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Basic Structure Doctrine

 Basic Structure Doctrine

One of the major judicial doctrines associated with the Indian Constitution is the basic structure doctrine.

According to the idea of the fundamental structure, the Indian Constitution has a basic structure, which the Indian Parliament cannot change.

The Supreme Court's Constitutional Bench found 7-6 in the Kesanvnda Bharati versus State of Kerala case that Parliament may amend any provision of the Constitution as long as it did not change or revise the Constitution's core structure or essential elements.

Indian Constitution is a dynamic document that can be amended according to the needs of society whenever required. Constitution under Article 368 grants power to the Parliament to amend whenever there is a necessity. The Article also lays down the procedure for amendment in detail.

The notion of fundamental structure is nothing more than a judicial invention designed to prevent Parliament from abusing its amendment authority. The concept is that the core aspects of the Indian Constitution should not be changed to the point that the Constitution's uniqueness is lost.

The idea of fundamental structure supports that the Indian Constitution upholds certain principles that are the governing norms for the Parliament. No amendment can modify these principles. The theory that we have now was not always existing, but it has been propounded and defended by the country's judicial leaders over time.

In the case of Indra Nehru Gandhi v. Raj Narain, trust in the concept was upheld and established. The appellant in this case had filed an appeal against the Allahabad High Court's ruling invalidating her election as Prime Minister. While the Supreme Court's appeal was ongoing, the 39th Amendment was enacted and implemented, which declared that no court had jurisdiction over the Prime Minister's election challenges.

Based on the ruling of Kesavananda Bharati, the Hon'ble Supreme Court said that democracy is a fundamental aspect of the Constitution and is part of its basic structure. The bench added a few more characteristics to the fundamental structure, such as the rule of law and the power of the state. The basic structure then came up in the case of Minerva Mills Ltd. v. Union of India, wherein the Supreme Court provided clarity to the doctrine and laid down that the power of amendment under Article 368 is limited and exercise of such power cannot be absolute. A limited amending power was very well part of the basic structure doctrine of the Constitution. Further, the harmony and balance between fundamental rights and directive principles are also part of the basic structure, and anything that destroys the balance is an ipso facto violation of the doctrine.

Today there is no dispute regarding the existence of the doctrine, the only problem that arises time and again is the contents of the same.

Certain contents have been reaffirmed again and again by the Courts whereas some of them are still in the process of deliberations.


The basic structure doctrine grants the fine balance between flexibility and rigidity that should be present in the amending powers of any Constitution.


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