In this article, we will discuss Amendment of Indian Constitution (Part-3). So, let’s get started.
Criticism of the Amendment Procedure
- Critics have criticised the amendment procedure of the Constitution on the following grounds:
- There is no provision for a special body like Constitutional Convention (as in USA) or Constitutional Assembly for amending the Constitution. The constituent power is vested in the Parliament and only in few cases, in the state legislatures.
- The power to initiate an amendment to the Constitution lies with the Parliament. Hence, unlike in USA, the state legislatures cannot initiate any bill or proposal for amending the Constitution except in one case, that is, passing a resolution requesting the Parliament for the creation or abolition of legislative councils in the states. Here also, the Parliament can either approve or disapprove such a resolution or may not take any action on it.
- Major part of the Constitution can be amended by the Parliament alone either by a special majority or by a simple majority. Only in few cases, the consent of the state legislatures is required and that too, only half of them, while in USA, it is three-fourths of the states.
- The Constitution does not prescribe the time frame within which the state legislatures should ratify or reject an amendment submitted to them. Also, it is silent on the issue whether thestates can withdraw their approval after according the same.
- There is no provision for holding a joint sitting of both the Houses of Parliament if there is a deadlock over the passage of a constitutional amendment bill. On the other hand, a provision for a joint sitting is made in the case of an ordinary bill.
- The process of amendment is similar to that of a legislative process. Except for the special majority, the constitutional amendment bills are to be passed by the Parliament in the same way as ordinary bills.
- The provisions relating to the amendment procedure are too sketchy. Hence, they leave a wide scope for taking the matters to the judiciary.
- Despite these defects, it cannot be denied that the process has proved to be simple and easy and has succeeded in meeting the changed needs and conditions. The procedure is not so flexible as to allow the ruling parties to change it according to their whims. Nor is it so rigid as to be incapable of adopting itself to the changing needs. It, as rightly said by K.C. Wheare, ‘strikes a good balance between flexibility and rigidity”. In this context, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said in the Constituent Assembly, ‘While we want this Constitution to be as solid and permanent as we can make it, there is no permanence in a Constitution. There should be a certain flexibility. If you make any Constitution rigid and permanent, you stop the nation’s growth, the growth of a living, vital, organic people.
- Similarly, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar observed in the Constituent Assembly that, ‘The Assembly has not only refrained from putting a seal of finality and infallibility upon this Constitution by denying the people the right to amend the Constitutiobn as in Canada or by making the amendmentof the Constitution subject to the fulfilment of extraordinary terms and conditions as in America or Australia, but has provided for a facile procedure for amending the Constitution’.
- K.C. Wheare has admired the variety of amendment procedures contained in the Constitution of India. He said, ‘this variety in the amending process is wise but rarely found; According to Granville Austin, ‘the amending process has proved itself one of the most ably conceived aspects of the Constitttion. Although it appears complicated, it is merely diverse.