NAME: – Minerva Mills Ltd. vs. Union of India.
CITATION: – AIR 1980 SC 1789.
Petitioner: – Owners of the Minerva Mills.
Respondent: – Union of India.
Bench: – Y Chandrachud, A Gupta, N Untwalia, P Bhagwati, P Kailasam.
Relevant cases: –
Kesvananda Bharati case
Indira Gandhi vs. Raj Narain
I C Golaknath case.
There was a textile mill located near the Bangalore city named, Minerva mills. It has a substantial decrease in its production. The Central Government considered appointing a committee under Section 15 of the Industries Development Act, 1951 in the year 1970. The committee submitted its report to the Central Government in October 1971. The Central Government authorized the National textile Corporation Limited under the Industries Development Act, 1951 to take over the management of Minerva mills.
The petitioners alleged that it was the infringement of their fundamental rights of article 14 and 19 in Indian Constitution but, they were not be allowed to proceed to judicial proceedings of these case. So they challenged the 42nd amendment which was passed in the parliament which amended Article 31C through Section 4 of the Constitutional amendment Act, 1976. Further Section 55 of the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976 made amendments in Article 368, and the constitutional validity of article 31C.
ISSUES INVOLVED: –
- Whether amendments under Article 368 through sections 4 and 55 of the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 destroy the basic structure of the constitution?
- Whether amendment in article 31C is valid?
“Section 4 of the 42nd Amendment, had amended Article 31C of the Constitution to accord precedence to the Directive Principles of State Policy articulated in Part IV of the Constitution over the Fundamental Rights of individuals expressed in Part III.”
“Section 55 of the Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976, which came into force with effect from January 8, 1977 inserted Sub-sections (4) and (5) in article 368 which read thus:
No amendment of this Constitution (including the provisions of Part III; made for purporting to have been made under this article) whether before or after the commencement of Section 55 of the Constitution (Forty-second Amendment Act, 1976) shall be called in question in any court on any ground.”
“As per article 31C of Indian Constitution no law giving effect to the policy of the State towards securing all or any of the principles laid down in Part IV shall be deemed to be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with, or takes away or abridges any of the rights conferred by Article 14 or Article 19.
Provided that where such law is made by the Legislature of a State, the provisions of this Article shall not apply thereto unless such law, having been reserved for the consideration of the President, has received his assent.”
Jawaharlal Nehru once said in the Lok Sabha in the course of discussion on the Constitution (First Amendment) Bill:
“The Directive Principles of State Policy represent a dynamic move towards a certain objective. The Fundamental Rights represent something static, to preserve certain rights which exist. Both again are right. But somehow and sometime it might so happen that dynamic movement and that static standstill do not quite fit into each other.”
“Parliament took the view that the constitutional obligation in regard to Directive Principles should have precedence over the constitutional obligation in regard to the Fundamental Rights in Articles 14 and 19, because Fundamental Rights though important for maintaining the democratic way of life, have absolutely no meaning for the poor and economically backward classes of people. The only way in which Fundamental Rights can be made meaningful for them is by implementing the Directive Principles.”
In the Indian Constitution, the term of basic structure means the doctrine which allows the Supreme Court to strike down any amendments that may alter the ‘basic structure’ of the constitution. The very basis on which the law of a country is founded is its constitution. This doctrine mentions that amendments can be made in the Constitution without hampering the basic structure.
The basic structure of constitution includes
The rule of law, Separation of power between the Centre and the State, Fundamental Rights and the Directive principle of the State policy, Right to have free and fair elections, The Parliamentary system of government, Powers of the Supreme Court under Article 32, 147, 142 & 136 of the Indian Constitution, Power of the High Court under Article 226 and 227 of the Indian Constitution, Article 14 right to equality, Limited power of the parliament to amend the Constitution, Unity and Integrity of the nation, Secularism and Socialism, Preamble.
The doctrine of judicial review
The doctrine was given in the Indian Constitution which provides the power to the judiciary to review the Acts of the executive and the legislature.
The Court can use the power of judicial review on:
Constitutional Amendments & Legislation passed by the Parliament, State Legislature.
The amendment in Article 31C doesn’t damages the basic structure of the Constitution instead strengthens and re-enforces it by giving fundamental importance to the rights of the members of the community as against the rights of a few individuals.
The Court held that the Parliament can amend the Constitution without hampering the basic structure doctrine. Section 4 and 55 of the Constitution (Forty second Amendment) Act, 1976 which inserted sub-sections (4) and (5) in Article 368 is unconstitutional and void on the ground that it damages the basic structure of the Constitution and goes beyond the amending power of Parliament.
Article 31C does not damage or destroy the basic structure of the Constitution and is within the amending power of Parliament.
In the above mentioned case, the constitutional validity of amendments under two major articles of Indian constitution (article 31C and article 368) was challenged in front of Supreme Court, by the Minerva textile mills whose production got decrease and gets nationalised under the Industries Development Act, 1951.
The court held that the Section 4 and 55 of the Constitution (Forty second Amendment) Act, 1976 which inserted sub-sections (4) and (5) in Article 368 is unconstitutional and void on the ground that it damages the basic structure of the Constitution and goes beyond the amending power of Parliament, but dismissed the plea of petitioner in respect of validity of article 31C as it does not damage or destroy the basic structure of the Constitution.