March 18, 2020 Constitutional Amendments & types of Majority in Parliament By Sutirtha Datta Constitution of India 0 Comments Contents Procedure of Amendments of the ConstitutionTypes of Majority for AmendmentsSimple Majority of ParliamentSpecial Majority of ParliamentSpecial Majority of Parliament & Consent of StatesOther Types of Majority Absolute majorityEffective MajorityNotes types of Majority in Parliament Article 368 in Part XX This article deals with the powers of Parliament to amend the Constitution and its procedure. Parliament may, amend by way of addition, variation or repeal any provision of the Constitution. It must be done in accordance with the procedure laid down for this purpose. Parliament cannot amend those provisions which form the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution. Procedure of Amendments of the Constitution An amendment to the Constitution can be initiated only by the introduction of a bill for the purpose in either House of Parliament. The bill can be introduced either by a minister or by a private member. It does not require prior permission of the president. The bill must be passed in each House by a special majority. Each House must pass the bill separately. In case of a disagreement between the two Houses, there is no provision for holding a joint sitting of the two Houses. If the bill seeks to amend the federal provisions of the Constitution, it must be passed by the Special Majority of Parliament & Consent of States. After duly passed by both Houses of Parliament and ratified by the state legislatures, where necessary, the bill is presented to the president for assent. The president must give his assent to the bill. He can neither withhold his assent to the bill nor return the bill for reconsideration of the Parliament. After the president’s assent, the bill becomes an Act (constitutional amendment act). types of Majority in Parliament Types of Majority for Amendments Article 368 provides for two types of amendments Some other articles provide for the amendment of certain provisions of the Constitution by a simple majority of Parliament Constitution can be amended in 3 ways: Simple majority of the Parliament Special majority of the Parliament Special majority of the Parliament and the ratification of half of the state legislatures Simple Majority of Parliament Simple majority refers to more than 50% of the members present and voting. It is also called as or working majority. A number of provisions in the Constitution can be amended by a simple majority of the two Houses of Parliament outside the scope of Article 368. Admission or establishment of new states. Formation of new states and alteration of areas, boundaries, or names of existing states. Abolition or creation of legislative councils in states. 2nd Schedule – emoluments, allowances, privileges, and so on of the president, the governors, the Speakers, judges, etc. Quorum in Parliament. Salaries and allowances of the members of Parliament. Rules of procedure in Parliament. Privileges of the Parliament, its members, and its committees. Use of English language in Parliament. Number of puisne judges in the Supreme Court. Conferment of more jurisdiction on the Supreme Court. Use of official language. Citizenship – acquisition and termination. Elections to Parliament and state legislatures. Delimitation of constituencies. Union territories. 5th Schedule – administration of scheduled areas and scheduled tribes. 6th Schedule – administration of tribal areas. types of Majority in Parliament Special Majority of Parliament Special majority needed both of the following More than 50% of the total membership of a House. A majority of 2/3rd of the members of that House present and voting. Most of the provisions in the Constitution need to be amended by a special majority of the Parliament. Fundamental Rights Directive Principles of State Policy All other provisions which are not covered by the first and third categories Special Majority of Parliament & Consent of States This type of amendment is related to the federal structure of the Indian constitution. Those provisions can be amended by both of following Special majority of the Parliament Consent of half of the state legislatures by a simple majority If one or some or all the remaining states take no action on the bill, it does not matter. The moment half of the states give their consent, the formality is completed. There is no time limit within which the states should give their consent to the bill. Federal structure provisions are Election of the President and its manner. Extent of the executive power of the Union and the states. Supreme Court and high courts. Distribution of legislative powers between the Union and the states. Any of the lists in the 7th Schedule. Representation of states in Parliament. Power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and its procedure (Article 368 itself). Other Types of Majority Absolute majority Absolute majority refers to more than 50% of the total membership of the house. Total membership of Lok Sabha is 545. Absolute majority in Lok Sabha means – 50% of 545 + 1 = 273 Absolute majority is related to the formation of a government or to keep the confidence of the house at the Center and States. Effective Majority It means more than 50% of the effective strength of the house. So, out of the total strength, we deduct the vacant seats. Indian Constitution mentions “all the then members”, which means the effective majority. The effective majority is used to remove Vice-president in Rajya Sabha. Speaker and Deputy speaker of Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assembly. Notes 24th Constitutional Amendment Act of 1971 made it obligatory for the President to give his assent to a Constitutional Amendment Bill.