Golaknath v. State of Punjab [1967 AIR 1643]

Parliament cannot make legislative amendments in contravention of Fundamental Rights as well as cannot amend Articles enshrining Fundamental Rights.

Bench – K. Subba Rao, V. Ramaswami, K. Wanchoo, CA Vaidyalingam, M. Hidayatullah, S.M. Sikri, R. Bachawat, J.M. Shelat, J.C. Shah, Vashishth Bhargava, G. Mitter.

Facts – As per the provisions of the legislative act of Punjab Security and Land Tenure Act 1953, it was ordered by the government that the Golaknath family who originally owned and acquired 500 acres of farmland could now only claim over a certain percentage of the said land.

As a response to this claim by the Government the family filed a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India claiming that it is in contravention to their fundamental rights regarding acquiring property and performing a profession of the choice as stated under Article 19 of the Constitution. Hence, it was further contended that the Act stood in violation of the constitutional rights and was ultra vires.


  • Whether or not fundamental rights can be amended by an act of Parliament?
  • Whether an ‘Amendment’ is termed as a ‘law’ as under the provisions and meaning of Article 13 Clause 2; which aims to prohibit laws infringing fundamental rights?

Judgment – It was adjudged by the Hon’ble Court that the mechanism for modifying and amending the Constitution is outlined under Article 368 and, Articles 245, 246 and 248 provides the Parliament with the ability for creation of laws and legislations; providing it with the power of amending the Constitution. It was held by the court that every amendment shall be stated as a law and must pass the standards and constitutional validity tests that have been outlined under Article 13 Clause 2 of the Constitution. Therefore, any amendment which eliminates or restricts the basic fundamental rights envisaged in the Constitution shall be termed as null and void.

The court further ruled that fundamental rights are those that are required for the development of human personality and hence are the rights that allows a man to design and construct his own life in such a way that he deems fit. Our constitution does not only provides fundamental rights but along with them provides rights to minorities, women, untouchables or any other backward class or community.

The Constitution further forbids the statutory authorities and as well as the Government from enacting any legislation that restricts or abridges the fundamental rights of the individuals and declares any such legislation as void to the extent and degree to their contravention to the fundamental rights.  The sole constraint on the freedom which has been enshrined under Article 19 of the Constitution is that the one which has been imposed by a valid legislation acting in the capacity of a ‘reasonable restriction’ in the same direction as that of public interest. Therefore it is crystal clear that the fundamental rights are granted as transcendental status in the Constitution and are protected from the act of Parliament when it comes to amendments and legislations.