Constitutional Amendment Bill – Article 368 and Amendments of Indian Constitution

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Constitutional Amendment Bill refers to a bill introduced to seek changes in portions of the Constitution. Article 368 of the Indian constitution in Part 20 outlines the method for amending the Indian Constitution. This framework safeguards the integrity of the Indian Constitution and restricts the arbitrary executive power of the Indian Parliament. The Constitution of India provides for its amendment to adjust to changing conditions and needs. The constitutional amendment bill takes into consideration the voices of both houses.

The Amendment of the Indian constitution under Article 368 can be done in two ways following different kinds of majority to pass the bill. All the details about the constitutional amendment bill as per the constitution are mentioned below. This is an essential topic for the aspirants of the UPSC exam, the candidates must be possessing complete knowledge of the topics to answer the important questions pertaining to this topic.

What is Constitutional Amendment Bill?

A Constitutional Amendment can only be undertaken by the emergence of a Bill in one of the Houses of Parliament. The constitutional amendment bill cannot be introduced in the state legislature. Other important points regarding the bill are as follows:

  • Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha have equal standing concerning the constitutional amendment bill as it must be passed by both houses separately.
  • There is no provision for joint sitting.
  • If the constitutional amendment bill includes provisions to amend the federal provisions, it must be passed by half of the state legislatures by a simple majority.

The complete amendment procedure of the Indian constitution under part 20 of the Indian constitution is given below.

Article 368 of the Indian Constitution

Amendment of Indian constitution under Article 368 makes the constitution a blend of flexibility and rigidity as the constitutional amendment in India is not as difficult as in the USA but not as easy as in Britain. Art 368 defines the parliament’s constitutional amendment procedure by adding, repealing, or changing any part of it. Part 20 of the Indian Constitution also says the Parliament cannot amend any provisions which form the basic structure of the Constitution.

Article 368 of Indian Constitution

Amendment of the Indian Constitution

Compared to other countries’ constitutions, India’s Constitution provides a unique amendment procedure of the Indian constitution. This is partially flexible and partially rigid. Sir Kenneth Wheare, an Australian academician, praised this feature, believing that consistencies in the procedure of amendment put “quite unnecessary restrictions” on the amendment of parts of a Constitution.

Amendment of the constitution or constitutional amendment bill cannot alter the basic structure of the constitution. Following various judgments of the Supreme court, the following features form a part of the basic structure and, therefore, cannot be amended.

  • Sovereign, democratic, and republican nature of the Indian polity.
  • Principle of equality
  • Supremacy of the Constitution
  • Free and fair elections
  • Separation of powers between the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary.
  • Unity and integrity of the nation
  • Federal character of the Constitution
  • Limited power of Parliament to amend the Constitution.
  • Freedom and dignity of the individual
  • Independence of Judiciary
  • Effective access to justice
  • Parliamentary system
  • Reasonableness
  • Rule of law
  • The secular character of the Constitution.
  • Welfare state (socio-economic justice)
  • Judicial review
  • Harmony and balance between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles

The Procedure of Amendment of the Indian Constitution

The constitution amendment bill does not require prior permission of the President and can be introduced by either a minister or a private member.

  • A special majority of each house must then pass the Bill, which means the majority of total members as well as a majority of not under two-thirds of the sitting members of that House present and voting.
  • A bill seeking an amendment to the Indian constitution must be passed separately by each house, and there is no provision for a joint sitting of Parliament.
  • The veto power of the President is not applicable to the constitutional amendment bill. Therefore, she can neither hold back approval nor return for reconsideration.
  • After the President’s approval, the bill turns into a constitutional amendment act.

Types of Amendments of the Indian Constitution

Amendment of the Indian constitution under Article 368 includes two types of amendments. Other articles also provide for a constitutional amendment with a simple majority. So, Bills seeking to amend the Constitution fall into three categories:

  • Constitutional Amendment Bills passed by Parliament by simple majority.
  • Bill passed by Parliament by the special majority of each house.
  • Constitution Amendment Bill passed by Parliament by the special majority and approved by not less than one-half of the State Legislatures.

Simple Majority Amendment

Several articles in the constitution are only temporary. They can, however, be modified by Parliament with a simple majority. A simple majority of the members present and voting, i.e., more than 50%, is meant a simple majority. The following constitutional provisions are also included in this category of the constitutional amendment bill.

  • The establishment of new states, and changes in state names, and boundaries.
  • Parliament’s quorum for the transaction of business.
  • Admission or formation of new states.
  • Constituency delimitation
  • The legislative council in the states is established or outlawed by the Parliament.
  • Incomes and allowances of the President, Vice-President, Supreme Court, and High Court Judges
  • Members of Parliament have power, privileges, and immunities.
  • Citizenship acquisition and suspension.

Constitutional Amendment by Special Majority

Only the presence of a bill for the objective of either House of Parliament can initiate a constitutional amendment. Whenever a bill is passed in each House by a vote of at least two-thirds of the members present and voting. The following constitutional provisions are also included in this category:

Special Majority of Parliament and Consent of States

A majority of more than 50% of the states are considered here. A Constitutional amendment bill must be allowed to pass by each house of Parliament by a majority of the members of that House and by a majority of not less than two-thirds of the house members and voting; the state legislatures must then approve the amendment of not below one-half of the states by simple majority.

Article 368 of the Constitution contains a list of articles that can only be amended in a specific way. They are as follows:

  • Concerning the election for the appointment of the President (Articles 54 & 55).
  • Degree of the Union’s and States’ executive power (Articles 73 and 162).
  • Seventh Schedule
  • Provisions relating to India’s Supreme Court (Part V- Chapter 4).
  • Provisions concerning the High Court of India (Part VI- Chapter 5).
  • High Court for Union Territories (Article 241).
  • State Representation in Parliament (Articles 80 and 81)
  • Article 368 deals with the amendment of the Constitution itself.

Article 368 of the Indian Constitution UPSC

The Constitutional Amendment Bill or Article 238 topic is a significant part of the Indian constitution. Hence it is important concerning the Indian polity and therefore is a part of the UPSC Prelims and the Mains syllabus. It is extremely important to go through this topic using study material and keep a close lookout for Current Affairs.

It is also crucial to go through the previous year’s question papers to understand the kinds of questions that frequently occur in relation to the topic. It is also advised to go through the Polity Books for UPSC for the same.

Constitutional Amendment Bill Questions

Question: The following steps are involved in the procedure of a constitutional amendment: [1]Simple majority,  [2]Special majority, [3] Special Majority of Parliament, and Consent of States. Choose the most suitable options given below:

Answer: Options 1,2, and 3.  A Simple Majority, Special Majority, Special Majority of Parliament, and Consent of States.

Question: Pertaining to the Constitutional Amendment Bill which statements are false – a] A joint sitting of both Houses can be called by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. [b] Each of the two Houses will need to pass the Bill separately by a specified special majority. [c] The Bill can be presented in one of the Houses of Parliament. [d] The Bill can be introduced by a Private Member.
Answer: The false statement is A joint sitting of both Houses can be called by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha.

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