Spread the love


Citation(1975) 2 SCC 159
Date of Judgment7TH November 1975
CourtSupreme Court of India
Case TypeCivil Appeal No. 887 of 1975
PetitionerIndira Nehru Gandhi
RespondentRaj Narain & anr.
BenchA.N. Ray (CJ) & H. R. Khanna & K. K. Mathew & M. H. Beg & Y. V. Chandrachud
ReferredArticle-14, 31-B, 368, 329(A) constitution of IndiaS.123(7) Representation of People’s Act


The accusation of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi regarding the malpractices involved in the electoral process was the foundation for this case. The respondent was contesting against the appellant in Rae Bareilly constituency of Uttar Pradesh in the 1971 Lok Sabha elections from Ram Manohar Lohia’s SSP ticket and the appellant from the Congress party ticket. Indira Gandhi emerged victorious as she managed to secure 352 seats out of 518 seats and was re-elected the prime minister of India. For Raj Narain, the result was obnoxious. He decided to raise voice against her election by filing a petition in Allahabad High Court alleging grounds of bribery, using government resources to gain an unfair advantage in contesting the election.

It was alleged by Raj Narain that the campaign process of Indira Gandhi was in violation of the election code mentioned in the Representation of People’s Act, 1951. The Allahabad High Court found her guilty of mis-utilising the government resources under Section 123(7) of the Representation of People’s Act, 1971 and held her election to be void. The High Court ordered that Mrs. Gandhi could not hold office of Prime Minister and that she could not contest elections for 6 long years. The court order gave the Congress party twenty days to replace Indira Gandhi and appoint a new prime minister.

Being aggrieved by the decision, Indira Gandhi decided to appeal against this judgment of Allahabad High Court in the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court was on vacation at that time. The vacation bench put an executional stay on the implementation of the High court order till further hearing. It was stated in the stay order by justice Krishna Iyer that Mrs. Gandhi could attend the sessions of the parliament but was barred from participating and voting in debates of Lok Sabha. While the matter was yet to be heard in the Supreme Court, then president Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed declared National Emergency on ground of internal disturbance.

In the meanwhile, a new Article 329A was introduced by way of 39th Constitutional Amendment to the Constitution of India which said that the election of Prime Minister and Speaker could not be challenged in any court of law in India. The Supreme Court’s power over the Indira Gandhi case was taken away by this Amendment. The validity of the 39th Constitutional Amendment was challenged.      


  1. Whether Article 329A clause (4) of the Constitution of India is valid?
  2. Whether Representation of People’s (Amendment) Act, 1974 and Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 1975 are constitutionally valid?
  3.  Whether Indira Gandhi’s election is valid or void?


The 39th Amendment Act influences the basic structure or institutional example of the Constitution. The Amendments additionally removes the force of locale of the Courts. The condition of our nation noticed detachment of forces between every one of the three organs of the government. In this way, it is uncalled for the legal executive if their forces to determine are nullified or removed regardless.

The capacity of the legislature is to essentially enact. It can pass laws yet it can’t choose the established legitimacy of such laws and if the legal executive discovers in any case, such laws will be stroked.

Article 14 of our Constitution likewise ensures equality under the watchful eye of law and equivalent assurance of law. The President by passing such law has set him and the others exempt from the rules that everyone else follows and which isn’t advocated.

Rule of law and judicial review are essential highlights of our constitution, they can’t be harmed or modified as held in the fundamental rights case.

Article 368 doesn’t engage Parliament to change the constitution in order to choose who wins and who loses a political race.


The main argument of the petitioner revolved around the 39th amendment which was affecting the basic structure of the Constitution and also took away the power of jurisdiction of courts under election petition which was unfair to the judiciary. They presented that the function of the Legislature is to legislate and can make and pass laws. However, the power to decide the constitutional validity of a law, lies with the judiciary.

Article 14(1) guarantees Equality before law and equal protection of law. The President, when passing such law, placed himself and other people above the law which wasn’t justified. Rule of law and judicial review are the integral part of the constitution and cannot be altered as stated in the Fundamental Rights Case. Article 14 is established on a sound public arrangement perceived by all states. Rejection of judicial review doesn’t nullify correspondence without anyone. Rule of law isn’t a part of basic structure and separated from Article 14. 

The Amendment was passed when there wasn’t a majority of MP’s in the house who couldnot vote in favour or against it. And lastly, Article 368 does not empower Parliament to amend the Constitution to decide who wins or loses the election.

Various articles even in our constitution show legal audit can be prohibited in suitable cases as an issue of strategy.

Kesavananda Bharti and Shankari Prasad both didn’t cover the ambit of electing debates. They rather managed the importance of word correction. Hence, constituent force should be held as an entire. 


It was adjudged by the Hon’ble Court with a majority that the Amendment Act of 1951 and 1974 are against the Basic Structure of the Indian Constitution and hence are struck down on the grounds that they take away the power of jurisdiction of the court of law and hampers the principle of judicial review. The clause (4) of article 329-A under the 39th Amendment Act was also struck down on the grounds that it is beyond the power of parliament to remedy sine it undermines the Indian Constitution’s core Basic Structure. It was ruled by the court that free and fair elections is the basic feature in our democracy and hence stands as the Basic Structure of the constitution. It is pertinent to the judiciary to intervene for justice in case elections are being rigged with malicious practices.

While upholding the respondents case and the verdict by Allahabad High Court, the Supreme Court used the landmark decision of Kesavananda Bharti and declared Article 329 A clause 4 as being constitutionally invalid. In furtherance, Justice YV Chandrachud in his order said that the change made by the Amendment was deemed to be infringing over the separation of powers concept as it meticulously put an untainted legal function under the control of Parliament. The 39th Amendment was struck down due to it being against the principle of separation of powers and entrenching upon the judicial authority reviewing and resolving legislative disputes related to the Basic Structure of Constitution.

Lastly, it was ruled by the court that the amendment was certain to be in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution as it created unjustified function for a single individual as against others.

Critical Analysis

The decision in the Indira Nehru Gandhi v. Raj Narain case was a brave one taken by the judiciary to the greed Parliament in its place in the Constitution. It was shown to the Parliament that they are not the only ones in the democracy and the judiciary will always be there to uphold the Constitution from the harmful acts of the Parliament.

The Court proved that the Parliament is by law and its not vice-versa. Judiciary crushed the Parliament’s course to establish supremacy and the attempt to make itself above the Constitution. The Court did uphold the essence of democracy i.e. free and fair election.      




  • Kesavananda Bharti vs. State of Kerala and Anr. AIR 1973 SC 1461
  • Indira Gandhi vs. Raj Narain AIR 1975 SC 2299


  • Constitution of India, 1950
  • Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 1974
  • Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 1975

This Article is written by Harshita Chauhan of Aligarh Muslim University, Intern at Legal Vidhiya.


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *