Article 368 in Part XX of the Indian Constitution deals with the powers of Parliament to amend the Constitution and its procedure. It states that the Parliament may, in exercise of its constituent power, add/remove an article, repeal any provision of the Constitution. But no change can be done in the basic structure of the constitution. The constitution can be amended in three ways:
i. Amendment by simple majority of the parliament
ii. Amendment by special majority of the parliament
iii. Amendment by special majority of the parliament and the ratification of half of the state legislatures.
Now all the three ways are explained below one by one:
i. By Simple Majority of Parliament:
So many provisions in the Indian 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 jurisdictions 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
ii. By Special Majority of Parliament
The majority of the 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 expression ‘total membership’ means the total number of members comprising the House irrespective of fact whether there are vacancies or absentees.
‘Strictly speaking, the special majority is required only for voting at the third reading stage of the bill but by way of abundant caution the requirement for special majority has been provided for in the rules of the Houses in respect of all the effective stages of the bill’.
The provisions which can be amended by this way include:
(i) Fundamental Rights
(ii) Directive Principles of State Policy
(iii) All other provisions which are not covered by the first and third categories.
iii. 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. If one or some or all the remaining states take no action on the bill, it does not matter; the moment half of the states give their consent, the formality is completed. There is no time limit within which the states should give their consent to the bill.
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).