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Democracy and Constitutionalism in IndiaA Study of the Basic Structure Doctrine$
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Sudhir Krishnaswamy

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780198071617

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198071617.001.0001

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Grounds of Review

Grounds of Review

Basic Features of the Constitution

(p.131) 4 Grounds of Review
Democracy and Constitutionalism in India

Sudhir Krishnaswamy

Oxford University Press

In Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, the Indian Supreme Court announced the basic structure doctrine, but it fell to later decisions to elaborate on the nature and character of basic features and to specify the mode by which they may be identified. At various points the Court has suggested that democracy, secularism, rule of law, federalism, judicial review, separation of powers, among others, are basic features of the Constitution. A first step to clarify the identity of basic features of the Constitution is to scrutinize the important judicial opinions in several cases such as Indira Gandhi v. Raj Narain, as well as the early speculations in Kesavananda, in order to identify the main arguments and concerns about the basic features of the Constitution. This chapter argues that the basic structure doctrine seeks to identify ‘basic features’ of the constitution, as distinguished from core articles or ‘integral’ parts of it. It also contends that the Supreme Court is right to refuse to provide an exhaustive catalogue of basic features in a legislative mode.

Keywords:   Supreme Court, basic structure doctrine, Constitution, basic features, judicial review, judicial opinions, democracy, separation of powers, federalism, secularism

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