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Changes In The Indian Constitution In The Past Five Years

India, also known as Bharat, is a union of States. It is a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic with a parliamentary system of government. This government works in the terms of the constitution of India which was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 26th November, 1949 and came into force on 26th January, 1950.

The constitution of India is the supreme law of India and also known as law of the land. The constitution is a document that lays down the framework demarcating fundamental political code, structure, procedures, powers, and duties of the government institutions and sets out fundamental rights, directive principles, and the duties of citizens.

The constitution of India declares it as a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic, assuring its citizens justice, equality and liberty, and endeavours to promote fraternity. The words “Socialist” and “Secular” were added to the preamble in 1976 during the Emergency.

Drafting

Sir Benegal Narsing Rau, a civil servant who became the first Indian Judge in the International Court of Justice and was president of the United Nations Security Council, was appointed as the assembly's constitutional adviser in 1946. Initial draft of the constitution was drafted by him in February 1948. It consisted of 243 articles and 13 schedules which came to 395 articles and 8 schedules after discussions, debates and amendments.

Before adopting the final constitution, the assembly held eleven sessions in 165 days. On 26 November 1949, it was adopted as the constitution of India.

Some of the characteristics of the Constitution

  • The bulkiest constitution of the world: with 395 articles, 22 parts and 12 schedules.
  • Rigidity and flexibility:
    some parts of it can be easily amended by the Parliament by a simple majority, whereas some parts require a two-third majority.
  • Parliamentary system of the government:
    that is the real executive power rests with the council of ministers and the President is only a nominal ruler (Article74).
  • Federal system with a unitary bias.
  • Fundamental rights and fundamental duties:
    which cannot be abridged by any law made by the States.
  • Directive principles of State policy.

Amendments

Amendments are variations, changed or revoke of any part of the constitution by the Parliament. The procedure that is to be followed in order to make any amendments in the Indian Constitution is laid down in Part XX (Article 368). This procedure ensures the sanctity of the Constitution of India and keeps a check on the arbitrary power of the Parliament of India. An amendment bill is required to be passed by each house of the Parliament by a two-thirds majority of its total membership when at least two-thirds are present and vote.

By July 2018, 124 amendment bills have been presented in Parliament out of which 103 became Amendment Acts. Despite the requirement of supermajority for amendments to pass, the Indian Constitution is the world's most frequently amended national governing document.

Since the constitution of India was first enacted in the year 1950, there have been 104 amendments of the Indian Constitution recorded till January 2020.

There are three types of amendments of the Constitution of India of which second and third type of amendments are governed by Article 368.

The first type of amendments includes that can be passed by simple majority in each house of the Parliament of India. The second type of amendments includes that can be affected by the parliament by a prescribed special majority in each house and the third type of amendments include those that require, in addition to such special majority in each house of the parliament, ratification by at least one half of the State Legislatures.
 

Amendments In The Past Five Years

In this portion of the article, changes in the Indian Constitution in past five years are discussed chronologically.
  • Ninety-ninth Amendment of the Indian Constitution

    • Articles Amended: Article 127, 128, 217, 222, 224A, 231.
    • Articles Inserted: 124A, 124B and 124C.
    • Enforced Since: 13 April, 2015.
    • Prime Minister: Narendra Modi.
    • President: Pranab Mukherjee.

      Objective:
      Formation of National Judicial Appointments Commission. 16 State assemblies out of 29 States including Goa, Rajasthan, Tripura, Gujarat and Telangana ratified the Central Legislation, enabling the President of India to give assent to the bill.

      The Commission was established by amending the Constitution of India through the ninety-ninth constitution amendment, passed by the Lok Sabha on 13 August, 2014 and by the Rajya Sabha on 14 August, 2014.

      Along with the constitutional Amendment Act the National Judicial Appointments Commission Act, 2014 was also passed by the Parliament of India to regulate the functions of the National Judicial Appointments Commission. And the NJAC bill was subsequently assented by the then President of India Pranab Mukherjee on 31 December 2014. The NJAC Act came into force from 13 April 2015.

      After hearing the petitions filed by several persons and bodies with Supreme Court Advocates, the Constitution Bench of Supreme Court struck down the amendment by 4:1 Majority.
       
  • Hundredth Amendment of the Indian Constitution

    • Schedules Amended: 1st schedule.
    • Enforced Since: 1 August, 2015.
    • Prime Minister: Narendra Modi.
    • President: Pranab Mukherjee.

      Objective:
      Exchange of certain enclave territories with Bangladesh and conferment of citizenship rights to residents of enclaves consequent to signing of Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) Treaty between India and Bangladesh.

      The India-Bangladesh Agreement was signed in 1974, but was not ratified as it involved transfer of territory which required a Constitutional Amendment. Hence, the amendment was enacted. India and Bangladesh share a 4,096 km land boundary covering West Bengal, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and Mizoram.

      This is the largest international boundaries that India shares with its neighbours. This bill amends the First Schedule of the Indian Constitution to give effect to an agreement entered into by India and Bangladesh on the acquiring and transfer of territories between the two countries on May 16, 1974.
       
  • One Hundred and First Amendment of the Indian Constitution

    • Articles Amended: Article 248, 249, 250, 268, 269, 270, 271, 286, 366, 368.
    • Schedules Amended: Sixth Schedule and Seventh Schedule.
    • Articles Inserted: 246A, 269A, 279A.
    • Articles Deleted: 268A
    • Enforced Since: 1 July, 2017.
    • Prime Minister: Narendra Modi.
    • President: Pranab Mukherjee.

      Objective:
      Introduced the Goods and Services Tax.
      The Goods and Services Tax is the value added Tax (VAT) proposed to be a comprehensive indirect tax levy on manufacture, sale and consumption of goods as well as services at the national level. It replaces all indirect taxes levied on goods and services by the Indian Central and state Governments. It is aimed at being comprehensive for most goods and services.

      This bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on 19 December, 2014, and was passed by the House on 6 May, 2015.

      The bill after ratification by the States, received assent from President Pranab Mukherjee on 8 September 2016.
       
  • One Hundred and Second Amendment of the Indian Constitution

    • Articles Amended: Article 338 and 366.
    • Articles Inserted: 338B, 342A.
    • Clause Inserted: Clause 26C.
    • Enforced Since: 11 August, 2018.
    • Prime Minister: Narendra Modi.
    • President: Ram Nath Kovind.

      Objective:
      Constitutional status to National Commission for Backward Classes.
      This bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 5 April 2017 by Thawar Chand Gehlot, Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment. The bill received assent from President Ram Nath Kovind on 11 August 2018.
       
  • One Hundred and third Amendment of the Indian Constitution

    • Articles Amended: Article 16 and 15.
    • Clauses Inserted: Clause 6.
    • Enforced Since: 12 January, 2019.
    • Prime Minister: Narendra Modi.
    • President: Ram Nath Kovind.

      Objective:
      A maximum of 10% Reservation for Economically Weaker Sections (EWSs) of citizens of classes other than the classes mentioned in clauses (4) and (5) of Article 15, i.e. Classes other than socially and educationally backward classes of citizens of the Schedule Castes and the Schedules Tribes.

      Within hours of the bill passing the Rajya Sabha, non-governmental organization Youth For Equality filed a PIL challenging the Bill in the Supreme Court. The NGO argues that the Bill violates the basic structure of the Constitution which the claim does not permit reservation based on economic factors.

      On 8 February, 2019 a Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi declined to pass a stay on the Amendment, but agreed to hear the petitions challenging the Amendment.
       
  • One Hundred and Four Amendment of the Indian Constitution

    • Articles Amended: Article 334.
    • Enforced Since: 25 January 2020
    • Prime Minister: Narendra Modi.
    • President: Ram Nath Kovind.

      Objective:
      The extend the reservation of seats for SCs and STs in the Lok Sabha and states assemblies from Seventy years to Eighty Years. Removed the reserved seats for the Anglo-Indian community in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies.

      The bill was unanimously passed by the Lok Sabha on the 10th December 2019 with 355 votes in favour and 0 votes against. The bill was then tabled in the Rajya Sabha and was also passed unanimously on the 12th December 2019 with 163 votes in favour and 0 votes against.

      The bill received assent from President Ram Nath Kovind on the 21st of January 2020. The amendment came into effect on the 25th of January 2020.

Conclusion
Above mentioned are the few changed that have been made in the Indian Constitution in the past five years. With the developing society and mindsets there is the need of change in our laws too for the betterment of the working system of our country. India's constitution provides rigidity and flexibility at the same time. Since it came into force it has been amended 104 times. And since them various Articles are amended, deleted or inserted with precision.

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