Kesavananda Bharati, petitioner in case which led to judgment on basic structure of Constitution, passes away

The seer died of age-related ailments at the Edaneer Mutt in Kerala's Kasargod on at 3.30 am on Sunday, said police

Press Trust of India September 06, 2020 19:25:09 IST
Kesavananda Bharati, petitioner in case which led to judgment on basic structure of Constitution, passes away

File Image of Kesavananda Bharati. PIB

Kasaragod: Kesavananda Bharati, on whose petition the Supreme Court delivered the landmark judgement on the celebrated doctrine of basic structure of the Constitution, died in Kasargod on Sunday.

Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were among a host of leaders who condoled the demise of the 79-year old Kerala-based seer, saying he will be remembered for his service to the people.

Police said Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru died at the Edaneer Mutt in Kasargod due to age-related ailments. "As per the information with us, he passed away at around 3.30 am on Sunday," police told news agency PTI.

People from all walks of life paid homage to the departed seer at the Edneer Mutt of which he became the head over five decades ago.

The case in which Bharati had challenged Kerala Land Reform laws nearly four decades ago set the principle that the Supreme Court is the guardian of the basic structure of the Constitution and the verdict involved 13 judges, the largest bench ever to sit in the apex court.

While the seer did not get the relief he wanted, the case became significant for its landmark judgment which clipped the widest power of Parliament to amend the Constitution and simultaneously gave judiciary the authority to review any amendment.

Former Judge of Madras High Court Justice K Chandru told PTI: "The Kesavananda Bharati case is significant for its ruling that the Constitution can be amended but not the basic structure."

Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar said when some parcels of land of the Edaneer Mutt were acquired under the land reform laws of Kerala, Bharati moved the Kerala High Court against it and partially succeeded.

However, when the 29th Constitutional Amendment was adopted by Parliament giving protection to Kerala laws, the seer moved the Supreme Court challenging it.

The apex court ruled that the 29th Amendment is valid and held that the two Kerala land Acts that were included in the Ninth Schedule are entitled to the protection of Article 31B (validation of certain acts and regulations) of the Constitution.

The verdict had held that though Parliament has the power to amend under Article 368 of the Constitution, it did not have
the power to alter its basic features.

Besides Naidu and Modi, Union Minister V Muraleedharan, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, BJP Kerala unit president K Surendran were among those who paid rich tributes to the seer.

"Kesavananda Bharati Swamiji, the seer of Edneer Mutt was a rare blend of philosopher, classical singer and a cultural icon. His patronage of Yakshagana was crucial in reviving this traditional theatre form in Karnataka. #KesavanandaBharati," Naidu tweeted.

The Prime Minister said on his twitter handle, "We will always remember Pujya Kesavananda Bharati Ji for his contributions towards community service and empowering the downtrodden. He was deeply attached to Indias rich culture and our great Constitution. He will continue to inspire generations. Om Shanti."

The case of Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala was heard for 68 days and continues to hold the top spot for the longest proceedings ever to have taken place in the top court.

The hearing in the case commenced on 31 October, 1972, and concluded on 23 March, 1973 and is the most-referred to case in Indian Constitutional law.

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