In the Supreme Court of India
Name of the Case – I.R. Coelho by LR V. State Of Tamil Nadu & Ors
Citation – AIR 2007 SC 861
Year of the Case – 1999
Appellant – I.R. Coelho (Dead) by LR
Respondent – State of Tamil Nadu & Ors
Bench/ Judges – Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, Justice Ashok Bhan, Justice Arijit Pasayat, Justice B.P. Singh, Justice S.H. Kapadia, Justice C.K. Thakker, Justice P.K. Balasubramanyan, Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice D.K. Jain.
Acts Involved – The Indian Constitution, 1950, The Gudalur Janmam Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1969 (the Janmam Act), The West Bengal Land Holding Revenue Act, 1979,
Important Sections – Articles- 31-A, 31-B, 32, 13, 14, 19, 21, 368 of Indian Constitution and Basic Structure Doctrine.
The nine judges’ Bench presided by Mr. Justice Y.K. Sabharwal, the then C.J.I. delivered a unanimous verdict on 11.1.2007 in I.R. Coelho (dead) by L.Rs. v. State of Tamil Nadu and others, upholding the ‘Basic Structure Doctrine‘, and the authority of the judiciary to review any such laws, which destroy or damage the basic structure as indicated in Art.21 read with Art.14, Art.19, and the principles underlying thereunder, even if they have been put in 9th Schedule after 14th April 1973. The case is famously known as the Ninth Schedule case due to the politics involved and the exhaustive discussions on the validity of Article 31 (b) of our Indian Constitution.
“The concept of basic structure as a brooding omnipresence in the sky apart from specific provisions of the constitution is too vague and indefinite to provide a yardstick for the validity an ordinary law”-Justice Mathew, in Indira Gandhi Case
This is an important judgment that brought an end to the everlasting debate of Judicial Review of the Amending powers of the Parliament. This case was unanimously held by a nine-member bench headed by the then Chief Justice of India Y.K. Sabharwal, the verdict was pronounced on 11 January 2007. This case upheld the Basic Structure Doctrine and authority of Judiciary to review any laws which violate the Basic Structure, even if they are mentioned in the 9th Schedule after April 14, 1973.
Background of the Case
The court in the present case went a step further and articulated a distinction between what is termed as the “essence of the rights test” and the “rights test” corresponding to the distinction between the foundational value behind an express right and the express right provided for in the constitutional text in this context.
After the Constitution was established, a few agrarian and land changes enactments were passed. These were tested in State High Courts on the ground of infringement of fundamental rights. The Patna High Court struck down certain land change enactment as being violative of fundamental rights. Comparable enactment was maintained by the Allahabad and Nagpur High Courts and requests from these decisions were pending in the Supreme Court. The Union Government, to stop this prosecution, went in Parliament the Constitution [First Amendment] Act, 1951. By this correction Article 31-B and Ninth Schedule were ordered in the Constitution. The purpose and impact were that any enactment put in the Ninth Schedule couldn’t be tested on the ground that it was violative of any fundamental right. It is intriguing to take note of that solitary thirteen Acts, all managing agrarian changes, we’re at the first position in the Ninth Schedule. With time that number expands to 284. A significant number of the Acts, which had no connection with agrarian or financial changes, were aimlessly positioned in the Ninth Schedule.
This case maintained the Basic Structure Doctrine and authority of Judiciary to audit any laws which disregard the Basic Structure, regardless of whether they are referenced in the Ninth Schedule after April 14, 1973.
The Gudalur Janmann Estates (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari), Act, 1969, to the extent that it vested forest grounds in the Janman homes in the State of Tamil Nadu, was struck down by the Court in Balmadies Plantations Ltd and Anr. v. State of Tamil Nadu 1in light of the fact that this was not seen as a proportion of agrarian change ensured by Article 31-A of the Constitution. Section 2(c) of the West Bengal Land Holding Revenue Act, 1979 was struck down by the Calcutta High Court as being subjective and, along these lines, illegal and the unique leave request documented against the judgment by the State of West Bengal was excused.
Thus, by the Constitution (Thirty-Fourth 34th Amendment) Act, and the Constitution (Sixty-Sixth 66th Amendment) Act, the Janman Act, and the West Bengal Land Holding Revenue, Act. 1979, completely was embedded in the Ninth Schedule. These inclusions were the topic of challenge under the watchful eye of a Five Judges Bench.
The case arose out of an order of reference made by a five-judge constitution bench in 1999. The referral order further stated that the judgment in Waman Rao needs to be reconsidered by a larger bench so that it is made clear “whether an Act or regulation which, or a part of which, is or has been found by the courts to be violative of one or more of the fundamental rights conferred by articles 14, 19 or 31 can be included in the ninth schedule or whether it is only a constitutional amendment amending the ninth schedule which damages or destroys the basic structure of the Constitution that can be struck down”.
- Whether on and after 24th April 1973 when Basic Structure Doctrine was propounded, it is permissible for the Parliament under Article 31-B to immunize legislations and Fundamental Rights by inserting them into Ninth Schedule.
- What is its effect on powers of Judicial Review of the Court?
- Article 31A– Saving of laws providing for the acquisition of estates, etc (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in Article 13, no law providing for
(a) the acquisition by the State of any estate or of any rights therein or the extinguishment or modification of any such rights, or
(b) the taking over of the management of any property by the State for a limited period either in the public interest or to secure the proper management of the property, or
(c) the amalgamation of two or more corporations either in the public interest or to secure the proper management of any of the corporations, or
(d) the extinguishment or modification of any rights of managing agents, secretaries and treasurers, managing directors, directors or managers of corporations, or any voting rights of shareholders thereof, or
(e) the extinguishment or modification of any rights accruing by virtue of any agreement, lease or licence for the purpose of searching for, or winning, any mineral or mineral oil, or the premature termination or cancellation of any such agreement, lease or licence, shall be deemed to be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with, or takes away or abridges any of the rights conferred by Article 14 or Article 19: Provided that where such law is a law made by the Legislature of a State, the provisions of this article shall not apply thereto unless such law, having been reserved for the consideration of the President, has received his assent: Provided further that where any law makes any provision for the acquisition by the State of any estate and where any land comprised therein is held by a person under his personal cultivation, it shall not be lawful for the State to acquire any portion of such land as is within the ceiling limit applicable to him under any law for the time being in force or any building or structure standing thereon or appurtenant thereto, unless the law relating to the acquisition of such land, building or structure, provides for payment of compensation at a rate which shall not be less than the market value thereof
- Article 31B– Validation of certain Acts and Regulations Without prejudice to the generality of the provisions contained in Article 31A, none of the Acts and Regulations specified in the Ninth Schedule nor any of the provisions thereof shall be deemed to be void, or ever to have become void, on the ground that such Act, Regulation or provision is inconsistent with, or takes away or abridges any of the rights conferred by, any provisions of this Part, and notwithstanding any judgment, decree or order of any court or tribunal to the contrary, each of the said Acts and Regulations shall, subject to the power of any competent Legislature to repeal or amend it, continue in force.
- Ninth Schedule of The Indian Constitution
- Kameshwar Singh V. State of Bihar 2
In this Landmark Judgment, the Patna High Court Abrogated many Land reform legislation because they are violating the Fundamental Rights. While other courts like Allahabad HC and Nagpur upheld those legislations.
- Sri Shankari Prasad Singh Deo V. Union of India 3
In this case, the Supreme Court maintained the constitutional validity of the First Amendment of the Constitution of India. The primary correction was established with the target of making sure about the constitutional validity of the Zamindari Abolition laws as a rule and explicit acts and spares those from tardy prosecution which would have just deferred in actualizing the social changes influencing an enormous number of individuals
- I.C. Golak Nath and Ors V. State of Punjab 4
The Eleven Judge Bench of the Supreme Court mulled over the accuracy of the view set down in the Shankari Prasad and Sajjan Singh Case. With a larger part of six to five, the choice in the above cases was overruled and it was additionally held that Constitutional Amendment was law inside the importance of Article 13 of the Constitution and on the off chance that it removed or compressed any rights as presented by Part III of the Constitution, at that point such correction would be void. It was additionally held that after 27/02/1967 the Parliament couldn’t alter any arrangement of Part III to shorten the Fundamental Rights as revered by them.
- Smt. Indira Nehru Gandhi V. Raj Narain 5
The parliament passed the 39th Amendment Act, 1975 of the constitution, while the appeal against the order which is passed by the Allahabad High Court which set-asides the election of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was pending before the Supreme Court. In this case, the Court Struck down Clause (4) of the said amendment which had the effect of inserting Article 329A.
- Minerva Mills Ltd V. Union of India 6
Clause (4) and Clause (5) of Article 368 were struck down by the Supreme Court for the violation of the Basic Structure of the Constitution.
- Waman Rao and Ors V. Union of India 7
The Court in this case held that the Parliament cannot amend the constitution in a way that violated or damage the Basic Structure by struck a harness way by holding that in the activity of the force gave by Article 368.
- Keshavananda Bharti V. State of Kerala 8
Hon’ble Justice Khanna in this case viewed that the Legislature can outline any law for any part of the nation, yet that law ought not to disregard the Fundamental Rights of the residents of India. The ability to make any law freely that violates Part III completely or even mostly, would be contradictory with the Basic Structure of the Constitution.
- L. Chandra Kumar V. Union of India & Ors 9
In this case, it was held that the intensity of judicial review is an indispensable and fundamental element of the Constitution comprising the basic part, the purview so gave on the High Courts and the Supreme Court is a piece of the sacred basic structure of Constitution of India.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that any law abridges or abuses Fundamental Rights even embedded in the ninth schedule should be nullified in the exercise of the Judicial review intensity of the Court, the validity or invalidity would be tried on its benefits in the lights standards set down in this Court. Further, the Hon’ble Court held that all changes to the Constitution made on or after 24.4.1973 by which the ninth Schedule is correct by incorporation of different laws in that will must be tried on the standard of the basic or fundamental highlights of the Constitution as reflected in Art.21, 14 and 19, and the standards hid them.
Supreme Court further said that judicial review is a part of the basic structure of the constitution, thus no law can be immunized from judicial review even by a constitutional amendment and insertion of such law in the 9th Schedule.
The object behind Article 31B is to expel troubles and not to demolish part III or judicial review. The precept of basic structure is propounded to spare the basic highlights Exclusion of fundamental rights would bring about invalidation of the basic structure convention, the object of which is to ensure basic highlights of the Constitution. Accordingly, the addition of laws and guidelines in the Ninth Schedule despite being reasonable, won’t make any such laws or guidelines resistant from judicial review.
The judgment in I.R. Coelho overwhelmingly reaffirms the principle of the basic structure. Undoubtedly it has gone further and held that a constitutional revision which involves infringement of any fundamental rights which the Court views as shaping piece of the basic structure of the Constitution then the equivalent can be struck down contingent on its effect and outcomes.
On account of the basic structure precept the legal executive can’t be denied of the intensity of judicial review nor can the standard of law be revoked. Again because of this precept, federalism can’t be devastated and States made vassals of the Center. The terrible encounters of the crisis time frame have additionally added the hugeness to the intensity of the judicial review, which is the most remarkable cure against the state mediation and security of fundamental rights. In the Indian setting and experience, considerable increases coming about because of the basic structure principle and a rampart against further disintegration of basic fundamental rights.
- (1972) 2 SCC 133
- AIR 1951 Pat 246
- AIR 1952 SC 458
- (1967) 2 SCR 762
- AIR 1957 SC 2299
- AIR 1980 SC 1789
- (1981) 2 SCC 362
- AIR 1973 SC 1461
- (1997) 3 SCC 261