January 9, 2024

The basic structure doctrine is a body of legal theory that modifies the sovereign constitution’s general framework and features that its legislature is unable to overrule.

The Indian Constitution grants the Parliament and State Legislatures the authority to enact legislation within their respective domains. Only the Parliament, not the state legislatures, has the authority to change the Constitution. Nonetheless, the Parliament’s authority is not unqualified. Any statute that the Supreme Court determines to be unconstitutional may be declared invalid. Any attempt to alter the fundamental framework of the Indian Constitution is deemed illegal by the Basic Structure Doctrine.

basic structure doctrine definition

  • The basic structure doctrine, to put it simply, holds that some sections of the Indian Constitution are essential, have inherent worth, and cannot be changed or eliminated.
  • These sections serve as the foundation and serve as a reflection of the founding fathers’ beliefs.
  • Furthermore, they clarify the fundamental principles of Indian constitutionalism, which is why they are called the basic structure.

what is doctrine of basic structure of the constitution?

  • The Indian Constitution makes no reference to “Basic Structure” at all. Over time and in several instances, the notion that the Parliament cannot propose legislation that would alter the fundamental framework of the constitution came into being.
  • The goal is to safeguard people’s rights and liberties while maintaining the characteristics of Indian democracy. The basic structure doctrine of Indian constitution aids in safeguarding and maintaining the document’s spirit.
  • The Kesavananda Bharati case was the catalyst for public awareness of this theory. This decision meant that the basic structure of the Indian Constitution could not be altered, not even by a constitutional amendment.

basic structure doctrine in Indian constitution: Its Root

Since gaining independence, the Supreme Court has frequently changed and updated its position on the legislature’s authority to amend the constitution.

The debate over property rights and the First Amendment Act of 1951 serves as the starting points for the development of the Basic Structure doctrine.

  • In the case of Shankari Prasad v UOI, the Supreme Court ruled that the Parliament can change any provision of the constitution, especially fundamental rights, in accordance with Article 368.
  • In the case of Sajjan Singh v State of Rajasthan, the SC ruled that the Parliament may change any provision of the Constitution, including the Fundamental Rights, in this particular circumstance as well.
  • In the case of Golak Nath v State of Punjab, the Supreme Court rejected the Shankari Prasad ruling, holding that Article 368 only establishes the process for amending the constitution and does not grant the Parliament complete authority to change any section of it.
  • In the case of Kesavananda Bharati v State of Kerala, the Supreme Court ruled that although though the Parliament might edit any element of the Constitution, including the Fundamental Rights, the basic structure of the Indian Constitution could not be changed.
  • In the case of Minerva Mills v UOI, the 42nd CAA’s provisions were declared unlawful by the Supreme Court, which also held that because “judicial review” is an integral part of the “Basic Structure,” the Parliament cannot abolish it.
  • In the case of Waman Rao v UOI, the court determined that no law placed in the Ninth Schedule prior to the Kesavananda ruling may be contested on the grounds that it violated fundamental rights. Nonetheless, a court of law may hear arguments regarding the statutes after the verdict.
  • In the case of Indra Sawhney & Ors v UOI, in this particular case, the list of the basic features of the constitution was expanded to include the “Rule of Law.”
  • In the case of S.R. Bommai v UOI, Federalism, Secularism, and Democracy were proclaimed by the Supreme Court to be the basic structure of the Constitution.

basic structure doctrine in Indian constitution: Its Significance

  • The Basic Structure is to uphold the fundamental values and constitutional precepts that the founding fathers intended.
  • The doctrine has stopped a temporary majority in Parliament from overturning the Constitution and has assisted in preserving its supremacy.
  • By outlining a proper separation of powers, where the judiciary is independent of both the two organs, the Basic Structure enhances our democracy.
  • The citizens’ fundamental rights are shielded by the Basic Structure against the legislature’s arbitrary actions and despotism.
  • The constitution is a dynamic document that is more progressive and subject to change throughout time because of its dynamic nature.

An Indian constitution-related judicial principle is known as the basic structure doctrine. It preserves the fundamental framework of the Indian Constitution and makes sure that its fundamental elements cannot be changed by the parliament. It took countless petitions for this doctrine to gain attention. The Kesavananda Bharati case is one of the most important petitions. The Supreme Court’s decision in this case established the fundamental structural concept of our constitution, which has since changed.

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