Top 10 Landmark Cases of Constitution

16 Feb 2023  Read 37137 Views

So, college students often struggle with case laws, especially on the subject of the constitution. Here is the list of 10 landmark judgments of the Constitution of India. These cases are important not only for your college exams but will also help you in Judiciary exams. So, let’s get started!


Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras (1950)

The SC held that freedom of propagating ideas through circulars is included in freedom of speech and expression.

State of Madras v. Amt. Champakam Dorairajan (1951)

The judgment led to the addition of this subsection (4) by the First Constitutional Amendment Act, 1951. Specifically, the Madras Government has reserved places in State engineering and medical institutes for various communities based on classes, religion, and race. This was challenged before the court as it violates Article 15 (1) of the Constitution. The SC held that the statute invalidates seat reservations based on race, religion, and caste (caste reservation in India) since it categorises students based on their castes, religions, and other factors rather than their academic ability. Clause (4) was inserted into Article 15 to mitigate the impact of the aforementioned SC judgment. This Article gives the STATE the authority to make specific provisions for the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and for socially and educationally marginalized classes of citizens.

K.M. Nanavati v. State of Maharashtra (1959)

At Sessions Court, the appellant was charged under S. 302 & S. 304 of the IPC and was tried by the Sessions Judge with the aid of a special jury. The jury passed a verdict of “not guilty” by 8: 1 majority under both the provisions of IPC, which was not agreed by the Sessions Judge, as in his view, the jury’s verdict was such that with regards to the evidence shown.

So, the learned Sessions Judge submitted the case under 307 of CrPC to the Bombay High Court & the Division Bench comprising of Justices Shelat and Naik passed separate judgments but held that the accused was guilty of murder under s. 302 of IPC and sentenced him to undergo rigorous imprisonment for life. Both the Justices of the High Court stated that there was misdirection to the jury and that the accused was clearly guilty of murder. No reasonable body must arrive at such a conclusion as delivered by the jury.

I.C. Golaknath and ors. v. State of Punjab and Anr. (1967)

The main issue dealt with in this case was- Can an amendment be considered a law and whether or not fundamental rights can be amended? The SC stated that Fundamental Rights are not amendable under Article 13, and a new Constituent Assembly would be needed to modify such rights. Additionally, it was noted that while Article 368 outlines the process for amending the Constitution, it does not grant Parliament the authority to do so.

Keshavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala (1973)

The Supreme Court defined the basic structure in this case. the court held that although the Parliament had the authority to amend any portion of Constitution, including the Fundamental Rights, the basic structure of the constitution could not be abrogated even by constitutional amendment. This acts as the basis of Indian law for the judiciary's power to invalidate any amendment made by Parliament those conflicts with the Constitution's fundamental principles.

Maneka Gandhi v. UOI (1978)

Whether the freedom to go abroad falls under Article 21's definition of the Right to Personal Liberty was a key question in this case. According to the SC, it is a part of the right to personal liberty. The SC further held that restricting personal freedom did not require more than the existence of an enabling law. Additionally, such a law must be "just, fair, and reasonable."

Minerva Mills Ltd. V. UOI (1980)

This case once again strengthens the Basic Structure concept. The decision declared two amendments introduced to the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 to be against the basic structure and invalidated them. It is quite evident from the ruling that the Constitution, not the Parliament, is superior.

Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum and ors. (1985)

This is a crucial case in the struggle for Muslim women’s rights. The SC affirmed a Muslim woman's claim to alimony and declared that everyone, regardless of religion, is subject to the 1973 Code of Criminal Procedure. This sparked a political debate, and the ruling was overturned by the government of the day by passing the Muslim Women (Protection on Divorce Act), 1986, which stipulates that alimony must only be paid during the iddat period (in tune with the Muslim personal law).

M.C. Mehta v. UOI (1986)

Three issues were addressed in this case: the application of Article 32, the application of the Rylands v. Fletcher rule of absolute liability, and the compensation problem. The SC held that its authority under Article 32 extends to corrective and preventive actions where rights are violated. Additionally, it was decided that Absolute Liability should be used in industries that participate in risky or intrinsically harmful activity. Finally, it added that in order to act as a deterrence, the compensation must be proportionate to the size and potential of the industry.

Vishaka and Ors v. State of Rajasthan (1997)

This case involved workplace sexual harassment. In its judgment, the SC provided a set of guidelines for employers and other accountable parties or organisations to ensure the avoidance of sexual harassment right away. They are referred to as "Vishaka Guidelines." Until the relevant legislation was passed, these were regarded as being in effect.

About the Author: Gurpreet Kaur Dutta | 82 Post(s)

A legal content writer who pursued BBA-LL.B.(H) from Amity University Chhattisgarh. She has a keen interest in corporate and IPR sectors. 

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