Welcome to INDJustice!

I. C. Golaknath & Ors vs State Of Punjab & Anrs.

I. C. Golaknath & Ors vs State Of Punjab & Anrs.

By Vasundhara Kaushik

Petitioner:  I.C. Golaknath & Ors. 

Respondent:  State of Punjab & Anrs. (With Connected Petitions)

Bench:     Subba Rao, K.N. Wanchoo, M. Hidayatullah, J.C. Shah, S.M. Sikri,  R.S. Bachawat,                    V.Ramaswami, J.M. Shelat, Vihishtha Bhargava, G.K. Mitter & C.A. Vaidiyalingam

Date of Judgment: 27/02/1967



The Supreme Court in the cases of Shankari Prasad v Union of India [1]and Sajjan Singh v State of Rajasthan[2] had maintained the power and authority of the State to revise the Constitution, including the arrangements or provisions identifying with the Fundamental Rights, subsequently giving wide powers on the Parliament. In the ensuing instance of Golak Nath, the Supreme Court took an alternate stand and maintained the holiness of Fundamental Rights over the power of State to revise the same.


The Petitioner family, that is the Golaknath family held 500 sections of land of farmland in Jalandhar Punjab in which the administration held that they could keep just 30 acres every part, a couple of acres will go to inhabitant and rest was proclaimed surplus as per the Punjab Security and Land Residencies Act, 1953. The Golaknath family filed a petition under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution in light of the fact that their Fundamental Right to secure property and practice any profession or occupation under Article 19(f) (g) of the Indian constitution was denied and that the amendment putting the Punjab Act in the schedule was Ultra Virus and violative of Article 14 equality of the Indian Constitution under the watchful eye of law. The Seventeenth Constitution (Amendment) Act[3] was additionally tested as unlawful, as it empowered the consideration of the decried Acts in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution. Starting with its decision in Golaknath the Court created a jurisprudence or law around what was known as the "basic structure doctrine".


(1.) Whether Amendment is a law under the meaning of Article 13(2)?

Since 1951, questions have been raised about the extent of the established amending procedure contained in Article 368[4]. In Shankari Prasad Singh v. Union of India[5], the contention against the legitimacy of the First Amendment was that Article 13[6] disallows establishment of a law encroaching or revoking the Fundamental Rights that the word Law in Art. 13 would incorporate any law; even a law amending the Constitution and, in this way, the legitimacy of such a law could be judged and investigated with the reference to the fundamental rights which it could encroach. Here for this situation, there was a contention between Arts. 13 and 368. Receiving the exacting significance of the constitution, the Supreme Court maintained the legitimacy of the First Amendment. The Court dismissed the conflict and constrained the extent of Art. 13 by a decision that the word Law' in Art. 13 would exclude inside its compass a constitution correcting law go under Art. 368. The Court expressed on this point: we are of the feeling that with respect to the scope of Art. 13, laws must be interpreted as meaning guidelines and directions made in the activity of common authoritative power and not the amendments to the Constitution made in the activity of constituent power with the outcome that Art. 13(2) don't influence amendments made under Art. 368.

The Court held that the terms of Art. 368 are flawlessly broad and engage Parliament to revise the Constitution with no special case. The essential rights are not rejected or vaccinated from the procedure of established change under Art. 368. These rights couldn't be attacked by administrative organs by methods for laws and standards made in exercise of authoritative forces, yet they could positively be reduced, shortened or even invalidated by modifications in the Constitution itself in an exercise of the constituent power.

    (2.) Whether Fundamental Rights can be amended or not?

No natural shrewdness can anticipate each conceivable circumstance which may have to be looked in future or which may itself appear in the future. Nothing may stay static on the planet. Nature requests change. A political society experience changes with the progression of time. To confront new issues and difficulties changes and adjustments are called for in all parts of national life. It is along these lines, difficult to make a constitution which can fulfill the requirements of the general population for all occasions to come. Changing conditions will require adjustment of protected arrangements. A constitution that denies the right to direct to alter it is probably going to be decimated and supplanted by the succeeding ages. It is along these lines safe and wise to accommodate an instrument to change the constitution in the Constitution itself. That is the reason each present and modern constitution accommodates an apparatus or procedure to change its arrangements. The designers of the Indian Constitution accommodated a procedure which is neither too unbending nor excessively adaptable. Article 368 uniquely manages revisions yet some different Articles in the Constitution accommodate changes by the customary or ordinary legislative process.



1. The Constitution of India as drafted by the Constituent Assembly is of   perpetual nature and no demonstration which changes or attempts to achieve a change is established.

2. The word 'amendment' just infers an adjustment as per the essential thought and    not out and out another thought.

3. The Fundamental rights as given to us under Part III can't be removed by a demonstration of parliament of at all nature since they are the basic and vital piece of the Constitution without which Constitution resembles a body without a spirit.

4. Article 368 just characterizes the method for correcting the Constitution. It doesn't   give the ability to parliament to change the Constitution.

5. Article 13(3)(a) in its meaning of "law" will cover a wide range of law, for   example, statutory or established and so on in its ambit thusly by the uprightness of Article 13(2), any protected alteration violative of Part III will be unlawful.


1. Constitutional Amendment is an aftereffect of the activity of sovereign power and this activity of sovereign power is unique in relation to the administrative power which Parliament activities to make laws.

2. The very object of the amendment or changes in the constitution is to change the laws of the country according to the changing needs of the general public, of the developing society. The nonappearance of such arrangement would result in Constitution winding up excessively unbending.

3. There is no progressive system in the Constitutional provisions as essential or non-essential and every one of the arrangements is of equivalent significance and equivalent status.

4. Most of the alterations being the responses to political inquiries, they are outside the ambit of legal examination.


Starting with its decision in GOLAKNATH, the Court created a statute around what was known as the "basic structure doctrine". As per this regulation, the Court was accountable for keeping the disintegration of those consistent qualities that comprise the path of constitutionalism.

In spite of the fact that it backtracked six years after the fact, the Court kept on saying freely that on a basic level no institutional body could change the popularity based pith of the Constitution. Correspondingly, in property law question, the Court did not waiver to administer over and over that people whose property was taken by the administration were accepting deficient compensation. As the state progressively neglected to convey on its guarantees and general society became worn out on the nation's absence of thriving, more individuals started swinging to the Court as the one genuine establishment with the ability to secure their interests. The Apex court with the biggest seat that had ever sat on an issue till that time touched base at a 6:5 majority share favouring Petitioners. The then CJI alongside four different judges (J.C. Shah, S.M. Sikri, J.M. Shelat, C.A. Vaidiyalingam ) composed the majority part of the opinion and Justice Hidayatullah concurring with CJI Subba Rao's supposition composed a different conclusion while Justices K.N. Wanchoo, Vishistha Bhargava and G.K. Mitter composed single minority conclusion and Justices R.S. Bachawat& V. Ramaswami composed separate minority views.

The Court held that Fundamental Rights can't be abbreviated by the Parliament under the system given in Art.368. The Court likewise cleared up that an Amendment to the Constitution is 'law' within the definition of Art. 13(2) and is along these lines subject to Part III of the Constitution. The major rights are the primordial rights essential for the improvement of human identity. We have expressed before, the main confinement on the opportunity cherished in Article 19 of the constitution is that imposed by a substantial law acts as a sensible limitation in light of a legitimate concern for general society it well, hence be seen that basic rights are given a transcendental position under our constitution and are kept past the range of parliament. Chief Justice Subba Rao had first conjured the teaching of PROSPECTIVE OVERRULING embraced from American law specialist George F. Canfield, Robert slope Freeman thought about this teaching to powerful legal apparatus. Justice Subba Rao utilized this instrument to protect the established legality of the sacred (seventeenth amendment act) lawfulness of which had been challenged.

Justice Wanchoo, Justice Bhargava, Justice Mitter, Justice Bachawat and Justice Ramaswami gave decisions expelling the petitions yet differing on the key question under the steady gaze of the court. They held that the power and authority of revision given on the Parliament incorporated the ability to revise Fundamental Rights to remove them or violate them.

 Justice Wanchoo, giving the primary dissenting judgment held:

The ability to alter the constitution is presented upon Parliament by Article 368 and not by Articles 245 or on the other hand Articles 246 or 248. The powers so presented are not restricted either explicitly or by implications.

An amendment to the Constitution is a constitutional law made in the exercise of constituent power and is not equivalent to the common authoritative power under which laws are made.


The instances of Shankari Prasad[7] and Sajjan Singh[8] were chosen accurately and keeping in mind that Article 13(2) forbids a law compressing or removing the Fundamental Rights, it doesn't limit the constituent power given by Article 368 to revise any piece of the Constitution counting the Fundamental Rights. The word 'law' does not imply amendments. The ability to revise the constitution implies that any portion of it very well may be changed to such a degree as the sovereign body regards fit. The reviled constitutional amendments are substantial and, the Punjab and Mysore Acts managing the securing of the homes of the candidates are good law.



The reasons which prompted the majority to arrive at this decision are as follows:

1. According to the majority share, the reprimanded Article 368 through which the parliament was attracting its authority and capacity to amend the Constitution in reality simply set out the methodology of revising the constitution. The majority view depended on the Marginal note of the prior Article 368 to touch base at this conclusion.

2. The majority opinion found the ability to change the constitution in Article 248 of the Constitution which accommodates the residuary intensity of Parliament. Since the result of Article 248 is law, in this manner, as the majority would like to think Amendment of Constitution is "law" for the purpose behind article 13(2) of the Constitution.

3. The nonattendance of word "change" in the meaning of "law" was replied by the majority in the frame that the definition under Article 13(3)(a) isn't comprehensive rather it is comprehensive.

4. Justice Hidayatullah, however writing an independently yet consented to CJI Subba Rao on the point that there is no distinction among administrative and amending process.

The reasons which prompted the minority to arrive at their stance are as follows:

1. The minority seat was frightful of the position of the larger part as in on the off chance that majority's supposition winds up built up on law or established, it would concede intense unbending nature to the Constitution. They were incredulous that if Parliament isn't furnished with correcting ability the Constitution would wind up static and all the dynamic idea of Constitution will meet demise.

2. In accordance with the minority conclusion in spite of the fact that the method of Article 368 does particularly relate to the legislative procedure yet, it is not quite the same as standard enactment.



The judgment inter alia accommodates Prospective Overruling of the law as set out or laid done by this judgment. The choice to tentatively overrule prior choices was a smart, savvy and sensible move played by the Judiciary. The principle of prospective overruling suggests that the impacts of the law to be set down will be relevant on the future dates just for example past decisions won't be influenced by this choice. Imminent Overruling was picked by the greater part as a result of the accompanying reasons:

The majority so as to spare the country from the disarray of review activities (retrospective) and the legal branch from numerous prosecutions that may trail the decision decided on prospective overruling. This was so as to limit the negative effect of the judgment refuting the prior constitutional alterations or amendments.

Another reason in light of which the majority decided on prospective overruling was since the order taken in Golaknath was that parliament can't revise Fundamental rights, along these lines, the majority of the past amendments would be invalid and unlawful. Notwithstanding, these amendments were in consonance and in strict agreement with the laws set down in Shankari Prasad[9] and Sajjan Singh[10], in this way they were legitimate according to the past law.

Justice Hidayatullah likewise upheld Prospective Overruling by opining that past orders and decisions ought not to be influenced by the ratio set somewhere near the present decisions.


Parliament passed the 24th Constitutional Amendment Act [11]to hold back the Supreme Court judgment.

It amended the Constitution to give explicitly that Parliament has the ability to revise any piece of the Constitution including the provisions in relation to the Fundamental Rights.

This was finished by amending Articles 13 and 368 to reject amendments made under article 368, from article 13's forbiddance of any law abbreviating or removing any of the Fundamental Rights.



The majority view or opinion of Golaknath mirrors the uneasiness and distrust in their minds and opinions about the then course of Parliament. Since 1950's Parliament through conjuring Article 368 have passed various enactment that had in some reason or justification abused populous’ FRs. The majority was dicey that on the off chance that Sajjan Singh remained rule that everyone must follow, a period could come when all the FRs received by our Constituent Assembly will be weakened through changes lastly smothered. Remembering this plausible destruction of FRs and dreading the steady exchange of Democratic India into Totalitarian India, the majority in the present case of IC Golaknath v State of Punjab, overruled the judgments given in the cases of Sajjan Singh v State of Rajasthan[12] and Shankari Prasad v. Union of India[13]. Along these lines, to check this colourable exercise of power and spare the Democracy from absolutist activities of Parliament, the larger part held that Parliament can't change Fundamental Rights.

[1] A.I.R. 1951 S.C. 455

[2] 1965 A.I.R. 845, 1965 S.C.R. (1) 933.

[3] 1964

[4] Constitution of India

[5] Supra note 1

[6] Constitution of India

[7] Supra note 1

[8] Supra note 2

[9] Supra note 1

[10] Supra note 2

[11] 1971

[12] Supra note 2

[13] Supra note 1

Keshavananda Bharti v Union Of India

Keshavananda Bharti v Union Of India

National Legal Services Authority v Union of India and Others

National Legal Services Authority v Union of India and Others