We have launched our mobile app, get it now. Call : 9354229384, 9354252518, 9999830584.  

Tags Current Affairs

Basic structure of constitution

Date: 27 April 2020 Tags: Constitution

Issue

Exactly 47 years ago, the Supreme Court passed its landmark judgment in Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala, saying ‘Basic structure ‘of constitution is inviolable.

 

Background

It is considered among the most significant constitutional cases in India’s judicial history. By a 7-6 verdict, a 13-judge Constitution Bench ruled that the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution could not be amended by Parliament. The basic structure doctrine has since been regarded as a tenet of Indian constitutional law.

 

Details

  • The Constitution of a country is the fundamental law of the land. It is based on this document that all other laws are made and enforced. Under some Constitutions, certain parts are immune from amendments, and are given a special status compared to other provisions.

  • In the early years of Independence, the Supreme Court conceded absolute power to Parliament in amending the Constitution, as was seen in the verdicts in Shankari Prasad (1951) and Sajjan Singh (1965).

  • The reason for this is believed to be that in those initial years, the apex court had reposed faith in the wisdom of the then political leadership, when leading freedom fighters were serving as Members of Parliament.

  • In subsequent years, as the Constitution kept being amended at will to suit the interests of the ruling dispensation, the Supreme Court in Golaknath (1967) held that Parliament’s amending power could not touch Fundamental Rights, and this power would be only with a Constituent Assembly.

  • In the Kesavananda Bharati case, relief was sought by the religious figure Swami Kesavananda Bharati against the Kerala government vis-à-vis two state land reform laws.

  • The court held that under Article 368, which provides Parliament amending powers, something must remain of the original Constitution that the new amendment would change.

  • The court did not define the ‘basic structure’, and only listed a few principles — federalism, secularism, democracy — as being its part. Since then, the court has been adding new features to this concept.

  • The ‘basic structure’ doctrine has since been interpreted to include the supremacy of the Constitution, the rule of law, Independence of the judiciary, doctrine of separation of powers, federalism, secularism, sovereign democratic republic, the parliamentary system of government, the principle of free and fair elections, welfare state, etc.

  • The basic structure doctrine applies only to the constitutionality of amendments and not to ordinary Acts of Parliament, which must conform to the entirety of the Constitution and not just to its basic structure.

  • Critics of the doctrine have called it undemocratic, since unelected judges can strike down a constitutional amendment. At the same time, its proponents have hailed the concept as a safety valve against majoritarianism and authoritarianism.

Notice (8): Undefined variable: quizpole [ROOT/plugins/Studyiq/src/Template/Pages/tagdetails.ctp, line 161]