Bound supremacy – Parliamentary sovereignty isn’t undone by the basic structure doctrine

Source: The post is based on the article “Bound supremacy – Parliamentary sovereignty isn’t undone by the basic structure doctrine” published in The Hindu on 14th January 2023

Syllabus: GS 2 – Structure, organization and functioning of the Executive and the Judiciary.

Relevance: About basic structure doctrine.

News: The Vice President of India in 83rd All-India Presiding Officer’s conference criticised the doctrine of the basic structure for undermining parliamentary sovereignty.

What are the major highlights of the Vice President’s address?
Read here: Vice-President says court can’t dilute Parliament’s sovereignty
How Parliamentary legislation is regulated in India?

Parliamentary legislation is subject to two limitations under the Constitution of India.

1) Judicial review, or the power of constitutional courts to review legislation for possible violation of any fundamental right, and 2) No amendment to the Constitution should have the effect of destroying any of its basic features. This is ensured under two conditions. Such as, a) Under Article 13, laws inconsistent with or in derogation of fundamental rights are void, b) ‘Basic structure’ doctrine evolved by the Supreme Court in the Kesavananda Bharati case. The main purpose of the doctrine is to ensure that some fundamental features of the Constitution are not legislated out of existence.

What is the basic structure doctrine, and how was the doctrine developed?
Read here: Basic structure Doctrine
Why basic structure doctrine is not undermining parliamentary sovereignty?

a) Parliament is sovereign in its domain, but it is still bound by the limitations imposed by the Constitution, b) The basic structure doctrine had helped to save the Constitution from being undermined through the misuse of the parliamentary majority, c) A Parliamentary majority is short-lived, but essential features of the Constitution such as the rule of law, parliamentary form of government, separation of powers, the idea of equality, and free and fair elections ought to be perennially protected from legislative excess.

For changing the basic structure doctrine, a new Constituent Assembly has to come up with another constitution that changes these fundamental concepts. But a legislature formed under the current Constitution cannot be allowed to change its core identity.


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