Judgement of the Day.-MINERVA MILLS v. UNION OF INDIA


AIR 1980 SC 1789


Sections 4 and 55 of the 42nd Amendment Act were at the root of the controversy at Minerva

Mills. The Hon'ble Court had to determine if the basic structure of the Constitution was breached

by Sections 4 and 55 of the Act.

Section 4 of the Act amended Article 31C and ruled that any law made pursuant to the Directive

Principles of State Policy, which is inconsistent with Articles 14, 19 and 21 will not be void nor

can be challenged before a Court of law. In addition, Section 55 added clauses 4 and 5 to Article

368. Clause 5 granted Parliament the power to enact amendments that could change or kill the

identity of the Constitution, while clause 4 fully curtailed the judicial review of amendments.


The court held Section 55 of the amendment act 1976 void since it firstly made challenge in

court impossible and secondly it removed all the restrictions on the power of Parliament under

Article 368. The majority held that the limited amending power of the Parliament was itself a

basic feature of the Constitution

Section 4 of the amendment act 1976 which tried to separate Article 14, 19 and 21 from Article

31 C was held void as it destroyed the basic feature. The articles mentioned under Article 14, 19

and 21 are essential elements of a modern democracy. These rights are clearly without any doubt

universal because of their presence in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Therefore,the

court struck down Section 4 of the amendment act 1976.

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