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The Doctrine of Basic Structure-Application cases

Updated: Aug 24, 2021

Indira Nehru Gandhi v. Raj Narain 1975 SC 2299

The validity of 39 th Constitution amendment enacted in 1975 which (Article 39-A ) sought to place the election of the President, the Vice President, the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha beyond the scrutiny of the constitutional courts was challenged in this case. The S.C. resorting to the theory of basic structure of the Constitution struck down Clause (4) of Article 329-A on the grounds that it was beyond the Parliament’s amending power as it destroyed the basic structure of the Constitution.

The Doctrine of Basic Structure- Minerva Mills case, (1980) AIR 1980 SC 1789 Validity of Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976 ,which inter alia provided for exclusion of judicial review of constitutional amendments and expressly conferred unlimited amendment power to the Parliament, was challenged on the ground that they are violative of the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.

The Court by a majority of 4 to 1 struck down clauses (4) and (5) of article 368 holding that they violated the basic structure of the Constitution. • The Court ruled that Parliament’s power to make Constitutional amendments is limited which itself is a basic feature of the Constitution. The judgement makes it clear that the Constitution, and not the Parliament is supreme.

The Doctrine of Basic Structure: IR Coelho’s Case (2007) 2 SCC 1 (Known as 9th Schedule Case) (Nine Judge Bench) • Basic Structure : A land mark judgment on the interpretation of the doctrine of basic structure of the constitution. • The supremacy of the Constitution mandates all constitutional bodies to comply with the provisions of the Constitution. • Judicial Review : A mechanism for testing the validity of legislative acts through an independent organ, viz. the judiciary is part of basic structure. • The Court held that any law inserted in the Ninth Schedule on or after April 24, 1973 (date on which Keshavananda was pronounced) can be subject to judicial review and will be struck down if it violates the basic structure doctrine.


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