Doctrine of Basic Structure


On October 16, 2015, the Supreme Court overturned the National Judicial Appointment Commission (NJAC) and dismissed the 99th amendment of the Constitutional Committee because it weakened the independence of the judiciary and violated the basic structural theory.

In India, Parliament may amend the provisions of the Constitution and may have the powers conferred by Article 368 of the Constitution, but it cannot interfere with the basic structure of the Constitution through amendment or amendments.



The Indian Constitution does not have an expression or reference to the basic structure doctrine, so why limit the power of Congress for reasons not mentioned in the Constitution? J. Khanna states that the power of Article 368 of the “Amendment” is not arbitrary, but limited.

Article 368 The term “parliamentary powers to amend the Constitution”, where the term “correction” gave rise to the basic structural theory. The word amendment itself means that Congress can amend the Constitution, but it cannot change its ideals and philosophy, and simply cannot speak about its structure.

Therefore, the basic structure doctrine says that

Indian Parliament has unlimited powers to amend the Constitution which is subjected to only one restriction. In other words, the basic structure of the Constitution should not be diluted or violated.

Otherwise, the effect of the revision should not essentially abolish or interfere with the basic structure.



The basic structural theory is not precisely defined, but the content provided by the judiciary clearly defines the scope of the constitutional framework or structure. The basic structure sometimes adds new content, so the Supreme Court has not yet determined the exact basic structure of the Constitution.

Constitutional advantage

  • By law
  • The sovereignty, freedom, and republican nature of the Indian regime.
  • Judicial review
  • Harmony and balance between basic rights and directive principles.
  • Federal character.
  • Parliamentary system.
  • Equality rules.
  • National unity.
  • Free and fair elections.
  • SC’s powers under Articles 32,136,142,147
  • HC’s powers under Articles 226 and 227
  • Congress has limited powers to amend the Constitution.
  • Welfare state.
  • Personal freedom and dignity.
  • Evolution of the basic structural theory



First Stage – I.C. Golaknath case and Sankari Prasad’s Verdict

Initially, the judiciary believed that there was no limit to the amendment powers of the parliament, as it could revise part 368 of the constitution and provide for powers to amend the parliament. However, in 1967, Punjab’s Golak Nath V Supreme Court adopted a new perspective and believed that Congress had the right to amend the third part of the Constitution, namely the basic right, and thus grant the basic right. Beyond the state”

Note: The principle of “Basic Characteristics” is J.R. in 1953. It was first elaborated by Judge Mudholkar and Sajjan Singh v. It has to do with Rajasthan.

“It is also a matter to consider whether changes to the basic features of the Constitution should be considered merely revisions or indeed as part of the rewriting of the Constitution. Within scope?”

The second stage (main stage)-begins in the scene of “Golaknath” and ends with the judgment of “Keshvanand Bharti”

– In 1973, Keshavanada Bharti v state of Kerala declared that Congress should not alter or interfere with the basic structure of the Constitution. Some people think that Congress has the power to amend the Constitution, but it is not the power to amend the Constitution, it is only the power to amend the Constitution, so it cannot interfere or underestimate the basic structure or nature of the Constitution.


Third Stage– from Keshavananda to Indira Gandhi

– The basic structural doctrine was given in the Kesha and Nan cases, but was widely accepted and legal due to subsequent events and judgments. The major evolution of the doctrine began in an emergency conducted by the then strong Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The government passed an amendment to Article 39 to curb her prosecution, which was also elected within the scope of the prosecution’s private review. However, Indy La Nehru Gandhi v. In the case of Indira Nehru Gandhi v. Raj Narain, the amendment to Article 39 was abolished with the help of basic structural theory.


Fourth stage – Cases such as Minerva Mill and Vaman Rao cases

– In the Minerva Mills case, the Supreme Court provided a major explanation for the interpretation of the basic structural theory.

Two important elements have been added with Congress’s limited power to amend the Constitution.

  • Maintain harmony and balance between rights and directive principles.
  • Judicial review



The opposition party is at the heart of the conflict, and this is what caused the event. Each petitioner filed six petitions to find out whether Congress’ right to amend was limited, especially in terms of basic rights.

Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru challenged the 1972 Constitution (29th Amendment), which incorporated the Kerala Land Reform Act and the Constitutional Amendment in 1963. IX schedule.

Supreme Court Chief Justice leads 13 judges in charge of the case. The majority passed the ruling at a rate of 7/6, and Congress concluded that it could not amend the basic structure of the Indian constitution. But did it go as simple as it looks?

As the author claims, the Keshvanand Bharati case created a “toxic” atmosphere in court. The judge also talked about the “abnormal case,” and the judge judged with a question mark, “Is the judgment a judgment?”

“From the beginning, I was impressed and decided on a point of view.” -Justice Jaganmohan Reddy asked his colleagues about the nature of judgment again through this record.

In this five-month frictional environment, 11 rulings jointly made by nine judges ruled, and these judges jointly contributed to about 15 rulings. In a 1,000-page different form of discussion, the game was decided by judge Khanna. Other Judges -6 Because of its relevance with lawmakers, the Constitution itself contained intrinsic and obvious limitations, so Congressional powers of the amendment were limited, while the other six thought the powers of Congress to revise the proceedings were unlimited, but Judge Ghana Believed that Congress could not violate or amend the Constitution because its powers were “modified”, although Congress could amend it. Basic structure. Constitution.



As a result, we have found that the basic concept as an idea has been developed over the years since its emergence in the 1970s, and over time, more and more rights are incorporated into the framework of the Constitution. Therefore, the basic structure we see today is a long-term legal oversight of rights and related constitutional structures. Through the “chain of rights”, we have confirmed that the basic structure is the top of the judicial decisions, but this irrefutable opposition has opted for the wealth of the simplest rights and guaranteed rights. In this way, the basic structure is the essence of central natural rights, human rights, and direct infrastructure in India. As we have seen, this is why the judiciary has never done a solid test to discover basic structures that doubt justice so that the law has enough space for mobility. In this possibility, we learned “constitutional basic values” from suspicious words such as constitutional identity, and found that the basic structure that relies on the chain of rights is limited to the natural rights and areas of legal structure that directly affect those rights.

Author: Prakalp Shrivastava,
School of law, jagran lakecity university, bhopal (M.P)

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