Explained: In SC reading of basic structure, the signature of Kesavananda Bharati

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News: Kesavananda Bharati, who filed the famous constitutional case leading to birth of the legal doctrine of Basic Structure has passed away.

Facts:

  • What was the Kesavananda Bharati case about?The case was primarily about the extent of Parliament’s power to amend the Constitution. 
    • The case initially started on the challenge to the Kerala Land Reforms (Amendment) Act 1969.
    • Later, the court was reviewing a 1967 decision in Golaknath vs State of Punjab which had reversed the earlier verdicts and ruled that Parliament cannot amend fundamental rights.
    • The court was also deciding the constitutional validity of several amendments passed by the Government.
  • What was the judgement? The Constitutional Bench ruled that Parliament could amend any part of the Constitution so long as it did not alter or amend the basic structure or essential features of the Constitution.
  • However, the court did not define the ‘basic structure’ and has been adding new features to this concept through various SC judgments which includes: supremacy of the Constitution, rule of law, Independence of the judiciary, doctrine of separation of powers, federalism, secularism, principle of free and fair elections among others.