Fundamental rights, the essence of the constitution should be considered more than a directive principle as they can be enforced by the court of law. The three organs of the constitution, include – legislation, executive and judiciary. It is of utmost importance that there should be a balance between these. There have been instances where the executive and legislative have tried to expand power over other organs. To protect the right of individuals, the judiciary has time and again taken steps to the said rights. In this case, (Minerva Mills vs Union of India) a similar attempt was made to exploit the power of the Parliament.
In 1973, the Supreme Court pronounced it’s one of the most historic judgements in the history of Indian Constitution. The government, through the Land Acquisition Act, 1969 tried to acquire the land of Kesavananda Bharati and Article 32 not the Indian Constitution. Before the challenge, there were a series of amendments passed:
• First – 24th Amendment, it provided power to the Parliament to make an amendment and nothing in Article 13 apply under Article 368.
• Second – 25th Amendment it reduced the burden from the State to adequately compensate the landlords. This removes the link between Article 19 (c) and Article 31 (c) of the Indian Constitution. Article 39 clauses (b) and (c) was given more primacy over Article 14, 19, or 31 of the Indian Constitution.
• Third – 29th Amendment inserted Kerala Kand Reform Act, 1969 in the Ninth Schedule thus making it outside the scope of judiciary to review.
Minerva Mills is a textile mill located near the Bengaluru city. The Central Government considering the substantial fall in the production of the same, appointed a committee under section 15 of the Industries Development Act, 1951 to take over the management of Minerva Mills. In the 39th amendment, nationalisation was included in the ninth schedule which was outside the purview of judiciary. After a huge setback in the Indira Gandhi vs Raj Narain to have supreme power, a 42nd amendment was passed in the parliament which amended Article 31C through section 4 of the Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976 made amendments in Article 368. Amended Article 31C read as: No law giving effect to the policy of the State towards securing (all or any principles laid down in Part IV) shall be deemed to void o the ground that it is inconsistent or abridges any right which is conferred under Article 14 or Article 19; no law containing the declaration that it giving effect to such policy shall be called in the question in any court on the ground that it does not give effect to such policy.
Matter of issue –
Whether insertion made under Article 31C and Article 368 through sections 4 and 55 of the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 does hamper the basic structure doctrine?
• Whether the Directive Principle of the State policy has primacy over Fundamental right to the Indian Constitution? Arguments by the petitioners Nani Palkhivala, the ambassador of the Janata Government, soon felt the need to return to India to protect the human rights and so he argued on this case on behalf of the previous owners of the Minerva Mills.
Arguments by Petitioners –
The amendment powers of the parliament are limited under Article 368. This amendment would allow parliament the creature of the Constitution to become its master.
• The court decision in the Kesavananda Bharati case mentioned that the Parliament has no authority to disturb the basic features of the Constitution.
• It was an obligation on the State to pass laws on the Directive Principle of the State policy but it should be done through permissible means it cannot overrule the Fundamental Rights.
• Due to section 55 of the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976 no court would have the power to review the constitutional amendment passed by the Parliament this would damage the balance between the Judiciary and the Parliament.
• There would be a misbalance that would be created between the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of the State Policy there is a need to create a harmonious construction.
• Almost every law enacted by the government would one or the other way be associated with the Directive Principles.
• To give immunity to the Directive Principle would wipe out Article 19 and Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
Arguments by respondents –
Attorney general L. N. Sinha and additional solicitor general K. K. Venugopal represented the state. They were both in a precarious position to defend the amendment passed the emergency era
• Article 31C of the Indian Constitution reinforced the basic structure doctrine, Directive Principles provided goals in absence of Fundamental Rights.
• Any harm that is caused to the Fundamental Rights won’t amount to the violation of the basic structure doctrine.
• To achieve the goals framed under the Directive Principle of the State Policy powers of the Parliament should be supreme there should be no restrictions on its amendment powers.
• The issue related to academic interest should not be decided by the Court.
• The government through the naturalisation process was assisting the company to raise loans.
After the judgment that was pronounced by the Supreme Court Justice Bhagwati received a fair share of criticism the Judges admitted that they didn’t have the chance to review the Judgment of one another. The Government in order to expand the amending power of the Parliament filed a review petition to overturn the significant judgment. This was rejected by the court. Even after four decades of the passing of the judgment text which was declared unconstitutional is still a part of the text. This was one out of many occasions where the Parliament was exhibiting his arrogance of power by manipulating the Constitution.
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