Waman Rao V. Union of India (1981)

Citations: Waman Rao vs Union of Union (1981) 2 SCC 362

Date of Judgment: 13.11.1981

Equivalent Citations: (1981)2SCC362, [1981]2SCR1

Case No: N/A

Case Type: N/A

Appellant: Waman Rao and Ors

Respondent: Union of India


  • Hon’ble Justice Y Chandrachud,
  • Hon’ble Justice A Sen,
  • Hon’ble Justice P Bhagwati,
  • Hon’ble Justice V Tulzapurkar
  • Hon’ble Justice V K Iyer

Court: Supreme Court of India

Statutes Referred:

  • Maharashtra Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 27 of 1961.
  • Constitution of India

Cases Referred:

  • Kesavananda Bharati v. The State of Kerala
  • Sajjan Singh v. State of Rajasthan
  • I.C. Golaknath v. State of Punjab
  • Shankari Prasad v. Union of India.


  • A petition was brought before High Court of Bombay challenging Maharashtra Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 27 of 1961.
  • The petition stated that this Act violates Fundamental Rights and Article 31A & 31B of Indian constitution was also challenged in the petition. All the challenges were rejected by the High Court.
  • Appeal against the decision of High Court was filed in Supreme Court in case of Dattatraya Govind vs State of Maharashtra. This appeal was also rejected and the Judgment was made during emergency.
  • Article 31A and Right to Property was deleted by 44th amendment after emergency.
  • Waman Rao case was a review of the Dattatraya case.

Issues Involved

  • Whether the Parliament has transgressed its power by enacting 31A through amendment.
  • Whether Article 31A provides immunity to laws from being challenged.
  • Whether it is possible to contest Articles 31B and 31C for infringing fundamental rights.
  • Whether 40th amendment which came during emergency was valid or not.

Contentions of Petitioner

The counsel for petitioner contended that-

  • That the constitutionality of Articles 31A, 31B, and unamended Article 31C.
  • Certain laws were unchallenged due to the protective nature of these Articles which violates certain Fundamental Rights enumerated in Part III of the Indian Constitution.
  • The petitioners argued that provisions of these Articles violate the fundamental framework of the constitution, as established in the 1973 judgment of Keshav Nand Bharati v. State of Kerala.
  • The 40th amendment passed by parliament during emergency was challenged saying that this amendment was passed by extending the period of Parliament.

Contentions of Respondent

Counsel for Respondent contended that –

  • Article 31A,31B and unamended 31C provides safeguards only to those laws which do no undermine the basic structure of the constitution.
  • The validity or legality of 40th amendment is not affected by proclamation of emergency.


The Apex Court held that it would be misconception that every case which is violating fundamental rights also damages Basic Structure of the Constitution. Therefore,1st amendment does not violate the Basic Structure Doctrine. The Court acknowledged that efforts to eradicate current inequalities may result in new incidental inequalities, but that these do not violate the fundamental framework of the Constitution.

  • Following the Kesavananda decision, Acts and Regulations added to the Ninth Schedule would not have the same protections and might be closely examined for possible violations of the Constitution’s basic principles. Any Act can find itself placed in 9th schedule if they satisfy that they do not harm basic structure.
  • The Court held that extension of Lok Sabha was not valid and Lawful. As a result, 40th and 42nd amendment also become valid.

Ratio decidendi

  • This case reaffirms a number of basic structure doctrine-related questions that were raised by the Kesavananda Bharati case.
  • It said that the conflict of any state policy with fundamental rights would not render it null and void.
  • It distinguishes clearly between the acts that occurred before and after the Kesavananda Bharati case, making it simpler to assess which laws are subject to dispute and which are not.

Obiter Dicta



In this case the constitutional validity of Article 31A ,31B & 31C was challenged. The Supreme Court ruled that although regulations coming under Article 31A restricted Fundamental Rights, they did not violate or damage the Basic Structure Doctrine. Article 31B protected laws listed in the Ninth Schedule before to the Kesavananda Bharati case, but changes made after Kesavananda were scrutinized. In order to influence future constitutional interpretations, the Court made it clear that the doctrine of Stare Decisis applies to laws that are protected by the Constitution and not the Articles themselves.

Drafted By: Palak Mehta

Published on: February 18, 2024 at 19:52 IST

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