Basic Structure Doctrine
The “Basic Structure Doctrine” is a legal principle established by the Supreme Court of India in the landmark case of Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (1973). This doctrine states that certain features of the Indian Constitution are so fundamental to its identity and governance that they cannot be altered or amended by the Parliament, even under its amending powers prescribed in Article 368.
Imagine the Indian Constitution as the foundation of a building. The “Basic Structure” refers to the essential and foundational elements that hold the entire structure together. These elements are crucial for maintaining the integrity, balance, and core values of the Constitution.
In simpler terms, it means that while Parliament has the power to amend the Constitution, it cannot change its fundamental features, such as democracy, separation of powers, federalism, and the rule of law. These features are considered the backbone of the Constitution and cannot be tampered with, ensuring the Constitution remains true to its original intent and principles.
The idea behind this doctrine is to preserve the basic framework of the Constitution and protect it from any arbitrary or whimsical changes that could potentially undermine the democratic and fundamental rights of the citizens.
In the Kesavananda Bharati case, the Supreme Court held that while Parliament has the authority to amend the Constitution, it cannot destroy its basic structure. This decision was a pivotal moment in Indian constitutional jurisprudence, providing a mechanism to prevent the abuse of amending powers that could undermine the core values of the Constitution.
This doctrine has played a crucial role in maintaining the stability, integrity, and sanctity of the Indian Constitution, ensuring that even in the face of amendments, the fundamental values and principles that form the bedrock of the nation remain intact.