India's Mini-Constitution The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976

The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976, often referred to as India’s “Mini-Constitution,” was a significant amendment to the Indian Constitution. This article simplifies the key points of this historic amendment for easy understanding, especially for 10th-grade students.

What is the 42nd Amendment Act / Mini-Constitution?

  • The Indian Constitution can be changed through amendments, and the 42nd Amendment Act was a major one.
  • It was passed by the

    Indian National Congress, led by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, in 1976.

  • This amendment made several important changes to the Constitution.

Why is the 42nd Amendment called ‘Mini Constitution’?

The 42nd Amendment attempted to reshape India’s Constitution fundamentally. Here’s why it’s called the ‘Mini Constitution’:

  • Altered the Preamble, adding significant terms.
  • Transferred subjects between state and concurrent lists.
  • Introduced Fundamental Duties.
  • Limited High Courts’ judicial review.
  • Created new tribunals.
  • Enhanced Directive Principles’ scope.

Key Changes Brought by the 42nd Amendment Act/ Mini-Constitution

  1. Preamble Amendments:

    • Added the words “Socialist,” Secular,” and “Integrity” to the Preamble.
    • Changed “unity of the Nation” to “unity and integrity of the Nation.”
  2. Changes in 7th Schedule:

    • Transferred subjects like Education, Forests, Weights & Measures, Protection of Wild Animals and Birds, and Administration of Justice from the state list to the concurrent list.
  3. Fundamental Duties:

    • Added 10 Fundamental Duties for citizens to follow. These were recommended by the Swaran Singh Committee in 1976.
  4. Parliament Changes:

    • Made the President bound to follow the advice of the cabinet.
    • Allowed the Central Government to deploy central forces in states for handling law and order issues.
    • Gave special discretionary powers to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Prime Minister.
    • Gave precedence to Directive Principles over Fundamental Rights and made laws related to this non-reviewable by the Court.
  5. Judicial Powers of High Courts:

    • Reduced the High Courts’ power of judicial review.
  6. Tribunals:

    • Added Part XIV-A titled ‘Tribunals dealing with Administrative matters’ and ‘Tribunals for other matters.’
  7. Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSPs):

    • Added three new DPSPs:
      • To secure opportunities for the healthy development of children.
      • To promote equal justice and provide free legal aid to the poor.
      • To take steps to secure the participation of workers in the management of industries.
      • Also added Article 48A to protect the environment and safeguard forests and wildlife.

 

How is the 44th Amendment Act related to the 42nd Amendment Act/ Mini-Constitution?

Subheading: Correcting the Course

In 1978, the 44th Amendment Act aimed to undo some changes made by the 42nd Amendment Act:

  • Reversed Unchecked Power: Nullified the 42nd Amendment’s provision that allowed the government to amend the constitution at will.
  • Right to Property: Removed it from fundamental rights and made it a legal right.
  • National Emergency: Replaced ‘internal disturbances’ with ‘armed rebellion’ as a ground for declaring a national emergency.
  • High Court Power: Restored High Courts’ power to issue writs for various purposes.
  • Directive Principle: Added one, focusing on minimizing income and status inequalities.
  • Ministerial Advice: Made it binding on the President.
  • President’s Rule: Restricted its extension to one year, with six-month extensions based on certain conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976

Q1: What is the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976, and why is it significant?

  • The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 is a crucial amendment to the Indian Constitution, often called the “Mini-Constitution.” It is significant because it attempted to bring substantial changes to India’s Constitution.

Q2: Who enacted the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976, and under whose leadership?

  • The Indian National Congress, led by Indira Gandhi, enacted the 42nd Amendment Act in 1976.

Q3: Why is it referred to as the ‘Mini Constitution’?

  • It earned the nickname ‘Mini Constitution’ because it tried to alter the fundamental structure of the Indian Constitution by introducing several key amendments.

Q4: What are some of the essential changes introduced by the 42nd Amendment Act?

  • Changes to the Preamble, including the addition of “Socialist, Secular, and Integrity.”
  • Transferred certain subjects from state to concurrent list.
  • Added 10 Fundamental Duties for citizens.
  • Altered parliamentary powers, making the President bound to Cabinet advice.
  • Restricted High Courts’ judicial review power.
  • Introduced new Directive Principles and more.

Q5: How is the 44th Amendment Act related to the 42nd Amendment Act?

  • The 44th Amendment Act, passed in 1978, aimed to reverse the changes made by the 42nd Amendment Act.
  • It removed the government’s power to amend the Constitution at will, among other significant modifications.

Q6: What were the key changes brought about by the 44th Amendment Act of 1978?

  • Nullified the government’s power to amend the Constitution freely.
  • Removed the Right to Property as a fundamental right.
  • Modified the grounds for declaring a national emergency.
  • Restored High Courts’ writ-issuing power.
  • Added a new Directive Principle on minimizing inequalities.
  • Made ministerial advice binding on the President and more.

Q7: Why is it important to understand the 42nd Amendment Act for UPSC aspirants?

  • Understanding this amendment is essential for UPSC exams as it lays the foundation for comprehending subsequent constitutional changes in India’s history.

Q8: How did the 42nd Amendment Act influence India’s constitutional framework?

  • It attempted to reshape the Constitution significantly by introducing various amendments that impacted the structure of government, individual rights, and directive principles.

Q9: What is the significance of the changes made to the Preamble by the 42nd Amendment Act?

  • The 42nd Amendment Act added the words “Socialist, Secular, and Integrity” to the Preamble, reflecting important principles in the Indian Constitution.

Q10: How did the 42nd Amendment Act affect the distribution of subjects between the state and concurrent lists?

  • The amendment transferred certain subjects, including Education, Forests, Weights & Measures, from the state list to the concurrent list, allowing both the center and states to legislate on them.

Q11: What are Fundamental Duties, and how many were added by the 42nd Amendment Act?

  • Fundamental Duties are responsibilities of citizens towards the nation. The 42nd Amendment Act added 10 Fundamental Duties for citizens.

Q12: How did the 42nd Amendment Act alter the relationship between the President and the Cabinet?

  • It made the President bound to the advice of the Cabinet, limiting the President’s discretionary powers.

Q13: How did the 44th Amendment Act rectify some of the changes introduced by the 42nd Amendment Act?

  • The 44th Amendment Act restored the democratic ideals and constitutional balance by undoing certain amendments, such as making ministerial advice binding on the President and limiting the extension of President’s Rule.

Q14: Can you provide an example of a new Directive Principle introduced by the 44th Amendment Act?

  • The 44th Amendment Act added a Directive Principle that requires the State to minimize inequalities in income, status, facilities, and opportunities (Article 38).

Q15: Why is the 42nd Amendment Act considered a foundation for understanding subsequent constitutional changes in India?

  • It introduced significant changes, some of which were later modified or reversed by subsequent amendments, making it essential to comprehend the evolving constitutional framework.

Q16: How did the 44th Amendment Act protect the judicial review powers of High Courts?

  • The 44th Amendment Act restored the High Courts‘ power to issue writs for purposes beyond the enforcement of fundamental rights, ensuring the protection of citizens’ rights.

Q17: What was the main objective of introducing the term ‘Socialist’ in the Preamble through the 42nd Amendment Act?

  • The addition of ‘Socialist’ in the Preamble reflected India’s commitment to achieving social and economic equality among its citizens.

Q18: How did the 42nd Amendment Act affect the balance between Directive Principles and Fundamental Rights?

  • It gave precedence to Directive Principles over Fundamental Rights, impacting the legal landscape in India.

Q19: Can you explain the significance of transferring subjects from the state list to the concurrent list under the 42nd Amendment Act?

  • Transferring subjects to the concurrent list allowed both the central and state governments to make laws on these subjects, potentially harmonizing laws across the country.

Q20: What is the historical context behind the 42nd Amendment Act, and why was it considered controversial?

  • The amendment was introduced during a period of political turmoil and was controversial because it attempted to centralize power and alter the fundamental structure of India’s Constitution.

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