Minerva Mills Vs. Union of India

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     Minerva Mills Vs. Union of India

Minerva Mills Ltd. and Ors. v. Union Of India and Ors. (case number: Writ Petition (Civil) 356 of 1977; case citation: AIR 1980 SC 1789) is a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of India that applied and evolved the basic structure India doctrine of the Constitution of India.

        In this case, the Supreme Court provided key clarifications on the interpretation of the basic structure doctrine. The court unanimously ruled that the power of the parliament to amend the constitution is limited by the constitution. Hence the parliament cannot exercise this limited power to grant itself an unlimited power. 
       Minerva Mills was a textile industry in the State of Karnataka engaged in the mass production of silk clothes and provided market to the general public. The Central Govt. was suspicious that company fulfilled the criteria to be classified as a sick industry. Therefore, the Central Govt. in 1970 appointed a committee u/s 15 of the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951 for making a full detailed report analyzing the affairs of Minerva Mills. Relying on the Committee's report, on October 19, 1971 the Central govt. Empowered National Textile Corporation Limited (a body under the 1951 act) to take over the management of Minerva Mills u/s 18A of the 1951 act.

Issue Constitutional Validity of 42nd Constitutional (Amendment) Act, 1976.

           Petitioner's Arguments

1. Parliament's power of amending the constitution is limited and there are inherent limitations within the Constitution to limit the scope of amendment under article 368. 2. The scope of Article 368 is just to amend the constitution in a way such that there is no change in the basic structure of the Constitution. 3. Though the state is obligated by the Constitution that while making laws they have to compulsorily look into the Directive Principles of the State Policy[3] however, achievement of Such DPSP's is only through permissible means. The Parliament in order to achieve DPSP's cannot override Fundamental Rights set out in Part III. 4.Striking a harmonious balance between the provisions of Part IlI & Part IV is where justice lies and making one another would only lead to chaos part subservient to another would only lead to chaos. 5.There need not necessarily be violation of Part III for fulfillment of provisions of Part IV.

          Respondent's Arguments

1. If in course of achieving the DPSP's there is unintentional injury to Fundamental rights then it cannot be said as violation of Basic Structure. 2. The directive principles itself are integral for the functioning of the nation therefore, achievement of these integral principles cannot be said as violation of Basic structure, 3. Further, if any harm is caused to the Part III provisions then it cannot be termed as violation of Basic structure. 4. The parliament, in order to achieve the hard to get goals mentioned under Part IV, must be supreme in its sphere &there should not be any sort of limitation upon it. Therefore, there should not be any implied or inherent limitations upon the amending power of Parliament.

     The court held that the newly introduced Clause 485 were actually inserted to bar the courts to entertain any challenge on the question of validity of the constitutional amendments. The court beautifully described importance of Judicial Review in the following words...Our Constitution is founded on a nice balance of power among the three wings of the state namely the Legislature, the Executive &the Judiciary. It is the function of the Judges lay their duty to pronounce upon the validity of laws. The court held Section 55 of the amendment act 1976 void since it firstly made challenge in court impossible &secondly it removes all the restrictions on the power of Parliament under Article 368. The court rightly interpreted the true object of these new clauses which was to throw away the limitations imposed by Kesavananda on Parliament.



  1. www.legalserviceindia.com
  2. www.investopedia.com