Whether Fundamental Rights can be amended or not?

I.C. Golak Nath and Ors. vs. State of Punjab and Ors. (27.02.1967 – SC)

Citation: AIR 1967 SC 1643

Fact:

The Golaknath Family had 500 Acres of farmland of which the Government held they could keep only a particular amount Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act 1953. The Family filed a petition under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution on grounds that their fundamental rights to acquire property and practice any profession under Article 19 were denied and that the amendment placing the Punjab Act in the Schedule was ultra vires.

Question of Law:

Whether an amendment is a ‘law’ under the meaning of Article 13(2) which prohibits laws that infringe fundamental rights?

Whether Fundamental Right can be amended or not?

Held:

Article 368 of the Constitution merely contains the amending procedure. The amending power of the Parliament emanates from the provisions of Article 245, 246 and 248 which give it the power to make laws.

Every amendment is a law, and is supposed to pass the test of validity contained in Article 13(2) of the Constitution. An amendment that takes away or abridges fundamental rights is thus void.

The Court held that the Fundamental Rights are the primordial rights necessary for the development of human personality. They are the rights which enable a man to chalk out his own life in the manner he likes best. Our Constitution, in addition to the well-known fundamental rights, also included the rights of the minorities, untouchables and other backward communities, in such rights. After having declared the fundamental rights, our Constitution says that all laws in force in the territory of India immediately before the commencement of the Constitution, insofar as they are inconsistent with the said rights, are, to the extent of such inconsistency, void. The Constitution also enjoins the State not to make any law which takes away or abridges the said rights and declares such laws, to the extent of such inconsistency, to be void. As we have stated earlier, the only limitation on the freedom enshrined in Art. 19 of the Constitution is that imposed by a valid law operating as a reasonable restriction in the interests of the public. It will, therefore, be seen that fundamental rights are given a transcendental position under our Constitution and are kept beyond the reach of Parliament.

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