The right to amend the Constitution in India lies with Parliament, when 'meeting in the exercise of its constituent power'. In the last quarter of a century, however, and in an atmosphere of judicial activism in the face of a faltering Parliament and administration, the Supreme Court has gone beyond its role as interpreter of the Constitution to become its arbiter. There is thus a possibility in India's federal structure of an impasse between the Supreme Court and Parliament which cannot be resolved by referring to the Constitution and which poses a serious risk if not resolved.
Editor Pran Chopra defines the problem and presents an overarching analysis. He argues that a great deal is at stake in this situation, including the dynamics of federalism, which makes India possible; the role of the Constitution in holding the polity together; and the future of parliamentary democracy in India. Written against this background, the essays in this volume—contributed by some of India's best-known parliamentarians, jurists, constitutional experts, scholars, administrators, and journalists—present a many-sided discussion of this crucial issue. The topics discussed include:
- The doctrine of 'basic structure', and the complex responses to and consequences of this doctrine.
- Judicial review in India, in relation to the superiority of Parliament in the UK and the virtually unlimited scope of judicial review enjoyed by the US Supreme Court.
- The 'due process of law' and its applicability in India.
- The electoral system and the threat of majoritarianism.
- The Supreme Court's creativity in interpreting the Constitution but the continuing absence of clear constitutional principles despite this recent trend.
- The Court's role as the protector of fundamental rights.
Presented in the form of a debate to which each contributor brings his own particular expertise and point of view—and offers possible solutions—this very readable book constitutes the first full-length discussion of a major issue in contemporary India. It will attract the attention of anyone interested in government, constitutional issues, law and politics in India.