The kesavananda bharati judgment, delivered by the Supreme Court of India in 1973, is considered one of the most significant judgments in Indian constitutional law. The ruling centered around the question of whether Parliament had unlimited power to amend the Constitution, or if there were certain “basic features” that could not be altered. The legal arguments presented by both sides were complex and nuanced.
The government argued that since the Constitution had been written by elected representatives of the people, it should be subject to amendment by those same representatives. They also argued that there were no express limitations on the amending power in the Constitution, so it must be unlimited.
On the other hand, those opposing this view argued that while Parliament had been given some powers to amend the Constitution, these powers were not unlimited and could not be used to destroy its basic structure. They also pointed out that there were implicit limitations on amending power contained within various provisions of the Constitution.
Ultimately, a majority of judges sided with this latter argument and established what has come to be known as the “basic structure doctrine which holds that the Parliament has limitless power to amend the Constitution subject to the condition that it cannot amend the basic structure of the Constitution.
As India celebrates 50 years since this landmark ruling, it serves as a reminder to all citizens about the importance of protecting their constitutional rights and ensuring that no person or party can undermine them. The impact of this judgment on the relationship between the judiciary, legislature, and executive branches of government was significant. It established the principle of judicial review as a fundamental feature of India’s constitutional system and limited Parliament’s power to amend certain aspects of the Constitution. This decision also strengthened the separation of powers between these branches by allowing each branch to act as a check on one another.
The Supreme Court wants everyone to remember this judgment because it serves as a reminder that no single branch of government can have unchecked power in a democratic society. By limiting Parliament’s ability to change fundamental aspects of India’s constitutional framework, it ensures that individual rights and freedoms are protected from arbitrary changes made by those in power.The role of the Supreme Court in interpreting and upholding the Constitution is a crucial aspect of Indian democracy.
The Constitution is the supreme law of the land, and it is the duty of the court to ensure that it is upheld in letter and spirit. The Court’s commitment to upholding the basic structure has been tested time and again over the past five decades. Its rulings on issues such as reservation policies, environmental protection laws, and freedom of speech have all been grounded in this principle.The Kesavananda Bharati judgment, delivered by the Supreme Court of India 50 years ago, remains a landmark ruling in the country’s legal history.
Author: Ishita Thapliyal