Judicial Dictionary

Modification

The word “modification” means “the action of making changes in an object without altering its essential nature or character; the state of being thus changed; partial alteration”. Stress is being placed on the meaning “to alter or vary without radical transformation” on behalf of the petitioner; but that is not the only meaning of the words “modify” or “modification”. The word “modify” also means “to make partial changes in” and “modification” means “partial alteration”. If therefore the President changed the method of direct election to indirect election he was in essence making a partial change or partial alteration in Art. 81 and therefore the modification made in the present case would be even within the dictionary meaning of that word. But, in law, the word “modify” has even a wider meaning.

In “Words and Phrases” by Roland Burrows, the primary meaning of the word “modify” is given as “to limit” or “restrict” but it also means “to vary” and may even mean to “extend” or “enlarge”. Thus in law the word “modify” may just mean “vary”, i.e., amend; and when Art. 370(1) says that the President may apply the provisions of the Constitution to the State of Jammu and Kashmir with such modifications as he may by order specify it means that he may vary (i.e., amend) the provisions of the Constitution in its application to the State of Jammu and Kashmir. We are therefore of opinion that in the context of the Constitution we must give the widest effect to the meaning of the word “modification” used in Art. 370(1) and in that sense it includes an amendment. There is no reason to limit the word “modifications” as used in Art. 370(1) only to such modifications as do not make any “radical transformation”.


Puranlal Lakhanpal Vs. The President of India and Others, AIR 1961 SC 1519 : (1962) 1 SCR 688

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