The question whether Constitution can be amended or not came for the first time in Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala & Anr, (1973) 4 SCC 225 whereinthe Supreme Court held that the preamble is a part of the Constitution and it can be amended provided the basic structure of the Constitution should remain intact. The basic features as mentioned in the preamble cannot be altered by Article 368. So far, Preamble has been amended only once in 1976 by the 42nd Amendment. Three words were added in the Preamble-Socialist, Secular and Integrity.
Article 368 of Part XX of Indian Constitution provides for two types of amendments– by a special majority of Parliament and, by a special majority of the Parliament with the ratification by half of the total states.
There are 3 types of majorities:
- Simple majority– Simple majority or working majority refers to majority of more than 50% of the members present and voting. 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.
- Special majority– 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 percent) of the total membership of each house and a majority of two-thirds of the members of each house present and voting. The expression ‘total membership’ means the total number of members comprising the house irrespective of the fact whether there are vacancies or absentees.
- 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. There is no time limit within which the States should give their consent to the bill.