Constitution 24th Amendment Act, 1971

The 24th amendment was enacted as a reaction to Golak Nath case, 1967. The Golak Nath ruling led to increased parliamentary authority to amend the Constitution. Through the Amendment, Parliament restored to itself undisputed authority to amend the Constitution, including its repeal.

Important Facts

  • It restored the absolute power of the Parliament to amend any part of the Constitution including Part III (fundamental rights).
  • The Act provides that  when  a  Constitution Amendment Bill passed by  both   Houses  of Parliament  is  presented to the President for his assent,  he  should give  his assent. The president was made duty bound to give assent to a Constitution Amendment Bill when presented to him.
  • It amends article 13 of the Constitution to make it inapplicable to any amendment of the Constitution under article 368.
  • Article 13(4) and 368(3) were inserted through 24th Amendment. Article 13 (4) says “Nothing in this article shall apply to any amendment of this Constitution made under article 368.”

Why it was enacted?

The Supreme Court in the Golak Nath’s case (1967) upheld the power of  Parliament to amend all parts of  the Constitution  including Part III relating to fundamental rights. The result of  the judgment is that Parliament is considered powerless to take away or curtail any of the fundamental rights guaranteedby  Part III of the Constitution even if it becomes necessary to do sofor  giving effect to the Directive Principles of State Policy and for the  attainment  of  the  objectives set out in the  Preamble to the Constitution. It was considered necessary to provide expressly that Parliament has power to amend any provision of the Constitution and to include the provisions of Part III within the scope of the amending power.

Implications
The president’s assent to the Constitution amendment bill was made obligatory.

  • It substituted a new marginal heading to article 368 in place of the old heading “procedure for amendment of the constitution”. The new heading is “power of parliament to amend the constitution and procedure thereof.”
  • The 24th Amendment was the first of a series of several constitutional amendments designed to weaken the judiciary, and enhance the authority of Parliament and thePrime Minister’s office. The most notable among these were the 25th, 38th and 39th Amendments, culminating in the 42nd Amendment in 1976, which brought about the most sweeping changes to the Constitution in history.
  • In GolakNath’s case, the Supreme Court held that the amendment of the Constitution under article 368 is “law within the meaning of Article 13 of the Constitution so a Constitutional Amendment which takes away or abridges a fundamental right would be void. 24th Amendment Act made clear that provisions in article 13 does not apply to constitutional amendment made under article 368.

Kesavananda Bharati case and constitutional amendments:

In Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala case (1973), the Supreme Court reviewed the validity of 24th,25th, 26th and 29th Constitution Amendments. Accordingly the following observations were made by it:

  • GolakNath case verdict was overruled and was held that article 368 does not enable Parliament to alter the basic structure or framework of the Constitution.
  • The 24th and 29th Amendment Act was made valid.

The first part of section 3 of the 25th CAA was held valid but the second part namely “and no law containing a declaration that it is for giving effect to such policy shall be called in question in any court on the ground that it does not give effect to such policy” is invalid, thus paving way for judicial scrutiny.

Comments