April 23, 2024
  • Kesavananda Bharati case , in which the Supreme Court laid down the “basic structure” doctrine on the limits of Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution, completed 50 years recently .
  • Kesavananda Bharati case (1973) was involved several key legal issues, including:
    • Constitutional Validity of Kerala Land Reforms Act which placed a limit on amount of land that a person could hold.
    • Whether Parliament’s power to amend Constitution was unlimited.
    • Doctrine of basic structure of Constitution.
  • SC, in its judgment, established doctrine of basic structure, which holds that certain fundamental features of Constitution cannot be amended or abrogated by Parliament through a constitutional amendment.
  • Features included -supremacy of Constitution, Judicial review, Parliamentary system, Rule of equality, rule of law, independence of judiciary etc.
  • Since then, SC has tested constitutional amendments against doctrine of basic structure in several cases including:
    • Quota for OBC and Economically Weaker Section (EWS), reservations in promotions, where SC upheld constitutional amendments challenged on grounds of violation of basic structure doctrine.
    • SC struck down The Constitution (Ninety-ninth Amendment) Act, 2014, which established National Judicial Appointments Commission (NJAC) on grounds that it threatened “judicial independence”, which the court ruled was a basic feature of the Constitution.
    • Other important cases include: Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachillhu And Others (1992) (Tenth Schedule), Minerva Mills Case (1980), L Chandra Kumar v Union of India (1997) (regarding administrative tribunals) etc.

 

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