His Holiness Kesavananda Bharati

Keshavananda Bharati of ‘basic structure’ fame dies

Kesavananda Bharati Swamiji, the seer of Edneer Mutt in Kasargod district of Kerala, whose petition in 1973 had led to the creation of the “Basic Structure Doctrine” by a 13-judge bench of the Supreme Court, passed away early morning today. He was 79 years old.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to express his grief at the demise of Bharati. He said Pujya Kesavananda Bharati Ji would always be remembered for his contributions towards community service and empowering the downtrodden.

Bharati was deeply attached to India’s rich culture and our great Constitution. He will continue to inspire generations, said PM Modi.

Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu said “We have lost one of our prominent spiritual leaders. His life will be a guiding light for future generations”.


Bharati had filed a petition in 1970 challenging the Kerala Land Reforms (Amendment) Act, 1969 and the three Constitutional amendments vis-à-vis 24, 25 and 29 on the ground that they violated his fundamental right to practice and propagate religion (Article 25); freedom of religious denomination, including managing and administering its property, (Article 26); and right to property (Article 31).

His petition along with other pleas, which were similarly placed, was heard for a record 69 days from October 31, 1972 to March 23, 1973.

In a wafer-thin majority ruling of 7-6, the 13-judge bench held that while Parliament had powers to amend the Constitution, it couldn’t alter the basic structure of the Constitution. Since then over a period of time, this doctrine has been interpreted to include fundamental rights, supremacy of rule of law, federalism, and secularism.

The judgment, however, did not bring any individual relief to Bharati.

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