References Introduction Golaknath v State of Punjab is one of the landmark cases in the Indian legal history. A number of questions were raised in this case. But the most important issue was whether the parliament has the power to amend the fundamental rights enshrined under Part III of the Constitution of India or not. The petitioners contended that the parliament has no power to amend the fundamental rights whereas the respondents contended that the constitution-makers never wanted our constitution as rigid and Non-flexible one.

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Wanchoo, M. Hidayatullah, J. Shah, S. Sikri, R. Bachawat, V. Ramaswami, J. Shelat, Vihishtha Bhargava, G. Kesavananda Bharati Vs. Union of India [1] where the constitutionality of 1st Constitutional Amendment Act, was challenged.

Shankari Prasad [2] was just a start to what became the biggest legal battle which Indian Democracy faced. The apex court gave a clean chit to 1st Constitutional Amendment in Shankari Prasad [3] declaring that Parliament can amend fundamental rights through Article , however down the line, it kept on changing stance.

In another case before it i. Sajjan Singh v. Golaknath v. State of Kerala [8]. Article only defines the procedure for amending the Constitution. It does not grant the power to parliament to amend the Constitution.

The very object of the amendment is to change the laws of the nation as per the changing needs of the society. The absence of such provision would result in Constitution becoming too rigid. There is no hierarchy in the Constitutional provisions as basic or non-basic and all the provisions are of equal importance and equal status.

Most of the amendments being the answers to political questions, they are outside the ambit of judicial scrutiny. The then CJI along with four other justices J. Sikri, J. Shelat, C. Wanchoo, Vishistha Bhargava and G.

Mitter wrote single minority opinion and Justices R. Ramaswami wrote separate minority opinions. Therefore, to check this colourable exercise of power and save Democracy from autocratic actions of Parliament, the majority held that Parliament cannot amend Fundamental Rights.

On the other hand, the minority opinion followed the earlier law i. Therefore, the minority granted complete autonomy to parliament. Reasons The reasons which prompted the majority to arrive at this decision are as follows: According to the majority, the impugned Article through which the parliament was drawing power to amend the Constitution in fact merely laid down the procedure of amending the constitution.

The majority relied on the Marginal note of the earlier Article to arrive at this conclusion. The majority located the power to amend the constitution in Article of the Constitution which provides for the Residuary power of Parliament. Justice Hidayatullah, though writing a separately but agreed to CJI Subba Rao on the point that there is no difference between legislative and amending process.

In accordance with the minority opinion although the procedure of Article does very much correspond to the legislative process but it is different from ordinary legislation. The decision to prospectively overrule earlier decisions was a smart and reasonable move played by the Judiciary.

The doctrine of prospective overruling implies that the effects of the law to be laid down will be applicable on the future dates only i. Prospective Overruling was chosen by the majority because of the following reasons: The majority in order to save the nation from the chaos of retrospective operation and the judicial branch from multiple litigations that may follow after the decision opted for prospective overruling.

This was in order to minimize the negative impact of the judgment invalidating the earlier constitutional amendments. Another reason because of which the majority opted for prospective overruling was since the decision in Golaknath was that parliament cannot amend Fundamental rights, therefore, all of the previous amendments would be invalid and unconstitutional. Justice Hidayatullah also supported Prospective Overruling by opining that previous decisions should not be affected by the ratio laid down by the present decision.

However, the bill failed to reach the floors of the house. The then Congress Government led by Indira Gandhi won the elections with a huge majority in The Indira Gandhi government with malicious intent to overrule whatever was laid down in Golaknath passed the Constitutional 24th Amendment Act, Highlights Of 24th Amendment The Golaknath judgment laid down that every amendment made under Article will be hit by the exception laid down in Article 13, therefore to neutralize this the parliament through an amendment in Article 13 annexed clause 4 by which any amendment do not had any effect under Article Through an amendment in Article 2 the parliament tried to make a difference between the procedure in an amendment and an ordinary law.

Earlier the president had the choice to refuse or withhold the bill for the amendment but after 24th Amendment he has no such choice to refuse or withhold the amendment. However, this logic cannot stand close scrutiny in the following terms: An amendment is something that is recognized in every Constitution.

Without Amendment in the Constitution i. It is not imaginable that they would leave such a serious question to be answered by such circuitous debates and arguments. An important question left unanswered by the Golaknath judgment was the extent of the meaning of the word Amendment. Does it mean addition or variation or repeal or subtraction or rewriting the entire Constitution or changing the basic tenets?

The majority bench was of the opinion that to make an amendment in the constitution, the parliament shall formulate a Constituent Assembly. When Judiciary is skeptical about the mindset of the parliament how can they believe in actions of the assembly who is the child of the Parliament itself.

This judgment in some amount managed to control the defiant Parliament from showing its autocracy. The main fear in the minds of the majority bench was about the deterioration of the soul of the Constitution by the defiant mode of Parliament.

The judgment aimed at the protection of those fundamental provisions which are equivalent to the natural rights of the mankind which no government can extinguish by law. However, since a coin has two sides the Judgment of Golaknathhad flaws as well. The biggest flaw in the judgment was the rigidity it granted to the Constitution. The court ruled that for an Amendment to happen in the Constitution has to be through Constituent Asembly.

Further, the court only shielded Fundamental Rights from the autocracy of Parliament which was a regressive step in itself because the court had a wonderful opportunity to protect Constitution from malicious acts of Parliament. This definition was crucial to curtail the power at that point of time itself to permanently prohibit the parliament to do any further damage. However, including all the pros and cons of the judgment, the judiciary was able to show the Parliament that there is some institution that is watching over and guarding the Constitution.

The judgment was successful in deterring the Parliament from infringing any more Fundamental Rights. Its deterrence was successful to that extent that the Parliament in order to reverse the law to status of pre-Golaknath tried to indirectly overrule Golaknath. The judgment successfully made the Parliament remember their position of servants of Common people in Indian democracy. The judgment made sure that this great Constitution that was enacted in the name of people cannot be subverted to the wills of those acting as the representatives of the populous of the nation.


I. C. Golaknath & Ors. Vs. State of Punjab & Anrs. – Case Summary

Wanchoo, M. Hidayatullah, J. Shah, S. Sikri, R. Bachawat, V.


Golaknath, I.C v State of Punjab (1967) : Overview and Analysis

What was Golaknath Case? Brief background of the case : The family of Henry and William Golaknath held over acres of farmland in Jalandar, Punjab. In the face of Punjab Security and Land Tenures Act, the state government held that the brothers could keep only thirty acres each, a few acres would go to tenants and the rest was declared surplus. This was challenged by Golaknath family in the courts and the case was referred to the Supreme Court in The family filed a petition under Article 32 challenging the Punjab Act on the ground that it denied them their constitutional rights to acquire an hol property and practice any profession Article 19 f and g and to equality before law and equal protection of the law Article The Supreme Court Judgement- Fundamental Rights are given a transcendental position in the constitution and are not amenableto the Parliamentary restriction as stated in Article A place of permanence is given to the Funamental Rights in the Constitution.


Golak Nath and Ors vs state of Punjab and Anrs

Maladal It further held unanimously that the Seventeenth Amendment did not require ratification under the proviso to Art. Should we hold that because of the said consequences Parliament had dase to take away fundamental rights, a time might come when we would gradually and imperceptibly pass under a totalitarian rate. Shri Sri Krishna Sinha[] Supp. In the absence of express limitations, therefore, there can be no implied limitations ,on golakknath power to golaknwth the Constitution contained in Art. Pedrick Ranasinghe 1the facts are these: Parliament seeks to amend the Constitution for political reasons but the court in denying that power will not be deciding a political question; it will only be holding that Parliament has no power to armed Particular articles of the Constitution for any purpose whatsoever, be it political or otherwise.

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