Case Summary

I.C GOLAKNATH & ORS. VS STATE OF PUNJAB & ANRS.  (1967 AIR 1643)

FACTS:

The petitioner, in this case, was the family of Henry and William Golaknath, who had 500 acres of farmland in Jalandhar, Punjab. According to the 1953 Punjab Security and Land Tenures Act, the state government of Punjab held that both the brothers could distribute thirty acres of land to each. In contrast, a few acres were given to the tenants, and all the remaining acres of land was termed as ‘surplus’. This was challenged by the Golaknath family before the Hon’ble Court and filed the petition under Article 32.

QUESTION OF LAW:

Whether the Punjab Security of Land Tenures Act, 1953 violates the fundamental rights guaranteed under:

19(1)(f) – Constitutional right to acquire and hold property

19(1)(g) – Practice any profession

14 – Equality before the law and Equal protection of the laws

HELD: 

  • Parliament has no power to curtail the Fundamental Rights. Fundamental rights are equivalent to Natural Rights.
  • The validity of the Constitution (Seventeenth Amendment) Act 1964 would not be affected by this decision.
  • In the future, Parliament has no power to amend Part III of the Constitution of India, which deals with the Fundamental Rights to take away or abridge the Fundamental Right.
  • A doctrine of Prospective Overruling was introduced in this decision. The concept behind this was to apply the “effect of law” on the future dates only aiming at the decisions that took place in the past will not be affected.
  • All the previous Amendments made in this Part III will be Unconstitutional and Invalid.
  • This decision observed the concept of “rule of law” that even the lawmakers are not above the law. It is about the faith of citizens, which itself is a supreme law. 

Submitted By: Manshi Joshi

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