Aadhaar hearing 2nd longest in India’s history: Here’s how the longest defined ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution

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New Delhi | Updated: May 11, 2018 2:32 PM

The prolonged Supreme Court hearing pertaining to the constitutional validity of the central government's much-discussed Aadhaar scheme finally came to an end on Thursday.

the Kesavananda Bharati v State of Kerala However, it was the Kesavananda Bharati case of 1973 that is considered as the longest and a historic one in the annals of the top court

The prolonged Supreme Court hearing pertaining to the constitutional validity of the central government’s much-discussed Aadhaar scheme finally came to an end on Thursday. The Supreme Court yesterday reserved its verdict on a batch of pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Centre’s flagship Aadhaar scheme and its enabling 2016 law. The hearing spanned 38 working days and 4.5 months. The marathon hearing has also made its way into the history as the second longest in the history of the apex court.

However, it was the Kesavananda Bharati case of 1973 that is considered as the longest and a historic one in the annals of the top court. Attorney General K K Venugopal yesterday informed the apex court about the Kesavananda Bharati case of 1973 being the longest one in the history of the Supreme Court. The Kesavananda Bharati case spanned five months and was heard by a 13-judge bench. The final judgement was a 703-page document and came from a majority of 7:6 that had propounded the doctrine of ‘Basic Structure and of the Constitution’.

What was the case about?

The marathon hearing began with Senior Plaintiff and head of “Edneer Mutt” Swami HH Sri Kesavananda Bharati challenged the Kerala government’s reported move to interfare into managing the land. Bharati had filed his plea under Article 26.

The hearing for the Kesavananda Bharati v State of Kerala began on October 31, 1972, and ended on March 23, 1973. The hearing, which spanned 68 working days, had also referred to hundreds of cases. The then Attorney General studied Constitutions of 71 different countries, according to reports. The 13th Chief Justice Sarv Mittra Sikri led the 13-judges bench. The final verdict was pronounced on April 24, 1973. Reports say the judgement had a political significance as it was linked to the differences between the judiciary and the central government-led by Indira Gandhi’s Congress.

How did the case end?

In a split verdict in Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala, the Supreme Court stated that basic structure of the Constitution is inviolable and even Parliament can not ammend it. “Basic structure” was interpreted to include the supremacy of the Constitution, independence of the judiciary, the rule of law, doctrine of separation of powers, secularism, federalism, the parliamentary system of government, sovereign democratic republic, the principle of free and fair elections, welfare state, etc.

However, aftermath of the verdict saw an unprecedented event in the history of the country’s judicial history. Justice A N Ray, who was among the six judges, who dissented, took over as the 14th Chief Justice of India on April 26, 1973. Subsequently, Attorney General Niren De had moved the Supreme Court without even filing a review petition. CJI Ray had also arbitrarily constituted a 13-judge Bench to review the verdict. On November 12, 1975, CJI Ray abruptly dissolved the 13-judge Bench.

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