Seer Kesavananda Bharati, who was the key petitioner in the significant judgement passed by a 13 judges Bench of the Supreme Court of India, a case that evolved the Doctrine of Basic Structure of the Constitution of India, passed away on Sunday.
The historic case, popularly known as ‘the fundamental rights case’ and ‘the basic structure case’, held that the Supreme Court is the guardian of the Basic Structure of the constitution and prevented India from slipping into a totalitarian regime.
He was the head of Jagadguru Shankaracharya Samsthanam mutt, which belongs to the Shankaracharya tradition.
On March 21, 1970, seer Kesavananda Bharati filed a petition challenging the Kerala government's attempts to impose restrictions over the mutt property. He challenged the Kerala government’s takeover of land owned by the mutt as per the land reforms Act of 1969.
Keshavananda Bharati was represented by Senior Advocate Nani Palkhiwala.
The Petition sought enforcement of rights guaranteed under Article 25 (Right to practice and propagate religion), Article 26 (Right to manage religious affairs), Article 14 (Right to equality), Article 19(1) (f) (freedom to acquire property), Article 31 (Compulsory Acquisition of Property).
The landmark judgement in Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala was passed by a 13 judges Bench of the Apex Court, the largest Bench of the Supreme Court of India. It was heard for 68 days starting from October 1972 to March 1973.
By a wafer thin majority of 7:6, the Bench pronounced that the Parliament has wide powers, however, it can not alter the Basic Structure of the Constitution of India. Mr. Bharti did not win the relief.
The Court ruled that the Constitution can be amended but the Basic Structure can not be touched.