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PSIR 1B-3.5 Amendment Procedure, Judicial Review and Basic Structure Doctrine – Previous Year Questions – Solved

Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2023)

1] The Doctrine of Basic Structure of the Constitution has enhanced the power of judicial review of the Supreme Court. Examine. [2022/15m/200w/6b]

The Doctrine of Basic Structure is a judicial doctrine developed by the Supreme Court of India that defines the core principles and features of the Indian Constitution that cannot be amended by the Parliament. The doctrine holds that certain fundamental features of the Constitution form its basic structure and are beyond the power of the legislature to amend.

The doctrine empowers the Supreme Court to review and strike down any constitutional amendment that violates the basic structure of the Constitution. This gives the Court the authority to examine the constitutionality of amendments and ensures that the fundamental principles and values enshrined in the Constitution are not compromised.

The doctrine strengthens the protection of fundamental rights by allowing the Supreme Court to review amendments that infringe upon these rights. It ensures that the Parliament cannot dilute or curtail the fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution, which are considered an integral part of the basic structure.

The basic structure doctrine has allowed the Supreme Court to interpret and define the scope and content of the basic structure over time. The Court has expanded the list of principles considered as part of the basic structure through its judgments, adapting to the changing needs and challenges of society. However, it is important to note that the doctrine has also faced criticism and debate. Some argue that it gives the judiciary excessive power and may encroach upon the democratic prerogative of the elected representatives. Critics also contend that the criteria for identifying the basic structure are not precisely defined, leaving room for subjective interpretation. [262 words]

2] Underline the significance of the first constitutional amendment. [2021/10m/150w/5e]

The First Constitutional Amendment of India, enacted in 1951, holds great significance in the constitutional history of our country. Its primary aim was to introduce amendments to overcome certain legal challenges and address certain issues that arose soon after the adoption of the Indian Constitution in 1950.

One of the key provisions of the First Amendment was the insertion of Article 31A and Article 31B in the Constitution. These provisions sought to protect land reform laws from judicial scrutiny. This was crucial for implementing agrarian reforms and redistributing land to farmers, which aimed at addressing social and economic inequalities. The First Amendment also brought about changes to Article 19(1)(f) of the Constitution, which pertains to the right to hold property.

The First Amendment sought to rectify these judicial obstacles and provide a legal framework that supported the implementation of progressive socio-economic measures. It ensured that the government had the necessary powers and authority to carry out its socio-economic agenda without being hindered by legal hurdles.

The amendment also played a crucial role in balancing fundamental rights with the directive principles of state policy. It clarified that the directive principles could override certain fundamental rights to achieve socio-economic welfare and social justice. This recognition of the importance of directive principles in shaping public policy helped in striking a balance between individual rights and collective welfare.

However, it is also important to note that the First Amendment has been a subject of criticism, particularly for its impact on freedom of speech and expression. Some argue that the amendment imposed restrictions on the right to freedom of speech, leading to concerns about curtailment of civil liberties. [273 words]

3] “The basic structure doctrine is implicit in the Indian Constitution; the Supreme Court has only given it an explicit form.” Comment. [2019/20m/250w/8a]

Article 142 of the Indian Constitutions states ‘Supreme Court in the exercise of its jurisdiction may pass such decree or make such order as is necessary for doing COMPLETE JUSTICE in any cause or matter pending before it.’

Art 32 gives the responsibility to protect fundamental rights to the Supreme Court of India.

Thus Indian constitution envisages a powerful judiciary capable of protecting the fundamental rights of Indian citizens. And for the same purpose, Supreme Court has given the doctrine of Basic Structure in the Keshavananda Bharati case of 1973.

Basic Structure doctrine gives power to the supreme court to nullify even constitutional amendments if they violate the basic structure of the Indian Constitution. Supreme Court has not explicitly mentioned what constitutes basic structure, and this has also given wide discretion to it.

The basic structure doctrine has been controversial since it was first articulated. Some critics argue that the doctrine represents judicial activism, it gives too much power to the judiciary and allows it to strike down amendments that parliament has passed through a democratic process.

The Court has defended the doctrine, arguing that it is necessary to protect the essential features of the constitution and to prevent parliament from amending the constitution in a way that would fundamentally change its character.

Apart from the textual view, we should also consider the context of the doctrine. Such a step was needed to check the authoritarian trends in the Indian executive. The doctrine has served its purpose. It can be preserved but should be used only in uncommon circumstances. [259 words]

The post contains answers to the last 6-year papers i.e. (2023-2018). Answers to the previous year questions from 2013-2017 are a part of our book PSIR Optional Model Answers to PYQs (2013-2022)

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