The “Sajjan Singh vs State Of Rajasthan” case is centred on the legitimacy of the Constitution (Seventeenth Amendment) Act of 1964, which tried to protect the legality of legislative provisions related to agricultural reform that were being challenged. The petitioners contended before the Supreme Court that the Seventeenth Amendment Act was legally unsound. They claimed that the procedural procedures indicated in the proviso to Article 368, which required ratification by a particular number of states, should have been observed since the powers outlined in Article 226 (relating to the powers of high courts) were likely to be affected.

The court ruled that the Amendment Act fits within the substantive portion of Article 368 and fails to activate the proviso. It held that the amendment’s impact on Article 226 was subsidiary and of minor relevance, as the Act sought to remove obstacles to executing a socioeconomic programme.

Keywords: Article 368, Fundamental Rights, Constitutional Validity, Land Legislation, Judicial review, Constitutional amendments, The Constitution of India, Supreme Court of India


Case NumberAIR 1965 SC 845
Judgement Date31st MARCH 1965
QuorumChief Justice P.B Gajendragadhkar Justice K.N. Wanchoo Justice M. Hidayatullah Justice Raghubar Dayal Justice J.R Mudholkar
AuthorChief Justice P.B Gajendragadhkar  
Citation1965 AIR 845, 1965 SCR (1) 933, AIR 1965 SUPREME COURT 845, 1965 (1) SCR 933, 1965 (1) SCJ 377, 1965 (1) SCWR 593  
LegalProvisions InvolvedArticle 368 of the Constitution Of India The 17th ( Seventeenth) Amendment Act 1964 Article 31 A and Article 31 B


The main background of the case deals with the First Constitution Amendment Act 1951 which was challenged in the case of [1]Shankari Prasad Vs. Union Of India where during the judgement Article 31(A) and Article 31(B) were added to the Constitution Of India thereby restricting the individual’s Right To Property. Another major decision was that any law under the 9th schedule of the Constitution would be immune to judicial review. Mr. Shankari Prasad challenged the amendment stating that the basic Fundamental rights must not be allowed to be amended since they are a vital part of the constitution. This case paves the way for the Particular case we are dealing with which includes[2] Sajjan Singh Vs. State of Rajasthan


During the year 1964, the Rajasthan Government passed the Land Reforms Act which was later also followed by the parliament with the 17th Constitutional Amendment Act under Article 31(A) expanded the legal term “estate”. Due to this amendment the power to acquire the land also increased and was eventually put under the 9th schedule because any law under it cannot be challenged in front of the courts. Here is our petitioner Sajjan Singh, the ruler of the princely state of Rajasthan which was later added to the Indian Union. In the year 1949 Sajjan Singh signed an agreement with the Indian Government which granted him certain privileges including an amount for the monarch”s expenses. However, after the changes, the right to hold a certain amount of land was also added to a ceiling amount.

Sajjan Singh challenged the validity of the 17th Amendment Act in the Supreme Court saying that it violated the Fundamental rights guaranteed to him under the Indian Constitution. Later many Landlords also challenged the same and filled a writ petition using Article 32 in front of the Supreme Court.


i) Whether the Parliament can amend the Fundamental Rights using Article 368?

ii) Whether the parliament can bring a constitutional amendment voiding Fundamental rights using Article 368?

iii)Whether a constitutional amendment comes under the meaning of “Law” given in Article (2)?


  1. The counsels for Petitioner / Appellant submitted that the powers under Article 368 were misused to overpower the rights given to the state judiciary ( High Courts) through Article 226 of the Indian Constitution. 
  2. All laws relating to the possession of “land” are matters included under the state list. However, the union legislature has dismissed the same by amending the fundamental rights of people.
  3. The petitioner asserted that the 26th Amendment Act was not justiciable since it was a constitutional amendment and thus outside the purview of judicial review. The petitioner said that the change was a matter of political expediency and policy and that the courts had no authority to intervene with it.
  4. The petitioner asserted that abolishing privy purses infringed the basic right to property protected by Article 31 of the Constitution. The petitioner contended that the privy purses were part of the past monarchs’ property, and their removal represented coercive seizure without compensation.


  1. The counsels for Respondent submitted that the privileges which were given to the petitioner were given to him due to his birth status which violated one major fundamental right of equality before law, thus this step was taken to at least try to follow the democratic structure of the country.
  2. They also argued that the clauses were signed by the British Government and not by the Indian Government post-independence hence, the Indian Government was not bound to continue these privileges after the union of the princely into an Indian Union.
  3. The respondent argued that the abolition was a necessary step and it did not violate the fundamental rights under the Constitution of India. These could not be considered as rights, as a result of which abolition did not violate any fundamental right of the petitioner.


  1. Article 368 – deals with the power of the parliament to deal with any change in the constitution
  2. 17th (Seventeenth)Amendment Act – To preserve the legality of several agricultural reform-related laws, this Act, added 44 Acts to the Ninth Schedule and changed Article 31A of the Indian Constitution.
  3. Article 31A –This provision, which was inserted into the Constitution by the 1951 Constitution (First Amendment) Act, protects Acts listed in the Ninth Schedule from ever being declared void and invalid.
  4. Article 31B -states that no act included in the 9th Schedule shall be deemed invalid because it infringes against Part III rights, and no judicial review shall be available. The actions listed in the schedule are applicable retroactively.


Ratio Decidendi

  1. The Supreme Court of India passed the judgement through a 3:2 majority decision. They also mentioned that constitutional amendment is not included in the term “law” given under Article 13 and if the parliament wanted they could bring some changes through constitutional amendments. Land Reforms Act is constitutionally valid.
  2. The Supreme Court disagreed with the argument of the appellant that the 17th Amendment Act violates the rights of the High Court under Article 226.
  3. It also mentioned that the Central Government only intended to protect the state acts on the said matter from Judicial review by putting them in the 9th Schedule through the 17th Amendment Act.
  4. The Supreme Court of India finally stated that Fundamental Rights can be amended through Constitutional amendments.

Obiter Dicta

  1. There were two important dissenting opinions from the bench out of five members two had a different opinion which included Justice M. Hidayatullah and Justice J.R Mudholkar
  2. Justice M. Hidayatullah mentioned that “ Fundamental rights cannot be amended by Constitutional Amendment s they are a basic necessity for humans and parliament can’t play with them.
  3. Justice J.R Mudholkar mentioned that “Every constitution has some basic elements which cannot be amended”.
  4. Both of them gave the opinion that Constitutional Amendments can also form a part of the “law” under Article 13 of the Indian Constitution.


The petitioners presented several defences against the Act’s legality under the Seventeenth Amendment. They contested that the special procedure should be followed when altering basic rights and potentially affecting the High Court’s authority under Article 226. They also questioned the applicability of Article 368 and its proviso. The petitioners also said that the Act was unconstitutional because it allegedly gave Parliament the power to enact laws about land, a power they did not think Parliament had. They expressed concerns over the Act’s ability to overrule decisions made by competent courts, which they believed to be unconstitutional. This case also became the background structure for[3]I.C. Golaknath Vs. State Of Punjab and [4]Kesavananda Bharti Vs. State of Kerala. These two cases were highly influenced by this particular case.

[1] Sri Sankari Prasad Singh Deo vs Union Of India And State Of Bihar(And … on 5 October, 1951,

[2] Sajjan Singh vs State Of Rajasthan(With Connected … on 30 October, 1964,



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