The Constitution (Twenty-fourth modification) Act, 1971, is the ordinal modification of the Indian Constitution that permits Parliament to diminish core rights by amending the Constitution. It also changed article 368 to make it clear that Parliament has the authority to amend any section of the Constitution. The amendment made it mandatory for the President to grant his assent to a Constitution Amendment Bill once it was presented to him. The Congress administration led by Indira Gandhi introduced the 24th Amendment to overturn the Supreme Court judgement in Golaknath v. State of Punjab. The verdict overturned a previous Supreme Court decision that had affirmed Parliament’s competence to change any parts of the Constitution, including Part III, which deals with basic rights. Parliament was left with no options as a result of the decision.
In the United States, the 24th Constitutional Amendment is extremely important. Citizens’ rights, liberties, and privileges; the scope of judicial power that can aid citizens in claiming their inherent and fundamental rights in the face of government action; the Indian Constitution’s absolute jurisdiction over the three government organs; and The Constitution of India specifies the scope of legislative power.
The Golaknath decision sparked a direct power struggle between the legislature and the court. Because it failed to keep its promises, the ruling regime lost a lot of support in the legislative elections. The administration submitted a measure to restore parliament’s primacy as a result of the power struggle, but it was later shelved owing to political constraints. However, in order to display its power, Parliament introduced two major pieces of legislation, one dealing to bank nationalisation and the other to the de-recognition of Privy Purses, both ostensibly aimed at promoting an equitable distribution of wealth and resources. The Supreme Court overturned both of Parliament’s decisions. The main point of contention had now shifted to the relative importance of directive principles versus fundamental rights.
Parliament was stripped of its ability to limit fundamental rights as a result of the ruling. To overturn the ruling, the government intended to amend article 368 of the Constitution to expressly state that Parliament has the power to amend any provision of the Constitution, thereby extending basic rights beyond the scope of its amending procedure and preventing judicial review of these changes. The twenty-fourth modification took effect on November 5, 1971. The 24th alteration was characterised by the Indian press as being overbroad in scope and of uncertain validity. Jurists and all of the living members of the Constituent Assembly at the time were united in their opposition to the change. In Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, the Supreme Court confirmed the constitutionality of the twenty-fourth modification. This resulted in an unprecedented political position in Indian history. The judiciary and Parliament were at odds in demonstrating their power. The Constitution was used as a campaign theme for the first time in India’s history. In 1971 and 1972, a slew of amendments were made to cement parliament’s control over the Constitution.
Article 13 rendered unconstitutional any law that was incompatible with the Fundamental Rights. In Golak Nath, the Supreme Court held that the phrase “law” included constitutional amendments; as a result, any constitutional amendment that violated the Fundamental Rights was ruled unconstitutional. As a result, Parliament would be unable to amend the Constitution to diminish Fundamental Rights. Article 368 outlines the procedure for altering the Constitution. Any constitutional amendment could only be made once.Under the original Constitution, any constitutional amendment could only take effect if two conditions were met: first, two-thirds of the members of each House of Parliament voted in favour of it; and second, it received the President’s consent, which he might refuse.
It gave Parliament the freedom to change any provision of the Constitution, including Part III, without restriction (fundamental rights). When a Constitution Amendment Bill is given to the President for his approval after being enacted by both Houses of Parliament, the Act states that he must give his consent. When a Constitution Amendment Bill is given to the president, he is required to provide his assent. It modifies Article 13 of the Constitution to make it inapplicable to any change made under Article 368 of the Constitution. The 24th Amendment added Articles 13(4) and 368(3) to the Constitution. “Nothing in this article shall apply to any amendment of this Constitution made under article 368,” reads Article 13 (4).
The fundamental structure concept was stated, and the potential to change was regarded channelled and constrained. Khanna J. and the other six judges agreed with this theory. The remaining six judges believed that parliament possessed absolute power. As a result, the Supreme Court ruled, with a 7:6 majority, that the parts of the Constitution that give it meaning cannot be changed or amended. Only six of the 13 judges agreed that fundamental rights are a component of the Constitution’s core structure and hence cannot be changed. As a result, the Supreme Court concluded that basic rights are amendable in general by a 7:6 majority.
In terms of the Constitution’s amendability, it was established that it is amendable to the extent that it does not jeopardise the document’s fundamental structure. This ruling, however, did not clarify what the Constitution’s core structure is. The judges gave their own instances and listed a few of them, however this list was not meant to be exhaustive. The case of Swami Vivekananda showed that the Indian Parliament is not sovereign, and that its power is channelled and limited rather than absolute.
The Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of the 24th, 25th, 26th, and 29th Constitution Amendments in the case of Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (1973). As a result, it made the following observations:
• The judgement in the GolakNath case was overturned, and it was decided that article 368 does not allow Parliament to change the Constitution’s core structure or framework.
• The 24th and 29th Amendments to the Constitution have been declared legitimate.
• The first part of section 3 of the 25th CAA was found to be legal, but the second portion, “and no law bearing a declaration that it is for giving effect to such policy shall be called in question in any court on the argument that it does not give effect to such policy,” was found to be invalid, allowing for judicial review.
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