Waman Rao v. Union of India, 1981 2 SCR 1

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The Constitution did not arise certainly. It has advanced time by time while acclimating the social-lawful changes. It is a never-finishing development system, and that’s why many judges have called it an existing article. The fluctuations are needed to be met, rendering the necessity of the society to keep it new, thriving and active.

It is the supreme law of the land and foundations of all other rules required in the country. Thus, to keep it energetic and alive, amendments should be done rendering to the country’s communal and economic necessity, and the Indian Judiciary has finished this.

The doctrine of basic structure is a fundamental judicial principle. The two most influential provisions related to the necessary basic structure principle are Article 13 and Article 368. So, when these two rules conflict with each other several crucial issues occur. Can the parliament change the Constitution, can the preamble be corrected under Article 368, can the parliament’s fundamental rights be altered and whether the power exercised by the parliament under Article 368 is unquestionable. 

Thus, the Judiciary has given several verdicts as tried to set a precedent by giving landmark Judgements, and one such Judgement is the current case of Waman Rao.


On the date of 26th January 1962, a top on an agrarian board was obligatory in State of Maharashtra by the government through a provision called Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 27 of 1961[1] of Maharashtra. The top was secured by this rule and later on, it was dropped and many alterations were done to it, accordingly. According to this provision, a boundary was made on how much property can be stated by the person. The Bombay High Court acknowledged more than 2660 appeals which confronted the legitimacy of the provision and revisions made to it.  

In the case of Dattatraya Govind Mahajan & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Anr[2], the evaluation appeal was paraded in the Supreme Court against the verdict of Bombay High Court in Vithalrao’s case. As the verdict of this plea was approved during the declaration of emergency, the court, thus excluded the plea of appeal and declared that it was completely port on the government to choose which strategy to accept for the aim of refining the agriculture system and the Court could not request such policy and accept the work of an economic consultant for determining upon the vision of the said policy.When the emergency was cancelled, the appeals were again paraded in the Supreme Court in contradiction of the verdict passed in Dattatraya’s case. Therefore, the current case i.e., Waman Rao v. Union of India (1980)[3] is the evaluation of the Dattatraya’s case. 

Issues raised

The Issue raised in the following of Waman Rao v. Union of India:

  1. Whether by endorsing Article 31A(1)(a) of the Constitution with respect to the first constitutional amendment, the Parliament disobeyed its authority of revising the Constitution.
  2. Whether the Article 31A (1) offers fortification to the provisions outside getting questioned for infringement of Fundamental Rights i.e., Article 14, 19 and 31. 
  3. Whether the Article 31B can be challenged for infringement of Fundamental Rights cherished beneath Part III of the Constitution.
  4. Whether the Article 31C targeting to get the areas prescribed under Article 39 can be challenged on the basis of being unpredictable with the Fundamental Rights of the citizens.
  5. Whether the 40th amendment approved during the decree of emergency by spreading the time period of the Assembly of Parliament was lawful or not. 
  6. Whether the Principle of Stare Decisis can be applied for upholding the constitutional validity of any Article of the Constitution or is it applicable for upholding the laws protected under those Articles of the Constitution.

Arguments of the Petitioner

The petitioners contended that the court has the jurisdiction to question whether the power of the President to proclaim emergency under Article 352 has been properly exercised or not and whether there existed such circumstances which needed the emergency to continue or not. The petitioner further argued that the emergency was declared with a mala-fide intention as there was no justification for proclaiming the emergency of 1975.

Arguments of the Respondent

The different reasons of contest to the Primary rule and the Amending rule were met on behalf of the defendants by trusting on the laws of these Articles which direct a defensive wrap around rules of a certain portrayal and diversity, by removing challenge thereto on the reason that they are offensive of certain articles of the Constitution. Respondents argued that that the very articles of the Constitution on which the defendants rely for saving the disputed laws are illegal, since these specific rules of the Constitution, which were presented by well along alterations, harm or abolish the basic structure of the Constitution inside the connotation of the proportion of the majority verdict in Keshavananda Bharati[4].

Summary Of Judgement

The Court in the case said that amendments made to the 9th Schedule till the Kesavananda judgement are lawful, and those approved after that time can be focused on scrutiny. Article 31A of the Constitution mentions that contempt for anything added in Article 13, no law gives for the advantage of any government or alteration or suppression of any equity shall be defined as null on the basis that it is an infringement of the Fundamental Rights protected under Article 14 and 19 of the Constitution.

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The legality of the first constitutional amendment was being challenged for six reasons in Kesavananda Bharati v. The State of Kerala, similar to the Waman Rao case. Even then, the motion was sustained. Before the Kesavananda case, the alteration was challenged in the below mentioned three cases: Sajjan Singh v. the State of Rajasthan[5]I.C Golaknath v. State of Punjab[6] and Shankari Prasad v. Union of India[7]. In all these instances, the Court sustained the constitutional amendment authorising the addition of Article 31A and Article 31B.

While Article 31B is supposed to be expressed with the Ninth Schedule that states that all the provisions falling within the ninth schedule’s ambit cannot be defined as void for being inconsistent or breaching the Fundamental Rights cherished as stated in Part III of the Constitution. The law declares that as and during any Act or statute is placed under Ninth Schedule, and it would automatically accept the protection of Article 31B from being defined as null for decreasing the citizens’ Fundamental Rights. Therefore, the Petitioners disputed that Article 31B is incompatible with the Fundamental Rights. 

Thus, the Court stated that all the laws included in the Ninth Schedule preceding the Kesavananda case would accept the protection of Article 31B. However, the Laws and terms secured in the Ninth Schedule post the Kesavananda decision would not have meddled under Article 31B. They would be open to scrutiny on the grounds of violating the basic structure of the Constitution. 

 Article 31C was made in the Constitution (Twenty-fifth Amendment) Act, 1971. It guarded the laws defined under clause (b) and clause (c) Article 39, giving the State’s directive laws. Such laws cannot be interpreted as null for reducing the Fundamental Rights discussed under Part III of the Constitution, particularly Article 14, 19, and 31. 

Therefore, Article 31C was held conclusive.

Aside from the difficulties against Article 31A, 31B and 31C, the Petitioners questioned the constitutional validity of the emergency declared in 1971 and 1975 and the 40th constitutional amendment of 1976, which overwhelmed the Amending Acts 21 of 1975, 41 of 1975 and 2 of 1976 under the Ninth Schedule. The foundation of the challenge was the addition of the Lok Sabha’s general phase, which was overdue to expire on 18th March 1976. However, it was enlarged by the House of People Amendment Act, 1976 twice for two years. The 40th amendment was enacted during the elongated period on 2nd April 1976. 

The Court believed that the evidence produced to the Court’s consideration was neither persuasive nor adequate. The emergency is protected under Article 352(3) since it was declared a warning to its national safety and independence. Therefore, the actions taken were fundamental and hence, legal. 

Thus, the Court cannot strike down the 40th constitutional amendment on the mere ground that it was passed during the emergency by increasing the Lok Sabha’s period. Hence, the amendment is legitimate and valid. Selecting upon the inquiring whether the principle of stare decisis could be referred to the preparations of provisions of the Constitution or is it joined only to the laws defended by the Articles, the Court answered in favour of the latter. However, the Court did not give any reasons for the same. The bench which presented this ruling involved Chandrachud C.J, V.R Krishna Iyer and 3 other judges. The conventional judgment was brought by Chandrachud C.J in the context of V.R Krishna Iyer, V.D. Tulzapurkar; The judgment was split in a ratio of 4:1.

Analysis of the Judgement

In the matter of Waman Rao v. Union of India, the Court’s decision is regarded as one of India’s constitutional statute benchmarks. This illustration, in a method, a specific person as it re-clarifies different uncertainties that emerged out of the Keshavananda Bharati case. It has fixed up an apparent principle of distinction to dodge all types of future uncertainties too.

 This judgment is a character totality in the sense that before coming to resolve the issues directly, the Court has taken extensive attention to various other factors. We will explain all of them on an individual basis.

The framers of the Constitution have given sufficient period in the Constitution itself for state improvement, and hence, one can easily understand that this is an essential aspect. India, since its independence, wanted to produce an impartial guide of society. India is a vast country having an adequate amount of land and innumerable poor people. The majority of the people meet their maintenance by agricultural enterprises. During the British era, some farmers used to hold land of their potential. Zamindars and all enjoyed acres of land. They use to make a contract with the labourers for agriculture and pay significantly less expense. It was challenging for those people to earn their livelihood decently. All these had resulted in substantial economic and social disparities in the agricultural sector, which is the primary livelihood source in our nation. The constitution makers had adequately noticed it and created a Constitution mechanism to address these disparities.

The Constitution was revised in the year 1951 for the initial period. This improvement led to several fundamental rights alterations and started the land reform era through the constitutional tool. It has included two new articles, namely 31A and 31B and the infamous ninth schedule, to make the laws taking zamindars unchallengeable in the Court of law.

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This was because the land reform legislation was being examined before various High Courts like Patna, Nagpur, Allahabad etc., based on inequality with the fundamental liberties, especially Article 14. But the High Court varied in its opinions. These kinds of litigation were causing a delay in agrarian changes, which was reckoned to be quick. Therefore, it was thought to avoid these wasteful lawsuits to give proper effect to the land reform process.

In the present instance, the Court has rightly identified the need to further this land reform process to further the need to achieve an egalitarian pattern of society. The Indian agricultural division is full of economic and social disparities, and to eliminate the same significance on agrarian improvements cannot be ignored at any cost. But it is also right that some people’s privileges will be infringed upon in doing so. But still, to achieve more considerable interest, small personal interests can be sacrificed, which is no damage. The Court has noted that it is entirely for the legislature to decide what policy to be adopted to restructure the agricultural system. The Court should not consider the purpose of an economic adviser for pronouncing such policy’s wisdom. One may agree with this remark to be very practical and sound.

In the second analysis, one may fully accept that justice Bhagwati, who said that it is unknown in this very judgment why the principle of stare decisis cannot be used to support the constitutional legality of an Article. The Court has said that the principle of stare decisis cannot be used to sustain the constitutional legality of an Article itself but only to those provisions sought to be saved by the Article. This is one of the grounds in problem no. Six but the Court has forgotten to give any specific reason for saying so. This is one of the most significant lacunae in this very judgment. One may fully suggest that this research is very inconsistent with the conclusion of this very bench regarding Ambika Prasad Misra Vs State of UP[8]. Thus, this perception seems to be overruling this very bench’s earlier decision and, therefore, a gross violation of the stare decisis.

While preceding Article, there was an added confirmation that the laws which are meant for the attainment of goals set up under Article 39(b) and (c) can not be declared null on the basis that it has not meant to prepare to have gained the idea for what it is intended for. This rule does not seem to be adequate and consistent. When a law about socio-economic reforms has been enacted, people gradually have certain expectations out of it. Therefore, the law fails to meet the people’s expectations, and then it should be looked down upon. But in this matter, the Court has neglected to see this team and stated that if a rule is based on Article 39(a) and (c) and it is taken for conferred, such law will bring some benefit.

 The Court has neglected to recognise that such decisions shall thoroughly be examined. It shall only survive in the face of judicial investigation only when it is convinced that it can gain the aim victoriously. This can be one of the cavities, and we can strongly recommend that such a law fails to achieve the purpose, then it shall be struck down.


The verdict passed by the Supreme court in this instance of Waman Rao v. Union of India is one of the milestone verdicts being depend upon till today. The verdict defined a line of alteration between the Acts placed under Ninth Schedule previous to the Kesavananda judgement and the verdict. Also known as the Principle of Prospective Prevailing, the court declared that all the provisions sited under Ninth Schedule before the Kesavananda judgement cannot be called into query for infringing the Fundamental rights, yet, the provisions post the ruling can be elevated before a court of law. Further, this case complete upon the queries of rule which were of greatest status. The court maintained the legitimacy of Article 31A, Article 31B which were presented by the first statutory modification of 1951 and unchanged Article 31C was presented under the twenty-fifth amendment Act. Though, the court while dealing with the question of the principle of stare decisis, did not specify any motive for its judgement which left it quite undefined.

[1] Agricultural Lands (Ceiling on Holdings) Act, 27 of 1961.

[2] Dattatraya Govind Mahajan & Ors. … v. State Of Maharashtra & Anr, 1977 AIR 915.

[3] Waman Rao And Ors v. Union Of India (Uoi) And Ors.,1981 2 SCR 1.

[4]  Kesavananda Bharati v. The State of Kerala, Writ Petition (civil)  135 of 1970.

[5] Sajjan Singh v. the State of Rajasthan, 1965 AIR 845.

[6] I.C Golaknath v. State of Punjab, 1967 AIR 1643.

[7] Shankari Prasad v. Union of India, 1951 AIR 458.

[8] Ambika Prasad Misra v. State of UP, 1980 AIR 1762.