ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Constitutional Changes

VoI X No 52 December 27, 1975 SINCE the split in the Congress in I960, a running debate has been going on about whether parliament is the "supreme expression of the Indian people's Will". or whether even this supreme body is subject to another supreme body, the Supreme Court of India. After a great deal of argumentation as well as litigation, it seemed as if the "supreme will of the Indian people" had at last prevailed, when consequent upon the passing of the 24th, the 25th and later the 29th amendments to the Constitution, the question of Parliament's power- to abridge the fundamental rights came before a full bench of the Supreme- Court and that Court ruled, by a majority of seven to six, that Article 362 of the Constitution did invest parliament with the right to alter, abridge or abrogate the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, though it still did not enable Parliament to alter the basic structure or framework of the Constitution, But alter winning this famous victory, it now appears as if Parliament itself is about to impose far-reaching restrictions on its own functioning. This is suggested by the recent reported deliberations of a committee of the Congress Parliamentary Party and the changes it has suggested in the functioning of Parliament. Critics of Parliament who are serious about the need for constructive reform have not been unaware of Parliament's untidy and often ineffective functioning. But suggesting that the remedy for the ills that plague the functioning of Parliament lies in having it meet less frequently or in putting restrictions on the reporting of the proceedings of that body in the Press, or in transferring all legislative work to some ten parliamentary committees seems open to question. Considering the fact that during all these years, except for a brief period following the 1969 split, the Congress party has had an overwhelming majority in Parliament, it is difficult to believe that Parliament has at any time actually obstructed the implementation of any executive measure of the government. One might even argue that the Indian Parliament, as a whole, has been a remarkably complaissant body, with quite a lot of institutional loyalty built into it, though occasionally it has performed the useful job of a muckraker.

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