Minerva Mills Ltd. & Others v. Union of India & Others (1980)

Minerva Mills Ltd. is a limited company dealing in textiles in Karnataka. The other petitioners are the shareholders in Minerva Mills. August 20, 1970- The Central Government, in apprehension of the substantial fall in production of Minerva Mills, appointed a committee under section 15 of the Industries (Development & Regulation) Act, 1951 (herein after referred to as the IDR Act) to make an investigation of the affairs of Minerva Mills Ltd.

October 19, 1971- After the submission of the committee report, the Central Government passed order under section 18A of the 1951 Act that authorised the National Textile Corporation Ltd., to take over the management of the Mills on the ground of mismanagement of the company affairs. Hence, this undertaking was nationalised and taken over by the Central Government under the provisions of the Sick Textile Undertakings (Nationalisation) Act, 1974 (herein after referred t as the Nationalization Act).

Thereafter, the petitioners challenged this order before the High Court. The High Court, however, dismissed their petition.The petitioners, therefore, filed a writ petition before the Hon’ble Supreme Court under article 32 of the Constitution of India, 1950.They challenged the constitutionality and validity of the following; a. Sections 5(b), 19(3), 21 (read with 2nd schedule), 25 and 27, of the Sick Textile Undertakings (Nationalisation) Act, 1974 b. Order of the Central Government dated October 19, 1971 c. Sections 4 and 55 of the Constitution (Forty Second Amendment) Act, 1976; and d. The primacy given to the Directive Principals of State Policy over the fundamental Rights.

The court held that the newly introduced Clause 4&5 were actually inserted to bar the courts to entertain any challenge on the question of validity of the constitutional amendments. The court beautifully described the importance of Judicial Review in the following words ‘Our Constitution is founded on a nice balance of power among the three wings of the state namely the Legislature, the Executive & the Judiciary. It is the function of the Judges nay their duty to pronounce upon the validity of laws. The court held Section 55 of the amendment act 1976 void since it firstly made challenge in court impossible &secondly it removes all the restrictions on the power of Parliament under Article 368. The court rightly interpreted the true object of these new clauses which was to throw away the limitations imposed by Kesavananda on Parliament.
The newly added clause 5 has the effect of even repealing the entire constitution and change it into a totalitarian constitution as per the political exigencies of the ruling political party & still it won’t be a ground for a challenge in the court because of the combined reading of Clause 4&5 of 42nd Amendment. Depriving the courts their power of judicial review is making Fundamental Rights a box of rhetoric dreams as they would never be granted and rights without remedies.
The court relying on Kesavananda opined that the power to amend under Art. 368 is not a power to destroy. In the above said decision the court clearly mentioned the scope of amendment under Article 368. The court answered about the extent of the word “Amendment”. The court found that the word “amend” in the provision of Article 368 stands for a restrictive connotation and could not ascribe to a fundamental change. To understand it simply; the parliament in order to pass a valid constitutionally amendment, the particular amendment is subject to the application of Basic Structure test and has to pass it.
The court also explained the relationship between the provisions of Part III & Part IV of the Constitution. The court said that the entire Indian Constitution rests upon the foundation of Part III & Part IV. To give absolute primacy to one over another will be shaking the foundation of the Constitution. Striking a harmonious balance between the provisions of Part III & Part IV is where justice lies and making one part subservient to another would only lead to chaos. The provisions of Part IV must be achieved but without abrogation of FR’s and anything which shakes this balance violates the essential balance of the Constitution. Therefore, the court in strict terms laid down that the balance between DPSP’s & FR’s is Basic Structure of the Constitution.
As regards to Section 4 of the amendment act 1976 which tried to separate Article 14 and 19 from Article 31 C this was held void as it destroyed the basic feature. The articles mentioned under Article 14 and 19 are essential elementary articles n modern democracies. Most of the recent laws are passed to satisfy the obligations of DPSP because of which Art. 14 & 19 have stood withdrawn. These rights are clearly without any doubt universal because of their presence in Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Therefore, restoring the judgment of Kesavananda on the point of Art. 31 C the court struck down Section 4 of the amendment act 1976.
Bhagwati J. agreed with the majority in striking down Section 55 of the amendment act since it made judicial review of the amendments impossible. In his view this exclusion of judicial review is indirectly enlarging the scope of Parliament’s amending capacity. Regarding Cl. 5 he wrote that it cannot remove any doubt which did not existed. However, the amendment in Article 31 C was held valid by him because he was of the opinion that the court should not on first hand hold any law made under it unconstitutional. In his opinion the courts should look into the pith of the law by following Doctrine of Pith& Substance. If the law is substantially connected to the provisions mentioned under DPSP’s then it would be a

constitutional law and on the contrary if there is no nexus between the law and the DPSP’s it would be surely struck down.
Therefore, the court by 4:1 majority held sections 4 & 55 of the 42nd Constitutional (Amendment) Act, 1976 unconstitutional.

The court also explained the relationship between the provisions of Part III and Part IV and held that in process of achieving Part IV provisions there shall be no abrogation of Fundamental Rights. The court justifies this proposition on the basis that the foundation of constitution is the harmonious relation between Fundamental Rights & Directive Principles of the State Policy. Striking a harmonious balance between the provisions of Part III & Part IV is where justice lies and making one part subservient to another would only lead to chaos.

The provisions of Part IV must be achieved but without abrogation of FR’s and anything which shakes this balance violates the essential balance of the Constitution. Therefore, the court in strict terms laid down that the balance between DPSP’s & FR’s is Basic Structure of the Constitution.


The court also reiterated Kesavananda’s ruling that the power of Parliament to amend the constitution under Art. 368 is of restrictive nature. The court relied on the description of Basic Structure by Hegde & Mukherjeajj. that only circumstantial features can be changed and basic features cannot be changed.

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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