What's the article about?
- It talks about the Vice President's remarks on the relationship between Parliament, the judiciary, and the Basic structure.
- GS2: Separation of Powers between various organs Dispute Redressal Mechanisms and Institutions.
Note: This article is a follow-up to the analyses published on November 19, 2022, and December 16, 2022. You may read those analyses to get a better overview of the ongoing issue.
- The appointment of the higher judiciary has been the subject of a debate between the executive and the judiciary in recent months.
- Previously, the Union Law Minister, the President of India, and others have made statements on the subject (NJAC issue).
- The Vice President (VP) now commented on the Basic Structure.
- The views expressed by the VP are not important for our exam, but the underlying issue—the relationship between Parliament, the judiciary, and the Basic structure—is important for our exam. Thus, let’s go through them.
- Indian Constitution provides for the separation of powers between three organs of the modern state – Executive, Legislative and Judiciary.
- Every organ is supreme in its own sphere, and it is ideal for them not to intervene in the spheres of others.
- However, due to exceptional circumstances, this ideal of separation of powers is not maintained.
- There have been instances where the judiciary has intervened in the legislative and executive spheres.
- These interventions are sometimes necessary, and other times they are considered transgressions by other two organs. (Judicial Activism, Restraint & Overreach).
What is meant by the Doctrine of the Basic Structure?
- The basic structure doctrine was laid down by the Supreme Court in the Kesavananda Bharati judgement in the turbulent 1970s following serial attrition between the Indira Gandhi-led executive and the court.
- The court ruled that while Parliament has vast powers to change the Constitution, it cannot touch certain “basic features” or foundational principles that give the Constitution its coherence or identity, make it what it is. That is, Parliament can amend, not destroy.
- Ever since, the doctrine has held firm and stood the test of time because the court has kept the formulation of “basic features” wide and abstract.
- It has been careful not to spell them out too exhaustively or narrowly and thereby tread on the toes of the elected legislature.
- These constraints help maintain the fine balance that makes democracy work better for the people.
Also read: Evolution of Doctrine of Basic Structure Explained
- The executive, legislature, and judiciary must come together to ensure the smooth and effective implementation of the Indian Constitution in order to achieve its ideals.