What is the basic structure of the Indian Constitution?
The question has been considered by the Court from time to time, and several such features have been identified, but the matter still remains an open one. In the seminal Keshavananda case, Justice Sikri mentioned the following as the ‘basic foundation and structure’ of the Indian Constitution:-
(1) Supremacy of the Constitution;
(2) Separation of Powers between the executive, the legislature and the judiciary;
(3) Republican and democratic form of Government;
(4) Secular character of the Constitution;
(5) The dignity of the individual secured by the various Fundamental Rights and the mandate to build a welfare state contained in the directive principles;
(6) The unity and integrity of the nation;
(7) Parliamentary system.
The features have been mentioned as only illustrative. Whether a feature of the Constitution is ‘basic’ or not is to be determined from time to time by the Court and when the question arises.
Discuss the historical significance of 73rd and 74th amendment.
Panchayat is an ancient institution in India. The modern type was introduced by Lord Rippon. The Constitution framers also wanted Panchayat to be vibrant feature on Indian democracy and embodied it in Article 40 which is a directive principle. In 1959, Panchayat Raj was introduced on the basis of Balwant Raj Mehta Committee recommendations. The functioning of these panchayats was reviewed by Ashok Mehta Committee in 1977. It was found that panchayats could not function properly as they did not have independent source of funds, regular elections etc. These and many more impediments have now been overcome by the 73rd Amendment which has provided a constitutional basis to the existence of Panchayats. With 74th Amendment, the urban local government has been given constitutional powers.