ISSN : 2581-8465

Mr. Navnnet Sangwan, Assistant Professor, SRM University



Doctrine of basic structure is no place communicated or referenced in the constitution of India J. Khanna gave that the power in Article 368 of ‘correct’ isn’t of nature of discretionary yet constrained. Verbatim of Article 368 is that “Intensity of parliament to change the constitution”, here the word ‘revise’ brings forth the tenet of essential structure. The word correct itself communicates that the parliament can alter the constitution however can’t change its goals and logic or quickly state the structure.

Therefore, the understanding of the basic structure is:

1.         The parliament’s boundless capacity to amend the constitution is liable to just a single limitation i.e it ought not weaken or abuse the essential structure of the constitution.

2.         The impacts of the alteration ought not be repealing or aggravating in nature towards the fundamental structure.

The tenet of basic structure however isn’t actually characterized yet through its substance which have been given by the judicature clears up a degree characterizing the casing or the structure of the constitution. Every now and then essential structure is upgraded with some new substance and subsequently the Supreme Court is yet to characterize the careful fundamental structure of the constitution.

•           Supremacy of the constitution

•           Rule of law

•           Sovereignty, freedom and republic nature of Indian country.

•           Judicial review

•           Harmony and Balance between basic rights and mandate standards.

•           Separation of intensity.

•           Federal character.

•           Parliamentary framework.

•           Rule of equity.

•           Unity and respectability of the country.

•           Free and reasonable decisions.

•           Powers of Supreme Court under Article 32[1], 136[2], 142[3], 147[4]

•           Power of High Court under Article 226[5] and 227[6].

•           Limited intensity of parliament to change the constitution.

•           Welfare state.

•           Freedom of a person.

As mentioned in the Constitution, Parliament and the state lawmaking bodies in India have the ability to make laws inside their separate purviews. This power isn’t outright in nature. The Constitution vests in the legal executive, the ability to mediate upon the protected legitimacy all things considered. On the off chance that a law made by Parliament or the state governing bodies damages any arrangement of the Constitution, the Supreme Court has the ability to announce such a law invalid or ultra vires. This check regardless, the establishing fathers needed the Constitution to be a versatile report instead of an inflexible structure for administration. Subsequently Parliament was contributed with the ability to revise the Constitution. Article 368 of the Constitution gives the rule that Parliament’s revising powers are total and incorporate all pieces of the report. In any case, the Supreme Court has gone about as a brake to the authoritative excitement of Parliament as far back as freedom. With the aim of protecting the first beliefs imagined by the constitution-creators, the zenith court articulated that Parliament couldn’t misshape, harm or modify the fundamental highlights of the Constitution under the appearance of correcting it. The expression of basic structure itself can’t be found in the Constitution. The Supreme Court perceived this idea without precedent for the memorable Kesavananda Bharati case in 1973.[7]

Individuals in India appear to have acknowledged the essential structure principle in a similar way as the Americans acknowledged legal survey of enactment guaranteed by the Supreme Courts of the United States in Marbury v. Madison[8]. In figuring out what basic structure is, the Court remembers national accord about such fundamental structure. It is difficult to express thoroughly the components which would establish the fundamental structure of the Constitution. It hence, should be verbalized from case to case.

Need for Constitutional Amendments

Provisions for amendment of the constitution, is made so as to defeat the troubles which may experience in future in the working of the constitution. The time isn’t static; it continues changing. The social, monetary and political states of the general population continue changing so the established law of the nation should likewise change all together toward it to the evolving needs, changing existence of the general population. In the event that no arrangements were made for amendment of the constitution, the general population would have response to additional protected strategy like transformation to change the constitution[9]. The creators of the Indian constitution were on edge to have an archive which could develop with a developing country; adjust to the changing conditions of a developing people.

History of basic structure

The Supreme Court in Shankari Prasad v Union of India[10], in 1951 where the First Amendment which inserted, Articles 31-A and 31-B of the constitution was challenged. The amendments was tested on the ground that it shortens the rights presented by part III and subsequently was void. The Court held that the power to amend the Constitution including the Fundamental Rights, was contained in Article 368 and that the word ‘Law’ in Article 13(2) did not include an amendment to the Constitution which was made in exercise of constituent and not legislative power. This decision was approved by the majority judgment in Sajjan Singh v. State of Rajasthan[11]. Thus, until the case of I.C. Golak Nath v. State of Punjab[12], the Supreme Court had been holding that no part of our Constitution was unamenable and that Parliament might, by passing a Constitution Amendment Act, in compliance with the requirements of Article 368, amend any provision of the Constitution, including the Fundamental Rights and Article 368 itself.

But, in Golak Nath’s case, a majority overruled the previous decisions and held that the Fundamental Rights are outside the amendatory process if the amendment takes away or abridges any of the rights. The majority, in Golak Nath’s case, rested its conclusion on the view that the power to amend the Constitution was also a legislative power conferred by Article 245 by the Constitution, so that a Constitution Amendment Act was also a ‘law’ within the purview of Article 13(2).

The Constitutional validity of the 24th Amendment was challenged in the case of Kesavananda Bharti v. State of Kerala[13]. The Supreme Court upheld the validity of 24th Constitutional Amendment holding that Parliament can amend any Part of the Constitution including the Fundamental Rights. But the Court made it clear that Parliament cannot alter the basic structure or framework of the Constitution.

This decision might be said to have assumed a noteworthy job in protecting India’s parliamentary majority rule government. In any case, as a portion of the ramifications of this case are even now getting to be evident, unmistakably its intricacy and absence of clearness on certain significant inquiries left a lot to be chosen by posterity.

In Indira Gandhi v. Raj Narain[14], the appellant challenged the decision of the Allahabad High Court who declared her election as invalid on ground of corrupt practices. In the mean time Parliament enacted the 39th Amendment withdrawing the control of the S.C. over election disputes involving among others, the Prime Minister. The S.C. upheld the challenge and held that democracy was an essential feature forming part of the basic structure of the Constitution. The exclusion of Judicial review in Election disputes in this manner damaged the basic structure. The doctrine of ‘basic structure’ placed a limitation on the powers of the Parliament to introduce substantial alterations or to make a new Constitution.

Hence, clauses (4) and (5) of Art.329-A were held to be condemned on the ground that they rejected the task of any law and exercise of legal survey in the matter of election of Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. The criticized amendment was along these lines claimed to have damaged the standards of popular government, principle of law, partition of intensity and legal survey, which as indicated by the candidate were fundamental highlights of the basicstructure of the Constitution..

The scope and extent of the application of the doctrine of basic structure again came up for discussion before the S.C. in Minerva Mill Ltd. v. Union of India[15]. The Supreme Court unanimously held clauses (4) and (5) of Article 368 and Section 55 of the 42nd Amendment Act as unconstitutional transgressing the limits of the amending power and damaging or destroying the basic structure of the Constitution.

In Waman Rao v. Union of India[16], the Supreme Court held that the amendments to the Constitution made on or after 24.4.1973 by which Ninth Schedule was amended from time to time by inclusion of various Acts, regulations therein were open to challenge on the ground that they, or any one or more of them are beyond the constitutional power of Parliament since they damage the basic or essential features of the Constitution or its basic structure also upheld in  Bhim Singh Ji v. Union of India [17].

In L. Chandra Kumar v. Union of India[18] the Supreme Court held that power of judicial review is an integral and essential feature of the Constitution constituting the basic part, the jurisdiction so conferred on the High Courts and the Supreme Court is a part of in- violable basic structure of the Constitution.

In I.R. Coelho v. State of T.N.[19], Article 31-B as introduced by the Constitution (First amendment) Act 1951 was held to be valid by the Supreme Court. The fundamental question before the nine Judge Constitution Bench was whether on or after 24.4.1973 (i.e. when the basic structure of the Constitution was propounded) it is permissible for the Parliament under Article 31-B to immunize legislations from fundamental rights by inserting them into the Ninth Schedule and if so what is the effect on the power of judicial review of the court. The challenge was made to the validity of the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976 which was inserted in the Ninth Schedule.


There is no fixed principle for basic structure of the Constitution. Distinctive judges keep diverse perspectives with respect to hypothesis of basic structure. However, at one point they have comparable view that parliament has no capacity to pulverize, modify, or undermine the basic structure or system of the constitution. In the event that the recorded foundation, the introduction, the whole plan of the constitution and the applicable arrangements thereof including Article 368 are remembered then there can be no dispute, in figuring out what are the essential components of the fundamental structure of the constitution. This applies well to the doctrine of basic structure, in light of the fact that, the government and law based structure of the constitution, the detachment of forces, the mainstream character of our state are particularly more distinct than either carelessness or characteristic justice.[20]

Hence the sovereign, equitable and secular character of the country, principle of law, autonomy of the legal executive, essential privileges of natives and so forth are a portion of the basic structure of the Constitution that have showed up on numerous occasions in the zenith court’s professions. One assurance that rose out of this tussle among Parliament and the legal executive is that all laws and sacred corrections are presently subject to legal survey and laws that transgress the fundamental structure are probably going to be struck somewhere around the Supreme Court. Fundamentally Parliament’s capacity to change the Constitution isn’t total and the Supreme Court is the last judge over and mediator of every single sacred revision.

[1] Article 32 of Indian Constitution: Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred under Part III

[2] Article 136 of Indian Constitution: Special leave to appeal by the Supreme Court

[3] Article 142 of Indian Constitution: Enforcement of decrees and orders of Supreme Court and unless as to discovery, etc

[4] Article 147 of Indian Constitution: Interpretation

[5] Article 226 of Indian Constitution: Power of High Courts to issue certain writs

[6] Article 227 of Indian Constitution: Power of superintendence over all courts by the High Court

[7] Supra Note 13

[8] I. Cranch 137 : 2 L.Ed. 60

[9] Supra Note 13

[10] A.I.R. 1951 S.C. 458

[11] A.I.R. 1965 S.C. 845

[12] A.I.R. 1967, S.C. 1643

[13] A.I.R. 1973 S.C. 1461

[14] A.I.R. 1973 S.C. 1461

[15] (1980) 3 SCC 625

[16] (1981) 2 SCC 362

[17] (1981)1 SCC 166

[18] (1997) 3 SCC 261

[19] (2007) 2 SCC 1

[20] H.M, Seervai: Constitutional law of India, Vol. II, p. 1668(2nd Ed.)

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