10 Constitutional Landmark Judgement

Disha Dheeman, BA LL.B(H), Legal News Reporter


Landmark judicial decision changed the constitutional as well as everyday life. Their impact still replicate.


                                             Keshvanand Bharti v. State of Kerala

                                            AIR 1973 SC 1461: (1973) 4 SCC 255

                                                  Date of decision: 24-04-1973

In this case, the constitutional validity 24th Amendment Act 1971 was challenged. 24th Amendment was enacted by the Parliament which amended Article 368 that Parliament has constituent power to amend by way of addition, variation or repeal any provision under the article of the constitution in which Article 13 would not be applicable to such amendment.

The validity of the 24th Amendment on which the validity of the 25th, 26th and 29th Amendment would depend, and this was the principle issue.

This case was decided by 13 judges bench including S.M Sikri, C.J, and A.N Grover, A.N ray, H.R. Khanna, D.G Palekar, J.M Shelat, K.S Hegde, S.N. Dwivdei, M.H. Beg, F. Jagamohan Reddy and Y.V Chandrachud that Parliament cannot destroy the basic features of the Constitution. The majority opinion of the judges was that no part of the Constitution (Fundamental Rights), was beyond the Amending power of the Constitution, basic structure of the Constitution cannot be infringed.


                                                   Indira Gandhi v. Raj Narain

                                             AIR 1975 SC 22299: (1975) SCC 1:

                                                 Date of Decision: 07-11-1975

In the case of Indira Gandhi, an Appeal was filed by an appellant against the decision of the Allahabad High Court in which Mrs. Gandhi’s election held invalidating on the corrupt practices ground.

The principle issue was the question involved of the validity of clause 4 of the Constitution 39th Amendment Act, 1975.

5 Judges bench including A.N. Ray, C.J and H.R. Khanna, K.K Mathew, M.H Beg and Y.V Chandrachud held that clause 4 of the Constitution 39th Amendment Act,1975 is void and unconstitutional because exclusion of the Judicial review in the election disputes can affect the basic structure of the Constitution. Court struck down the clause as it was violating the free and fair elections.



                          State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan

                             AIR 1951 SC 226 (1951) 2 SCR 525

                                    Date of Decision: 09-04-1951   

Champakam Dorairajan made an application to the High Court at Madras under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution for protection of the fundamental rights under Article 15(1) and Article 29(2) and requested to issue the writ of mandamus or any other suitable writ. State of Madras and officers observed that admissions into the Madras Medical Colleges were sought that it involves the violation of her fundamental rights when she came to know that her admission would not be possible as she belongs to the Brahmin community.

It was argued that violation of Article 15(1) and 29(2) is violation of her fundamental rights of the Indian Constitution.

This case was held by Harilal Kania, C.J and S.Fazal Ali, Patanjali Sastri, M.C Mahajan, B.K Mukherjea, S.R das and Vivin Boes  that refused admissions only on the grounds of religion, race, caste, language or any of them then it is a violation of the fundamental rights. This right is not to be denied on such grounds to any citizens and the provision of Article 29(2) in part 3 of the Constitution is void under Article 13.


                                       Golakhnath v. State of Punjab

                                AIR 1967 SC 1642: (1967) 2 SCR 762

                                      Date of Decision: 17-02-1967

In this case, issues were whether power to amend the Constitution resides under Article 368?   whether the F.R in part 3 can be amended or not?

This was held by K. Subha Rao, C.J. and C.A. Vaidialingam, G.K. Mitler, J.C Shah, J.M Shelat, K.N. Wanchoo, M.Hidayatullah, S.M. Sikri, V.Bhargava, R.S. Bachawat and V.Ramaswami that fundamental rights cannot be infringed or taken away by the amending procedure in Article 368 of Indian Constitution. Changes to the constitution is law within the meaning of Art 13(2) of the Constitution and therefore it is subject to the part 3 of Constitution. Amendment under Art 368 or any other provision of the Constitution are only made by the; Parliament.


                                                  Minerva mills ltd. V. Union of India

                                                 AIR 1980 SC 1789: (1980) 3 SCC 625

                                                       Date of Decision: 31-07-1980    

The Constitutional validity of 39th and 42nd Amendment was challenged by the petitioner. He also challenged sec 4 and sec 55 of 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 and the validity of Article 368(4) and Art 368(5) of the Constitution.

It was held by the judges: Y.V Chandrachud, C.J. and A.C Gupta, N.L Untwalia, P.N. Bhagwati, and P.S Kailasam, that sec 55 of the Constitution 42nd Amendment Act is beyond the amending power of the parliament, is void if it destroys or damage the basic structure of the Indian Constitution. Article 31(C) held unconstitutional as it destroys the basic and essential features of the Constitution. Article 368(4) and Art 368(5) are also held unconstitutional in that it removes all limitations on the amending power of the parliament.

Sec 55 and sec 4 of the Constitution 42nd amendment Act are held as void and unconstitutional. Art 31C and Art 368(4) and (5) are also held as unconstitutional and void.


                                             Rahul Sah v. State of Bihar

                                       AIR 1983 SC 1086: 1983 Cri Lj 1614

                                            Date of Decision: 01-08-1983

The principle issue of this case was whether S.C under Art 32, can pass an order of compensation for infringement of fundamental right by officers or not?

Art 32 of the Constitution confers the power on the S.C to issue directions or orders or writs, whichever may be appropriate for the enforcement of any rights conferred by part 3. It was held by Y.V Chandrachud, C.J. and Ranganath Mishra and Amarendra Nath Sen that Supreme Court can pass an order of compensation for the infringement of fundamental rights under art 32 of the Constitution if such an order is the nature of compensation consequential upon the deprivation of a fundamental rights.


                                                   Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan

                                                    AIR 1997 SC 3011: 1997 (5)

                                                    Date of Decision: 13-08-1997

NGOs and other social activists filed writ petition in the Supreme Court for the enforcement of the fundamental rights of working women under Art 14,19 and 21 of the Constitution of India. The issue was Sexual Harassment of working women at workplace.

Judgement of this case was given by J.S. Verma and Mrs. Sujata V. Manohar and B.N. Kripal, it was held that it is violation of the fundamental rights of ‘Right to Life and Liberty’ and ‘Gender Equality’ if there is sexual harassment of women at workplace. It is the violation of Art 14,15,19(1)(g) and 21 of the Constitution.


                                                      Bachan Singh vs. State of Punjab

                                                         AIR 1980 SC 898: 1982 (1)

                                                        Date of Decision: 09-05-1980

In this case Bachan Singh was appellant who was tried and convicted to death sentence under sec-302 of Indian Penal Code, by Session Judge. His death sentence confirmed by High Court and dismissed his appeal, then he goes through the special leave appeal to the Supreme Court.

The principle issue of this case was to check the constitution validity of death sentence for murder provided in section 302 IPC.

It was held by Y.V Chandrachud, C.J. and A.C. Gupta, N.L. Untwalia, P.N. Bhagwati and R.S Sarkaria, that sec 302 of the Indian Penal Code yet provides for the death sentence as Section 354(3) of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 is constitutionally valid.

Challenge to the constitutionality of the questioned provisions mentioned in Section 302 of Indian Penal Code and Sec 354(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 is excluded.


                                Justice K.S Puttaswami and Anr. v. Union of India and Ors.

                                         WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO 494 OF 2012          

                                                     Date of Decision: 24-08-2017

In this case, nine judges bench assembled to determine whether privacy is a constitutionally protected value.

 Justice D.Y Chandrachud overruled the judgement of Justice Y.V Chandrachud and held that Right to Privacy is Fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. The decision in M.P Sharma is over ruled, which says that right to privacy is not protected by the Constitution. The decision in Kharak Singh stands over ruled to the extent that right to life and personal liberty is not protected by the Constitution.

This is a landmark case by the Supreme Court of India that right to privacy is protected under Art 21 of part 3 of the Constitution, but not an absolute right and there are some restrictions in matters of national security and mutual interest of the citizens and the state.



                                          Shayara Bano vs union of India and Ors

                                               Writ petition (C) No 118 of 2016     

                                               Date of Decision: 22 August 2017

Issue of this case was that certain practices of Muslim Personal laws such as Triple Talaq, Polygamy and Nikah halala has been challenged. The All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) has warned secular authorities against interfering with religious laws.

A 5 judges Constitution bench including chief Justice J.S Khekhar, Justice Kurian Joseph, Justice Rohinton Nariman, Justice Uday Lalit and Justice Abdul Nazeer deal with the Constitutional validity of the Practice of ‘Instant triple talaq’ or ‘talaq-e-biddat’ held that triple talaq cannot be justified or given legal validity. The practice of triple talaq is discriminatory in many ways.

Supreme Court says that only those features of a religion are constitutionally protected which are “integral” or “essential” parts of it. There is no evidence to show that talaq e biddat constitutes an integral part of the Islamic faith and it does not deserve constitutional protection.

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