Diversity: 24 official languages (see Part XVII Constitution)
Hindi is the national language and is spoken as the main language of 30% of the population
English is the language of political and commercial communication. It has associate status. Authoritative text of legislation is English (art. 348(1)). Supreme Court official language is English (art. 348(1)).
22 other official languages (see Eighth Schedule):
Sometimes called untouchables or (by Gandhi harijan (this is now considered patronizing)
Dalit is the most politically correct name now – still controversial
Divided into subgroups
Formerly required to do the most menial jobs in society
Have suffered much discrimination
Status of dalit has been officially abolished under Art. 17 of the Constitution
Constitution provides for social and economic uplift of Dalits who remain Hindu via affirmative action for Scheduled Castes (around 24% of population) and Tribes (around 8% of population) (e.g. reserved seats in Parliament)
Article 17. Abolition of Untouchability. - "Untouchability" is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of "Untouchability" shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.
Article 46. Promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections. – (A Directive Principle)
The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
Achieved after a century of violent and non-violent protests (e.g. 1857 mutiny, Gandhi’s campaign of civil disobedience (starting around 1918), Bose’s Indian National Army (starting in 1942), non violent Quit India movement (1942)
Elected for 5 year term by electoral college consisting of elected members of both houses of Parliament and elected members of the State Legislative Assemblies (Vidhan Sabha) by a method of proportional representation.
6-5 majority prospectively overruled prior decisions and held that A 368 did not give Parliament the power to amend (it only set out the procedure). An amendment was a law subject to A 13(2) and could not abrogate any Fundamental Right
Big change from literalist, positivist interpretation to acknowledgment of Supreme Court’s law making function
But took a literalist approach to art. 13(2) to reach decision
Under A 368, Parliament is not empowered to amend the basic structure or framework fo the Constitution. So part of 25 th Amendment was invalid: “no such law, containing the declaration that it is for giving effect to such policy shall be called into question in any Court on the ground that it does not give effect to such policy.”
Considered constitutional validity of 42 nd Amendment Act (another Indira Gandhi measure)
Sought to amend art. 368 to add clauses: (4) “ no amendment of the Constitution . . . shall be called in question in any court on any ground.” and (5) “there shall be no limitation whatever on the constituent power of Parliament to amend by way of addition, variation or repeal the provisions of this Constitution.”