First Amendment To The Indian Constitution

The making of the Indian Constitution is a collective effort of brainstorming of 2 years 11 months and 18 days. It is composed of 395 articles slotted into 22 parts and has a total of 12 schedules. The constitution of India is both rigid and flexible. Some provisions can be amended by a simple majority and others by a special majority. The amendment of the constitution provides a scope to update the constitution in tune with changing families. 

The first amendment to the Indian Constitution was brought about in the year 1951. It was the foremost decision to change the original structure of the Constitution. The Constitution(First) Amendment Act, 1951 was passed by the provisional Parliament of India. The members present were the same bunch of associates who crafted the Constitution. It was done during the prime minister of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru. 

Need of introducing the first Amendment to the Indian Constitution and amendments done 

Several judgments of the high court and the Supreme Court interpreted the constitutional provision especially related to Fundamental Rights in a way that makes it very challenging to impose several restrictions by the state. The then government found that due to such hindrances, the agenda of social reforms was taking a backseat. It was passed in a short span I.e.introduced on May 12 and passed on June 02. 

The object statement of the act specifically informs that some courts have held the rights under Article 19 I.e. freedom of speech and expression to be so extensive that even if a person commits murder, he is not adjudged guilty. 

Hence, the state found itself compelled to amend the provisions of Article 19 and ensure the maintenance of law and order. Furthermore, clause (1) (g) of Article 19 was clarified to ensure that the state can take part in nationalization activities in some sectors without drawing any apprehensions from the citizens suing it for violating the provision that citizens have the right to practice any profession. Thus, the state can do so without any justification. It substituted clause 6 with a provision that nothing can prevent the state from making any law relating to- 

  • (I). the professional and technical qualifications necessary for a profession and,
  • (ii). Carrying on by the state or a corporation owned by it of any trade whether to complete or partial exclusion of citizens. 

Likewise, the intent was to ensure the seamless applicability of the Zamindari abolition laws. The state was facing several challenges in making the idea of social justice possible in this regard. Hence, Article 31 A and Article 31 B were added to the Constitution. The ninth schedule was also inserted to safeguard the land reforms from judicial review. 

Article 31 A saves specific categories of laws from judicial invalidation on account of conflicting with Article 14 and Article 19 provided in part 3 of the constitution. The 5 classifications of laws protected include the acquisition of estates, taking over of management of properties, an amalgamation of corporations, extinguishment, and modification of rights of shareholders, and

also those of mining leases. However, the law has to receive the President’s assent before being immune from judicial review. 

On the other hand, Article 31 B safeguards laws included in the ninth schedule from judicial scrutiny. It saves the said law from being invalidated on account of conflicting with any of the fundamental rights. Having said that, the apex court has adjudicated that the laws listed under the ninth schedule after the 24th of April 1973 (Kesavananda Bharati case) are open to judicial review if they violate the tenets of basic structure. 

The ninth schedule was inserted to prevent land reform laws from being challenged but has evolved to prevent more laws from judicial review. Initially, it had only 13 acts in place but now has more than 250 laws in it. 

Furthermore, several provisions of articles 15, 19, 85, 87, 174, 176,341,342,372, and 376. 

In Article 15, a specific provision empowers the state to make special provisions for the advancement of socially or educational backward sections of citizens or the Scheduled castes, and the Scheduled Tribes. 

Amendment of Article 85 enabled the President to summon each session of the House of Parliament as he deems fit and fixed 6 months as the maximum gap between two sessions. Providing for propagation and dissolution was also included. 

Article 174 was amended to the above changes in the state legislature and it empowered the Governor to do so. 

Similarly, in Article 372, the phrase ‘two years’ was substituted with ‘three years’. Likewise, minor changes were done in the remaining articles as well. 

At last, the 9th schedule with 13 provisions was added. Some of the provisions were like 1. The Bihar Land Reforms Act, 1950 

  1. The Bombay Tenancy and Agricultural Lands Act,1948 
  2. The Panch Mahals Mehwassi Tenure Abolition Act, 1949 

among others on the same lines. 

The ninth schedule faces criticism from several experts to go beyond its stated objectives and is a shield to several other laws from the judicial observations. 

Hence, the first amendment to the Indian constitution was enacted with the stated aims of social reforms and was in a way the first time that the Indian constitution got a modification. The amendment showcased the needs and aspirations of the political power prevalent at that time but, it continues to inspire the changes till now.

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