Waman Rao v. Union of India

Bench: Y Chandrachud, A Sen, P Bhagwati, V Tulzapurkar, V K Iyer

Citation: (1981) 2 SCC 362

Subject: All laws added after the Keshavnanda Bharati decision could be examined on grounds of violation of Articles 14, 19 and 31.


The Maharashtra Agricultural (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 1961 (as amended in 1976) was challenged on grounds of a violation of the right to property—a law which had been repealed by the subsequent 44th amendment. In addition, all amendments to Article 31-B and the 9th Schedule were challenged on the basis of the “very recent decision” in the Minerva Mills case.

The Constitution (Seventy-Seventh Amendment) Act, 1995, the Constitution (Eighty-First Amendment) Act, 2000, the Constitution (Eighty-Second Amendment) Act, 2000, and the Constitution (Eighty-Fifth Amendment) Act, 2001 were enacted to insert Clauses (4-A) and (4-B) in Article 16, largely for enacting reservations in promotions, with consequential seniority, for SC/STs (4-A), and for the treatment of such reservation as a separate class to be filled each year irrespective of the 50% rule in Indra Sawhney’s case.


Whether amendments could be made to the Constitution that had the effect of taking away certain fundamental rights. In particular: whether the First Amendment to the Constitution does violence to the basic postulates of Indian Constitutional law, and whether it is harmonious with the spirit of the Constitution.


Chandrachud, J held that in a sense, the relationship between fundamental rights and directive principles can be understood as the inherent tension between a dynamic objective (the just society contemplated by the Fundamental Rights) and a static and preservatory set of rights (located in the Constitution.) The first amendment to the Constitution, therefore, makes the Constitutional idea of equal justice a living truth.

With regard to Article 31-B, a distinction was drawn between the day the Keshavnanda decision was adopted and before, because the Keshavnanda decision marked the basis of the idea of the basic structure to the Indian Constitution. Therefore, all amendment that were made

to the 9th Schedule before the Keshavnanda Bharati decision came up would be valid and Constitutional.

All laws, however, after that judgement could be examined on grounds of violation of Article 19,21 and 14. The basis for this was:

  1. The fact that there was no concept of basic structure in the Indian Constitution before this time.
  2. That there was no purpose to be served by upsetting settled claims and titles, and in introducing chaos and confusion into the lawful affairs of a fairly orderly society.