GOLAKNATH CASE JUDGMENT

The Supreme Court in Sankari Prasad[i] and Sajjan Singh[ii] had upheld the power of the State to amend the Constitution, including the provisions relating to Fundamental Rights, thus conferring wide powers on the Parliament. In the subsequent case of Golak Nath, the Supreme Court took a different stand and upheld the sanctity of Fundamental Rights above the power of State to amend the same.

Title of Case: I. C. Golaknath & Ors v State of Punjab & Anr

Citation: 1967 AIR 1643

Coram:

  • SUBBA RAO (CJ)
  • N.WANCHOO
  • HIDAYATULLAH
  • C.SHAH
  • M. SIKRI
  • S. BACHAWAT
  • RAMASWAMI
  • M. SHELAT
  • VISHISHTHA BHARGAVA
  • K. MITTER
  • A.VAIDYIALINGAM

 

Matter: Whether Fundamental Rights can be amended – power of Parliament to amend the Constitution

Brief Facts: The Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act (1953) and of the Mysore Land Reforms Act (1962) were challenged under Art 32 of the Constitution by the petitioners who were deprived of a few acres of their land under the impugned legislations. The 17th Constitution (Amendment) Act was also challenged as unconstitutional, as it enabled the inclusion of the impugned Acts in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution.

More than a mere battle on property and land, the friction between the Court and the Legislature began to become evident from here on ahead.

Court’s Decision: The Court held that Fundamental Rights cannot be abridged by the Parliament under the procedure given in Art.368. The Court also clarified that an Amendment to the Constitution is ‘law’ within the meaning of Art.  13(2) and is therefore subject to Part III of the Constitution.

Relevant Portions of the Judgment:

“….Fundamental rights are the primordial rights necessary for the development of human personality…”

“…The Constituent Assembly, it so minded, could certainly have conferred an express legislative power on Parliament to amend the Constitution by ordinary legislative process…”

“……The Constitution (Seventeenth Amendment) Act, 1964, inasmuch as it takes away or abridges fundamental rights was beyond ‘the amending power of Parliament and void because of contravention of Art. 13(2)...”

Relevant Statutes (Indian Kanoon)

  • Constitution of India
  • 17th Constitution (Amendment) Act

 

[i] 1951 AIR  458 (Refer previous Post for detailed account)

[ii] 1964 AIR  464

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