What are the Major Amendments made to the Constitution of India?
On 26 January 1950, the Constitution of India came into effect. With its adoption, India became a Republic. The Constitution of India took 2 years, 11 months and 18 days to get drafted. It is the longest constitution in the world. From time to time, amendments have been introduced in the constitution for various reasons. These are majorly for the welfare of the people of India. Below are some of the important amendments to the Constitution.
1) Seventh Amendment(1956) – States Reorganization Act 1956 on the linguistic basis and abolition of Class A, B, C, D states.
Since the Independence of India, this amendment has been the most significant reform of the boundaries of state and territories of India. In this amendment, not only the boundaries of state and territories were revised on the linguistic basis but also the four categories of states (Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D states) were abolished. It is in this amendment that only certain areas were classified as Union Territories.
2) Twenty-sixth Amendment (1971) – Abolition of Privy Purse paid to the former ruler of states
After the independence of India in the year 1947, royal families of princely states were given Privy Purse (amount of money paid to the former ruler of the states before the independence of India) to integrate with India. In the year 1971, an amendment was introduced in the Indian Constitution to abolish the policy of paying Privy Purse. In 1949, the royal families lost all ruling rights after merging with India. The Privy Purse continued to be paid to some of the royal families even after the twenty-sixth amendment to the Constitution of India in 1971. There was two years legal battle and finally, all allowances and privileges provided to the royal families were ceased by the Central Government.
3) Thirty-sixth amendment (1975) – Sikkim included as an Indian State
Although after the Independence of India many states including Pondicherry, Goa, etc were incorporated in India but the addition of Sikkim was a bit different. It is because Sikkim was the first and the only associate state of the Indian Union. Before 1974 no concept of associate state existed in the Indian Constitution. After the thirty-fifth amendment was made to the Article 2A of the Indian constitution, the constitution was again amended in April 1975 in which Amendment 36 was introduced to repeal Article 2A, and add Article 371F. This was done to protect the unique identity and old laws of Sikkim, along with other small amendments.
4) Forty-second Amendment Act(1976) – Fundamental Duties Prescribed
This amendment was enacted during the emergency (25 June 1975 – 21 March 1977) by the Indian National Congress government headed by Indira Gandhi. It is the most controversial amendment in the Indian history. It is known as “mini-Constitution” or the “Constitution of Indira”. It is due to the Forty-second Amendment to the Indian Constitution that India became a Socialist, Secular and Democratic Republic. Changes were made to almost every part of the Constitution which includes the Preamble too. New articles and sections were also included. Fundamental duties were also added to the Indian Constitution. The changes made in the constitutional amendments were beyond judicial scrutiny. Many more changes like including the directive principles were also introduced.
5) Fifty-Second Amendment ( 1985) – Defection to another party after the election made illegal.
Fifty-second Amendment to the Indian Constitution is commonly known as Anti- Defection Law. It added the tenth schedule to the Constitution of India which laid down the process by which the legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection from one party to another. There was a change in articles 101, 102, 190 and 191 due to this amendment.
6) Sixty-first amendment (1989) – Voting age reduced from 21 to 18
It was in the Sixty-first Amendment of 1989 that the voting age of elections to the Lok Sabha and to the Legislative Assemblies of States was reduced from 21 years to 18 years. Amendment in Article 326 of the Indian Constitution led to this change as the article is concerned about elections to the Lok Sabha and the Assemblies. The decision was taken keeping in mind that the youth of India is given an opportunity to become a part of the political process instead of being unrepresented. Therefore, the voting age was reduced.
7) Seventy-third Amendment (1993) – Introduction of Panchayati Raj, the addition of Part IX to the Constitution.
This amendment added part IX to the Indian Constitution and was entitled “Panchayats”. It was passed in April 1993 by the Parliament. It is because of this amendment that a constitutional status was provided to the Panchayati Raj institutions in India. Article 243 was also inserted to Part IX of the Constitution. This amendment deals with Article 243-G and contains 29 functional items. It has given practical shape to Article 4Q of the Constitution. It is because of this amendment that the Panchayati Raj institutions are given a constitutional status. The act has provisions which are grouped into two categories- compulsory and voluntary.
8) Seventy-fourth Amendment ( 1993)- Introduction of Nagarpalikas and Municipalities
It is due to this Amendment Act that the municipalities were given constitutional status and they came under the purview of judicial review. This Amendment consists of provisions from Articles 243-P to 243-ZG and is entitled as ‘The Municipalities’. It contains 18 functional items which are listed under Article 243-W of municipalities and has also added a new twelfth schedule to the Constitution. The aim of this Act is to revitalize and strengthen the urban governments so that they may function as effective units of local government. The act further states there should be three types of municipalities in every state – A Nagar Panchayat, A municipal council for a smaller urban area and A municipal corporation for a larger urban area’.
9) Eighty-sixth Amendment( 2002) – Right to Education
With the eighty-sixth amendment to the Constitution of India, free and compulsory education for the children under the age of 6 to 14 was made as a fundamental right. A new article 21A was inserted below the Article 21 in the Eighty-sixth Amendment in the year 2002 to make this a fundamental right. Through this amendment education for all children below 6 years became a Directive Principle for State Policy (DPSP). This amendment also made the opportunities for education to a child, a fundamental duty of the child’s parents. Under this amendment, no child is liable to pay any kind of fee for education below 14 years of age. The school should have basic facilities such as trained teachers, playgrounds, and infrastructure.
10) One hundred and First Amendment (2016) – Introduction of GST
Under this amendment, the Goods and Service Tax was introduced in India on July 1, 2017. This act contains the provisions which are necessary for the implementation of the GST regime. There are 20 sections in this amendment.
11) One Hundred and Second Constitutional Amendment (2018) – Establishment of NCBC
Through the 123rd constitutional amendment bill 2018 and 102nd amendment act, the National Commission for Backward Classes was formatted. Under the act, the inclusion and exclusion of the backward communities for reservation in jobs.
12) One Hundred and Third Constitutional Amendment (2019) – Abrogation of Article 370 and 35 A
The state of Jammu & Kashmir which was granted a special status under Article 370 was scrapped in 2019 asserting that the this will ensure the development of the state and free the region from terrorism.
Under 35 A which defines “permanent residents” of the J&K state and also used to provide special rights to protect permanent residents of the state has been scrapped.
13) The Citizenship Amendment Act (2019) – Indian Nationality to Non-Muslim Refugees
Under the Citizenship Amendment Act of 1955 which was passed in 2019, Indian citizenship will be given to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian religion minorities who are persecuted because of religion from Muslim neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan before December 2014.