Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala

 Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru & Ors. v. State of Kerala & Anr. (Writ Petition (Civil) 135 of 1970), also known as the Kesavananda Bharati judgement, was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of India that outlined the basic structure doctrine of the Indian Constitution.[1] The case is also known as the Fundamental Rights Case. The court in a 7-6 decision asserted its right to strike down amendments to the constitution that were in violation of the fundamental architecture of the constitution.[2]

Justice Hans Raj Khanna asserted through the Basic Structure doctrine that the constitution possesses a basic structure of constitutional principles and values. The Court partially cemented the prior precedent Golaknath v. State of Punjab, which held that constitutional amendments through Article 368 were subject to fundamental rights review, but only if they could affect the 'basic structure of the Constitution'. At the same time, the Court also upheld the constitutionality of the first provision of Article 31-C, which implied that amendments seeking to implement the Directive Principles, which do not affect the 'Basic Structure,' shall not be subjected to judicial review.

The doctrine forms the basis of power of the Indian judiciary to review and override amendments to the Constitution of India enacted by the Indian parliament.

The 13-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court deliberated on the limitations, if any, of the powers of the elected representatives of the people and the nature of fundamental rights of an individual. In a verdict divided 7–6, the court held that while the Parliament has 'wide' powers, it did not have the power to destroy or emasculate the basic elements or fundamental features of the constitution.[3]

When this case was decided, the underlying apprehension of the majority bench that elected representatives could not be trusted to act responsibly was unprecedented. The Kesavananda judgment also defined the extent to which Parliament could restrict property rights, in pursuit of land reform and the redistribution of large landholdings to cultivators, overruling previous decisions that suggested that the right to property could not be restricted. The case was a culmination of a series of cases relating to limitations to the power to amend the Constitution.

  1.  "Kesavananda Bharati ... vs State Of Kerala And Anr on 24 April, 1973". Indian Kanoon. Retrieved 24 June 2012.
  2. ^ Keane, Debasish Roy Chowdhury & John (21 December 2021). "From checks and balances to compliance: How the judiciary has responded to government pressure"
  3. ^ "Kesavananda Bharati ... vs State Of Kerala And Anr on 24 April, 1973". Indian Kanoon. para. 787. Retrieved 24 June 2012.

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