The Constitutional (Fifteenth Amendment) Act, 1963


Being an omnibus Constitutional Amendment, The Constitutional (Fifteenth Amendment) Act, 1963 effected modifications in several constitutional provisions.Most of the amendments to the Constitution were put on hold for a long period. In November 1955, The Constitution (Fifth Amendment) Bill was introduced in Lok Sabha to give effect to some of them. For different reasons, the Bill could not be proceeded with, and except the one relating to the amendment of Article 3 of the Constitution,it was allowed to lapse. The Constitution (Fifteenth Amendment)Act contains some of the proposals included in the Constitution (Fifth Amendment) Bill and there are a few more proposals for the Amendment of the Indian Constitution. The proposals relating to articles 276, 297, 311, and 316 of the Constitution were first proposed in the Constitution (Fifth Amendment) Bill and they have been adopted with some slight modifications. The new proposals were related to Articles 124, 128, 217, 220, 222, 224A, 226, and entry 78 of the Union List.


  • The main highlight of this amendment was Article 217(1) which raised the retirement age of High Court Judges from sixty to sixty-two. However, it was recommended by the Law Commission that the age should be raised to sixty-five years, which was effected partially. One of the two factors for this recommendation was a marked rise in the life expectancy rate in India and also, soon after the retirement of the High Court Judges they were engaged in active work such as practice, etc., even at age of sixty-five. To keep the avenues open for the younger people, the Central government only raised the age till sixty-two.
  • Article 224A was inserted, which enabled a retired High Court Judge to sit and act as the Judge in the same court.
  • Another provision of Article 128 was modified to make it possible for the retired High Court Judges to sit and act as a Supreme Court Judge on ad hoc basis, previously only retired Judges of the Supreme Court and the Federal Court could do so.
  • Article 124 & 217 were amended to empower the President to determine the exact age of the Judgesof Supreme Court and High Courts if the age is in question. In the view of public interest, Judges were transferred from one High Court to another which used to cause an additional financial burden on the Judges transferred. Article 222 was amended to pay a compensatory allowance to the Judges transferred.
  • Before the 15th Amendment Act, under Article 226, only Punjab High Court could issue writs to the Central Government Offices in New Delhi. After this bill Article 226(2) was inserted to overcome this limitation. 
  • In Pramantha Nath Vs. Chief Justice, the expression ‘organisation’ under Entry 78 of List I ‘vacations’ was not included, soon itincluded ‘vacations’ as well. 
  • Under Article 297, the words ‘Continental Shelf’ were inserted as per the International Law terms.
  • Article 316, for public service commissions there was no express provision for the appointment of an acting Chairman in case of vacant positions, this lacuna was also removed through this Amendment.
  • A new provision under Article 311(2) substituted, to provide a second opportunity to the civil servants in their hearings for the matters of dismissal, reduction in rank, or removal.


With a lot of delays caused by the legislature, finally, after a few years, it came to the senses of the Parliament that, these lacunas in our Judiciary were causing enough hindrances in the performance of the judicial actions. Even after noticing an improvement in the life expectancy rate of India and the efficiency in the performance of the Judges, Parliament was successful to prolong the Amendments. With these modifications, it was now possible to cope up with the dynamic environment of India.