The Basic Structure

A new and important study of constitution law from OUP is Democracy and Constitutionalism in India: A Study of the Basic Structure Doctrine by Sudhir Krishnaswamy. "The basic structure doctrine was articulated by the Indian Supreme Court in 1973 in one of its most famous decisions—Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala. It placed substantive limits on the amending power of the executive arm of the state. Subsequently the case has been applied to other forms of state action. The doctrine was at the time of its birth, and remains even today, much discussed and contested.

Krishnaswamy presents a completely reconfigured understanding of the judicial role in Indian constitutional law. He lucidly and critically examines the significance and status of the basic structure doctrine today. He tackles head-on the question whether basic structure review is an appropriate exercise of judicial power or an abuse of it. He argues that much of the criticism against the doctrine emerges from a failure to adequately map the contours of constitutional judicial review.

This book assesses the legitimacy of basic structure review under three categories—legal, moral, and sociological. It critiques the views of major scholars including Seervai, Sathe, Austin, and Baxi. It also analyses the post–Kesavananda Bharati cases and studies how the scope of the basic structure doctrine has been expanded by the Court."

Widely praised, it was recently released in JNU during an exciting and well attended conference organised by the Center for the Study of Law and Governance. Commenting on it, Upendra Baxi said ‘This painstaking and provocative study not merely traces, teases, and tests the charismatic enunciation of the doctrine…but also analyses its subsequent adjudicatory routinization… contributes significantly to… global South-based comparative constitutional studies’, while Sitharamam Kakarala of the Centre for the Study of Culture and Society calls it ‘…a highly important work on a theme that is at the heart of Indian constitutionalism…Sudhir has dealt with the theme with enviable clarity and outstanding scholarship…[this work] sets new standards in analytical rigour and methods of substantiation.’

In our Law section, Rs 625. ISBN: 9780195693799