CASE COMMENT ON MINERVA MILLS V. UNION OF INDIA

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By Ambily Joshy

DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY

Directive principles of state policy are some rules or principles that the state need to kept in mind while formulating and enacting new policies and laws. Article 36-51 with in the part IV of the Indian constitution deal with these directive principles of state policy. We adopted these directive principles of state policy from the constitution of Ireland that they had taken from Spanish constitution. The main feature of directive principles of state policy is that it is not enforceable by law like fundamental rights. The conflict between the enforcement of fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy had beginned for a long time back. The major conflicting issue is that, during the time of implementation of directive principles of state policy there had chances for causing violation to fundamental rights. So, the question for argument arising in this situation is whether the directive principles of state policy had any superiority over the fundamental rights and vice versa.

Lots of cases relating to this question had arises like,

  • Champakam Dorairajan case (1951)
  • Golak Nath case(1967)
  • Kesavananda Bharti case (1973)
  • Minerva mills case (1980)

In this particular article we look into Minerva mills case.

FACTS OF THE CASE

Minerva mills was a textile industry which was located in the state of Karnataka and produces mass quantity of silk clothes. During the time of 1970’s central government got information that the working of Minerva mills was not proper and it comes under the classification of sick units. For collecting the real facts about this matter and to check whether the Minerva mills comes under the title of sick unit, central government appoint a committee based on section 15 of industries(development and regulation) Act 1951. Committee provide a detailed report regarding the condition and working of Minerva mills. Through this analysis they find out that, Minerva mills can be considered as a sick unit. Based on this committees detailed report central government authorised National Textile Corporation Limited to take the management of Minerva mills in October 19, 1971. This particular management taking process had takes place based on section 18A of the industries (development and regulation) Act 1951.

RELEVANT STATUTES INVOLVED IN THE CASE

  • Industries (development and regulation) Act 1951
  • Directive principles of state policy
  • Fundamental rights
  • The sick textile undertakings (nationalisation) Act 1974
  • 39th constitutional (amendment) Act
  • 42nd constitutional (amendment) Act

ISSUES INVOLVED IN THIS CASE

  • Whether the 42nd constitutional (amendment) Act is constitutionally valid or not?
  • Whether the directive principles off state policy is supreme than fundamental rights?

COMMENTS ON THIS PARTICULAR CASE

The Minerva mills case is considered as a mile stone in the analysing of provisions relating to amendment of the constitution. It is also considered as a major case that relating to both fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy. And also, through this case the honourable Supreme Court clarifies the position of fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy over the other.

This is just only a case that dealing with the matter of nationalisation of a private company but the main reason that uphold this case to a most relevant one, relating to constitution is the issues that they raised through this case. Based on the 39th constitutional (amendment) Act 1975 the central government inserted the sick textile undertakings (nationalisation) Act 1974 into the ninth schedule. Explanation that made by the central government for passing this act is, it is based on the directive principles of state policy. According to the directive principles of state policy while enacting a new law or rules the government need to ensure that such particular law or rule had secure a social order for the promotion of welfare of the people and government also had responsibility to make sure that the workers are provided with just and humane conditions. Based on these principles within the directive principles of state policy government inserted the sick textile undertakings (nationalisation) Act 1974.

                   The issue in this Minerva mills case was not only arise because of the insertion of this sick textile undertakings (nationalisation) Act 1974. But also, the new rules within the 42nd constitutional (amendment) Act 1976. Through the 42nd constitutional (amendment) Act 1976 section 55 prevent the judicial review over the laws that had amended. In this particular Minerva mills case the affected owners of the Minerva mills had claimed that the implementation of sick textile undertakings (nationalisation) Act 1974 had become the reason for the violation of their fundamental rights that provided within article 19 (1) (g). Based on article 19 (1) (g) the constitution guarantees the entire citizen the right to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation trade or business. So, by taking the ownership of a company because of its current working scenario comes under the features of a sick unit will violate the fundamental rights of the owners that provide within the article 19 (1) (g). But in this present Minerva mills case the owners of the Minerva mills are not legally capable for approaching the Supreme Court for the breach of their fundamental rights because section 55 of the 42ndconstitutional (amendment) Act 1976 prevents the judicial review over the amendments. So, through this particular Minerva mills case the owners of the Minerva mills questioned the legal validity of 42nd amendment act and also, they raise the issue that, whether the directive principles of state policy can override over the fundamental rights and vice versa. They raised the question of conflict between fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy is because the central government implemented the sick textile undertakings (nationalisation) Act 1974 for protecting or by considering the principles within directive principles of state policy. But that act had caused violation to the fundamental rights of the owners of such sick units.

While analysing much more about this conflict between the fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy we need to go through some of the basic details of fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy.Within the Indian constitution article 12- 35 deals with these fundamental rights. Fundamental rights are considered as the basic rights that essentially needed or must provide for the citizens within the country. Other than citizens article 21 is applicable or must provide for all people with in the territory of India. Article 21 which ensures right to life to all the people who are living or existing within the territory of India. If any of these fundamental rights of a person is violated then he or she can approach the Supreme Court or High court with a writ petition which is based on article 32 and 228 of the Indian constitution. Directive principles of state policy is the principles that the state or government need to keep in mind while they enacting any new laws or policies. Article 36- 51 within the Indian constitution deals with this directive principles of state policy. It comes under the part 4 of the constitution. Both this fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy had equal importance for the better life of the people and for the proper governance of the country.

While coming back to our case Minerva mills v. Union of Indiathe supreme court made judgement on 31- July- 1980with the bench consisting of Y.V Chandrachud, A.C. Gupta, N.L. Untwali, P.S. Kailsam and P.N. Bhagwati jj. In this one of the landmarkjudgments the honourable judges where analysed about section 55 of the 42nd amendment act which said to be caused violation to the basic structure of the constitution, by preventing the judicial review of various amended laws and acts. Within the judgement while analysing about the concept of basic structure of constitution, they also mentioned about the Kesavananda Bharti case which was takes place just before this Minerva mills case in 1973. Within this Minerva mills judgement most of them excluding honourable P.N. Bhagwati had supported for making section 55 and section 4 of the 42nd amendment act as void. And as an explanation for their decision, they provide that these particular sections , section 55 and section 4 of the 42nd amendment act had violated the basic structure of constitution by preventing the application of article 368 which is said about the amendments. Within the judgment court also explained about the consistency between the fundamental rights and the directive principles of state policy both these are considered as the basic elements or the most important parts within the constitution of India. If the consistency or the balance between this fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy had shaken then it will affect the whole provisions within the constitution. Because the fundamental rights are the basic rights and the directive principles of state policy are the basic rules. And the court also add on that the laws or acts must not violate fundamental rights while it enacted or implemented based on the directive principles of state policy and vice versa. Both these fundamental rights and the directive principles of state policy are also considered as the basic structure of the constitution.

CONCLUSION

We know that within our country we considered the Indian constitution as a holy book or the solution for all the quarries relating to ethical and law full living of citizens. The Indian constitution is considered as the world’s largest written constitution. Directive principles of state policy is considered as one the most important part within the constitution of India. Both central and state government must properly crossly exanimate the laws and rules that they need to implement, with the principles which are included within the directive principles of state policy. In this case of Minerva mills one of the major issues that had arises was the conflict between the fundamental rights and the directive principles of state policy. For that particular issue the honourable court held that both the fundamental rights and the directive principles of state policy had equal importance, no one is superior than the other. It is exactly true, if any of the fundamental rights of a person had violated it creates an obstacle over the path of his life. Likewise, the laws and rules that are implemented without considering the directive principles of state policy will also make a similar obstacle over their life. So, both part 3 and part 4 within the constitution had equal importance. As a result of this Minerva mills case through the judgment court had declared section 4 and 55 of the 42nd constitutional (amendment) Act 1976 as unconstitutional. Because of this major decision and the proper explanation for the ‘basic structure’the case of Minerva mills v. Union of India is considered as one of the landmark cases. The judgement that made by the honourable court in this particular case can be considered as an ideal one because both the sections 55 and 4 within the 42nd constitutional (amendment) Act 1976 had prevented the judicial review over the amendments. This will definitely prevent the citizen’s rights to questioned or pointing out the errors that may arise through various amendments. So, declaring section 55 and section 4 of the 42nd constitutional (amendment) Act 1976 is an essential part that must need to be declared.

The conflicts between the fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy had arise several times through different legal issues like through Champakam Dorairajan case, Golak Nath case, Kesavananda Bharti case etc. Because of this Minerva mills case the court held a last word over the matter of supremacy of fundamental rights over the directive principles of state policy and vice versa. Both the fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy can be considered as the two sides of a single coin which means that both are equally essential for the betterment and wellbeing of the country and both had equal importance. Directive principles of state policy is considered as an ‘instrument of instructions. Major difference between the fundamental rights and the directive principles of state policy is that the fundamental rights are enforceable by law but directive principles of state policy is not. But both this principles and rights are essential for keeping our constitution as acomplete reference.

REFERENCE

www.lawctopus.com

The constitution (Thirty ninth Amendment) Act 1975

The 42nd constitutional amendment act 1976

Indiankanoon.org

Lawtimesjournal.in

Minerva mills v. Union of India

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