India prides itself in being the country with the largest written constitution in the world.
The foundation of the world's biggest democracy, the Constitution of India, has been amended over 106 times since it was enacted on 26 January, 1950. Many of these amendments have changed the very face of Indian society.
On 26 November, Constitution Day, we take a look at all the constitutional amendments passed by the parliament from 2015 to the present and what they mean.
Constitution (100th Amendment) Act, 2015
The 100th constitutional amendment enacted in 2015 pertains to the Indo-Bangla land boundary agreement, which was recently ratified by the Indian government in accordance with the 1974 India-Bangladesh Agreement. The amendment to Schedule 1 of the Constitution facilitated exchange of disputed land between the two countries.
While India gained 7,110 acres of land, it acceded 17,160 acres to Bangladesh, thus ending the ambiguity faced by close to 100,000 people residing in conflicted areas, which cut them off from basis government facilities of their respective home countries.
GST - Constitution (101st Amendment) Act, 2016
The long-pending bill pertaining to Goods and Services Tax (GST) was first pushed forward by the Vajpayee administration, further researched, and debated by the UPA government, finally passed and signed by the President under the NDA government in September, 2016.
Amendments were made to Clause 1 of Article 249, 268, 269, 270 and several others in the Indian Constitution, thus marking a major change in the fundamental laws governing indirect taxation in the country.
Constitution (102nd Amendment) Act, 2018
This amendment, assented to by the President in August 2018, granted constitutional status to the National Commission for Backward Classes (NCBC), which was established in 1993 with the making recommendations pertaining to the difficulties encountered by socially and educationally backward classes.
Articles 338B and 342A were added to the Constitution, providing certain powers and underlining the duties of the NCBC, in addition to empowering the President to specify socially and educationally backward classes in a state/union territory, while making Parliamentary approval mandatory for addition or deletion of a community from the Backward List of communities.
EWS Reservation - Constitution (103rd Amendment) Act, 2019
The 103rd Constitutional Amendment granted a 10 percent reservation status to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) of citizens of India, in addition to the existing reservation quota already provisioned for socially and educationally backward classes. The amendment to Article 15 and 16 of the Constitution provides reservation for admission in Central Government run and private education institutions, along with Central Government jobs.
Amidst major backlash, this amendment raised the cumulative reservation in the country to 59.5 percent, which was immediately challenged by several organizations and the DMK in Madras High Court in 2019. However, the Supreme Court verdict on 7th November, 2022 upheld the validity of the amendment.
Constitution (104th Amendment) Act, 2020
Changes were made to Article 334 of the Indian Constitution, in order to extend the deadline on cessation (i.e., termination) of Lok Sabha seats reserved in Parliament, for Members from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The reservation, which was scheduled to lapse on 26 January, 2020, was granted a 10-year extension under the 104th Constitutional Amendment.
However, extension was not granted to the provision of reserving two Lok Sabha seats (and State Legislative Assembly seats) for members of Anglo-Indian Community, thus abolishing the practice under the Prime Minister’s recommendation.
Constitution (105th Amendment) Act, 2021
In undoing a provision of the 102nd Constitution Amendment which granted powers to the President of India to identify socially and educationally backward classes (SEBC), the Supreme Court, in May 2021, held that the State’s power to recognize SEBCs be re-instated.
Under unanimous demand to restore the power, the 105th Constitutional Amendment Act was assented by the President in August 2021.
Abrogation of Article 370 & Repeal of Article 35A, 2019
Though not a Constitutional Amendment per se; rather defined as a temporary provision, the contentious Article 370 and Article 35A, which granted a special status to Jammu and Kashmir and allowed the state to define its permanent residents (including their rights), was revoked amidst major uproar in August 2019.
The Indian Parliament had also simultaneously passed the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019, which was met with a lot of criticism from the opposition and the state’s stakeholders.