Sri Shankari Prasad Singh Deo v. Union of India and State of Bihar

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/10/1951

COURT: Supreme Court of India

JUDGES: Kania, Hiralal J. (Cj), Sastri, M. Patanjali, Mukherjea, B.K., Das, Sudhi Ranjan, Aiyar, N. Chandrasekhara.

REFERENCE: 1951 AIR 458

PARTIES

Petitioner: Sri Shankari Prasad Singh Deo

Respondent: Union of India and State of Bihar

SUBJECT: The judgment revolves around the amending power of Parliament under Article 368 of the Constitution of India

FACTS: The Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951 was challenged before the Hon’ble SC under Article 32 of the Constitution.

IMPORTANT PROVISIONS:

The Indian Constitution:

  • Article 32: Remedies for enforcement of rights conferred by Part III
  • The right to move the Supreme Court by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred by this Part is guaranteed
  • The Supreme Court shall have power to issue directions or orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari, whichever may be appropriate, for the enforcement of any of the rights conferred by Part III
  • Article 368(1): Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, Parliament may in exercise of its constituent power amend by way of addition, variation or repeal any provision of this Constitution in accordance with the procedure laid down in this article.
  • Article 13(2): The State shall not make any law which takes away or abridges the rights conferred by this Part and any law made in contravention of this clause shall, to the extent of the contravention, be void.
ISSUES:
  1. Whether the term “law” under Article 13 includes amendments made to the Constitution?
  2. Whether the Parliament has exclusive rights to amend any part of the Constitution?
JUDGEMENT:

The petitioners in the instant case challenged the validity of the Constitution (First Amendment) Act 1951 which inserted Articles 31A and 31B. As per these Articles any law enacted by the Parliament and inserted into the 9th schedule of the Constitution cannot be challenged on the basis of violation of Part III rights. The petitioners submitted that any law made by the Parliament must be in consonance with the part III rights as per Article 13. However, the respondents contended that, law under Article 13 includes only legislative enactments enacted under Article 245,246,248 of the Constitution and does not include amendments made to the Constitution. Therefore, the amendment stands valid. The Court affirmed the view of the respondents and held that, Parliament has complete authority to amend any part of the Constitution including Fundamental rights under Part III.

CONCLUSION: The Court in the instant case recognised the independency of legislature in enacting laws. However, the judgment was overruled in the subsequent case of Kesavananda Barathi v. State of Kerala.

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