Keshavnanda Bharati, the seer who was the lead petitioner in the case which resulted in the Supreme Court evolving the Basic Structure doctrine, passed away on September 6, 2020 at Edaneer in Kasargod district of Kerala at the age of 79.
The case filed by Bharati challenging the land reform laws of Kerala and the 29th Constitutional Amendment nearly four decades ago had set the principle that the Supreme Court is the guardian of the basic structure of the Constitution. The Constitution can be amended but not its basic structure. The case ultimately led to evolution of ‘Basic Structure Doctrine’, after a marathon hearing of 68 days before a 13 Judge Bench, the largest bench ever to sit in the Apex Court. Legendary lawyer Nani Palkhivala appeared for Bharati.
Though the verdict did not result in individual relief to Bharati,the case became significant for its landmark judgment which led to formulation of an important doctrine limiting the amending powers of Parliament and simultaneously gave judiciary the authority to review any amendment. The Supreme Court delivered its verdict on April 24,1973, with a think majority of 7:6 out of the 13 Judge Bench. It is the most referred to case name in the Indian Constitutional Law.
PM Narendra Modi, VP Naidu, Union Minister V Murleedharan, MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, BJP Kerala unit president K Surendran were among those who paid rich tribute to the seer.