CASE OF SHANKARI PRASAD V/S UNION OF INDIA BY MANVI SINGH @LEXCLIQ

CASE DETAIL

CITATION : 1951 SCR 89 : AIR

1951 SC 458

COURT     :  Hon’ble Supreme court of India

DECIDED ON : October 5,1951

PETITIONER : Sri Shankari Prasad Singh Deo

RESPONDENTS : Union of India and State of Bihar (and other )

CORUM : Constitutional Bench ( Hiralal kania CJ and M.Patanjali Sastri,B.K.Mukherjee and S R Das and Chandrasekhara aiyar JJ )

The Case of Shankari Prasad V/S U.O.I Contributes to the Journey of ” The Doctrine of Basic Structure ” which was a result of the ongoing struggle between the judiciary and the legislature for supremacy in independent india . The question of whether the fundamental rights can be amended under Article 368 was brought before the supreme court of India in this case.In this case,the validity of the first Amendment of the constitution 1951 was challenged which curtailed the right to Property.The Fundamental Right the Under Article 31 prohibits the enactment of law abridging the Fundamental Right.The Supreme Court narrowed the scope of Article 13(2).

BACKGROUND : After the independence of india, the agrarian land reforms through legislation was enacted in the states of Bihar , UP and MP which was known as the Zamindari Abolition Act . The Zamindari were upset because due to this they were deprived of their respective land holdings. The Zamindars to get hold of there properties filled a petition in the High Court of Bihar,UP and MP as this law is violative of their fundamental Rights. The Patna High Court invalidated the Bihar Land Reform Act 1950,Whereas High Court at Allahabad and Nagpur upheld the validity of the legislation in UP and MP as this law is violative of their Fundamental Rights.

The Government brought forward a remedy in the form of constitution (First Amendment) Act 1951, to put an end of the Various litigation regarding the same issue. The Zamindar reacted by bringing the Petition under Article 32 of the Constitution and raised the question whether the constitutional (First Amendment) Act 1951 which was passed by the Parliament and insert ARTICLE 31A and Article 31B in the Constitution of India is unconstitutional and Void.

ISSUE RAISED : 

1. Whether the 1st Constitutional Amendment, 1951 passed by the Parliament is valid.

2. Whether the word ‘law’ used under Article 13(2) also includes the ‘law of the amendment of the constitution of India.

LAW INVOLVED

• Article 13(2) of the constitution of India.

• Article 31(A) and 31(B) of the Constitution of India.

• Article 368 of the Constitution of India.

• Article 132 of the constitution of India.

• Article 226 of the constitution of India.

APPLICATION OF LAW 

1. Article 13(2) mention that no law can be enacted which abridges the Fundamental Rights.

2. Article 368 Provides for the amending power of the constitution.

ARGUMENT ADVANCED

PETITIONER’S ARGUMENT 

The Advocates from the PETITIONER contended on the following points :

1. The Parliament was incompetent in exercising its power mentioned under Article 379 as the Power mentioned under Art 379 as the Power mentioned under Articles 368 of amending the constitution is not conferred on parliament but is as a nominated body on the two house of parliament.

2. Under Article 368 the power conferred on them calls for collegial action from both the house of parliament and could be justly operated only by the parliament to be duly be incorporated as under chapter II of Part V.

3. That Articles 368 is a complete code and it neglects for any amendment in the bill after it is being given in the house for its passing.They further stated that the bill, in this case,Which has been amended on several occasions before it came in front of the house,The amendment act has not been passed in conformity as per the prescribed procedures in articles 368.

4.The 1st Amendment act,1951 which insert Art 31 (A) and 31 (B) violated and abridges the fundamental rights conferred through Part III of the constitution with the restrictions of Art 13(2).

5.The Art 31(A) and 31(B) which is inserted through the first Amendment Act,1951 also seeks to brings Changes in Chapter IV of Part V Article 132 and 136 and Chapter V of Part VI ARTICLE 226 these requirement for ratification under clause (b) of Article 368 has to be followed, and it has not ratified in here and so they are void and unconstitutional.It also ultra vires the matter in list II, for which the only the state legislature and not parliament have any power to make laws.

RESPONDENT’S ARGUMENT

1.On the very first instance it was submitted that according to the fundamental law of our independent India the constitution,it should not be held liable for changes as per the wishes of the party majorities,the framers of the constitution have placed special hardship in the path of amending the constitution by providing three different classes for Amendment :

• First including those which are affected by a bare majority for the passing of ordinary law.

• The second includes those which are affected by a special majority under Art 368.

• Third includes those which are in addition to the special majority as required in second class and Ratification required by not less than one half of the states as mentioned in the first schedule in its PartA and PartB.

2.The third class as mentioned in Article 368 seeks for changes in the provision.The Parliament Which includes the two House of parliament and the president conferred as the first class of Amendment.

3.The parliament is supposed to have been conferred with the power of amending the other two classes as no  clear indication have been given.As the difference between the class is merely procedural and no reasons have been given to put their trust in a different body for it.

4.They denied the contention that Articles 368 is to be considered as a complete code for the procedure.In regard to the procedures,it lags at there is in consistency as to how and after the introduction of the  notice is to handled.Consisting of the doubts and questions on the part of its introduction and passing of in each house of parliament and going the president’s assent.They also contended that the legislative process will also include the amending of the constitution.

5.In the context of the world ‘law’ Under Art 13 must be taken to mean rules and regulations made in the exercise of ordinary legislative power and not Amendment to the constitution made in exercise of constituent power with the result of which Art 13(2) does not affects AMENDMENTS made under art 368.

6.The Parliament holds exclusive power in regards to make the amendments in the constitution and it falls within the ambit of the legislative in relation to subject matter.

 JUDGEMENT/HOLDING WITH REASONING

The Judgement was delivered by Hon’ble Judges M Patanjali Sastri.The court unanimously held that even if the amendment is considered to be superior to ordinary legislation it will not be able to strike its validity by Articles 13(2).The word ‘law’ as given under Art13(2) ordinarily will be inclusive of constitutional amendment but it must be in consideration of ordinary legislative power and therefore the constitution amendment done by the parliament in its constitutional power is not subjected to Article 13(2) and such power include the power to amend the fundamental rights. The court that

“We are of the opinion that in the context of Article 13 law must be taken to mean rules and regulation made in the exercise of ordinary legislative power and not amendments to the constitution made in the exercise of the constitution power with the result that the Art 13(2) does not affects AMENDMENTS made under art 368” 

The court upheld the validity of the first Amendment act 1951 by using the literal interpretation .It also held that Articles 368 entitle the parliament to amend the constitution with treating the fundamental rights with any exception unlike they are treated under art 368 .The court diverged with the view that the fundamental rights with any exception unlike they are treated under Art 368.The court diverged with the view that the fundamental rights can be here inviolable.The supreme court narrowed the view of art 13(2) and adopted the progress of independent nation through the acquisition of property.

BY MANVI SINGH 

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