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Shankari Prasad Case (1951)

Shankari Prasad Case (1951)


  • Fundamental rights, the basic human rights are enforceable. These fundamental rights are protected by the court of law by issuing writs.
  • Though under Article 352 and 356, the fundamental rights or some parts of them can be suspended during emergency yet they can be amended by Parliament.
  • The constitutional validity of first amendment (1951), which curtailed the right to property, was challenged in Shankari prasad case.

About the case | Shankari Prasad Case (1951) 

  • The case came into light when Land Reforms were being implemented and people affected with these reforms turned towards HC for justice.
  • Some of the HCs were in favour of these land reforms and some were declaring them unconstitutional which created a confusion among people and the case came to SC.
  • The case was based on Article 13.
  • Article 13 of the original constitution said that the state shall not make any law that takes away or abridges the rights given to the citizens in Part III and any such law made in contravention of this article shall be deemed void to the extent of contravention. Therefore, the parliament cannot amend the constitution in a way that takes away the fundamental rights of the citizens.
  • It was challenged that Amendment (in this case an amendment to Article 31A and 31B) that take away fundamental right of the citizens is not allowed by article 13. It was argued that “State” includes parliament and “Law” includes Constitutional Amendments.

Effect of the case | Shankari Prasad Case (1951) 

  • Total amending power was given to the Parliament by the Indian Judiciary.
  • It was held that ‘Law’ in Article 13 is ordinary law made under the legislative powers. And therefore, the parliament has power to amend the constitution.
  • The Supreme Court applied the principle of harmonic construction as there is a conflict between Article 368 and Article 13. The provisions of constitution should be interpreted in a manner that they do not conflict with each other and there must be harmony among them.

Judgement of SC | Shankari Prasad Case (1951) 

  • Article 31A and 31B was introduced which supports schedule 9,by this any act in this schedule can’t be void parliament .
  • SC says that parliament can amend part 3 fundamental rights because article 13[4] and 368[3] empowers the parliament and amendment in 368 is not an ordinary law as mentioned in article 13[3] and it can;t be void under article 13[2]
  • The SC ruled out that the power to amend the Constitution under Article 368 also included the power to amend fundamental rights and that the word “law” in Article 13 (8) includes only an ordinary law made in exercise of the legislative powers and does not include Constitutional amendment which is made in exercise of constituent power. Therefore, a Constitutional amendment will be valid even if it abridges or takes any of the fundamental rights.

Indian Polity

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