A comprehensive bill envisaging far-reaching changes in the Constitution was introduced in Parliament. Besides adding a new chapter enumerating fundamental duties of the citizens, the Constitution (44th) Amendment Bill seeks to change the preamble, restrict the jurisdiction of judiciary in several matters, and extend the life of the Lok Sabha and state legislatures to six years from five years at present. Provisions relating to the powers of the Supreme Court and high courts are also being amended. The SC will have no jurisdiction to decide the constitutional validity of any state law in any proceedings under Article 32 unless the constitutional validity of any central law is also an issue in such proceedings. The high courts shall have no jurisdiction in such cases.
The Preamble is being changed to declare India as a “Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic”. Law Minister H.R. Gokhale rejected the argument in Parliament that the basic features of the Constitution could not be changed. The SC had not defined what the basic features were. Similarly, he argued that the Preamble could be changed.
The 10 fundamental duties proposed under the constitutional changes announced upon citizen to: Respect the Constitution, the national flag, and the national anthem; cherish the noble ideals of the freedom struggle; uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India; defend the country and render national service when called; promote the common brotherhood of all the people of India; preserve the rich heritage of the nation’s composite culture; protect the natural environment and have compassion for living creatures; develop scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry and reform; safeguard public property and abjure violence; strive for excellence in all individual and collective activity.