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Important Judgements Delivered by Indian Judiciary

Champakam Dorairajan State of Madras,1951

  • The court struck down caste-based reservations in admissions to engineering and medical colleges in the state of Madras, citing Article 16(2) of the Constitution.
  • The province of Madras had reserved a certain number of seats for certain communities.
  • Article 29(1) protects the language, script, or culture of a section of citizens, while Article 29(2) guarantees the fundamental right of individual citizens to not be denied admission to educational institutions based on religion, race, caste, language, or any of them.
  • If a citizen does not have the necessary academic qualifications and is denied admission on that basis, they cannot claim that their fundamental rights have been infringed upon.
  • This case led to the First Amendment of the Constitution of India.


Golaknath State of Punjab 1967

  • The Supreme Court ruled that laws made by Parliament cannot infringe upon or take away the fundamental rights of citizens as outlined in the Constitution of India.
  • Laws made by Parliament are considered constitutional under Article 13 of the Constitution.
  • The Constitution can be amended.
  • This ruling was overturned by the 24th amendment, but was later restored and expanded upon in the Keshavnand Bharti case.


Kesavananda Bharati State of Kerala, 1973

  • The present case was heard by a 13-judge bench, the largest in Indian judicial history.
  • The Supreme Court granted Parliament the power to amend any part of the Constitution of India, but stipulated that such amendments must not infringe upon the fundamental rights of citizens.
  • These amendments are considered constitutional under Article 13 of the Constitution.
  • This case is also known as the Fundamental Rights case.


Indira Gandhi vs. Raj Narain, 1975

  • The Supreme Court declared that clause 4 of the 39th amendment to the Constitution of India was unconstitutional and invalid because it violated the right to equality guaranteed by Article 14.
  • The court also identified democracy, judicial review, and the rule of law as fundamental features of the Constitution, and stated that the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Article 32, which allows for the issuance of writs, also forms part of the basic structure of the Constitution.


D.M. Jabalpur v. S. Shukla, 1976

  • The apex court in the infamous case of A.D.M. Jabalpur v. S. Shukla was a case during prevailing of emergency in the country.
  • Right to move to the court for enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed under constitution stands suspended.
  • This even includes Article 14, 21 and 22.
  • In later amendment, it was held that Article 21 and 22 cannot be suspended during the time of emergency.


Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India, 1978

  • The case is considered a landmark in Indian jurisprudence for its interpretation of the meaning of “life and personal liberty” under Article 21 of the Constitution
  • The case also expanded the freedom of speech and expression, and demonstrated the connections between Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution
  • It was ruled that the right to travel and go outside the country is included in the right to personal liberty under Article 21
  • The case involved a high degree of judicial activism and prescribed requirements for depriving a person of “personal liberty” under Articles 14 and 19 as well.


Minerva Mills Union of India,1980

  • The Supreme Court in India ruled that social welfare laws should not infringe on fundamental rights, strengthening the concept of the basic structure of the Constitution introduced in the Keshavananda Bharti case.
  • The 42nd Amendment Act was partially declared null and void.
  • This case established the principle of judicial review in the Indian legal system, as outlined in Article 13(2) of the Constitution.


MC Mehta v. Union of India, 1986

  • A Public Interest Litigation was filed by MC Mehta regarding the release of poisonous gases from a plant in Bhopal.
  • The Supreme Court extended the scope of Article 21 and 32 of the Constitution of India in this case.
  • The case is known as the Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
  • The court granted interim compensation of 250 crores to the victims and the High Court later ordered Union Carbide to pay compensation of 350 crores to the victims.


SR Bommai v. Union of India, 1993

  • The Supreme Court ruled that the President’s power under Article 356 of the Constitution of India should be limited.
  • It also declared that secularism is a fundamental aspect of the Constitution. The case involved the existence of a Ram Temple in a disputed area and the demolition of the Babri Masjid.
  • The Court referred the case to a larger bench for further consideration.


Vishaka State of Rajasthan, 1997

  • The Supreme Court heard a Public Interest Litigation filed by Vishakha and other women’s groups against the State of Rajasthan and the Union of India
  • The petitioners sought the enforcement of fundamental rights for working women under Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution
  • The court issued the Vishaka Guidelines as a result of the case
  • Later Parliament of India enacted the law Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act.

February 2024