It is said that the Constitution of India is flexible as well as rigid. It is flexible as some of its provisions can be amended by a simple majority vote in each House of Parliament. It is said to be rigid because most of its provisions cannot be amended by the ordinary law-making process.
Methods of Amendment
In fact, there are three methods of amending the Constitution. But Article 368 of the Constitution which lays down the procedure for amendment mentions only two methods. They are as follows:
(1) Passing a Bill. An amendment of the Constitution may be initiated only by the introduction of a Bill for the purpose in either House of Parliament, and when the Bill is passed in each House (i) by a majority of the total membership of that House, and (ii) by a majority of not less than two-third of the members of that House present and voting, it shall be presented to the President who shall give his assent to the Bill and thereupon the Constitution shall stand amended in accordance with the terms of the Bill.
(2) Amendment of Articles. The second method of ainendment is prescribed for amending some specific Articles which are mentioned under the proviso to Article 368. For amending any of the Articles mentioned in the proviso three conditions have to be fulfilled-
(i) a Bill for the purpose must be passed in each House of Parliament by a majority of total membership of that House,
(ii) by a majority of not less than two-third of the members of that House present and voting, and
(iii) it should be ratified by the Legislatures of not less than one-half of the States before the Bill is presented to the President for assent.
The provisions of the Constitution for amendment with the above method as adopted are as follows:
(i) Article 54 relating to the election of President.
(ii) Article 55 relating to the manner of election of President.
(iii) Article 73 relating to the extent to the executive power of the
(iv) Article 162 relating to the extent of the executive power of the Union and States.
(v) Article 241 relating to High Courts for Union Territories.
(vi) Chapter IV of Part V relating to the Union judiciary.
(vii) Chapter V of Part VI relating to the High Courts in the States.
(viii) Chapter I of Part XI relating to distribution of legislative powers between the Union and the States.
(ix) Any of the Lists in the Seventh Schedule.
(x) The representation of States in Parliament.
(xi) The Provisions of Article 368 relating to the procedure foramendment of the Constitution.
(3) Ordinary Law-making Process. As pointed out above, the third method of amending the provisions of the Constitutions is not mentioned in Article 368. It applies to about two dozen Articles which can be amended by the ordinary law-making process. These Articles provide for their own alteration. In each of these Articles it is provided that whatever the Article establishes will remain in force until Parliament otherwise provides.
These Articles deal with subjects as Parliament’s power to make any provision with respect to the acquisition and termination of citizenship and all other matters related to citizenship (Article 11), the creation of new States or the reconstitution of existing State (Article 4), abolition or creation of upper Chambers in State (Article 169), the salaries and allowances of the Supreme Court and High Court Judges (Article 125), provisions regarding the administration and control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes (Schedule V, Part D) etc.
In the above cases no formal amendments are effected, but they have the effect of making changes in the Constitution. It is significant that the laws passed by Parliament to change the above provisions would not be deemed to be amendments of the Constitution for the purposes of Article 368.
POINTS TO REMEMBER
It is a rigid constitution. It cannot be amended by the ordinary law-making process. There are three methods of amending it.
1. Passing a Bill. A Bill for amending the Constitution must be passed in each House of Parliament by a majority of total membership of that House and by a majority of not less than two-third of the members present and voting and then it should be presented to the President who shall give his assent to it.
2. Amendment of Articles. A Bill for amending the Constitution should be passed by each House of Parliament in the manner described above andthen ratified by the Legislatures of not less than one-half of the States.Then the Bill shall be presented to the President for his assent.
3. Ordinary Law-making Process. There are about two dozens Articles which can be amended by the ordinary law-making process.