Think Learn & Perform (TLP)

The Only Dedicated Platform for UPSC Mains Answer Writing

Day 6 – Q 4.The basic structure doctrine imparts totality and philosophical integrity to the Constitution. Comment.

4. The basic structure doctrine imparts totality and philosophical integrity to the Constitution. Comment.

मूल संरचना सिद्धांत संविधान को समग्रता और दार्शनिक अखंडता प्रदान करता है। टिप्पणी करें।


The basic structure doctrine has travelled some ways since it was first articulated by the Indian Supreme Court in the case of Kesavananda Bharati v State of Kerala (1973). The doctrine imposes substantive limits on constitutional amendment powers the legislature under article 368 of Indian Constitution.


The basic structure (or doctrine) of the Constitution of India applies only to constitutional amendments, which states that the Parliament cannot destroy or alter the basic features of the Indian Constitution. 

In the Kesavananda Bharati case, the Supreme Court laid down the list of features that would constitute the “basic foundation and structure” of the Constitution, which are:

 (1) The supremacy of the constitution.  

(2) Republican and democratic form of govt.

(3) Secular character of the constitution.  

(4) Separation of power. 

(5) Federal character of the constitution.

(6) The dignity of the individual secured by the various Fundamental Rights 

(7) The unity and the integrity of the nation;

(8) Parliamentary System.

From the above list, it is evident that the doctrine of basic structure has the intention of preserving the original ideals envisioned by the constitution-makers, which represent the core spirit of the constitution and whose protection is required at the highest level.

The basic structure protects the constitution from the arbitrary changes which may occur at the whims and fancy of government in power. So this doctrine works as the check and balances for the constitution and gives it totality.

This doctrine protects the guiding values and philosophy of the Indian Constitution which is liberal, democratic, egalitarian, secular, and federal, open to community values, sensitive to the needs of religious and linguistic minorities as well as historically disadvantaged groups, and committed to building a common national identity.

The doctrine also protects the ideals and aspirations enshrined in the preamble, Fundamental rights and DPSP such as Justice, Liberty, Equality, socialism, secularism and democratic nature of Indian polity.

A key characteristic of the doctrine is that it is judicially developed. The judiciary deduces certain core characteristics of the constitutional order from the text, underlying philosophy, and history, and declares these to be unamendable.


The concept of basic structure as such gives coherence and durability to a Constitution for it has a certain intrinsic force in it. However, the Supreme Court is yet to define or clarify as to what constitutes the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email