[Answered] What was held in the Coelho case? In this context, can you say that judicial review is of Key importance amongst the basic features of the Constitution? (GS 2)

Coelho case is a landmark case which upheld authority of the judiciary to review laws,  – including the ones under the 9th Schedule – against violation of basic structure of the constitution. i.e., no item in ninth schedule can abrogate fundamental rights as they form basic features of the constitution.It is also known as the 9th Schedule case.

Salient Points of the ruling were: 
1. Judicial review is a basic feature of the Constitution.
2. Inserting any law in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution would not protect it from judicial scrutiny.

Doctrine of Basic Structure was propounded in KeshavanandaBharti Case. It includes many features – federalism, right to equality, Fundamental Rights, Secularism, independence of Judiciary etc. Judicial Review one of these features is of key importance.

  • It is used to protect the primacy of constitution against the breach of power by legislatures and executive.
  • Judicial review subjects any tyrannous law to judicial scrutiny which tests it for the violation of all features of basic structure of the constitution- including abrogation of judicial review itself.
  • 9th Schedule which was introduced by the 1st amendment to protect certain acts in violation of Article 14, 19 and 21 is not immune from judicial review.

Examples of use of judicial review:

  • Striking down of NJAC (99th constitutional amendment) terming it to be unconstitutional.
  • Establishing upper limit of reservation to 50% in Indira Sawney case

The Judicial Review thus assumes greatest importance as it upholds the Rule of Law and bulwark against erosion of Fundamental Rights. It is a tool for safeguarding the Constitution, which becomes extremely necessary reflecting on the bad experiences of Emergency. It is the most powerful remedy against the state arbitrariness as evidenced in the recently struck down NJAC act.


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