Thursday, May 30, 2024





Give a detailed analysis of I.C. Golaknath V. State of Punjab and ors. 1967 AIR 1643, 1967 SCR (2) 762)

• Facts of the case
The Golaknath brothers, Henry and William, owned more than 500 acres of land in Jalandhar in Punjab. The Punjab security and land tenure law stated that the brothers could own only 30 acres each. A few acres were allotted to tenants and the remaining was declared surplus land. The Golaknath family challenged this in the courts. The matter was also referred to the Supreme Court in 1965.

The family filed a challenge under Article 32 contesting the 1953 Punjab Act on the grounds that it violated their constitutional rights to equal protection under the law (Article 14), to own and keep property, and to perform any profession. The Punjab Act was included in the ninth schedule as a result of the seventeenth amendment, which they attempted to have ruled supra vires (beyond the powers). One of the important instances in Indian history is I.C. Golaknath, v. State of Punjab. The court established the doctrine of basic structure’s jurisprudence with its decision in this case. The court concluded in 1967 that none of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution may be restricted by the Parliament.

• Issues Raised
Whether the parliament has the absolute power to amend fundamental rights or not?
Whether the word “law” in Article 13(2) includes amendments?
Whether the 17th constitutional amendment act is valid in the constitution?

• Argument from petitioners’ side
The petitioner takes the view that India’s Constitution was established by the Constitution’s Assembly and is irrevocable. No one can amend or seek to amend India’s Constitution. The petitioner also took the view that the implied term “amendment” only meant an alteration based on the fundamental structure of the Constitution, rather than an entirely new concept. In addition, the petitioner claimed that the fundamental rights laid down in Part III cannot be deprived by the Parliament. These fundamental rights are an essential part of the Constitution.

The petitioner also claimed that Article 368 of the Constitution only lists the procedures for reform of the Constitution; it does not empower Parliament to amend the Constitution. Finally, the petitioner argued in court that the definition of “law” in Article 13(3)(a) encompasses all types of law, including statutory law and constitutions. According to Article 13(2) of the Constitution, the State may not enact any law which deprives the fundamental rights listed in Part 3 of the Constitution. Therefore, any constitutional amendment which deprives fundamental rights in the Constitution is unconstitutional and invalid.

Arguments from the Respondent side
In court, the defendant claimed that his exercise of sovereignty led to the constitutional amendment. The legislative authority used by parliament to enact legislation is distinct from this capacity to exercise sovereignty.
The author of our constitution never meant for it to be inflexible by default. They have always favored a flexible interpretation of our constitution. Changes to national legislation that Amendment believes appropriate for society are its goal. They contended that the constitution would be inflexible rather than flexible if there were no modifications.

They also contend that there is no distinction between basic and non-basic structure. All of its terms are equivalent and equally significant. It is spelled out in the constitution that there is no hierarchy.

On February 27, 1967, the Supreme Court, which had the largest bench at the time, gave a judgment in which the petitioner was found to have won by a majority of 6:5 votes. The judgment held that fundamental rights provided for in Part 3 of the Constitution cannot be subject to the process of amendment laid down in Article 368. If any of these fundamental rights were to be changed, a new Constituent Assembly would have to be convened to make a new Constitution or make a radical amendment to the Constitution.

Chief Justice of India at the time held that the provisions of the 17th Amendment violated the fundamental right of the Indian citizens to acquire any land and to engage in any legal profession granted to them by the Constitution. The judgment annulled the earlier decisions of the Supreme Court which had upheld the power of Parliament to amend any part of the Constitution, including those related to fundamental rights.

• Summary of the Case
Human personality development is thought to depend on fundamental rights. These are the rights that enable a guy to live his or her life anyway they see fit. The rights of minorities and other underprivileged people are included in the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by our constitution. The Constitution of India grants the state legislatures and Parliament the authority to enact legislation within their respective regions. However, the nature of this power is not absolute. The court is responsible for upholding the Constitution and has the authority to determine whether all laws are lawful.
The Supreme Court has the authority to rule on whether a law passed by the state legislatures or by Parliament breaches any provision of the Constitution.

Parliament was entrusted with the power to modify the Constitution. Paragraph 368 of the Constitution makes it seem as if Parliament’s power to amend is absolute and covers all aspects of the Constitution. However, the Supreme Court has always acted as a hindrance to Parliament’s legislative drive since independence. In order to preserve the original ideals of the Constitution-makers, the Supreme Court ruled that Parliament cannot alter, mutilate or mutilate the fundamental characteristics of the Constitution on the ground that it is amending the Constitution. The concept of fundamental structure cannot be found anywhere in the Constitution. This concept was first acknowledged by the Supreme Court in the historic case of Kesavananda Bharati in 1973.

The basic structure of the constitution consists of:

  1. Supremacy of the Constitution;
  2. Secular character of the Constitution;
  3. Demarcation of power among the legislature, executive, and judiciary;
  4. Integrity and unity of the nation;
  5. A democratic and republican form of government; and
  6. The sovereignty of the nation.

These are the components of the fundamental structure of the Constitution. The Parliament can amend anything but cannot amend or modify any of the basic elements of the Constitution. Majority believed that the Parliament is drawing power of amend from Article 368 whereas this Article only provides producer of amendment. Majority said that power to amend article of the Constitution is under Article 248.

Majority said if the decision comes in favour of majority, then the Constitution will become inflexible and if parliament does not have power to amend the Constitution, then the Constitution would become inflexible. Majority said that the procedure of article 368 is very similar to the legislative procedure but it is distinct from ordinary legislative procedure. The judgement provides the prospective override of the law. The judgement to override the previous judgements is an important, wise and reasonable decision of the country’s judiciary.

This doctrine of the prospective ruling said that the effects of the law will only be applicable on future dates or future judgements. Past decisions will not be get affected by it. There was a reason why the majority chose the doctrine of the prospective ruling.

These reasons were:

  1. They wanted to avoid multiple litigations which could have followed after this judgment.
  2. The majority also chose this to save the nation from the chaos of retrospective action.
  3. They also wanted to reduce the negative effect of this judgement which could have led to invalidating the previous constitutional amendments.
  4. This was in order to minimize the negative impact of the judgment invalidating the earlier constitutional amendments.
  5. Another reason why the majority went for prospective overruling was that since the decision, in this case, was that the parliament has no right to amend the fundamental rights, therefore, every previous amendment will bes invalid and unconstitutional.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!