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Basic Structure Doctrine

Author: Abishek T.K, Student, School of Law, Sastra University, India

Abstract

The basic structure doctrine is one of the most controversial constitutional axioms that shaped the nature of Indian jurisprudence and the future of the Indian Judiciary. An in-depth analysis of this doctrine would reveal the true nature of the authority that wields the power to control it, giving a sense of supremacy to that organ. Being the sole vanguard of the basic structure doctrine, the Judiciary in India possesses an enormous power even though it does not acknowledge it explicitly. Thus, the Judiciary serves as the last resort in acting as a check on the Parliament’s amending power which imposes an immense responsibility upon it. However, on the contrary, the Judiciary has been the sole determiner of ‘what’ constitutes as the basic structure of the Indian Constitution which invariably gives it the scope to change the paradigm of the legal framework of the country, making it a partially sovereign organ. This paper elucidates the journey of the basic structure doctrine by unravelling the ambiguity circulating around ‘what’ constitutes to the basic structure. In doing so, the paper unveils the peculiar position of Judiciary in India and the wide range of power that it holds by the virtue of the basic structure doctrine. The paper is divided into two parts, where the first part of the paper tracks down the evolution of the basic structure doctrine in the judgements of certain landmark cases that changed the course of Indian jurisprudence. The second part of the paper is focused on theoretically analysing the basic structure doctrine on the basis of legal theories conceptualised by Hart and Kelsen and lays out a comparison of the same with the Indian legal system to substantiate the scope of power that the Judiciary wields.


Keywords: Basic Structure doctrine, Constitution, parliament, Judiciary.

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