Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala

Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala

#GS-02 Judicial Review

For Prelims

Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala

  • Supreme Court upheld the validity of the 24th amendment act and declared that parliament is empowered to take away or abridge any of the Fundamental Rights.
  • However, parliament do not have the power to alter the ‘basic structure’ of the constitution.
  • The judgement implied that the parliament can only amend the constitution and not recreate it.
  • In simpler terms power to amend is not a power to destroy.
  • Hence the Basic Structure doctrine was born.
The judgement listed some features of the constitution as the basic structures viz,
  • Supremacy of the Constitution
  • Unity and sovereignty of India
  • Democratic and republican form of government
  • Federal character of the Constitution
  • Secular character of the Constitution
  • Separation of power
  • Individual freedom

Basic Structure doctrine

  • Constitution under Article 368 grants power to the Parliament to amend the constitution in case of a necessity.
  • The doctrine of basic structure is a judicial innovation to maintain the integrity of the constitution and to ensure that the power of amendment is not misused by Parliament.
  • Basic Structure doctrine acts as a limitation on the power of the Parliament to prevent it from turning India into a totalitarian state.
  • The doctrine does not have a textual basis and is purely a judicial innovation.
  • The origins of the basic structure doctrine can be found in the post-Nazi German Constitution which was amended to protect some basic laws.
  • Supreme Court reaffirmed the Basic Structure doctrine in the Minerva mills case.
  • The basic structure has not yet been fully defined by the Supreme Court as it has continued to enhance it with some new contents from time-to-time.
Some of which are
  • Supremacy of the constitution
  • Rule of law
  • Sovereignty, liberty and republic nature of Indian polity.
  • Judicial review
  • Harmony and Balance between fundamental rights and directive principles.
  • Separation of power.
  • Federal character.
  • Parliamentary system.
  • Rule of equality.
  • Unity and integrity of the nation.

Source “Admonishments that endanger the Constitution

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