Basic Structure Doctrine – Kesavananda Bharti v State of Kerala

The Kesavananda Bharti v. State of Kerala case, also known as the Kesavananda Bharti landmark judgement, was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of India that was handed down in 1973. It is considered one of the most important cases in the history of the Indian legal system, as it established the principle of the “basic structure” of the Indian Constitution, which limits the power of the government to amend the Constitution.

The case arose when the government of Kerala attempted to acquire land owned by Kesavananda Bharti, a Hindu holy man, for development purposes. Bharti challenged the acquisition, arguing that it violated his fundamental rights under the Constitution, including his right to property.

The Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of Bharti, holding that the government’s actions were unconstitutional and violated Bharti’s fundamental rights. However, the Court’s decision went beyond the specific facts of the case, and also established the principle of the “basic structure” of the Constitution.

Under this principle, the Court held that the Constitution has a “basic structure” that cannot be amended or altered by the government, even through the normal constitutional amendment process. This includes the fundamental rights and freedoms protected by the Constitution, as well as the principles of democracy, secularism, and federalism.

The Kesavananda Bharti case was significant because it established that the Constitution is not an ordinary law that can be easily amended or changed by the government, but rather a fundamental document that establishes the basic structure and principles of the Indian state. It also reaffirmed the role of the judiciary as the guardian of the Constitution and the protector of individual rights and freedoms.

Overall, the Kesavananda Bharti landmark judgement has had a lasting impact on the Indian legal system and has been cited in numerous other cases involving the interpretation and application of the Constitution. It remains an important and influential decision in the history of Indian law.

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