Question: The ‘ Basic Structure’ doctrine inserts limits on the otherwise unparalleled power of the parliament to amend the constitution. Explain.
Answer: The Basicstructuremeans certain laws or features that are at the core of the constitution, which cannot be altered by the parliament. The basic structure doctrine has since been regarded as a tenet of Indian constitutional law. The idea of Basic structure was given during Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala (1973) but the definition of basic structure was given during MinervaMills(1980) case and subsequent judgements.
Importance of Basic structure
- Independence of judiciary
The basic structure doctrine strictly imposes restrictions on parliament to make any law that interferes in functioning of judiciary. The judiciary is at the bedrock of India’s democratic values and protecting its independence is a salient feature of basic structure doctrine.
Ex: Constitutionality test to certify validity of parliamentary acts.
- Maintains ethos of constitution
Basic structure particularly focuses on those parts that are at the core of constitution, as envisioned by our constitution makers. Even though it does not interfere in functioning of Parliament, it puts a restriction against parliamentary supremacy.
Ex: Secularism as a constitutional ethos.
- Harmony between Fundamental rights(FR) and DPSPs
The conflict between FRs and DPSPs are focus of many Supreme Court rulings. In order to put a brake on further clashes, basic structure doctrine was applied. The DPSPs that violate core Fundamental values will be terminated and those that strengthen core constitutional values will be valid.
- Curbing majoritarianism
Earlier the party with majority had unlimited power to change constitution according to their views. This meant that our constitution was at threat of skewing towards a majority. The basic structure doctrine effectively preserved minority views by putting restrictions on majority supported parliamentary amendments.
Thus, the Basic structure doctrine has effectively ensured that constitution of India remains free from political influence in addition to preserving core values.