Supreme Court’s basic structure doctrine in a new context

Source– The post is based on the article “Supreme Court’s basic structure doctrine in a new context” published in The Indian Express on 20th September 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Indian Constitution

Relevance– About basic structure doctrine

News– The article explains the evolution of basic structure doctrine. It also provides insights into evolution of judicial viewpoint about constitutional amendments.

What are the constitutional provisions related to amendment in the constitution?

The courts can invalidate any executive order or legislative amendment if it violates the fundamental rights. But the constitution is silent on the court’s power to decide about the validity of any constitutional amendment.

What are the major judicial decisions related to amending the power of Parliament?

Shankari parsad vs Union of India– SC denied any limitation on amending power of Parliament.

Sajjan Singh vs State of Rajasthan-SC again denied any limitation.

Kesavananda Bharati case-Parliament can amend each and every article. But it is subjected to the basic structure of the constitution.

The Supreme Court was criticized for exceeding its authority as constitutional adjudicator.

Allahabad High Court (1975)– It invalidated the election of Indira Gandhi from her constituency. She had to resign from the PM post.

39th constitutional amendment (1975)– It provided that no election law made by Parliament would apply to the election of a person appointed as Prime Minister.

Indira Gandhi vs Raj Narain (1975)- It upheld the decision of Allahabad High Court. The court stated that free and fair elections were part of the basic structure.

I.R. Coelho case– Supreme Court upheld the kesavananda Bharati judgement. It gave permanent constitutional validity to basic structure doctrine.

Why has it survived?

The basic structure theory was the response of the court to the experience of the working of India’s Constitution during its first 25 years.

It has come to stay more because of political compulsions. Initially for a long period, no single political party in India had secured a two-thirds representation in Parliament.

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