BASIC STRUCTURE DOCTRINE (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Polity)

News-CRUX-10     26th April 2024        
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Context: Recently, the Defence Minister of India reaffirmed his commitment to upholding the basic structure of the Constitution during his conversation.

Basic Structure of Doctrine

  • About: It is a judicial principle that was established by the Supreme Court of India to safeguard the fundamental principles enshrined in the Constitution from being amended or altered in a manner that would fundamentally change its character. 
  • The discussion on the extent of Parliament's authority to amend the Constitution under Article 368 began as early as 1951.
  • Background

o Kerala Land Reforms Amendment Act(1969): Through this Act, the Kerala Government was empowered to acquire land owned by the Matt.

o Kesavananda Bharati Case 1973: He involved a petition filed against the Government of Kerala regarding the forced acquisition of someone's land under the provisions of this Act.

o Fundamental Rights: The petitioner argued that this act violated their Fundamental Rights as guaranteed in Articles 25, 26, and 31 of the Constitution of India. 

  • Current status of Article 368:

o The Parliament under Article 368 can amend any part of the Constitution including the Fundamental Rights but without affecting the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution. 

o However, the Supreme Court is yet to define or clarify as to what constitutes the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.

o ‘Basic structure’ word not mention in the Constitution.

Components of Basic Structure:

  • Supremacy of the Constitution
  • Sovereign, democratic and republican nature of the Indian polity
  • Separation of powers between the legislature, the executive and the judiciary
  • Judicial review
  • Parliamentary system
  • Rule of law
  • Principle of equality
  • Free and fair elections
  • Independence of Judiciary
  • Limited power of Parliament to amend the Constitution
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