Author:Janvi J Kothari, 

A Student at Smt.Kamalaben Gambhirchand Shah Law School.

Henry and William Golaknath, a Punjabi family, controlled 500 acres of agriculture. The Punjab Security and Land Tenures Act, however, was passed by the Punjab government in 1953.

In Indian law, Golaknath v. State of Punjab is a landmark case. Concerns were raised in this circumstance. However, it was crucial to decide whether the Indian parliament could change Part III of the Indian Constitution’s core rights.

The petitioners claimed that parliament could not change fundamental rights, however, the answers contradicted this claim. The court determined that parliament could not alter fundamental rights. In the case of Kesavananda Bharati vs the Union of India, this judgement was overturned in 1973.

Golaknath vs State of Punjab case Summary

The Golaknath case, also known as Golaknath v. State Of Punjab (1967 AIR 1643, 1967 SCR (2) 762), was a 1967 Indian Supreme Court decision in which the Court decided that Parliament may not limit any of the Constitution’s Fundamental Rights.


In Jalandhar, Punjab, two brothers called Henry and William Golaknath owned around “500 acres of farmland.”

The Golaknath brothers were told that they could only have 30 acres of land under the newly adopted Punjab security and land tenure act and that a portion of the land would be allocated to tenants while the rest would be considered excess and taken over by the government.

The Golaknath family contested the Punjab government’s actions, and the case finally reached the Supreme Court in 1965.

Arguments of the Petitioner

The petitioner’s primary claims concerning the constitution’s permanence, which were established by the constitutional assembly, are erroneous. Nobody should have the authority to amend or attempt to change the Indian constitution, they said.

They contend that the term “amendment” only refers to small adjustments that are in complete accordance with the constitution’s essential framework and does not relate to a completely new notion.

Furthermore, the petitioner claimed that fundamental rights are unalienable. Because they were exposed to the public under Part 3 of the Indian Constitution, the government should rescind them.


In this case, the supreme court had the biggest bench in history at the time. In the verdict, the petitioners triumphed by a 6:5 ratio, signifying a majority decision in their favour. “J.C. Shah, S.M. Sikri, J.M. Shelat, and C.A. Vaidiyalingam,” wrote the majority opinion at the time, along with other justices: “J.C. Shah, S.M. Sikri, J.M. Shelat, and C.A. Vaidiyalingam.”

As a consequence of his agreement with Chief Justice of India Subba Rao, Justice Hidayatullah submitted a different opinion. Justices R.S. Bachawat and V. Ramaswami wrote the majority opinion, while Justices K.N. Wanchoo, Vishistha Bhargava, and G.K. Mitter wrote the minority opinion. Justices R.S. Bachawat and V. Ramaswami wrote the minority opinion.”

The majority’s view on Golaknath reflects their scepticism about the legislature’s present course. Since 1950, the parliament has used Article 368 to pass several laws that in some way or another violate the core rights guaranteed by Part III of the Constitution.

“The majority voiced concern that if Sajjan Singh followed precedent, the core rights contained in our foundational assembly would be altered by changes.” Predicting a change from democratic to authoritarian India while keeping essential rights in mind.

As a result, the majority overruled Sajjan Singh and Shankari Prasad.”

The majority of individuals who supported this decision thought that the government should be denied any rights or powers that would allow them to change the Constitution.

The majority of people who spoke agreed that basic rights are an important and vital aspect of the Constitution and that without them, the Constitution would be like a “body without a soul.”

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Analyses the Decision Critically

Fundamental rights are seen to be important for the growth of a person’s individuality. These are the rights that enable a guy to plan his or her own life in the way that he or she desires.

 Our constitution guarantees us fundamental rights, which include the rights of minorities and other underprivileged groups. Parliament and state legislatures in India have the right to establish laws within their respective domains, according to the Constitution. 

However, in nature, this authority is not absolute. The judiciary is in charge of upholding the Constitution, as well as adjudicating the constitutional legitimacy of all laws.

The majority decision was commendable in that it sought to safeguard Indian democracy from the parliament’s oppressive actions.

While the majority’s argument for their actions, fear of India devolving into a dictatorship, is reasonable, why should it be limited to fundamental rights? The precise degree to which the concept of modification differs was one of the most crucial problems left unsettled by the Golaknath judgement.”


The trial of Golaknath was a turning point in Indian history. The case’s conclusion arrived at an inconvenient moment. It happened during the “darkest decade” in the country’s history. The dictatorship of the parliament came to an end with this decision. The majority court was concerned that the constitution might be weakened as a result of the decision. This ruling stopped the legislature from infringing on citizens’ basic rights by passing legislation that limited the legislature’s jurisdiction. The trial was focused on preserving basic human rights that no government can take away. By establishing that parliamentarians are not exempt from the law, the Golaknath case upheld the “rule of law.” 


What happened once the Golaknath case was resolved?

Answer: Following the decision, Parliament enacted the 24th Amendment (1971), which specifically declared that Article 368 might be used to restrict even fundamental rights.

What was the Court’s ruling in the Golaknath case?

Answer: The court ruled in the I.C. Golaknath case that constitutional modifications are ordinary law and must pass the Article 13 test and that no amendment can limit individuals’ basic rights.

What does the term “Supremacy of the Constitution” mean?

Answer: The supremacy of the constitution is a legal notion that gives the constitution the ultimate authority in a legal system.

What occurred in the case of Golaknath?

Answer: The Golaknath case, also known as Golaknath v. State Of Punjab (1967 AIR 1643, 1967 SCR (2) 762), was a 1967 Indian Supreme Court decision in which the Court decided that Parliament may not limit any of the Constitution’s Fundamental Rights.

What does the term “Supremacy of the Constitution” mean?

Answer: The principle of constitutional supremacy gives the constitution the ultimate power in a legal system. This idea does not just imply that legal rules should be ranked. The issue is more than just a clash of competing norms.

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