Ambit of basic structure doctrines (case laws)

The basic framework theory, which has been established by the Indian Supreme Court through various seminal decisions over the years, introduces the required element of constitutionalism, which is vital to the upkeep of the spirit of the constitution text, to uphold, defend, and sustain the thicker principle of rule of law, without which the constitution is nothing more than a dead letter statute. The development of this concept from the principle of implicit limits to its present nature has been turbulent, with efforts to salvage it and far stronger attempts to obliterate it because this doctrine alone empowers the judiciary to hold the legislature in place.

Madras Bar Association v. Union of India (hereinafter referred to as the NTT case):

The constitutional validity of the National Tax Tribunal Act, 2005 (NTT Act) was questioned, as was the constitutional validity of the Forty-Second Amendment 1976, on the grounds that it violates the Constitution’s fundamental structure by restricting high courts’ ability to exercise judicial review. Another argument was that the National Tax Tribunal was an extra-judicial entity that could not replace the authority of high courts by performing judicial functions. In his majority opinion, Khehar J argued that Parliament has the authority to pass laws and to vest adjudicatory powers formerly held by the high courts in an alternative court. The exercise of this authority would not, in and of itself, be a violation of the Constitution’s fundamental structure. If Parliament should not guarantee that the newly formed court or tribunal conforms to the principles and salient characteristics of the court required to be replaced before enacting certain laws, the Constitution’s fundamental framework would be abused. This will also be a violation of constitutional conventions governing Westminster-model constitutions. On these grounds, some crucial clauses of the NTT Act were ruled unconstitutional, and since these provisions were so essential to the Act, the NTT Act was declared unconstitutional as a whole.

The Pramati Educational and Cultural Trust Case:

In the Pramati case, a five-judge bench was asked to comment on the constitutionality of Articles 15(5) and 21A. The two major legal issues before the Court were whether Parliament altered the basic structure or framework of the Constitution by inserting Clause (5) in Article 15 of the Constitution by the Constitution (Ninety-third Amendment) Act, 2005; and whether Parliament altered the basic structure or framework of the Constitution by inserting Article 21A of the Constitution by the Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002. The Court affirmed the constitutional legitimacy of the law and removed minority-run establishments from the remainder of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009 (the RTE Act).

The Court referred the case of Society for Unaided Private Schools of Rajasthan v. Union of India & Anr. to the Supreme Court, which ruled that clause (5) of Article 15 of the Constitution is true and does not contradict the Constitution’s basic structure in relation to state-run and aided educational institutions. However, in the Asoka Kumar case, the Constitution Bench left open the issue of whether clause (5) of Article 15 was constitutionally legitimate or not in the context of private unaided educational institutions. The aim of Article 15(5), according to the Court, is to enable the state to provide socially and educationally backward persons, as well as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, with equal access to all educational institutions other than minority educational institutions.

The Constitution (Ninety-third Amendment) Act, 2009 added clause (5) in Article 15 to amplify the terms of that article. Since the aim of clause (5) of article (15) is to give a significant number of students from SEBCs, SCs, and STs an equal opportunity to study in educational institutions, equality of opportunity is also the goal of Clauses (1) and (2) of Article 15 of the Constitution. Clause (5) of Article 15 is not an exception or a proviso replacing Article 15 of the Constitution, but rather an empowering measure to make the Preamble’s guarantee of equality of opportunity a fact. Furthermore, Article 15(5) does not violate the Constitution’s basic structure or framework.

The Court went on to state that Article 15(5) power is a directed power, and that its use in furtherance of its aim and function is open to judicial scrutiny, and that the aspect of voluntariness under Article 19(1)(g) is unaffected. Mr. Nariman argued that Article 15 provision (5) of the Constitution violates Article 14[93] of the Constitution by treating unequal as equals. On this point, the Court held that the legislation enacted to carry out Article 15(5) would provide compensation for unaided agencies in order to avoid violating Article 14. On the question of minority educational institutions (aided and unaided), the Court held that they are not covered by Article 15(5), and that Article 15(5) does not jeopardize India’s secular character, as mentioned in the Preamble.

Mr. Nariman then argued that in Mohini Jain (Miss) v. State of Karnataka & Ors., this Court held that the right to life is a compendious term with all other rights that the Courts shall uphold because they are fundamental to the dignified enjoyment of life, and that an individual’s integrity cannot be ensured unless the right to education is also guaranteed. He argued that every citizen of India has an obligation under Article 51-A(j) of the Constitution to aim for excellence in all fields of person and collective effort so that the country can continue to climb to higher levels of endeavour and achievement. He concluded that every person can achieve excellence in education by enrolling in high-quality educational institutions. He argued that clause (5) of Article 15 of the Constitution affects this right under Article 21 read with Article 51-A(j) of the Constitution insofar as it allows the State to make special arrangements relating to admission to private educational institutions for socially and educationally deprived groups of people or for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Mr. Nariman’s claim was rejected by the Court because it is not supported by the experience of other institutions with reserved seating. In addition, the Preamble advocates fraternity, unity, and national integrity in Article 15(5).

Aishwarya Says:

I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.

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