• Basic Structure encompasses basic and core values which forms bedrock of the Indian Constitution. Basic Structure cannot be amended by parliament under Art 368.
  • Basic Structure Doctrine à Judicially innovated doctrine + Not defined under Constitution + Not defined by Supreme Court or any other court. Various judgments of Supreme Court form the bedrock of Basic Structure Doctrine.




SC Case and Amendments Description


Shankari Prasad Case 1951

  • Whether parliament can curtail FR under Article 368 was dealt under this case.
  • Constitutional validity of First Amendment Act (1951) which curtailed Right to Property was challenged.
  • Supreme Court: Under Article 368, Parliament can amend FR. Article 13 includes only ordinary law and not constitutional amendment law. Amendments abridging FR cannot be void under Article 13.


Golakh Nath Case 1967

  • Seventeenth Amendment which inserted certain state laws in Ninth Schedule was challenged.
  • Supreme Court: FRs are transcendental & immutable. Parliament can abridge or take away any FR. Constitutional Amendment Acts are laws under Article 13. So, any amendment violating FR would be void under Article 13.
Parliament’s Reaction to Golakh Nath Case
  • 24th Amendment: Parliament can take away any FR under Article 368 and such acts are not laws under Article 13.

Kesavananda Bharati Case 1973

  • Supreme Court overruled its judgment in Golakhnath Case (1967) and upheld 24th Amendment.
  • Basic Structure Doctrine was laid down by SC.
  • Parliament cannot alter basic structure of the Constitution.
  • Parliament cannot take away FR that forms Basic Structure Doctrine.
39th Amendment
  • Election disputes of PM and Speaker of LS kept outside the jurisdiction of court.
Indira Gandhi Case 1975
  • Supreme Court: Invalidated 39th Amendment. Judicial review is a basic structure.
42nd Amendment
  • Amended Article 368. No limitations on constituent power of parliament and no amendment can be questioned in courts.
Minerva Mills Case 1980
  • Invalidated above changes under 42nd Amendment.
  • Judicial review is basic structure.

Waman Rao case 1981

  • Again, the Supreme Court adhered to the doctrine of the ‘basic structure’ and clarified that it would apply to constitutional amendments enacted after April 24, 1973 (Kesavananda Bharati case).



Supremacy of Constitution + Sovereign, democratic & republican nature of Indian Polity + Secularism + Separation of powers + Federal character + Unity & integrity + Welfare State + Judicial review + Freedom & dignity of individual + Parliamentary system + Rule of law + Equality + Harmony & balance between FR & DPSP + Free & fair elections + Independent judiciary + Effective access to justice + Limited power of parliament to amend constitution + Powers of HC under Article 226 & 227.



99th Constitutional Amendment: Provided National Judicial Appointment Commission in place of Collegium System for appointment of judges. SC said, amendment is invalid as independence of judiciary is basic structure.

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