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--------------- Print Magazine --------------
  May 2016
  April 2016

The Supreme Court Bar Association and Universal Law Publishing Co. Pvt. Ltd., on October 18, 2011, at New Delhi organised the release of the book, " The Kesavananda Bharati Case: The untold story of struggle for supremacy by Supreme Court and Parliament", authored by Tehmtan R Andhyarujina, Senior Advocate and former Solicitor General of India. Hon'ble Mr. Justice S.H. Kapadia, Chief Justice of India released the book.

The book published by Universal Law Publishing Co. is based on the famous case of Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru v. State of Kerala , which was decided after the longest hearing of 66 days in the Supreme Court by the largest bench of 13 judges of the Court on April 24, 1973, is India 's greatest constitutional case. It is considered to have been decided by a majority of 7 to 6 judges that Parliament did not have the power to amend the " Basic Structure of the Constitution ".

The book mentions that the legal issue in this case culminated into the struggle for supremacy between the Supreme Court and the Parliament, which began with the Supreme Court holding in Golak Nath v. State of Punjab in 1967 by a majority of 6 to 5 that Fundamental Rights could not be amended by the Parliament. However Government of the day made attempts to reverse this case, thereby appointing judges who it expected would decide in favour of the Parliament. 

This book recounts the tensions and conflicts in the Kesavananda Bharati case not only between the rival sides but also amongst the judges, some of whom had pre-conceived views because of being judges in the earlier cases and others by reason of their selection by the Government. The acrimony over the proposal to exclude Justice M.H. Beg who was in favour of Parliament by the Chief Justice and the Petitioners from the Bench on his hospitalisation almost at the end of the oral hearing is related as is the controversy over whether Justice Y.V. Chanderchud was prevailed upon to change his opinion against Parliament.

The book relates how the Government retaliated immediately on the judgments being pronounced on August 24, 1973, by superceding three senior most judges who had decided against Parliament and appointing Justice A.N. Ray as the next Chief Justice. It also relates the generally unknown abortive attempt of Chief Justice A.N. Ray to review the Kesavananda Bharati case by another Bench of 13 judges for two days in 1975. Government attempted to nullify the majority view in the Kesavananda Bharati case by the Constitution ( 42th Amendment ) Act, 1976, but the Supreme Court later struck it down in the Minerva Mills case in 1980.

This book also shows how the subsequent cases of the Supreme Court have distilled the concept of the Basic Structure of the Constitution and how it has been considered in other jurisdictions.

The function in the end had a nostalgic touch when legal luminaries such as Soli J Sorabjee, K.K. Venugopal and Anil B Divan, senior advocates yet once again enlightened and delighted the audience through carrying out the debate on the subject presenting their diverse opinions on the case.

Hasan Khurshid

(Print Version)
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