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Home > News > Report

Ninth Schedule can be changed: Govt

November 01, 2006 20:31 IST

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Ninth Schedule matter referred to 9-member Constitution bench
Solicitor General of India G E Vahanvati told the Supreme Court Wednesday that the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution can be changed or amended.

He was responding to the challenge to the constitutional validity of the Article 31(B), which empowers the government and the Legislature to put any law in Ninth Schedule of the Constitution to avoid judicial scrutiny regarding the validity of the law or the constitutional amendment.

Refuting the contention of the petitioners that Article 31B was a 'one time exercise,' Vahanvati told the nine-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal that the power to amend the Ninth Schedule flowed from Article 368 of the Constitution of India and there was no prohibition against putting the Acts and Regulations in the Ninth Schedule later.

The Solicitor General also described as false the contention of the petitioners that constitutional amendments cannot interfere with the judicial powers to enforce fundamental rights, and asserted that there was no restriction under Article 368 with regard to amendment of Part-III of the Constitution and the Article 368 itself provided that the power of amendment was in exercise of Constituent power.

Senior counsel Soli J Sorabjee appearing for the state of Tamil Nadu, however, contended that the object of the Article 31B was to give blanket protection to the Acts and Regulations specified in Ninth Schedule against any judicial review even if these acts or regulations were inconsistent with or take away or abridge any of rights specified in Part-III of the Constitution, meaning thereby that even if the laws included in Ninth schedule are violative of Fundamental rights of the citizens of this country, they are immune from any challenge in the court of law.

Sorabjee also contended that in effect Article 31B is a curative provision which cures the defect of invalidity of a law placed in Ninth Schedule on the grounds of the same being violative of fundamental rights.

Other judges on the bench are Justices Ashok Bhan, Arijit Pasayat, B P Singh, S H Kapadia, C K Thakker, P K Balasubramanyan, Altamas Kabir and D K Jain.

The arguments will continue Thursday, and are expected to be concluded by November 3.


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