Question: What was held in the Coelho case? In this context, can you say that judicial review is of key importance amongst the basic features of the Constitution?
Answer: I R Coelho vs State of Tamil Nadu was a landmark judgement by the Supreme court that reiterated that Judicial review is a part of basic structure of the constitution and cannot be amended through a constitutional amendment Act.
- The Supreme court was reviewing the petition regarding decision of the government to keep laws under IXth schedule outside the purview of judiciary.
- The Supreme Court’s judgement in Kesavandanda Bharati case (1973) had given the idea of basic structure of the constitution but it was not clearly defined.
- In the Coelho case, the Supreme court described the parts of the constitution that can be considered basic structure and did not allow constitutional amendment in those parts.
Why judicial review must be part of Basic structure of constitution
- Independence of judiciary
The constitution makers had envisioned legislature, executive and Judiciary as independent pillars of our democracy. In order to maintain independence of judiciary and uphold constitutional values, judiciary must be given power to check for legislative and executive irregularities.
- Uphold democratic values
In a democratic country, people must have the right to justice against state sponsored actions. If judiciary is not given the rights to check for violations of state power, our country will turn authoritative and all other rules and balances will become redundant.
Thus, the Supreme court was very vocal of the right of the judiciary to intervene in matters of importance and prevent abuse of power by the state at the expense of the citizens.