Priests in the Temple of Justice: The Indian Legal Complex and the Basic Structure Doctrine
Fates of Political Liberalism in the British Post-Colony: The Politics of the Legal Complex, (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2012)
Posted: 20 Jun 2014 Last revised: 12 Nov 2015
Date Written: March 15, 2012
This chapter explores the critical role played by the Indian legal complex in the battles over protection of property rights, fundamental rights, constitutionalism, and the rule of law in the Indian Supreme Court. In these battles, the Indian legal complex played an important role in developing the legal and doctrinal arguments that were ultimately adopted by the Court in a series of landmark decisions asserting and developing the basic structure doctrine. The push to advance the basic structure doctrine in India was characterized by initial contestation between leading lawyers and political leaders in the ruling Congress Party, and conservative lawyers and political leaders from conservative opposition parties over land reform policies and protections for property rights. The chapter traces the role of government lawyers, legal academia and the private bar, in the battle over the basic structure doctrine, examining how subset of the legal complex helped advance and build support for the “basic structure” doctrine, and concludes by analyzing the legal and political battles over the basic structure doctrine within India from the larger perspective of the legal complex, and its broader implications for political liberalism in India.
Keywords: Basic Structure Doctrine, India, Supreme Court of India, Legal Complex, Liberalism, Comparative Law, Comparative Constitutionalism, Constitutional Law, Jurisprudence, Law and Society, Emergency, Palkhivala, Kesavananda, Minerva Mills, Indian bar, Bar Association
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