Introduction I.C. Golaknath v State of Punjab is a landmark case in Indian constitutional law. The case was heard by a bench of eleven judges of the Supreme Court of India in 1967. The case dealt with the issue of whether the Indian Parliament had the power to amend fundamental rights under Part III of the Indian Constitution. Citation: AIR 1971 SC 1643 Judges: Subba Rao (CJ), Wanchoo, K.N. Hidyatullah, M. Shah, J.C. Sikri, S.M. Bachawat, R.S. Ramaswami, V. Shelat, J.M....
I.C. Golaknath v State of Punjab is a landmark case in Indian constitutional law. The case was heard by a bench of eleven judges of the Supreme Court of India in 1967. The case dealt with the issue of whether the Indian Parliament had the power to amend fundamental rights under Part III of the Indian Constitution.
Citation: AIR 1971 SC 1643
Judges: Subba Rao (CJ), Wanchoo, K.N. Hidyatullah, M. Shah, J.C. Sikri, S.M. Bachawat, R.S. Ramaswami, V. Shelat, J.M. Bhargava, Vishishtha Mitter, G.K. Vaidyialingam, C.A.
The group of Henry and William Golaknath were in possession of more than 500 acres of land farmland in Jalandhar, Punjab. Under the Punjab Security and Land Tenures Act, the public authority held that the siblings could keep just thirty acres of land each, a couple of sections of land would go to occupants, and the rest was proclaimed excess. The group of Golaknath in the courts challenged this. Further, this case alluded to the Supreme Court in 1965.
The family documented a request under Article 32 challenging the 1953 Punjab Act in light of the fact that it denied them their sacred rights to procure and hold property and practice any calling (Article 19 (f) and (g) and to uniformity before the insurance of the law (Article 14). They looked to have the seventeenth amendment – which had set the Punjab Act in the ninth timetable – proclaimed ultra vires (past the forces).
The Supreme Court, by a majority of 6 to 5, prospectively overruled its earlier decisions in Shankari Prasad and Sajjan Singh cases and held that Parliament has no power from the date of this decision to amend Part III of the Constitution to take away the fundamental rights.
Subba Rao CJ. supported his judgement on the following reasoning:
The majority judgement also held that the fundamental rights are assigned transcendental phases under our constitution, and therefore, they are kept beyond the reach of parliament. The court applied Prospective Overruling and held that the decision would have only prospective operation and, therefore, the 1st, 4th and 17th Amendment will continue to be valid.
Justices K.N. Wanchoo, Vishistha Bhargava, and G.K Mitter all composed single minority sentiment and judges R.S. Bachawat and V. Ramaswami composed separate minority conclusions.
The minority judgement however held that the word ‘law’ in Article 13(2) of the Constitution referred to only ordinary law and not a constitutional amendment and hence Shankari Prasad and Sajjan Singh Judgements were rightly decided.
Article 368 of the Constitution does not only lay down the procedure that needs to be followed by the Parliament while amending the Constitution but also gives the Parliament the power to amend the Constitution of India.
The judgment was focused on protecting the fundamental provisions which are equal to the fundamental or natural rights of mankind and no government can take it. Golaknath is a kind of victory of “rule of law” because it made it clear that even the lawmakers are not above the law.
The court held that the parliament can’t change the fundamental rights. The judgement of Golaknath is not a perfect judgement. One of the biggest flaws was that the judgement granted rigidity to the constitution.
This decision toppled in Kesavananda Bharati v Union of India. In this, the court held that the parliament can alter the constitution including basic rights however the parliament can’t change the essential structure of the constitution. In that way, Golaknath was partially overruled by the Kesavananda Bharthi case.
 AIR 1951 SC 455
 AIR 1965 SC 845
 AIR 1973 SC 1461.