UPSC Exam Preparation: This Day in History – Nov 2

2 November 1976

Lok Sabha passed the 42nd Amendment to the Constitution


What happened?

On 2 November 1976, the Lok Sabha passed The Constitution (Forty-second amendment) Act, 1976 which made sweeping changes to the country’s Constitution and is hence referred to as a ‘mini-constitution’.

Background

  • This amendment was enacted during the Emergency (June 1975 – March 1977) when the Indira Gandhi-led Congress Party was in power.
  • This is regarded as a controversial amendment as it brought about widespread changes. So, it is also sometimes called the ‘Constitution of Indira’.
  • This amendment made the Parliament the supreme body in the country.
  • The powers of the judiciary were curtailed. It removed election disputes from the purview of the courts. It also gave the Parliament the power to enact constitutional amendments without judicial review.
  • This amendment also made laws created to pursue the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) safe from the scrutiny of the Supreme Court. It stated that such laws could not be rendered invalid by the courts on grounds of the violation of Fundamental Rights. Thus, the amendment lowered the importance of Fundamental Rights and made it secondary to DPSP.
  • This amendment also weakened the federal structure of the country. It gave more powers to the centre such as the following:
    • National emergency could be proclaimed in any part of India.
    • Five subjects were shifted from the state list to the concurrent list.
    • The duration of President’s Rule in a state was increased from 6 months to 1 year.
    • Gave powers to the centre to deploy the armed forces in any state to deal with a law and order situation.
  • The tenure of the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies were increased from 5 to 6 years. The quorums in the houses were left to be fixed by the rules of each house.
  • Emergency could be declared for even a part of the country.
  • The president was now bound to abide by the advice of the Council of Ministers and could not use his discretion.
  • Fundamental Duties were added to the Constitution.
  • The Preamble of the Constitution was also changed. Previously, India was characterised as a ‘sovereign democratic republic’. The amendment made India a ‘sovereign socialist secular democratic republic’. Also, the words ‘unity of the nation’ was altered to ‘unity and integrity of the nation’.
  • Several articles were amended via this act and new parts and articles were also introduced.
  • The amendment was passed in accordance with Article 368 of the Constitution which deals with the procedure of amendments to the constitution. This article requires the ratification from more than half the number of state legislatives. Only 6 states did not ratify (Gujarat, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Jammu & Kashmir, Meghalaya and Nagaland) this act.
  • It was passed by the Rajya Sabha on 11 November 1976 and came into force on 3 January 1977.
  • After the general elections in May 1977, the Congress Party was routed out of power and the Janata Party came into power with Morarji Desai as the Prime Minister. This government brought about the 43rd and 44th Amendments and restored some of the earlier features of the constitution by annulling the anti-democratic features of the 42nd Amendment Act.

 

Also on This Day 

1755: Birth of Marie Antoinette, the last Queen of France before the French Revolution. 1774: Death of Robert Clive. 1877: Birth of Aga Khan III, the first President of the All India Muslim League.

See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.

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