibility and rigidity due to the amendment procedures that are signified in the constitution.

There are certain cases when the procedures have been combined in order to test the legitimacy of an amendment. Such combinations tend to make the constitution rigid, meaning there might not be many changes. Any referendum to make some changes in the constitution will also be triggered in certain jurisdictions by a popular initiative.

Ireland and Australia have managed to provide some examples of the constitutions that require the amendments to be passed by their legislature before they are submitted to the common folk. In the case of Ireland, if a majority of people voting in the elections have passed the bill, the amendment can be passed easily. However, there are more complex criteria included in Australia for the passing of the amendment. It states that the majority of people voting in the states of the country is also essential. This procedure of testing the amendment document has also been adopted by Switzerland.

There are certain specific cases where the procedures for enacting an amendment have been so exacting that from the total constitutional amendment proposals just a few or none have been passed. In the case of Australia, about 8 proposals out of a total of 44 have been accepted and in the case of Japan, there are no amendments that have been passed over a certain period of time. In contrast to these cases, the constitution of the U.S. Alabama state has gone through about 948 amendments since the adoption of the constitution in the year 1901.

So, there are different types of amendments that have been made in different countries. This goes to show that the procedure for testing the amendments is varied from one country to another. Nonetheless, it still proves to be a very important factor in changing the political system of any country or state.


Different Majorities in Indian Constitution

For a bill to be passed, the Parliament of India has to pass it through several majorities.

  • Simple Majority

It can be defined as the majority consisting of more than 50% of all the present and voting members in the Parliament house. For instance, the Lok Sabha has 545 members. If 45 of them are not present and 100 of them abstain from voting, only 400 members will be present and can vote. Hence the simple majority will be 201 which is 50%+1. This type of majority is used in several cases such as to pass money bills, declare the president’s rule, and the Constitution Amendment Bill.

  • Absolute Majority

This can be defined as the majority of more than 50% of the total membership of the house. For instance, in the case of Lok Sabha, the absolute majority will be 273 or more than 50% of 545.

  • Effective Majority

This can be defined as the majority consisting of more than 50% of the house’s effective strength. For example, in case 5 seats are vacant in the Lok Sabha consisting of 545 seats in total, the effective strength would be 540. In that particular case, the effective majority is 270. 

  • Special Majority

Any other majority other than an absolute, effective, and simple majority will be known as a special majority. There are 4 different types named Special Majority according to Article 249, Special Majority according to Article 368, Special Majority according to Article 368 + 50% state ratification by a simple majority, and Special Majority according to Article 61.


Procedure for Amendment in the Indian Constitution (Article 368)

The Part XX of the Indian Constitution contains a single Article 368 that focuses on the amendments of the Constitution of India. According to the article, the Parliament can amend, repeal or add any particular provision in the constitution as per their required procedure.

The amendment can be properly introduced in the houses of Parliament and the state legislature has no role in it. The amendment bill could be a private member or a government bill.

  • The amendment bill must fairly pass in both houses separately by special and absolute majority.

  • In case of a disagreement between both houses, there isn’t any provision for a joint sitting to take place in order to solve the problems.

  • The bills that happen to make certain changes in the Indian constitution but are passed by the simple majority will not be deemed as Constitutional amendments.

  • After the bill passes in both houses, it will be sent to the President for his approval. According to the 24th Amendment Act, 1971, the President has to provide his assent to the constitutional amendment.


Changes in the Amendments of US Constitution

Some of the most prominent examples of amendments that have been passed in the entire world include the ones that have been made in the constitution of the United States. The provision for an amendment to be made is in Article V of the US constitution.

In fact, the first ten amendments passed in the constitution of the United States are named the Bill of Rights. In total, about 27 amendments have been passed for the particular constitution. In order to pass the amendment, about two-thirds of all the members present in every single Congress house have to make their approval. It also must be ratified by three-fourths of the total number of states. The US congress will get to decide whether the ratification is to be done by the legislatures in the state or by some prevalently chosen conventions existing in different states. The system of using the conventions has been utilized in just one case and it was during the passing of the 21st amendment. In certain states of the US constitution, the proposed amendments must have the approval of the voters in a particular referendum.


Conclusion

In this article, several topics related to the constitutional amendments have been discussed. Students will get the answers to questions like what is amendment act and what amendments have been made in constitutions over the decades from this article.

FAQs on Constitutional Amendment

1. Define constitutional amendment.

One of the most important questions that students have regarding the constitution of a country is what is constitutional amendment. Well, a constitutional amendment can be defined as the alteration or addition that is made to the constitution, resolution, statute, or any kind of legislative bill in a state or a country. The amendments that are passed in the constitution are able to make changes in the existing statutes as well. However, certain bills that are passing through the legislature are also prone to have amendments. Every single constitution has different procedures that these amendments must pass in order to be enacted. These procedures vary from one nation’s constitution to another.

2. Write a note on the amendments made in the US Constitution.

The amendments that are made in different countries vary according to the procedures that they have to pass so that they can be enacted in the constitution. Since the amendments can change the entire political system of a nation, it is important for these special procedures to be strict and more stringent than the ones that are required by the legislature. Some of the common examples of amendments are the ones that have been made to the constitution of the United States. For example, the first ten amendments are known as the Bill of rights. The provision for making an amendment in the US constitution is provided in Amendment article V of the constitution. A total of 27 amendments have been made so far in the US constitution.

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