The Constitution has been amended 103 times since January 26, 1950. The power of the Parliament to make amendments to the Constitution and the extent to which it can do so, has been a contentious issue leading to a tussle between the Supreme Court and the central government in the 1960s and 1970s. This eventually led to the landmark Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala case, which outlined the concept of the basic structure of the Constitution.
During the Emergency, Indira Gandhi’s dispensation attempted to overhaul the Constitution while the subsequent Janata Party government tried to undo these changes.
Here is a list of the important amendments made to the Constitution.
This inserted Clause 4 to Article 15, enabling the state to make special provisions for the advancement of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. This was passed consequent to the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Champakam Dorairajan case (1951) in which the court struck down a law providing for reservation for admission to colleges.
It altered Article 19(2) to enable the government to impose reasonable restrictions on free speech. It also inserted Article 31-B and the ninth schedule to protect land acquisition laws. The changes reflected a struggle between a socialist government inclined to distribute land and a Supreme Court which seemed keen to protect individual liberty by securing property rights.
This amended Articles 368 and 13 to ensure that Parliament has the power to amend any part of the Constitution, including part III which lays down fundamental rights. The amendment was brought about to bypass the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Golaknath v. State of Punjab case (1967) which held that Parliament cannot amend Part III of the Constitution to take away fundamental rights.
This remains one of the most controversial amendments to date. It was enacted during the Emergency when Indira Gandhi was in power, and made wholesale changes to the Constitution, so much so that it is also referred to as the mini Constitution.
It amended the Preamble to insert the words “socialist” and “secular”.
It inserted Article 32A to curtail the power of the Supreme Court to examine validity of laws made by state legislatures ( subsequently omitted by the 43rd amendment).