Parliament's Power to Amend Indian Constitution - Doctrine of Basic Structure

10 Pages Posted: 7 Oct 2010

Date Written: October 7, 2010


Constitution in a federal country is expected to be rigid and well defined but the real intention of the makers of the constitution is to make it an adaptable and dynamic document rather than a rigid framework of governance. This was the reason a counter weapon in form of power to amend constitution vide Art. 368 was given to the legislatures by the Indian constitution itself so as to make the constitution adaptable to the contemporary circumstances. However, this power is not absolute and a counter-check was imposed on the legislatures by making judiciary the watch-dogs of the amending powers of the legislature. The Supreme Court with intentions to protect the basic and original ideals of the makers has acted as a check over the legislative enthusiasm of Parliament ever since independence. Thus through judicial activism Doctrine of Basic structure emerged which restricted the amending power of the legislature so that the basic essence of the constitution never changes. The doctrine has acted as a safety valve however major flaw of the doctrine was revealed in Indira Gandhi’s case when the court held that the doctrine of basic structure is applicable only to constitutional amendments and would not affect amendments in ordinary laws. Thus amendments to ordinary legislations which go against the basic structure of the constitution would still be valid.

Keywords: Indian constitution, doctrine of basic structure

Suggested Citation

srivastav, tuhina, Parliament's Power to Amend Indian Constitution - Doctrine of Basic Structure (October 7, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Tuhina Srivastav (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

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