10. Amendment of the Constitution

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indian polity study materials 10

 Changes made in the constitution: 

  • Changes which is not deemed to Constitutional Amendment (Simple Majority)
  • Changes which is deemed to be Constitutional Amendment (Special Majority)
  • Federal Provisions Amendment (Special Majority + Ratification of half of the states)

Non – Federal Provisions Amendment

  • 1Framers of our Constitution prescribed an easier method for changing those provisions of the Constitution which did not primarily affect the federal system. This was done in two ways.
  • By providing alteration to certain provisions of the Constitution which is ‘not to be deemed to be amendment of the Constitution’. (i.e.) such provisions can be altered by the Union Parliament in the ordinary process of legislation (by a  simple majority).
  • Other provisions of the constitution which can be changed only by the ‘process of Amendment’ prescribed by Article 368
  • Differentiation has been again made in procedure for Amendments (Article 368) according to the Nature of the provisions sought to be amended (i.e.) federal provisions (or) Non-federal provisions of the Constitution

The Constitutions can be amended by the following majority in three ways

  1. Amendment by simple majority of the
  2. Amendment by special majority of the
  3. Amendment by special majority of the Parliament and the ratification of half of the state legislature

  a) SIMPLE MAJORITY OF PARLIAMENT:

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. These provisions include:

  1. Admission or establishment of new
  2. Formation of new states and alteration of areas, boundaries or names of existing states.
  3. Abolition or creation of legislative councils in
  4. Second Schedule – emoluments, allowances, privileges and so on of the President, the Governors, the Speakers, Judges, etc.
  5. Quorum in
  6. Salaries and allowances of the members of
  7. Rules of procedure in
  8. Privileges of the Parliament, its members and its
  9. Use of English language in
  10. Number of puisne judges in the Supreme
  11. Conferment of more jurisdictions on the Supreme
  12. Use of official
  13. Citizenship – acquisition and
  14. Elections to Parliament and State
  15. Union
  16. Fifth Schedule –administration of scheduled areas and scheduled
  17. Sixth Schedule – administration of tribal areas

B) By special majority of parliament:

  • The majority of the provisions in the Constitution need to be amended by a special majority of the Parliament, that is, a majority (that is, more than 50%) of the total membership of each House and a majority of two-thirds of the members of each House present and voting
  • The provisions which can be amended by this way includes Fundamental Rights;
  • Directive Principles of State Policy;
  • All other provisions which are not covered by the first and third categories.

C) By special majority of parliament and consent of states:

  • Those provisions of the Constitution which are related to the federal structure of the polity can be amended by a special majority of the Parliament and also with the consent of half of the State Legislatures by a simple majority.
  • The following provisions can be amended in this way Election of the President and its manner.
  • Extent of the executive power of the Union and the sates. Supreme Court and High Courts.
  • Distribution of legislative powers between the Union and the States. Any of the lists in the Seventh Schedule.
  • Representation of states in Parliament.
  • Power of Parliament to amend the Constitution.

Procedure for Amendemnt:

  •  The procedure for the amendment of the Constitution as laid down in Article 368 is as follows:
  1. An amendment of the Constitution can be initiated only by the introduction of a bill for the purpose in either House of Parliament and not in the state
  2. The bill can be introduced either by a minister or by a private member and does not require prior permission of the
  3. The bill must be passed in each House by a special majority, that is, a majority (that is, more than 50% of the total membership of the House and a majority of two-thirds of the members of the House Present and
  4. Each House must pass the bill separately, In case of a disagreement between these two Houses, there is no provision for holding a joint sitting of the two Houses for the purpose of deliberation and passage of the
  5. If the bill seeks to amend the federal provisions of the Constitution, it must also be ratified by the legislatures of half of the states by a simple majority, that is, a majority of the members of the House present and voting
  6. After duly passed by both the Houses of Parliament and ratified by the State legislatures, where necessary, the bill is presented to the president for assent
  7. The president must give his assent to the He can neither withhold his assent to the bill nor return the bill for reconsideration of the Parliament
  8. After the president’s assent, the bill becomes and Act (i.e. a constitutional amendment act) and the Constitution stands amended in accordance with the terms of the

Ingredients of The ‘Basic Structure’:

  •  From the various judgments, the following have emerged as ‘basic features’ of the Constitution:
  • Supremacy of the Constitution.
  • Sovereign, democratic and republican nature of the Indian polity. Secular character of the Constitution.
  • Separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary. Federal character of the Constitution.
  • Unity and integrity of the nation. Welfare state (socio-economic justice). Judicial review.
  • Freedom and dignity of the individual. Parliamentary system.
  • Rule of law.
  • Harmony and balance between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles. Principle of equality.
  • Free and fair elections. Independence of Judiciary.

Parliamentary Control over Finance:

  • Ours is a Parliamentary system of Government based on Westminster model. The Constitution has, therefore, vested the power over the purse in the hands of chosen representatives of the people thus sanctifying the principle ‘no taxation without representation’.
  • Preparation of Budget for the approval of the Legislature is a constitutional obligation of the Government both at the Centre and the State levels.
  • Legislative prerogative over taxation, legislative control over expenditure and executive initiative in financial matters are some of the fundamental principles of the system of Parliamentary financial control.
  • There are specific provisions in the Constitution of India incorporating these tenets. For example, article 265 provides that ‘no tax shall be levied or collected except by authority of law’; no expenditure can be incurred except with the authorization of the Legislature (article 266); and President shall, in respect of every financial year, cause to be Laid before Parliament, Annual Financial Statement (article 112).
  • These provisions of our Constitution make the Government accountable to Parliament.

The Budget

  •  The ‘Annual Financial Statement’, laid before both the Houses of Parliament constitutes the Budget of the Union Government. This statement takes into account a period of one financial year.
  • The financial year commences in India on 1st April each year. The statement embodies the estimated receipts and expenditure of the Government of India for the financial year.

Demands for Grants

  • The estimates of expenditure included in the Budget and required to be voted by Lok Sabha are in the form of Demands for Grants. These Demands are arranged Ministry- wise and a separate Demand for each of the major services is presented.
  • Each Demand contains first a statement of the total grant and then a statement of the detailed estimate divided into items.

Railway Budget 

  • The Budget of the Indian Railways is presented separately to Parliament and dealt with separately, although the receipts and expenditure of the Railways form part of the Consolidated Fund of India and the figures relating to them are included in the ‘Annual Financial Statement’.

Budget Documents 

  • Alongwith the ‘Annual Financial Statement’ Government presents the following documents:
  • An Explanatory Memorandum briefly explaining the nature of receipts and expenditure during the current year and the next year and the reasons for variations in the estimates for the two years,
  • The Books of Demands showing the provisions Ministry-wise and a separate Demand for each Department and service of the Ministry.
  • The Finance Bill which deals with the taxation measures proposed by Government is introduced immediately after the presentation of Budget.
  • It is accompanied by a memorandum explaining the provisions of the Bill and their effect on the finances of the country.

Vote on Account

  • The discussion on the Budget begins a few days after its presentation. In a democratic set-up, Government is anxious to give Parliament full opportunity to discuss the budgetary provisions and the various proposals for taxation.
  • Since Parliament is not able to vote the entire budget before the commencement of the new financial year, the necessity to keep enough finance at the disposal of Government in order to allow it to run the administration of the country remains.
  • A special provision is, therefore, made for “Vote on Account” by which Government obtains the Vote of Parliament for a sum sufficient to incur expenditure on various items for a part of the year.
  • Normally, the Vote on Account is taken for two months only. But during election year or when it is anticipated that the main Demands and Appropriation Bill will take    longer time than two months, the Vote on Account may be for a period exceeding two months.

Cut Motions:

  • Motions for reduction to various Demands for Grants are made in the form of Cut Motions seeking to reduce the sums sought by Government on grounds of economy or difference- of opinion on matters of policy or just in order to voice a grievance

Appropriation Bill:

  • After the General Discussion on the Budget proposals and Voting on Demands for Grants have been completed, Government introduces the Appropriation Bill.
  • The Appropriation Bill is intended to give authority to Government to incur expenditure from and out of the Consolidated Fund of India. The procedure for passing this Bill is the same as in the case of other money Bills.

Finance Bill

  • The Finance Bill seeking to give effect to the Government’s taxation proposals which is introduced in Lok Sabha immediately after the presentation of the General Budget, is taken up for consideration and passing after the Appropriation Bill is passed.
  • However, certain provisions in the Bill relating to Levy and collection of fresh duties or variations in the existing duties come into effect immediately on the expiry of the day on which the Bill is introduced by virtue of a declaration under the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act. Parliament has to pass the Finance Bill within 75 days of its introduction.

Supplementary/Excess Grants

  • No expenditure in excess of the sums authorized by Parliament can be incurred without the sanction of Parliament.
  • Whenever a need arises to incur extra expenditure, a Supplementary estimate is laid before Parliament.
  • If any money has been spent on any service during a financial year in excess of the amounts granted for that service and for that year, the Minister of Finance/Railways presents a Demand for Excess Grant.
  • The procedure followed in Parliament in regard to Supplementary/Excess Grants is more or less the same as is adopted in the case of estimates included in the General Budget.

Budget of a State/Union Territory under President’s Rule 

  • Budget of a State under President’s rule is presented to Lok Sabha. The procedure followed in regard to the Budget of the Union Government is followed in the case of State Budget also with such variations or modifications, as the Speaker may make.

Functions of Parliament:

  • The functions of Parliament as the legislative organ follow from the feature of the Parliamentary system.

I. Providing The Cabinet

  • The responsibility of the Cabinet is to the popular Chamber the membership of the Cabinet is not necessarily restricted to that Chamber and some of the members are usually taken from the upper Chamber.

II . Control of The Cabinet

  • It is a necessary corollary from the theory of ministerial responsibility that it is a business of the popular Chamber to see that the Cabinet remains in power so long as it retains the confidence of the majority in that House. This is expressly secured by Art. 75(3) of our Constitution.

III.  Criticism of the Cabinet and of Individual Ministers

  •  While the Cabinet is left to formulate the policy, the function of Parliament is to bring about a discussion and criticism of that policy on the floor of the House, so that not only the Cabinet can get the advice of the deliberative body and learn about its own errors and deficiencies, but the nation as a whole can be appraised of an alternative point of view.

1.   An Organ Of Information

  •  As an organ of information, Parliament is more powerful than the Press or any other private agency, for Parliament secures the information authoritatively, from those in the know of things.
  • The information is collected and disseminated not only through the debates but through the specific medium of ‘Questions’ to Ministers.

Legislation

  •  The next function of the Legislature is that of making laws.

 Financial Control

  •  Parliament has the sole power not only to authorize expenditure for the public services and to specify the purposes to which that money shall be appropriated, but also to provide the ways and means to raise the revenue required, by means of taxes and other impositions and also to ensure that the money that was granted has been spent for the authorized purposes

Parliamentary Committees:

  • The work done by the Parliament in modern times is not only varied in nature, but considerable in volume. The time at its disposal is limited.
  • It cannot, therefore, give close consideration to all the legislative and other matters that come up before it. A good deal of its business is, therefore, transacted by what are called the Parliamentary Committees.

Ad hoc and Standing Committees:

  • Parliamentary Committees are of two kinds : Ad hoc Committees and the Standing Committees. Ad hoc Committees are appointed for a specific purpose and they cease to exist when they finish the task assigned to them and submit a report.
  • The principal Ad hoc Committees are the Select and Joint Committees on Bills. Others like the Railway Convention Committee, the Committees on the Draft Five Year Plans and the Hindi Equivalents Committee were appointed for specific purposes.
  • Apart from the Ad hoc Committees, each House of Parliament has Standing Committees like the Business Advisory Committee, the Committee on Petitions, the Committee of Privileges and the Rules Committee.

Other Committees

  •  Of special importance is yet another class of Committees which act as Parliament’s ‘Watch Dogs’ over the Executive.
  • These are the Committees on Subordinate Legislation, the Committee on Government Assurances, the Committee on Estimates, the Committee on Public Accounts and the Committee on Public Undertakings and the Departmentally Related Standing Committees (DRSCs).
  • The Committee on Estimates, the Committee on Public Accounts, the Committee on Public Undertakings and DRSCs play an important role in exercising a check over governmental expenditure and Policy formulation.

SELECT AND JOINT COMMITTEES: 

Composition and Functions of the Committees Select and Joint Committees

  •  When a Bill comes up before a House for general discussion, it is open to that House to refer it to a Select Committee of the House or a Joint Committee of the two Houses.
  • A motion has to be moved and adopted to this effect in the House in which the Bill comes up for consideration. In case the motion adopted is for reference of the Bill to a Joint Committee, the decision is conveyed to the other House requesting them to nominate members of the other House to serve on the Committee.
  • The Select or Joint Committee considers the Bill clause by clause just as the two Houses do. Amendments can be moved to various clauses by members of the Committee.
  • The Committee can also take evidence of associations, public bodies or experts who are interested in the Bill. After the Bill has thus been considered, the Committee submits its report to the House. Members who do not agree with the majority report may append their minutes of dissent to the report.

Committee on Estimates:

  •  This Committee consists of thirty members who are elected by the Lok Sabha every year from amongst its members. A Minister is not eligible for election to this Committee. The term of the Committee is one year.
  • The main function of the Committee on Estimates is
  • To report what economies, improvements in organisation, efficiency, or administrative reform,
  • Consistent with the policy underlying the estimates, may be effected and
  • To suggest alternative policies in order to bring about efficiency and economy in administration.
  • From time to time, the Committee selects such of the estimates pertaining to a Ministry or a group of Ministries or statutory and other Government bodies as may seem fit to the Committee.
  • The Committee also examines matters of special interest which may arise or come to light in the course of its work or which are specifically referred to it by the House or the Speaker.

Committee on Public Undertakings

  • The Committee on Public Undertakings consists of 15 members elected by the Lok Sabha; 7 members of Rajya Sabha are also associated with it. A Minister is not eligible for election to this Committee. The term of the Committee is one year.

The functions of the Committee on Public Undertakings are :

  • To examine the reports and accounts of Public Undertakings;
  • To examine the reports, if any, of the Comptroller and Auditor General on the Public Undertakings;
  • To examine in the context of the autonomy and efficiency of the Public Undertakings, whether the affairs of the Public Undertakings are being managed in accordance with sound business principles and prudent commercial practices; and
  • Such other functions vested in the Committee on Public Accounts and the Committee on Estimates in relation to the Public Undertakings as are not covered by clauses (a), (b) and (c) above and as may be allotted to the Committee by the Speaker from time to
  • The Committee does not, however, examine matters of major Government policy and matters of day-to-day administration of the Undertakings.

Committee on Public Accounts:

  • This Committee consists of 15 members elected by the Lok Sabha; 7 members of the Rajya Sabha are also associated with it. A Minister is not eligible for election to this Committee. The term of the Committee is one year.
Functions 
  • The main duty of the Committee is to ascertain whether the money granted by Parliament has been spent by Government “within the scope of the Demand”. The Appropriation Accounts of the Government of India and the Audit Reports presented by the Comptroller and Auditor General mainly form the basis for the examination of the Committee.
  • Cases involving losses, nugatory expenditure and financial irregularities come in for severe criticism by the Committee. The Committee is not concerned with questions of policy. It is concerned only with the execution of the policy laid down by Parliament and its results.

24 Departmentally Related Standing Committees:

  • A full-fledged system of 17 Departmentally Related Standing Committees came into being in April, 1993 covering under their jurisdiction all Central Ministries/Departments.
  • The system was re-structured in July, 2004 whereby the number of DRSCs was increased from 17 to 24 and the membership of each DRSC has been reduced from 45 to 31 members.

These re-structured Committees are as under:

  • Committee on Commerce Committee on Home Affairs
  • Committee on Human Resource Development Committee on Industry
  • Committee on Science & Technology, Environment & Forests Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture
  • Committee on Health and Family Welfare
  • Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice Committee on Agriculture
  • Committee on Information Technology Committee on Defence
  • Committee on Energy Committee on External Affairs Committee on Finance
  • Committee on Food, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution Committee on Labour
  • Committee on Petroleum & Natural Gas Committee on Railways
  • Committee on Urban Development Committee on Water Resources Committee on Chemicals and Fertilizers Committee on Rural Development Committee on Coal and Steel
  • Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment
  • Out of the 24 Committees, 8 Committees (SI. Nos. 1 to 8) are serviced by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat and 16 Committees (SI. Nos. 9 to 24) by the Lok Sabha Secretariat.
  • Each of these Standing Committees consists of not more than 31 members-21 to be nominated by the Speaker from amongst the members of Lok Sabha and 10 to be nominated by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha from amongst the members of Rajya Sabha.
  • A Minister is not eligible to be nominated to these Committees. The term of members of these Committees is one year.
  • With reference to the Ministries/Departments under their purview

The functions of these Committees are

  • Consideration of Demands for
  • Examination of Bills referred to them by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha, or the Speaker, Lok Sabha, as the case may
  • Consideration of Annual
  • Consideration of national basic long term policy documents presented to the House and referred to the Committee by the Chairman, Rajya Sabha, or the Speaker, Lok Sabha, as the case may
  • These Committees do not consider matters of day-to-day administration of the
  • Ministries/ Departments concerned.
  • The Departmentally Related Standing Committee System is a path-breaking endeavour of parliamentary surveillance over administration.
  • With the emphasis of their functioning to concentrate on long-term plans, policies and the philosophies guiding the working of the Executive, these Committees are in a very privileged position to provide necessary direction, guidance and inputs for broad policy formulations and in the achievement of the long-term national perspective by the Executive.

Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLAD Scheme):

  •  The general public often approach Members of Parliament for provision of certain basic facilities, including community infrastructure in their areas.
  • The Government of India considered the need for a mechanism to respond to such requests and decided to have a Scheme to meet the felt needs of the people.
  • On 23 December 1993, the then Prime Minister announced in the Parliament the Member of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS).
  • The MPLADS is a Plan Scheme fully funded by the Government of India. The annual MPLADS fund entitlement per MP constituency is Rs. 2 crore and members can recommend works for their respective constituencies.
  • The Scheme is governed by a set of guidelines issued by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation from time to time.
  • All works to meet the locally felt community infrastructure and development needs with emphasis on the creation of durable assets in the respective constituency are permissible under MPLADS, except certain prohibited works enumerated in the guidelines.
  • The Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation is responsible for the policy formulation, release of funds and prescribing monitoring mechanism for implementation of the Scheme.
  • The objective of the Scheme is to enable members to recommend works of developmental nature with emphasis on the creation of durable community assets based on the locally felt needs to be taken up in their constituencies.
  • Right from the inception of the Scheme, durable assets of national priorities drinking water, primary education, public health, sanitation, roads, etc. are being created.

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