Kesavananda Bharathi passes away: All you need to know about the 'revolutionary seer' behind basic rights case

Kesavananda Bharathi, whose legal fight led to the landmark decision outlining the basic rights under the Constitution, passed away this morning.

The 79-year old Kerala-based seer Kesavananda Bharati died at the Edaneer Mutt due to age related ailments. According to the police, he passed away at around 3.30 AM on Sunday.

Kesavananda Bharathi was a petitioner in a case that led to the Supreme Court evolving the celebrated doctrine of basic structure of the Constitution. In 1973, Kesavananda had filed a case challenging the Kerala government’s attempts to impose restrictions over the mutt property. The case in which Bharati had challenged a Kerala Land Reform Act nearly four decades ago set the principle that the Supreme Court is the guardian of the basic structure of the Constitution and the verdict involved 13 judges the largest bench ever to sit in the apex court.

Bharati had filed the case on the ground that they violated his fundamental right to practice and propagate religion (Article 25); freedom of religious denomination, including managing and administering its property, (Article 26); and right to property (Article 31).

A 13-judge bench was formed to preside over the case, heard over 68 days. In which, 11 different judgments were delivered in what is said to be a 7:6 majority. The verdict did not result in individual relief to Bharati, it led to the formulation of an important constitutional doctrine limiting the amending powers of Parliamment. The basic structure doctrine has since been regarded as a tenet of Indian constitutional law.

The case of Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala was heard for 68 days and continues to hold the top spot for the longest proceedings ever to have taken place in the top court. The hearing in the case commenced on October 31, 1972, and concluded on March 23, 1973 and it's the most referred to case name in Indian Constitutional law.

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Free Press Journal