LegalUp’s Snippy:– Minerva Mills Ltd. And Ors V Union of India and Ors a way breaking judgement in the legal history of India which showcases how effective the political and legal system of the country is. This case protected the Basic structure doctrine and snatched away the title of supreme lawmakers from the parliament. This case would have never arisen if the govt. would not have come out with the 42nd amendment act of 1976. This amendment act gave the state power to amend fundamental rights and this amendment act also snatched the power of judicial review from the apex court of the country.
Minerva Mills is a company that manufactures textiles Using the powers conferred to the union government under Section 15 of the Industries (Development Regulation) Act, 1951 government constituted a committee to look into Minerva Mills as there had been a significant fall in the textile production in this company. The committee completed its investigation in the January of 1971, after this report government using the powers of Section 18A of the industries (Development Regulation) Act, 1951 directed the national textile corporation Ltd. to take control and manage the Minerva Mills.
The parliament of India passed an act for the public good and this act was made to provide the general public with the goods at the right price and this act also was made to revive those companies which were under a threat and were not performing well. This act came to be known as the sick textile undertakings (taking over of management) Act, 1974.
Minerva Mills being the big textile industry of Karnataka provided a big amount of silk in the market due to this supply the prices were in check. When the government got suspicious about the working of this company, they appointed a committee comprising of 15 members in 1970. This committee was constituted using the powers under the Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951. And this committee advised National Textile Corporation Limited to take over and National Textile Corporation Limited had these powers under section 18A of the 1951 act.
Earlier in the year 1975 the parliament of India through the 39th constitutional amendment brought in the Nationalization Act, 1974 into the Ninth Schedule of the constitution. And after losing the case of Indira Nehru Gandhi Vs. Shri Raj Narain brought the 42nd amendment to make its power supreme and this constitutional amendment snatched the power of judicial review from the apex court on any challenge brought on the newly introduced act.
Issues before the court
- Is Sick Textile Undertaking (Nationalization) Act, 1974 constitutional?
- Is section 4 and 55 of the 42nd constitutional amendment act violative of the constitution?
- The plea challenging Textile Undertaking (Nationalisation) Act, 1974 was dismissed by one accord and court also said that the company’s affairs were being managed in a way that would have been detrimental to the public at large. With this the plea claiming that the basic structure is being violated by the nationalisation act was also dismissed by the court.
- The court also ruled that Article 31C(unamended before the 42nd amendment) legally covers the Sick Textile Undertaking (Nationalization) Act, 1974 and hence it is not unconstitutional and the plaintiff cannot question its validity claiming that they violate article 14 and article 19 of the constitution.
- Supreme court pronounced the verdict holding the section 4 of the 42nd constitutional amendment as unconstitutional by a majority of 4:1 with justice P.N. Bhagwati dissenting. But section 55 of the same amendment act was unanimously declared unconstitutional.
This judgement unanimously struck down the 42nd amendment unanimously and this judgement was also one of the judgements where the apex court applied the basic structure doctrine propounded in the Kesavananda Bharti Vs The state of Kerala. This judgement brought a conclusion to the long-lasting debate going from 1951 on the parliament having the supreme power.
The court also observed that keeping a balance between the fundamental duties and the fundamental rights constitutes a part of the basic structure of the constitution. This judgement reinstated that the constitution amending power of constitution is not absolute and is subjected to judicial review. This also established that DPSP and the fundamental rights are supplemental to each other and constitute an integral part of the basic structure doctrine.