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Whether the term law under Article 13 includes amendments made to the Constitution?

Nandhini SR ,
  22 June 2020       Share Bookmark

Court :
Supreme Court of India
Brief :
The Court by upholding the validity of the Constitution (Seventeenth Amendment) Act,1964 held that the Parliament has complete authority to amend all parts of the Constitution including the Fundamental rights. However, this decision of the SC was overruled in the case of I.C. Golaknath v. State of Punjab which was further overruled in the case of KesavanadaBarathi v. State of Kerala giving rise to the doctrine of basic structure.
Citation :
REFERENCE: 1965 AIR 845 PARTIES Petitioner: Sajjan Singh Respondent: State of Rajasthan
  • JUDGMENT SUMMARY:Sajjan Singh v. State of Rajasthan
  • DATE OF JUDGMENT: 30/10/1964
  • JUDGES: Gajendragadkar, P.B. (Cj), Wanchoo, K.N., Hidayatullah, M., Dayal, Raghubar, Mudholkar, J.R.

SUBJECT:

The judgment revolves around the question of whether the term law under Article 13 includes amendments made to the Constitution?

FACTS:

In order to give effect to various policies enacted by the State legislatures for agrarian reforms the Parliament brought in the Constitution (First Amendment)Act, 1951 which added Article 31A and 31B to the Constitution which lead to the introduction of 9th schedule.  The object of the schedule is that any law placed under the schedule cannot be challenged on the basis of fundamental right violation.  Further in the Constitution (Seventeenth Amendment) Act,1964 Article 31A was further amended and 44 more such enactments were added to the schedule.  Aggrieved by these enactments the petitioner challenged the validity of the said amendment and all those legislations which were added to the schedule under Article 32 of the Constitution.    

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS

The Indian Constitution

Article 32:Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by Part III

(1) The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed

(2) The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III

Article 31B:Validation of certain Acts and Regulations

Without prejudice to the generality of the provisions contained in Article 31A, none of the Acts and Regulations specified in the Ninth Schedule nor any of the provisions thereof shall be deemed to be void, or ever to have become void, on the ground that such Act, Regulation or provision is inconsistent with, or takes away or abridges any of the rights conferred by, any provisions of Part III, and notwithstanding any judgment, decree or order of any court or tribunal to the contrary, each of the said Acts and Regulations shall, subject to the power of any competent Legislature to repeal or amend it, continue in force.

  • Article 368(1):  Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, Parliament may in exercise of its constituent power amend by way of addition, variation or repeal any provision of this Constitution in accordance with the procedure laid down in this article.
  • Article 13(2):The State shall not make any law which takes away or abridges the rights conferred by this Part and any law made in contravention of this clause shall, to the extent of the contravention, be void.

ISSUES:

  1. Whether the term law under Article 13 includes amendments made to the Constitution?
  2. Whether there is a need to reconsider the decision in Shankari Prasad v. Union of India?

ANALYSIS OF THE JUDGEMENT:

The petitioners contended that,

  • The term “law” under Article 13 includes amendments made to the Constitution.
  • Legal immunity to the legislations from being challenged is beyond the amending powers of the Parliament. 
  • The decision in the case of Shankari Prasad v. Union of India wherein the Court held that, amendments are not law under Article 13 is to be reconsidered.
  • The powers prescribed under Article 226 is likely to be affected by the amendment.
  • Parliament has no authority to make laws with respect to land as it falls under Entry 18 of List II.

However, the respondents contended that, law under Article 13 includes only legislative enactments enacted under Article 245,246,248 of the Constitution and does not include amendments made to the Constitution. 

Upon hearing the parties to the case, the Court held that, the impugned amendment is brought in only for the fulfilment of socio-economic policy.  Also, the effect of the amendment on Article 226 is incidental and insignificant. The parliament is not enacting any land legislation but is merely validating the already enacted ones by the State legislature therefore the Parliament reserves the authority for the same.  Finally, the Court concluded that, the ruling in Shankari Prasad v. Union of India is valid and there is no necessity to reconsider the same. 

CONCLUSION:

The Court by upholding the validity of the Constitution (Seventeenth Amendment) Act,1964 held that the Parliament has complete authority to amend all parts of the Constitution including the Fundamental rights.  However, this decision of the SC was overruled in the case of I.C. Golaknath v. State of Punjab which was further overruled in the case of KesavanadaBarathi v. State of Kerala giving rise to the doctrine of basic structure.

 
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