In News: The Supreme Court has agreed to examine a PIL challenging changes made to the right to freedom of speech and expression by the first amendment to the Constitution in 1951, with the petitioner contending that the amendment damages the basic structure doctrine.
- The plea urged the court to declare Section 3 (1)(a) and 3 (2) of the First Amendment “beyond the amending power of Parliament” and void since the “same damage the basic or essential features of the Constitution and destroy its basic structure”.
- Section 3(1) of the 1951 Amending Act substituted original Clause (2) of Article 19 – dealing with reasonable restrictions on the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) – with a new Clause (2), which contained “two objectionable insertions” allowing restrictions also “in the interest of public order” and “in relation to incitement to an offence” and omitted the expression “tends to overthrow the State.
- The two insertions protect Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity), 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code “from the vice of unconstitutionality”.
- The two questionable expressions inserted unduly abridge the fundamental right under Article 19 and damages democracy and republicanism and supremacy of the Constitution.
- The amendment also neglects national security by dropping the expression ‘tends to overthrow the State’ by radicalism, terrorism and religious fundamentalism.
- Passed in 1951 by the then Provisional Parliament headed by Jawaharlal Nehru.
- It amended articles 15, 19, 85, 87, 174, 176, 341, 342, 372 and 376.
- It inserted articles 31A and 31B and Ninth Schedule to protect the land reform and other laws present in it from the judicial review.
- It placed reasonable restrictions on fundamental rights and added three more grounds of restrictions on freedom of speech such as public order, friendly relations with foreign states and incitement to an offence.
MUST READ Doctrine of basic structure
Source: Indian Express
Previous Year Question
Q.1) Consider the following statements: (2020)
- The Constitution of India defines its ‘basic structure’ in terms of federalism, secularism, fundamental rights and democracy.
- The Constitution of India provides for ‘judicial review’ to safeguard the citizens’ liberties and to preserve the ideals on which the Constitution is based.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 only
- Both 1 and 2 only
- Neither 1 nor 2