Bharati had filed a case challenging the Constitution (29th Amendment) Act, 1972, questioning the Kerala government move to take over the mutt property.
Kesavananda Bharati, the seer of Edneer Mutt in Kasargod district of Kerala, whose petition challenging the Kerala Land Reforms (Amendment) Act 1969 led to the landmark “basic structure” doctrine judgment delivered by the Supreme Court in 1973, passed away on Sunday. He was 79 years old.
The case of Kesavananda Bharati vs the State of Kerala was heard for 68 days and continues to hold the top spot for the most extended proceedings ever to have taken place in the supreme court after Ayodhya dispute.
The case’s final verdict resulted in such a way that the Supreme Court is the guardian of the basic structure of the Constitution and the judgment involved 13 judges the largest bench ever to sit in the apex court. It was a 7-6 split verdict.
He had contended that the land reforms law by the government was an attempt to impose restrictions on the management of the mutt’s property, which he said, was the only source of income for his ashram.
Bharati had this argument that the three amendments breached his fundamental rights under Article 25 (right to practice and propagate religion), Article 26 (freedom of religious denomination, including managing and administering its property) and Article 31 (right to property).
This issue became the talk of the town because the Constitutional amendments were passed by the Indira Gandhi government to give Parliament the power to alter fundamental rights.
When asked about the importance of the verdict, former Judge of Madras High Court Justice K Chandru told PTI: “The Kesavananda Bharati case is significant for its ruling that the Constitution can be amended but not the basic structure.”
The “basic structure” doctrine has formed the basis of the Indian judiciary’s power to review or strike down amendments to the Constitution by Parliament, which come in conflict with or seek to alter this principle.
Written By – Shilpa Dey