Twenty-Sixth Amendment Act, 1971
The 26th constitutional amendment was passed in 1971. It made many changes to the constitution which also included the abolition of the privy purse system for former Indian princes. This amendment also provides for the appointment of a commission to review the working of the Constitution every five years and submit a report to the President of India.
The concept of rulership and privy purse related to any clause and statement in the Constitution of India seemed to be incompatible with the very idea of an egalitarian society. So to end this clause, the 26th Constitutional Amendment Act was thus introduced so as to terminate this provision of privy purses and rulership and to move forward toward establishing an egalitarian society.
The Objective of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment Act, 1971
the main objective of the act is to abolish the payment of privy purses to former Indian princes, which had been guaranteed to them under the Indian Constitution. The Indian government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, sought to abolish the payment of privy purses as part of its broader program of nationalization and modernization.
The government believed that the payment of privy purses to former princes was an unjustified drain on the public exchequer and an obstacle to social and economic progress. The abolition of privy purses was also seen as a way to promote greater equality and social justice in India.
Background and Context of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment Act, 1971
- In the year 1947 when India gained independence there were 563 princely states in present-day India. These princely states had a choice of either joining India or joining Pakistan otherwise, they can remain under British rule if they want to, or otherwise, they can also remain independent and form their own independent country. 560 Princely states agreed to join India instantly and the remaining 3 also merged with India later on.
- In 1949, the Government of India signed an agreement with the rulers of these states, which integrated them into the Indian democratic system. As part of this agreement, the rulers were granted certain privileges including the right to retain their titles, privileges, and the privy purse.
- The issue of privy purses became a contentious one in the 1960s. because some politicians and social activists argued that the payments are unfair and that the former rulers should not receive any special privileges.
- In 1971, the government of India under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi passed the 26th Constitutional Amendment. which abolished the system of privy purses for the former rulers.
Features of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment Act, 1971
- Abolition of Privy Purses: The primary objective of the amendment was to abolish the Privy Purse system for former Indian princes. The amendment took away the right of former rulers to receive an annual payment from the Government of India.
- Omission of articles 291 and 362: Articles 291 and 362 of the Constitution shall be omitted from direct effect from the Constitution of India.
Article 291: It provides the payment of privy purses to former rulers.
- Article 291 of the Indian Constitution dealt with the privy purse payments made to the rulers of princely states.
- Before the integration of princely states with the Indian Union, the rulers of these states received a privy purse payment from the Indian government as part of an agreement.
Article 362: States that the rights and privileges of the rulers shall be protected and protected by the Government of India.
- Article 362 of the Indian Constitution dealt with the rights and privileges of the rulers of Indian states.
Article 362 provided for certain immunities to the rulers of Indian states.
- It provides immunity from taxation and laws that might interfere with their rights and privileges. This article also protected the rights of tribal people and their customs and traditions.
However, with the integration of Indian states into the Indian Union after independence, the government of India felt that these immunities were no longer necessary and were inconsistent with the objectives of a unified India. The government decided to abolish the privy purse payments made to the former rulers of Indian states. therefore The 26th Amendment of the Indian Constitution of 1971 removed Articles 291 and 362.
Challenges and Criticism of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment Act, 1971
- Some former princely rulers argued that the Indian government was breaking the promise made to these rulers and violating their rights.
- The abolition of privy purses was also seen as a loss of the cultural heritage and traditions of the former princely states, which had distinct identities and ways of life. some Critics argued that the Indian government was trying to homogenize the country and suppress the diversity of its regions.
- Some former rulers of princely states challenged the abolition of the privy purse system on the grounds of violation of their fundamental rights.
Impact and Significance of the Twenty-Sixth Amendment Act, 1971
- The act abolished the privy purses and the former ruling titles. And this created a great impact on Indian history through this bold move by moving ahead in establishing an egalitarian society.
- The abolition of Privy Purses was seen as a major step towards ending the privileges of the former rulers and ensuring that all citizens were treated equally under the law.
- It also helped in reducing the financial burden on the Government of India as the former rulers were not required to make annual payments.
- Article 363A was inserted in the constitution of India by the 26th constitutional amendment act of 1971 and it is best known for the abolition of privy purses.
- It stated that the provision of rulership, privy purses, and titles are not in accordance with a healthy opined social order and are not compatible with the idea of an egalitarian society.
- Thus, To terminate this special provision for the former ruling elite class 26th constitutional amendment act was passed.
- The provision of Article 363A was a significant step toward the consolidation of the Indian republic and the integration of the former princely states into Indian society.
- It reflected the principles of social justice, equality, and democracy enshrined in the Indian Constitution and helped to create a more unified and harmonious nation.
The 26th Constitutional Amendment in India was an important step towards strengthening the country’s democratic system and ensuring equal treatment of all citizens under the law.
FAQs on Twenty-Sixth Amendment Act, 1971
Q1. When was the 26th Constitutional Amendment passed?
Ans: The 26th Constitutional Amendment was passed in 1971.
Q2. What was the aim of the 26th Constitutional Amendment?
Ans: The primary objective of the amendment was to abolish the Privy Purse system for former Indian princes.
Q3. What is the Privy purse?
Ans: Privy purse was a payment made to the former Indian princely rulers after they agreed to integrate their territories into the Indian Union following India’s independence in 1947.
Q4. The 26th Constitutional Amendment was passed during the tenure of which Prime Minister?
Ans: The 26th Constitutional Amendment was passed during the tenure of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
Q5. What is Article 362?
Ans: It states that the rights and privileges of the rulers shall be protected and protected by the Government of India.
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