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The Case That Saved The Constitutional Supremacy: Kesavananda Bharti V. State Of Kerala AIR 1973 SC

This case is a landmark case in the history of the development of the Indian constitution. In this case, the largest constitutional bench comprising of thirteen judges was constituted to decide on the particular matter. Kesavananda Bharti, a senior head of Edneer Mutt, located in the state of Kerala, filed a petition against the ceasing of his land by the Government under the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 which was later amended by the Kerala Land Reforms (Amendment) Act, 1969 which placed certain Land Reforms laws including the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 under the lX schedule of the Constitution which excluded these laws from the scope of the Judicial Review.


1. Whether the 24th Amendment Act, 1971 25th amendment act, 1971 and 29th amendment act,1972 are constitutionally valid or not?

2. What is the scope of the Amendment under Article 368?

The 24th Amendment Act added to clause 4 to article 13 which saved article 368 from the actions of Article 13. It also added clause 3 to Article 368 which said anything which is contained under Article 13 will have no effect on the Amendment done under Article 368. It also changed the title of the Article 36, from “Procedure of Amending the Constitution” to “Power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and the Procedure, therefore”

The 25th Amendment Act, 1972 resulted in the Amendment of Article 31 which broadened the power of Government while acquiring private property.

Under the 29th Amendment Act 1972, the Parliament placed various Land Reforms Act, inclusive of the Kerala Land Reforms Act in the lX Schedule by the virtue of which the Judiciary couldn’t exercise the power of Judicial Review in regard of these acts.

The Supreme Court, in this case, upheld the constitutional validity of all these Amendments Acts concerned in this case excluding the second limb of the 25th Amendment Act, as it was held as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The court overruled its own past judgment of Golak Nath v. the State of Punjab (1967) 2 SCR 762: AIR 1967 SC and held that the Parliament has the power under article 368 to amend anything and everything in the Constitution inclusive of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under part III of the Indian Constitution however it can’t hamper or alter the Basic Structure of the Indian Constitution.

Then, the Supreme Court, in this case, did not give any exhaustive definition of the doctrine of the Basic Structure. However, it gave few features that were to be included indeed the basic structure of the constitution:-

  • Constitutional Supremacy;

  • Constitutional Secular character;

  • Constitutional Federal character;

  • Freedom of an individual ;

  • The separation of power between Central and State;

  • The Republic and democratic character of Government.

Later, in the case of Minerva Mill v. Union of India, 1980) 3 SCC 625, the Supreme Court reiterates the concept of the doctrine of Basic Structure.

The Impact of this case is so deeply rooted that the inferences can be seen in the cases which followed this case, as the judgment was used as a precedent in many other landmark cases such as R.C. Cooper v. Union of India, AIR 1970 SC 564. ( the famous Bank Nationalization case), Indira Gandhi v. Raj Narain, AIR 1975 SC 2299, etc. in which the Supreme Court broadened the doctrine of the Basic Structure by adding more features to it, which are as follows:-

1. The Rule of Law;

2. Democracy which includes free and fair elections’

3. Judicial Review;

4. Supreme Court’s Jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution;

Hence, In a nutshell, the judgment of Keshvananda Bharti's case is just like ’Gold in a mine’.


Saksham Kumar, A third-year law student from New Law College, Bharati Vidyapeeth University.

Edited by Vijayalakshmi Raju.

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