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Waman Rao Case 1981

Landmark Judgment supported the validity of the Ceiling on Holdings applied on individuals and also on companies acquiring the agricultural lands under the Maharashtra Agricultural Lands Act, 1962 by the Maharashtra State Government. Which suggests limitations or restrictions apply for a particular person or a specific company on acquiring agricultural lands. And therefore the most vital thing is that Ceiling is not fixed.

It revised from time to time could also be reduced or extended and also certain amendments made under the act make it complicated for all. The act was challenged on the grounds of damaging the basic structure doctrine. In the Kesavananda Bharati Case, 1973 the court declared that all the acts and the regulations included in the 9th schedule received the full protection of Article 31B. The acts and the regulations included in the 9th schedule in the Kesavananda Bharati case, the Supreme Court held that they were valid only if they do not damage the Basic Structure of the Indian Constitution.

Title of the Case: Waman Rao & Ors Vs. Union Of India
Citation: Reviews Petition (civil) AIR 1981 SC 271
Courts: Supreme Court of India

Name of the Petitioner: Waman Rao Mahajan
Name of the Respondent: Union Of India
Hon'ble Justice D. Y. Chandrachud,
Hon'ble Justice A. Sen,
Hon'ble Justice P. N. Bhagwati,
Hon'ble Justice V. Tulzapurkar,
Hon'ble Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer.
Date of Judgment: 13th November 1981.

Facts of the Case:
Ceiling imposed on holdings of agricultural lands applied under the Maharashtra Agricultural Lands Act, 1962 by the Maharashtra government. After that there are various amendments made under this act, to fix the limitations on acquiring agricultural lands by individuals or also by companies.

The applicability of the Ceiling on Holdings act was challenged in a Bombay High Court of Nagpur Division Bench case named Vithalrao Udhaorao Uttrawar Vs. State of Maharashtra, 1976 rejected by saying the act was placed into the Ninth Schedule and during the period of emergency proclaimed Article 14 and Article 19 of the Indian Constitution were also suspended because of this challenge not being continued.

The appeals were filed against the decision of Bombay High Court which was challenged in the Supreme Court of India case named Dattatraya Govind Mahajan Vs. State of Maharashtra, 1977, was dismissed. This decision was given during the period of emergency and also between the one year extended period of Parliament.

Review petition filed in the Supreme Court of India to reopen the case Dattatraya Govind Mahajan v/s. State of Maharashtra and the new case formed named Waman Rao & Ors v/s. Union Of India, 1980 after the emergency revoke on such of some new grounds that were challenged;

Article 31A of Indian Constitution inserted as a Fundamental Rights by the 1st Constitutional Amendment Act, 1951. Which is related to provisions made for acquisition of lands.

Article 31B which relates to validation of law and also a creation of the Ninth Schedule under the Indian Constitution which provides immunity to laws from judicial review.

Un-amended Article 31C of the Indian Constitution was also challenged.

The 40th amendment of the Indian Constitution was challenged after the emergency revoke because this was made during the one year extension of the 5 years Parliamentary tenure.

Issues Raised:
  • Whether in enacting Article 31A by amendment, Parliament transgressed its powers?
  • Whether Article 31A gives sufficient protection to Laws from being challenged?
  • Whether Article 31B of the Indian Constitution violates the Fundamental Rights?
  • Whether the unamended Article 31C violates the Fundamental Rights?
  • Whether the Article placed under the 9th schedule of Indian Constitution subject to judicial review?
  • Whether the 40th amendment of Indian Constitution is valid after the emergency revoke?
Petitioner's Contention:
  • In this case the Petitioner had strongly argued against Articles 31A, 31B and un-amended article 31C the protective nature of these articles which excluded all possibilities of challenge to the laws included under the shield.
  • The Petitioner also argued that such a shield would violate certain fundamental rights enshrined under Part 3 of the Indian Constitution.
  • The Petitioner replied that the very provisions of the constitution which the respondents rely to save impugned laws are invalid as the later amendments infringe the basic essential structure of the constitution as propounded in Kesavananda Bharati Case.
The Petitioners also challenged the validity of the constitutional 40th amendment on the ground that it was passed during the extended period of the Parliament's 5 years tenure.

Respondent's Contention:
  • Article 31A, 31B and unamended Article 31C protect only those laws which do not damage the Basic Structure of Indian Constitution.
  • Proclamation of emergency does not affect the validity of the 40th amendment of Indian Constitution.
It would be a misapprehension in every case which is violating fundamental rights and also damages the basic structure doctrine of the Indian Constitution. That clearly held by the Supreme Court states that if any act violates fundamental rights, that does not mean it also damages the basic structure of Indian Constitution.

The Court made an important observation regarding the applicability of the doctrine and held that the same should not have a recollective effect which means all the decisions made prior to the introduction of the doctrine shall remain valid.

The acts and therefore the regulations included after 24th April 1973 (date of Judgment of Kesavananda Bharati case) under the 9th schedule of Indian Constitution every act and regulation that is subject to passed the Basic Structure Doctrine test, if they are not satisfied under test or set parameters or grounds will be excluded from this schedule by using the process of judicial review.

Ruling of the Courts:
Maharashtra Agricultural Lands Act, 1962, after enactment there were three amendments that were made under this act and the amended act was placed into the Ninth Schedule by the 40th amendment of Indian Constitution.

The 40th amendment Act, 1976 of Indian Constitution related to central and State laws, mostly concerning land reforms.

The 44th amendment Act, 1978 of the Indian Constitution, removed the Article 31 right to property from the list of seventh fundamental rights. Again, it was added under Article 300A as a legal or Constitutional right which provided the provisions that no person without a legal authority takes any other's property.

Article 31A states that the acquisition of estates and related rights by the State, the management of properties by the State, amalgamation of corporations, extinguishment or modification of rights of directors or shareholders of corporations and extinguishment or modification of mining leases. It also provides the guaranteed right to compensation in case of acquisition or requisition of private property by the state.

Article 31B immunises any law included in the 9th Schedule from the Fundamental Rights and the laws under the 9th Schedule would be open to exploration if they violated Fundamental Rights or the basic structure of the Constitution.

Unamended Article 31C law that seeks to implement socialistic directive principles laid out in Articles 39 (b) and (c), shall be declared void on the grounds of contravention of the fundamental rights conferred by Article 14 or Article 19. Moreover, a declaration that it is for giving effect to such a policy shall be questioned in any court on the ground that it does not give effect to such a policy.

Ninth Schedule of Indian Constitution, a list of central and state laws which cannot be challenged in the courts or not subject to judicial review.

The Basic Structure Doctrine states that the basic structure of Indian Constitution cannot be amended. And the laws which damage the Basic Structure were declared null or void.

Rationale Behind Judgment:
  • This case re-clarifies various doubts arising out of the Kesavananda Bharati case related to the Basic Structure Doctrine.
  • It declared that any state policy would not be held void because of its inconsistency with fundamental rights.
  • It clearly determines between the act previous to and after the Kesavananda Bharati case; now it is easier to decide which law can be challenged and which are not.
Dissenting Opinions:
Judgment given by Hon'ble Justice P. N. Bhagwati is dissenting, which is split during a Ratio of 4:1.

Currently there's no dispute regarding the existence of the doctrine of basic structure, the sole reason that arises time and again is that the contents of an equivalent. Certain contents have been maintained again and again by the Courts whereas some of them are still in the process of deliberations. The basic structure doctrine to make a balance between flexibility and rigidity that should be present in the amending powers of the Indian Constitution.

There is little question that each one Laws, Acts and Regulations are only Made, Added or Amended consistent with the wants of the State and Central Government also as an Individuals or a companies ect., and also to make it more convenient for ourselves. So, we can enjoy the Rights and also perform the Duties peacefully.

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