The Doctrine of Basic Structure is a judicial innovation implying that Indian Constitution has certain basic
features which cannot be destroyed through Parliamentary amendment. The Doctrine was propounded
by Supreme Court in Keshavananda Bharti case.
Though doctrine has helped in strengthening Indian democracy, it has been criticized for being shrouded
in confusion, vagueness and a loose formulation as it is:

  1. Not defined: Judiciary has not defined basic structure. It is vague and loosely formulated in the
    sense that there is no clear-cut list given by the judiciary about constitution of basic structure.
  2. Open to interpretation: Doctrine adds to the uncertainty in interpreting the scope of Article 368
    and has been left open before the judiciary to decide the basic structure on the case-to-case
    basis. For Example: In NJAC case, supreme court declared amendment passed by the parliament
    as unconstitutional.
  3. Extra-constitutional: A doctrine can only be said Constitutional when it has a Constitutional
    genesis. Basic structure has extra Constitutional origin thereby not reflecting mandate of the
    people or that of the constitution makers.
  4. All provisions of the Constitution are essential and no distinction can be made between essential
    and non-essential features from the point of view of the judiciary.
  5. Separation of powers: The doctrine has allowed judiciary to actively participate in legislative
    process, diluting the separation of power.
    Although, doctrine has been criticized for its vagueness and being confusing, a doctrine of basic structure
    has taken a definitive shape as it has:
  6. Detailed evolution: Through successive judgement, the concept of basic structure has been
    expanded and a detailed list of what constitutes the basic structure has been recognized,
    reducing the vagueness in present times. For example: SR Bomai case recognized secularism as
    basic structure.
  7. Protected constitutional supremacy: Doctrine is not a result of an extra judicial effort but was
    consequence of Parliamentary efforts to undermine the Constitution. Judiciary stepped up to
    safeguard Constitutional supremacy by implied limitation on Parliament in Golaknath judgement.
  8. Respected separation of powers: Though constitution provides for separation of powers between
    the three organs, it is against water–tight separation. The constitution allows for as system of
    checks and balances and judiciary has acted while respecting this system


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