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Article 368 :

Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, Parliament may in exercise of its constituent power amend by way of addition, variation or repeal any provision of this Constitution in accordance with the procedure laid down in this Article.

"We find it difficult to accept the contention that our Constitution makers after making immense sacrifices for achieving certain ideals, made provision in the Constitution itself for the destruction of those ideals. There is no doubt as men of experience and sound political knowledge , they must have known that social, economic and political changes are bound to come with the passage of time and the Constitution must be capable of being so adjusted as to be able to respond to those new demands. Our Constitution is not a mere political document.  It is essentially a social document... A Constitution like ours contains certain features which are so essential that they cannot be changed or destroyed... If one or more of the basic features of the Constitution are taken away to that extent the Constitution is abrogated or repealed... The personality of the Constitution must remain unchanged."

- The Supreme Court in Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, (1973) 4 SCC 225, (at 480-81 as per Hegde and Mukherjee JJ. in a 7:6 majority of a 13 Judge Bench.).

"Article 368 of the Constitution does not enable Parliament to alter the basic structure of framework of the Constitution."

(From the summary signed by 9 of the 13 judges at p. 1007).


The basic structure doctrine is a limitation on the plenary power of the Parliament of amend the Constitution. There have been diverse situations where the Court has been called upon to apply the doctrine - a doctrine which has also become a part of the constitutional law of many countries  of South Asia. With this, the Supreme Court has declared it s supremacy as a final arbiter of the immutability of the Constitution with regard to the basic structure or foundation on which it rests. The power given to parliament to amend the Constitution  cannot any more be exercised so as to abrogate, inter alia, the  power of judicial review, the democratic structure, the rule of law, equality.



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