Kesavananda Bharti v/s state of Kerala
1973 is a landmark case in the
judicial history of India because it formulated the basic structure of the
In this case the Supreme Court reversed the judgement of I.C Golakhnath v/s
state of Punjab
the parliament via article 368 cannot amend the fundamental
All this effort was to answer just one question.
- Was the power of parliament to amend the constitution is unlimited.
- In other words could the parliament alter, amend, abrogate any part of
the constitution even to the extent of taking away all the fundamental
The Supreme Court answered these questions by formulating the basic structure
doctrine and judiciary held that constitution will stay supreme as parliament
powers are wide but not unlimited and they cannot change the basic structure of
the Indian constitution.
Article 368(1) of Indian constitution:
The constitution of India grants
constituent power to make formal amendment and empowers parliament to amend.
The constitution by way of addition, variation or repeal of any provision
according to the procedure lied down here in, which is different from this
procedure for ordinary legislations.
Article 31 of the Indian constitution not only guarantee the right of private
ownership but also the right to enjoy and dispose of property free from
restrictions other than reasonable restrictions the article states that no
person shall be deprived of his/her property except by authority of the law.
24th amendment empower parliament of India to amend any part of the
constitution. In this case the validity of 24th, 25th , 29th amendment of the
constitution was challenged.
Facts of the case:
Judgment of the case:
- Kesavananda Bharti is a senior pontiff of edneer mutt in Kerala.
- Edneer mutt has 100�s of acres of land received as donation.
- Kerala state government passed the land reform act.
- Kerala state government wanted to take possession of the property of
- Nani Palkhiwala suggested Kesavananda Bharti to challenge this decision
into Supreme Court.
- Nani Palkhiwala suggested that the decision of Kerala state government
to take possession of the land violates article 25, 26 of the Indian
constitution which are our fundamental rights.
- Nani Palkhiwala also became the lawyer of Kesavananda Bharti in the
This case made the constitutional bench of 13 judges and the decision was given
by the narrow majority of 7:6 (Highest number of judges on a panel of the case)
- The Supreme Court held that Article 368 of the constitution is valid.
- Parliament can amend any part of the constitution but it cannot change
the basic structure of the constitution.
- The power of the parliament is wide but not unlimited.
- The parliament of India can amend anything even the fundamental rights
(supreme court reversed the Golakhnath judgement) however parliament of India
cannot amend the basic structure of the constitution of India.
Basic structure of Indian constitution:
The basic structure doctrine is an Indian judicial principle that the
constitution of India has certain basic feature that cannot be altered or
destroyed through amendments by the parliament.
The doctrine is build upon the principle i.e. the freedom and dignity of an
individual, parliament cannot amend the basic structure of the Indian
Main elements of basic structure:
Written by: Saksham Ahlawat
- Supremacy of the constitution.
- Republic and democratic form of government.
- Sovereignty of the country.
- Secular and federal character of the constitution.
- Separation of powers between 3 pillars of the constitution.
- B.A.LL.B (hons) Chandigarh University, Gharuan,
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