The 'Case Analysis: Minerva Mills v. Union of India, (1980)' contains a landmark decision because it strengthened the concept of the basic structure doctrine in Indian Constitutional Law.

The 'Case Analysis: Minerva Mills v. Union of India (1980)' contains a landmark decision because it strengthened the concept of the basic structure doctrine in Indian Constitutional Law. Supreme Court held that the power of Parliament to amend is limited by the development and strengthening of the doctrine of basic structure. Through this case, it was laid down that the Constitution is superior and not the Parliament.

The Supreme Court of India ruled in this case that the balance between fundamental rights and directive principles is the cornerstone of the Indian Constitution. They are the basis of all social reform. In addition, it was concluded that the directive principles can be implemented by changing fundamental rights as long as the amendment does not threaten or destroy the core structure of the Constitution.

Case Title: Minerva Mills v. Union of India

Court: Supreme Court of India

Citation: 1980 AIR 1789, 1981 SCR(1) 206

Judges: Y. V. Chandrachud (Chief Justice), P. N. Bhagwati, A. C. Gupta, N. L. Untwalia, P. S. Kailasam.

Date: 31st July 1980

Facts of the Case

  • Minerva Mills Ltd. (hereinafter petitioner no. 1/ company) was a limited company selling textiles in Karnataka. The Other Petitioners were Shareholders of Minerva Mills.
  • August 20, 1970 - The central government was worried after seeing the downfall in the production rate of Minerva Mills, and therefore appointed a committee under Section 15 of The Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951 (hereinafter IDR) law) to settle the affairs of Minerva Mills Ltd.
  • 19.10.1971- After sending the report of the commission, the Central Government issued an order under Section 18A of the 1951 Act allowing National Textile Corporation Ltd, to take over the management of the factories due to the bad management of the company's affairs. Hence, the company was nationalized and taken over by the Central Government following the provisions of the treaty. The Sick Textile Enterprises (Nationalization) Act, 1974 (hereinafter referred to as Nationalization Act).
  • The Petitioners then appealed to the High Court against this order. However, the court rejected their request.
  • Therefore, the Petitioners filed a writ petition before the Hon'ble Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution of India.

Issues Raised?

  1. Whether sections 4 and 55 (4), (5) of the 42nd amendment act,1976 are beyond the amending power of Parliament under Article 368.
  2. Whether the Directive Principles of State Policy should be given supremacy over the Fundamental Rights?

Analysis of the Judgment

1. Section 4 (42nd Constitutional Amendment) of 1976 amended Article 31C of the Constitution by substituting the words and figures "all or any of the principles laid down in Part IV" for the words and figures "the principles specified in Clause (b) or Clause (c) of Article 39" and therefore this amendment gave parliamentary sanctions for any law or regulation made in furtherance of any objective of the directive principle of state policy even though it violated Article 13, Article 14 and Article 19

2. Section 55 added subsections 4 and 5 to section 368 of the Constitution, which gave Parliament unlimited powers to amend the Constitution.

3. Limited amendment power is one of the main features of the Indian Constitution therefore the limitations of that jurisdiction cannot be destroyed and the right to cancel or the cancellation of the same cannot be considered constitutional. The meaning and spirit of Article 13 will cease to exist. The court was asked to consider constitutional issues an amendment that violated the fundamental rights of the people.

4. The Petitioners have raised the question of whether the case of Keshvanand Bharti allowed parliament to make such an amendment as the DPSP would provide more priority than fundamental rights. The answer is; if Articles 19 and 14 are a part of the basic structure of the Constitution, they cannot be changed. DPSPs are necessary for people's well-being, but to subvert the fundamental guarantees of part III of the constitution is to destroy the basic structure of the constitution.

5. Fundamental Rights have a unique place in the life of civilized societies and it has been described as "transcendent", "inalienable" "primordial" and "indigenous" as said in Kesavananda Bharati’s case that they form the soul of the constitution. Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy are two-wheeled wagons and a double formula for social revolution.

6. The Constitution of India has maintained a balance between fundamental freedoms and therefore DPSP giving absolute supremacy would disturb the harmony and the balance sought by the Founders of our Constitution. There is a lot in the introduction of clearly woven threads of this harmony. On the other hand, it reflects an ideal of India being a socialist country, India ensures social justice to all its citizens and vice versa it gives every citizen the freedom to think, believe, worship and the right to maintain dignity and brotherhood, equal opportunity and status and the right to preserve human dignity to create an ideal of the individual the opportunity and freedom to try to be a version of him.

7. The goals defined in Part IV must be achieved with average purity, not the cost of basic freedoms. The two should go hand in hand. Regarding the category of laws described in, Article 31 C, Section 4 of the 42nd Amendment Act, abrogates Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution. The consequence of such an amendment is that if any law offends the spirit of Article 13 read with Articles 14 and 19, the question of its validity cannot be raised until it seeks to achieve the objectives set out in Part IV; DPSP.

8. There is no merit to the claim that Article 31 C does not cover all laws that cancel the fundamental freedoms guaranteed in Articles 14 and 19. Undoubtedly, certain laws do not fall under the above jurisdiction Article, but they are not a small part of them.

9. Article 38 says that the state strives to promote the well-being of the people to ensure and protect as effectively as possible a social order in which justice is social, economic and political and informs all institutions of national life.

10. There are two aspects to consider; this Article definitely has more scope implication, but the Article may not support this and other issues. It is therefore clear to conclude that no law intended to enforce this Article can be contrary to the ideals of the Constitution, it is not necessary at all to make a change in the basic structure of the Constitution to achieve this.

11. The main purpose of introducing this article is to remove such laws which cannot stand Articles 19 and 14 of the Constitution of India. Articles 14 and 19 are not some imaginary rights but it is natural and basic human rights that made them first appear before the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1948 and when parliaments are empowered to accept unreasonable restrictions on those rights, which are the soul of the Constitution breaks Section 4 of the Forty-second Amendment found an easy way out circumvent Article 32(4) by removing the protection of Articles 14 and 19 entirely on the broad category of right not to complain about violations, in that case, a correction may be requested by Article 32.

12. The right to withdraw the protection of Article 14 is a right to discriminate without a valid classification basis. In addition, Article 14 allows reasonable classification to ensure social welfare and according to Article 19, reasonable restrictions can be imposed to ensure a fair and just society, which is the only purpose of DPSP. Therefore, an amendment was made to the Article to ensure the implementation of DPSP to the extent that the removal of their fundamental rights does not have to be questioned in court.

13. Laws may be passed with immunity which prevents citizens from exercising their right to move freely across India. So, this review in practice breaks the heart of the Constitution. Article 12 of the Constitution provides for interpretation of the word "State" which includes the Government and Parliament of India and Any state government and legislature and any local or other agency in the territory of India or under the control of the Government of India. The language of Article 31 C is, that is provided by the definition of the word "State" in Article 12. Article 31C is the operation of the widest amplitude.

Although the state legislature approves legally the implementation of the protection policy of the local government. According to the directive principle, the law is unaffected by the provisions of Articles 14 and 19.

14. Claim that this amendment aims to strengthen democracy through coercion. The ideals of state politics do not last because the state has a certain goal to achieve democracy and therefore aims to achieve these goals in a disciplined manner to maintain the guarantee of fundamental rights making the means to achieving national goals democratically. If discipline is revoked under Article 14 and if an immunity to the application of this Article is granted, not only to laws in force by Parliament but laws passed by state parliaments, including political ones. The Pressure of numerically large groups can tear the country apart leaving the choice of favourite fields and classes to the legislature's preferential treatment.

15. Because the amendment to Article 31 C was undoubtedly made with the purpose gives legislators the power to enact certain types of laws, even if they violate the discipline of Articles 14 and 19, it is impossible to read that the court should, however, save Article 31C from being challenged as unconstitutional on its reading that the words of the Article that destroy the rationale and intent of the Article that contradicts its stated purpose.

16. The Apex Court in the judgment dated July 31, 1980, by majority of 4:1, held that sections 4 and 55 of the 42nd (Amendment) Act were unconstitutional.

17. Further, the Writ Petition challenging the Constitutionality of Sections 5(b), 19(3), 21 (read with 2nd schedule), 25 and 27, of the Sick Textile Undertakings (Nationalisation) Act, 1974, was dismissed.

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R Shakthivel

R Shakthivel

Institution: Presidency University, Bangalore. My area of interest includes M and A, General Corporate, Legal research and content writing.

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