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31-october-2023

1.  The IXth schedule once a vessel for reforms was transformed into a constitutional dustbin of limitless proportions. What was the significance of the IR Coelho judgment with respect to the IXth Schedule of the Indian Constitution?

  • The Ninth Schedule contains a list of central and state laws which was added by the Constitution (First Amendment) Act, 1951 by insertion of new Article 31B to protect laws related bring about socio-economic changes in the country.
  • If any law is kept under the 9th schedule, it is protected from judicial review if it violates the FRs.

FROM VESSEL FOR REFORMS TO CONSTITUTIONAL DUSTBIN

Initially, the Ninth Schedule consisted of 13 laws but today, it consists of a myriad collection of 284 laws earning the

Ninth Schedule the reputation of a ‘Constitutional Dustbin’.

  1. Used beyond the socioeconomic purpose: The Ninth Schedule was created only to safeguard laws that dealt with land reforms and nothing else. But in reality, it has been used to enact defense for a number of laws that have nothing to do with property rights.
  2. Shielding controversial laws: It is used as a shield for controversial laws. For eg, maintenance of the Internal security act, Monopolies and restrictive practices Act, Insurance Nationalization Act, etc.
  3. Removes the courts’ authority to review legislation that infringe upon fundamental rights, which is a violation of the fundamental framework of the Constitution.
  4. Used to protect laws that benefit certain groups at the expense of others – Due to its discriminatory consequences against other groups, the Tamil Nadu Backward Classes, Scheduled Castes, and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions and of Appointments or Posts in the Services under the State) Act, 1993, has come under fire. It holds places in government positions and educational institutions reserved for particular groups.

I R COELHO V. STATE OF TAMIL NADU

  1. It was held that every law must be tested under Articles 14, 19, and 21 if it came into force after 24th April 1973. Since basic structure also contains certain fundamental rights, a law that is being placed in the ninth schedule must be tested against these rights.
  2. The court maintained its earlier decisions and ruled that any act that does not align with the fundamental framework of the Constitution is subject to challenge and judicial review.
  3. The Supreme Court has established an effect and impact test to determine if any constitutional amendment or law is affecting or destroying the basic structure. As per this test, the consequences of the law or amendment are considered rather than looking into what part of the constitution is amended.
  4. It was decided that if a statute under the ninth schedule’s constitutionality has previously been affirmed, it cannot be contested in the future.

SIGNIFICANCE OF JUDGEMENT

  1. The judgment mainly put an end to the debate surrounding the Ninth Schedule and was effective in blocking political attempts to exclude some delicate topics from judicial review for specific political purposes.
  2. The historic decision was effective in enhancing the democratic foundation of society and bringing unfair actions of abuse of the Constitution’s ninth schedule into the domain of justice.
  3. It was significant for putting immoral behavior and misuse of the Constitution’s ninth schedule into the purview of justice.
  4. The Judgement once again emphasized the importance of basic structure doctrine and firmly established the judiciary as the final arbitrator in issues involving fundamental rights.
  5. The court once again reiterated that the constituent powers of the legislature are restricted and that restriction is a basic structure doctrine.

While social justice is important, any sudden or unreasonable policy initiative by the Executive or the Legislature should be subject to judicial review. It should not become the black hole of the constitution by including each and every piece of legislation arbitrarily.

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