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Why Constitution of India is Rigid as well as Flexible ?

It is a common myth that USA has seen 33 amendments in last 230 years so it is very rigid. A few nations see their constitution amended almost every week, so they are flexible. Since India have seen 101 amendments in 68 years, it is a mix of rigid and flexible. But it is not the case, let me tell you why flexible and why rigid.

Rigid constitution:

If there is a special provision (different from the ordinary laws) for the amendment for the constitution, it is called a Rigid constitution. For ex: USA Constitution. Process of amendment of USA constitution-

An amendment may be proposed and sent to the states for ratification by either:

  • The United States Congress, whenever a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives deem it necessary; OR
  • A national convention, called by Congress for this purpose, on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds (presently 34) of the states.

To become part of the Constitution, an amendment must be ratified by either (as determined by Congress):

  • The legislatures of three-fourths (presently 38) of the states, within the stipulated time period—if any; OR
  • State ratifying conventions in three-fourths (presently 38) of the states, within the stipulated time period—if any.

Upon being properly ratified, an amendment becomes an operative addition to the Constitution.

Flexible constitution:

The constitution in the same fashion as the ordinary laws. Ex: British constitution.

Indian constitution:

Both elements are present i.e. rigid as well as flexible. Article 368 provides for multiple ways for amending the constitution.

The Indian Constitution can be amended by following three ways:

  • By Special Majority of Parliament : Majority of total membership of each House as well as majority of 2/3rd members of each House present and voting. Provisions like Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State Policy can be amended in this fashion
  • By Special Majority of Parliament and Consent of States : Special Majority as well as consent from at least 50% of the State Legislatures(by a simple majority). Provisions related to federal structure can be amended in this fashion like election of President, amendment of Seventh Schedule etc
  • By Simple majority of Parliament : Majority of members present and voting. Provisions like establishment of new states, Second Schedule etc can be amended in this fashion.

It is clear that not always a special procedure is required to amend the Indian Constitution and sometimes it can be done like an ordinary law (i.e. by simple majority).

Hence the Indian Constitution is not entirely a rigid constitution, rather a mix of rigid and flexible.

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