Criticism of Basic Structure Doctrine

Criticism of Basic Structure Doctrine

Basic Structure Doctrine, being one of the fundamental judicial principles connected with the Indian Constitution, is an essential part of the UPSC exam preparation.

The Doctrine holds that the Parliament of India cannot amend the basic structure and features of the Indian Constitution, even if the ruling party is in absolute majority.

It is a well-known fact that the Parliament and State Legislative assemblies can make laws within their jurisdictions. Only the Parliament holds power to amend the Constitution. However, the Parliament of India does not have absolute power to do the same. If the Supreme Court of India finds any law unconstitutional, it can declare it void.

What is Basic Structure Doctrine?

The Doctrine of Basic Structure upholds certain principles of the Indian Constitution, the governing rules of the Parliament, which can not be changed by amendments by the Parliament. The Doctrine ensures that the Parliament does not misuse the power of amendment.

The Basic Structure Doctrine helps to preserve the features and spirit of the Indian Constitution. Interestingly, there is no mention of the term “Basic Structure” in the Indian Constitution. The idea to uphold the principles of the Indian Constitution evolved gradually, and it was the Kesavananda Bharti case that brought the Basic Structure Doctrine to the limelight.

The case was primarily filed to challenge the validity of the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963. The historic judgment delivered by Supreme Court’s 13 judges bench held that the “basic structure of the Indian Constitution could not be abrogated even by a constitutional amendment”.

What actually constitutes the “Basic Structure” is still not clear till date. However, the Supreme court has provided an illustrative list of what many constitute the Basic Structure.

Also read: How to Prepare Governance for UPSC CSE Mains? 

“Basic” Features of Constitution

  • Supremacy of the Constitution
  • Rule of Law
  • The Principle of Separation of Powers
  • The objectives specified in the Preamble of Constitution of India
  • Judicial Review
  • Secularism
  • Federalism (Including financial liberty of States under Articles 282 and 293)
  • The Sovereign, Democratic, Republican Structure
  • Unity and Integrity of Nation
  • Freedom and dignity of the individual
  • Articles 32 and 226
  • The balance between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles
  • Independence of the Judiciary

Basic Structure Doctrine: Criticism

  • The first and foremost criticism is that the Doctrine has no constitutional basis, and it does not have a textual basis.
  • Some thinkers also believe that the Judiciary (Supreme Court), through its judgment, has now become the third decisive chamber of the Parliament. Even if an amendment is passed by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, it is the Supreme court that takes the final decision to uphold it.
  • Another criticism is that it is an infringement of the judiciary on the principal of majority rule.

Watch a detailed video on Criticism of Basic Structure Doctrine by M.Puri Sir, the faculty for Polity, IR, and Governance:

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Raminder Singh

Raminder is a Content Manager at PrepLadder. He has worked in several aspects of the education industry throughout his career and has assisted numerous candidates in cracking major competitive exams.