Kesavananda Bharati, the seer from Edneer Mutt whose property rights case in the Supreme Court in 1973 helped define basic structure under the Constitution, died early on Sunday at his ashram in north Kerala’s Kasaragod. He was 79.
Bharati had filed a case challenging the Constitution (29th Amendment) Act, 1972, questioning the Kerala government move to take over the mutt property.
It came at a time when the Indira Gandhi-led government had made changes to the the 24th, 25th, 26th and 29th amendments of the Constitution to get the court to rule in favour of the government in bank nationalisation and privy purses cases.
Senior lawyer Nani Palkhivala fought the case for Bharati, an ardent follower of Advaita philosophy, in which the then chief justice of India Sarv Mitra Sikri formed a 12-judge panel to preside over the case. The Constitution bench ruled a wafer-thin 7-6 verdict that Parliament cannot alter the basic structure of the Constitution.
Kesavananda Bharati’s case is known as a landmark case and many legal luminaries hailed him as the saviour of the Constitution.