Golaknath I.C v/s State of Punjab

By:- Tarush

In the Supreme Court of India

NAME OF THE CASEGolak Nath I.C v/s State of Punjab
CITATION1967 AIR 1643, 1967 SCR (2) 762
DATE OF THE Judgement27/02/1967
PetitionerI.C Golaknath
RESPONDENTState of Punjab
IMPORTANT SECTIONS/ARTICLESArticle 31,13,368 of Indian Constitution,1st,7th,24th Amendment.


In Sri Sankari Prasad Singh Deo V., the Supreme Court first examined whether the fundamental rights granted under Part III of the Constitution can be amended. The League of India and Bihar questioned the constitutionality of the “First Constitutional Amendment” of 1951. The second is the “Sajjan Singh v. Rajasthan” case, which questioned the constitutionality of the 1964 Seventeenth Constitutional Amendment. Golaknath and Ors. VS. Punjab and Anrs. »The state decided with a 6: 5 seats, and parliament has no power or power to restrict or modify basic rights.


Golaknath v. Punjab is one of the most representative cases in Indian legal history. In this case, several questions were raised. But the most important question is whether the parliament has the power to amend the fundamental rights contained in the third part of the Indian Constitution. Petitioners believe that parliament has no right to modify basic rights, while interviewees believe that legislators never want our constitution to become rigid and rigid. The court held that the parliament could not modify the basic rights. This decision was overturned in Kesavananda Bharati v. Union of India in 1973. In this case, the court held that parliament can amend the constitution, including basic rights, but parliament cannot change the basic structure of the constitution.


Starting from the decision in the GOLAKNATH case, the court developed case law around the basic structural doctrine that was later known. According to this doctrine, the court is responsible for preventing the enduring values ​​that constitute the essence of constitutional government from being eroded.

 Although it went backwards six years later, the court continued to publicly state that, in principle, no institution can change the democratic nature of the constitution. Similarly, in property rights disputes, the court has ruled more than once that the people whose land was expropriated by the government received insufficient compensation. As the country increasingly fails to deliver on its promises and the public is weary of the country’s lack of prosperity, more and more people begin to regard the courts as the only legal institution with the right to protect their own interests.


In Jalandhar, Punjab, the Henry and William Golaknath family own more than 500 acres of farmland. According to the Punjab Land Tenure and State Security Law, the government believes that the brothers can only retain 30 acres of land, some acres will be reserved for tenants and the rest will be declared surplus. The Golaknath family in court disputed this. Furthermore, the case was transferred to the Supreme Court in 1965. The family filed a petition under article 32 to challenge the Punjab Law of 1953, alleging that the family deprived them of their constitutional rights to acquire, own property and exercise any occupation (article 19 (f)) and (g) and equal rights before legal protection (article 14).

They tried to make the Seventeenth Amendment (putting the Law of Punjab in the Ninth Schedule) to declare ultra vires (excess of power). Golaknath. I.C v. Punjab is one of the most important cases in the history of India. In this case, the court ruled and developed precedents around the so-called “basic structure theory.” In 1967, the court ruled that Congress should not reduce any of the fundamental rights granted by the Constitution of India.


  1. Whether Amendment is a law under the meaning of Article 13(2)?
  2. whether Fundamental Rights can be amended or not?


  1. The petitioner believes that the Constitution of India was drawn up by the Constituent Assembly and is permanent. No one can change or attempt to change the Constitution of India.
  2. They believed that the implied term “amendment” only meant a change based on the basic structure, rather than a completely new idea. Furthermore, the petitioner argued that the basic rights enshrined in Part III of the Constitution cannot be deprived by Parliament. They are an important part of the constitution. Without a constitution, a constitution is like a body without a soul.
  3. Petitioner also argued that Article 368 of our Constitution only provides for the procedures to reform the Constitution. It does not give Parliament the power to amend the constitution. The last thing the 4,444 petitioners argued in court was that the definition of “law” in Article 13, paragraph 3 (a), encompasses all types of laws, including statutory laws and constitutions. And under article 13, paragraph 2, he said that the State cannot enact any law that deprives the rights mentioned in Part 3, and that any constitutional amendment that deprives basic rights is unconstitutional and invalid.


  1. The defendant argued in court that the constitutional amendment was the result of the exercise of his sovereignty. This power to exercise sovereignty is different from the legislative power that parliament exercises to make laws.
  2. Our constitution maker never intended our constitution to be rigid by nature. They have always wanted our constitution to be flexible in nature. The purpose of Amendment is to change national laws that it deems appropriate for society. They argued that if there were no amendments, the constitution would be rigid rather than flexible.
  3. They further believe that there is no such thing as basic structure and non-basic structure. All terms of are equal and equally important. The constitution stipulates that there is no hierarchy.


  1. 1st Amendment, 1951
  2. It inserted Articles 31A and 31B.
  3. It inserted the 9th Schedule to protect land reforms from the purview of judicial review.
  4. It had set the precedent of amending the constitution in order to overcome judicial pronouncements.
  5. It had placed reasonable restrictions on fundamental rights.
  6.  Article 31
  7. All the laws contained in the 9th schedule of the constitution cannot be challenged in the courts on the ground that they violated Fundamental Rights.
  8. 7th Amendment, 1956
  9. It reflected the changes brought in by the Reorganization Scheme.
  10. It amended Part 8 and Schedules 1, 2, 4 & 7 of the Constitution.
  11. It inserted Article 258A assuring that the Governor of the State may entrust any state functions to the central government.
  12.  Article 136
  13. Article 13 of the constitution makes all laws which are in force before the commencement of the constitution and are inconsistent with Part III, i.e., Fundamental Rights, void. It states that Parliament cannot make any law which abridges the Fundamental Rights. Furthermore, it provides for the provision of judicial review of all the legislations in India.
  • 24th Amendment, 1971
  • It restored the unrestricted power of parliament to amend any part of the Constitution.
  • It made compulsory for the President to give an assent to a constitutional Amendment Bill.
  • It inserts Article13(4) in such a way that it becomes inapplicable to any amendment made under Article 368 of the constitution.


In this case, then-Chief Justice Subba Rao first invoked the doctrine of permission to revoke. He drew valuable experience from American law, and jurists such as George Canfield, Robert Hill Freeman, John Henry Wigmore, and Benjamin Cardoso found this doctrine to be effective. Of judicial tools. In Canfield’s words, the expression means:

 “As long as the court finds the old rules (established by the precedent) untenable, even if it feels that the prejudice being observed compels the adoption of the old rules, the court must recognize the obligation to announce a new and better future business rule.

 Judge Subba Rao used this doctrine to maintain the constitutional validity of the Constitution Act (Seventeenth Amendment). The legitimacy of the Act has been questioned. He posed the question. The doctrine provides a protective cover for the infringed amendment, but clearly believes that the infringed amendment reduces the scope of basic rights. He believes: So, what is the impact of our conclusion in this case? The history of the amendment, them the impact on the social and economic affairs of our country and the possible chaotic situation, if the amendment is withdrawn from the constitution at this stage, we believe that considerable judicial restrictions are needed.

Therefore, we declare that our decision will not affect the validity of the Constitution (Seventeenth Amendment) Act of 1964 or other amendments to the Constitution that eliminate or restrict fundamental rights. We further announced that in the future, Parliament will not have the power to amend Part III of the Constitution to eliminate or restrict fundamental rights.


The Supreme Court bench headed by K. Subba Rao, CJ, CA Vaidialingam, GK Mitte, JC Shah, JM Shera, KN Wanchoo, M. Hidayatullah, RS Bahavat (SM) Sikri, Vashishtha Bharhava and V. Ramaswami, JJ In accordance with the 6:5 decision, the decision held that the Parliament cannot modify the basic rights of citizens mentioned in the third part of the Indian Constitution. Most judges believe that since the 1950s, there have been several cases of parliament failing to comply with the powers conferred by Article 368 and infringing on the basic rights of the people. The court held that if it is not stopped, the autocratic behavior of the parliament will be endless.

 Most people believe that the definitions in Article 13 (3) are not exhaustive, but inclusive. Furthermore, it reversed the judgments in the “Sajjan Singh v. Rajasthan case” and “Sri Sankari Prasad Singh Deo v. The Federation of India and Bihar”. Although a few banks believe that the parliament has the power to make overall changes to the constitution, it includes basic rights. The alternate judge believes that if Congress is not given the power to amend the constitution, it will become rigid and static.

The judgment also proposed the principle of anticipatory annulment. According to an interviewee, the Constitution has been revised from time to time to implement the “Guiding Principles of National Policy.” If we repeal these regulations, all amendments will be repealed, leading to an imbalance. In this case, the judiciary believes that if the court makes a “X” ruling in the “A v. B” case, and then the court disagrees with the “X” ruling, then the outcome of the case will remain unchanged. But the ruling or “ratio determination” will be changed.


The Golakhnath v state of Punjab was one of the important cases in India history. The judgement of this case came at a very crucial time. It came when the democracy was suffering from the start of what later became the «darkest decade» of India. This judgement forbade the parliament from causing any damage to the fundamental rights of the citizens by implementing a law which had the effect of suppressing the autocracy of the parliament.
The judgment was focused on protecting the fundamental provisions which are equal to fundamental or natural rights of mankind and no government can take it. Golaknath is a kind of victory of «rule of law» because it made it clear that even the lawmakers are not above the law. The same goes with this judgment. The judgement of Golaknath is not a perfect judgement. One of the biggest flaws was that the judgement granted rigidity to the constitution. The court said if there has to be an amendment then it has to be through a constituent assembly. Secondly, the court only protected the fundamental rights from the absolute power of the parliament, but it could have protected all the fundamental features of the constitution.


  1. https://indiankanoon.org/doc/120358/
  2. http://www.legalserviceindia.com/article/l426-L.-C.-Golaknath-V.-State-Of-Punjab.html
  3. http://www.legalserviceindia.com/articles/prul.htm

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