What is the Procedure of Amendment of the Constitution of India?

Indian Constitution is a balanced Constitution. The framers of the Constitution desired to secure balance and moderation in incorporating various provisions in our Constitution. As far as the amendment of the Constitution is concerned, a balance is struck in making the Constitution partly rigid and partly flexible.

A flexible Constitution is one, which can be easily amended like ordinary law of the land. On the contrary, a rigid Constitution is one whose amendment is very difficult and where there is a distinction between the amendment of constitutional law and ordinary law. Both the types of Constitutions had their merits and demerits.

But the framers of the Indian Constitution did not go to the extreme. They incorporated a unique procedure of amendment which combines both rigidity and flexibility. Article 368 of Constitution deals with procedure of amendment of the Constitution. The Constitution can be amended in three different ways :-

(a) Some categories of amendment like creation of new States, creation or abolition of second chamber of the States, changes in the citizenship, etc., require only a simple majority in both the Houses of the Union Parliament. In this case amendment of the Constitution is made in a flexible manner.

(b) Certain other provisions of the Constitution in order to be amended, require a majority of the total membership in each House of Parliament and a majority of not less than two-thirds of the members present and voting in each House of parliament. The bulk of the Constitution can be amended in this way.

(c) Certain categories of amendment like the Presidential powers and mode of election, the extent of the Executive and Legislative Powers of the Union or the States, the provision regarding the Supreme Court and the High Court, the representation of States in Parliament etc. require :-

  1. A majority of the total membership in each House of Parliament.
  2. A majority of not less than two-thirds of all the members present and voting in each House of Parliament, and
  3. Ratification by the legislatures of at least one half of the States.

The analysis of the above three procedures of the Indian Constitution reveals that the amendment procedures strike a wise balance between rigidity and flexibility:- K. C. Where, eulogizing the procedure of amendment of Indian Constitution, observes. "This variety in the amending process is wise but is rarely found" The process of amendment is a dynamic one. It does not stop the growth of a nation.

In this connection, it is worthwhile to quote Pandit Nehru who clearly stated, "While one wants this Constitution to be as solid and permanent as we can make it, there is no permanence in the Constitution. There should be certain flexibility. If you make anything rigid and permanent, you stop the nation's growth, the growth of a living vital organic people. While the world is in turmoil and we are passing through a swept period of transition, what we may do today may not be wholly applicable tomorrow".

Thus, our Constitution strikes a balance between the extreme flexibility of the British Constitution and the extreme rigidity of the American Constitution. Dr. B. R. Ambedkar rightly said that "....this Assembly has not only refrained from putting a seal of finality and infallibility upon the Constitution by denying the people the right to amend the Constitution as in Canada, or by making the amendment of the Constitution subject to the fulfillment of extra-ordinary terms and conditions as in America or Australia, but has provided a most facile procedure".