The 24th amendment holds a significant place in the constitution of India. It came into force on 5th November 1971. It was enacted in response to Golaknath case,1967. It is officially known as The Constitution Act, 1971 and provides Parliament to dilute Fundamental Rights through Amendments of the Constitution. It also provided Parliament the power to amend any provision of the Constitution by amending article 368. This amendment also makes it compulsory for the President to give his assent when a Constitution Amendment Bill is presented to him.
The 24th Amendment was passed to repeal the Supreme Court ruling in Golaknath v. State of Punjab (1967) by the Congress government when it was headed by Indira Gandhi. The judgement by the court altered the Supreme Court’s earlier decision which held that the Parliament’s power to amend all parts of the Constitution, including Part 3 which is in accordance with Fundamental Rights. For the Parliament to amend provisions and also bringing Fundamental Rights within the boundaries of its amending process the government had to amend article 368.
The court stated that bringing out an amendment in the Constitution is a legislative process. The court also held that the Fundamental Rights included in Part 3 of the Constitution are kept beyond the reach of Parliament. The Court held that the scheme in the Indian Constitution hindered Parliament from changing Fundamental Freedoms in Part 3. The judgement altered the prior judgement of Supreme Court in Shankari Prasad vs Union of India (AIR 1951 SC 455) and Sajjan Singh vs State of Rajasthan (1965) which held that Parliament had the power to amend all parts of the Constitution including Part 3 which was related to Fundamental Rights.
The same issue as to whether the Fundamental Rights provisions of the Constitution could be limited by amendment of the Constitution had appeared in the following cases:
- Sajjan Singh vs State of Rajasthan (1965)
- Kesvanandana Bharti vs The State of Kerela (1973)
- Shankari Prasad vs Union of India (1952)
- Golak Nath vs The State of Punjab (1967)
Talking about the above mentioned cases, the driving force i.e. the issue was the same. In Sajjan Singh vs State of Rajasthan- by a majority of 3-2, the Supreme Court held that as article 368 states that the Parliament has the power to amend the Constitution and thus the power can be exercised over all the provisions of the Constitution. In Golak Nath vs The State of Punjab, the majority held that the article 368 only defines the procedure to amend which comes from the normal legislative power of the Parliament, therefore the amendment which does not involve the Fundamental Rights is not valid. In Shankari Prasad vs Union of India it was held that the Constitutional Amendments are valid even if they abridge the Fundamental Rights. In Kesvananda Bharti vs The State of Kerela, the Golak Nath case was overruled and it was held that “the basic structure of the Constitution could not be abrogated even by a constitutional amendment”. Article 368 does not let the Parliament to change the basic structure or framework of the Constitution. Now changing the context and talking about what originally stated in article 13 was that the state shall not make any law that shortens the rights given to citizens in Part and any such law made which is against its concept will be considered void. Therefore, Parliament will not have the power to amend the constitution in a way that ends up taking away the Fundamental Rights of the citizens. In the case of Shankari Prasad vs Union of India, Supreme Court viewed this concept. It was later challenged that Amendment that takes away the Fundamental Right of the citizens is not allowed under article 13. It was held that “LAW” includes constitutional amendments and thus it was summarized that article 13 was made under the legislative powers and thus the Parliament has the power to amend the constitution.
The 24th Amendment was first of its kind in the history of law and thus was a remarkable move made by the legal bodies of India. Indira Gandhi took this measure to increase her political power. This was followed by a series of amendments in the constitution formed to attack the judiciary and bring forward the Parliament and Prime Minister’s Office. The most known and famous among these were 25th, 38th and 39th Amendments. 24th Amendments brings to us a reckless side of the law that it can be challenged at any point of time and is a subject to correction. Laws are rigid and thus sometimes skip important events and leave stones unturned, thus becoming a prey to the criticism of the society. Law is an evolving body and we should try to understand that It is not on the other side but on ours and works for our betterment, our protection until and unless you’re on the wrong side.
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