Top 20 Landmark Judgements of Constitutional Law that every law student should know

constitutional laws of india cases judgements
constitutional laws of india cases judgements

20 Landmark Constitutional Law Judgements




  1. Champakam Dorairajan State of Madras,1951

In this case caste based reservations were stuck down by the court, as against Article 16(2) of the Constitution.

With regard to admission of students to the Engineering and Medical Colleges of the State, the Province of Madras had issued an order which, fixed number of seats for particular communities.

It noticed that while Cl. (1) Art. 29 protects the language, script or culture of a section of the citizens, cl. (2) guarantees the fundamental right of an individual citizen.

This right can not to be denied to the citizen only on grounds of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.

If a citizen who seeks admission into any such educational institution has not the requisite academic qualifications and is denied admission on that ground, he certainly cannot be heard to complain of an infraction of his fundamental right under this Article.

This case resulted in First Amendment of the Constitution of India.


  1. Golaknath State of Punjab1967

The Apex court held that law made by the Parliament shall not be such that infringes and takes away the fundamental rights of the citizen which are provided by the Constitution of India.

Law made by a Parliament in a law under Article 13 of the Constitution.

Further, the constitution can be amended.

The judgement was overruled by 24th amendment.

The judgement was restored and its scope was extended in Keshav nand Bharti case.


  1. Madhav Jiwaji Rao Scindia Union of India, 1970

The infamous case, Madhav Jiwaji Rao Scindia v. Union of India deals with Article 18 of the Constitution of India.

It abolishes all special titles.

The Supreme Court in this case held the 1970 Presidential order as invalid,.

This decision of the court led to abolishing titles and privileges of India’s erstwhile princely rulers.

It even abolished privy purses of India’s erstwhile princely rulers.


  1. Kesavananda Bharati State of Kerala, 1973

The bench in the present case comprised of 13 judges.

This is the largest bench till date in the Indian judicial history.

The Supreme Court gave Parliament power to amend any part of Constitution of India.

The court further added that such amendment shall not take away the fundamental rights of the citizen which are provided by the Constitution of India.

Such law is a law under article 13 of the constitution.

This case is also referred as Fundamental rights case.


  1. Indira Gandhi vs. Raj Narain, 1975

The Supreme Court held clause 4 of 39th amendment as unconstitutional and void as it was out rightly denied of the right to equality enshrined in Article 14.

The apex Court also added basic features of the constitution to list laid down in Keshavananda Bharti case.

They are stated below:

  • democracy,
  • judicial review,
  • rule of law.

Further, the court added jurisdiction of Supreme Court under Article 32, which deals with writs basically also forms basic structure of the constitution.


  1. D.M. Jabalpur v. S. Shukla, 1976

The apex Court in the infamous case of A.D.M. Jabalpur v. S. Shukla was a case during prevailing of emergency in the country.

Right to move to the court for enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed under constitution stands suspended.

This even includes Article 14, 21 and 22.

This created a havoc in the nation.

In later amendment it was held that Article 21 and 22 cannot be suspended during the time of emergency.


  1. Maneka Gandhi vs. Union of India, 1978

The case is considered a landmark case as it gave a new and highly varied interpretation to the meaning of ‘life and personal liberty’ under Article 21 of the Constitution.

This law which prescribes a procedure for depriving a person of “personal liberty” has to fulfill the requirements of Articles 14 and 19 also.

Also, it expanded the horizons of freedom of speech and expression. The case saw a high degree of judicial activism.

One of the significant interpretation in this case is the discovery of inter connections between the three Articles- Article 14, 19 and 21.

It was finally held by the court that the right to travel and go outside the country is included in the right to personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21.



  1. Minerva Mills Union of India,1980

The Supreme Court of India, strengthened the doctrine of the basic structure which was propounded earlier in the Keshavananda Bharti Case and held social welfare laws should not infringe fundamental rights.

Few changes made by the 42nd Amendment Act were declared as null and void.

It laid foundation of judicial review of the laws and judgements in the courts of India.

Judicial review is dealt in Article 13(2) of thee Constitution of India.


  1. MC Mehta v. Union of India, 1986

MC Mehta filed a Public Interest Litigation for escape of poisonous gases by a plant in Bhopal.

The court in this case extended the scope of Article 21 and 32 of the Constitution of India.

The case is also famous as Bhopal Gas Tragedy.

Finally, the court granted interim compensation of 250 crores to the victims.

Though High Court asked Union Carbide to pay compensation of 350 crores to the victim.


  1. SR Bommai v. Union of India, 1993

The court in this case curtailed power of President under Article 356 of the constitution of India.

It also held that secularism is the basic structure of the Constitution.

It laid the existence of Ram Temple in the disputed area.

It held the case to larger bench for demolition of Babri Masjid.


  1. Rajagopalv. State of Tamil Nadu, 1994

The court in this case decided that the right to privacy subsisted even if a matter becomes one of public record and hence right to be let alone is part of personal liberty.

This comes under the perview of Article 21

The case is also known as auto Shankar case.

The judges held that the petitioners have a right to publish, what they allege to be the life story/autobiography of Auto Shankar insofar as it appears from the public records, even without his consent or authorization.

There is a violation of the right to freedom of expression.



  1. Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation, 1985

This case came before the Supreme Court as a writ petition.

5 judge-bench gave decision allowing petitioners who live on pavements and in slums in the city of Bombay to stay on the pavements against their order of eviction.

The court also held that right to livelihood is a right to life as per Article 21.

Though the slum resident agreed not to challenge the decision of Municipal Corporation.

Court held that one’s fundamental right cannot be waived.


  1. Vishaka State of Rajasthan, 1997

This case came before the Supreme Court as a Public Interest Litigation against State of Rajasthan and Union of India by Vishakha and other women groups.

The petitioners demanded enforcement fundamental rights for working women under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.

For this, Vishaka Guidelines were issued.

The judgment also provided basic definitions of sexual harassment at the workplace along with provided guidelines to deal with the same.

Employers shall initiate appropriate action in accordance with concerned criminal law by making a complaint with the appropriate authority.

Disciplinary actions should be taken.

Threw light on compliance mechanism and workers’ initiative.



  1. D.K. Basu v. State of West Bengal

In this case, the Supreme Court laid down detailed guidelines to be followed by the central and state investigating agencies.

It related all cases dealing with arrest and detention

The court held that till legal provisions are made in that behalf as preventive measures.

Court held that any form of torture or cruel inhuman or degrading treatment.

Even it occurs during interrogation, investigation or otherwise, falls within the ambit of Article 21.


  1. Supreme Court Advocates-on Record Association v. Union of India, 1993

It overruled S P Gupta v. Union of India.

Court held primacy of Chief justice cannot be taken away in appointment and transfer of judges of Supreme Court and High Courts.

It recommended constitution of collegiums of judges for the same.

The case is named as Second judges transfer case.

It was later overruled a committee called NJAC was appointed for appointment and transfer of judges of Supreme Court and High Courts.

It was again over ruled and NJAC was held unconstitutional in Supreme Court Advocates-on Record Association v. Union of India, 2014


  1. PA Inamdar v. State of Maharashtra, 2004

The case was decided by a 2-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court

The dispute related to the fixation of quota in unaided professional institutions

It also dealt withholding of examinations for admission into such colleges.

The 2 matters were hence challenged in the court.

The court held no fixation of quota in unaided professional institutions.

Admissions to be conducted on merit basis.


  1. Subramanian swamy vs. Unlon of India,2016

The Supreme Court upheld the Constitutional Validity of Sections 499 to 502[[Chapter XXIl] of Indian Penal Code relating to Criminal Defamation.

The Bench comprising of Justices Dipak Misra and PC.Pant held that the right to Life under Article 21 includes right to reputation.

The Bench has dismissed the Petitions filed by Subramanian Swamy, Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal challenging the law relating to Criminal Defamation in India.

Criminal Defamation law not unconstitutional.

  1. Viiay Kumar Mishra and Anr Vs High court of Judicature at Patna To and Ors,2016

The Apex Court held that Article 233(2) of the Constitution of India only prohibits the appointment of a person as District Judge.

As he is already in the service of the Union or the State, but not the selection of such a person.

The Court set aside the Patna High Court judgment.

Which held that, the aspirant to resign his membership of the subordinate judicial service if he aspires to become a District judge.

SC can transfer cases from Jammu & Kashmir Courts to courts

Persons in Govt/Judicial service need not resign to participate in District Judge Selection Process


  1. Kazi vs. Muslim education society,2016

The Supreme Court held that all Tribunals are not necessary parties.

This is majorly  in a Special Civil Applications under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution,

They are not required to defend its orders when they are challenged before the High Court.

All Tribunals are not necessary parties to the proceedings where legality of its orders challenged


  1. Anita Kushwaha vs. Pushpa Sudan,2016

The Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court held that Supreme
Court can, by invoking Article 32, 136 and 142 of the Constitution.

It is empowered to transfer a case from a Court in the State of Jammu and
Kashmir to a Court outside the State or vice versa.

The Judges Bench comprised of Chief Justice of India Dr. T.S. Thakur, Justices Fakkir Mohamed Ibrahim Kalifulla, A.K. Sikri, S.A. Bobde, and R.

They further made an important observation that Access to
Justice is guaranteed to citizens by Article 14 and Article 21 of the
Constitution of India.





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