The Supreme Court’s ‘Basic Structure’ decision established a bad precedent: VP

In his address to the 83rd Conference of Presiding Officers, the Vice-President stated that the Kesavananda Bharati case judgment of 1973 set a bad precedent by attempting to establish judicial supremacy.

Kesavananda Bharati Case (1973)

  • The Kesavananda Bharati decision was a landmark Supreme Court decision that outlined the basic structure doctrine of the Indian Constitution.
  • The case has also been dubbed the Fundamental Rights Case.
  • In a 7-6 decision, the Supreme Court asserted its right to overturn constitutional amendments that violated the constitution’s fundamental architecture.
  • The Basic Structure doctrine was used by the Court to assert that the constitution has a basic structure of constitutional principles and values.

The following were the main outcomes:

  • Judicial Review: The Court partially cemented the prior precedent Golaknath v. State of Punjab, which held that constitutional amendments through Article 368 were subject to fundamental rights review, but only if they could affect the ‘basic structure of the Constitution’.
  • Judicial Review Exceptions: At the same time, the Court upheld the constitutionality of the first provision of Article 31-C, which implied that amendments seeking to implement the Directive Principles but not affecting the ‘Basic Structure’ would not be subject to judicial review.

Why are we discussing it now?

  • The Centre vs. the Judiciary Tussle
  • The doctrine serves as the foundation for the Indian judiciary’s authority to review and overturn amendments to the Indian Constitution enacted by Parliament.
  • The Judiciary and the Executive have been at odds for a few days.
  • There is more resentment in the political sphere toward the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the NJAC Act.
  • Comments about the non-transparent appointment/transfer of judges have become very common.

Reasons behind VP’s harsh comments

  • Ans. Parliamentary Supremacy (People’s mandate) trumps Basic Structure.
  • According to VP, “the basic” of any “basic structure” in a democratic society must be the supremacy of the people’s mandate.
  • As a result, the primacy and sovereignty of Parliament and the legislature are unassailable.
  • He stated that all constitutional institutions — judiciary, executive, and legislature — must stay within their respective domains and adhere to the highest standards of propriety and decorum.
  • He stated that Parliament’s authority to amend the Constitution and deal with legislation should be independent of any other authority.

@the end

  • After examining both NJAC and the collegium system, it is clear that neither method is complete and that both lack certain aspects.
  • The NJAC has the support of many former judges and legal experts.
  • However, legal scholars are divided on NJAC, with some in support and others calling for changes to the Act.
  • It is clear that neither the collegium system nor the NJAC are accurate; both have flaws.
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