Kesavananda Bharati, key petitioner in case that led to ‘basic structure’ of Constitution doctrine


Team Udayavani, Sep 6, 2020, 12:08 PM IST

Kasaragod: Shri Kesavananda Bharati, or officially Srimad Jagadguru Sri Sri Sankaracharya Thotakacharya Keshavananda Bharathi Sripadangalavaru pontiff of Edneer mutt who passed away today (Sunday, September 6) was a petitioner in a case that led to the Supreme Court evolving the celebrated doctrine of basic structure of the Constitution.

Kesavananda Bharati born to Manchthaya Sreedhara Bhatt and Padmavathi Amma. In 1961 he was appointed as the head and chief Pontiff of Sri Edneer Mutt, in Kasaragod that belonged to the Parampara of Sri Thotakacharya.

Kesavananda Bharati was one of the first four disciples of Sri Adi Shankaracharya and he followed the Smartha Bhagawatha tradition of Advaitha Pantha which has more than 1200 years of history of religion, culture, art, music and social service.He was the only Shankaracharya in the whole state of Kerala. He who took Sanyasa at the age of 19 headed the Edneer Mutt as the Peetadhipathi until his death in 2020.

Kesavananda Bharati spread the religion and culture in equal earnest. He also rendered all possible support to literature, culture and art. A patron of education, Kannada culture and arts, including Yakshagana, music and dramas he had contributed immensely for Kannada in the border district of Kasaragod. Under his guidance, the mutt has instituted a Kannada Medium School, a Junior college and also Vidyamandira English Medium School at Edneer.

The swamiji was known for a landmark case that helped establish the basic structure doctrine of the Indian Constitution which guarantees that the fundamental or ‘basic structure’ of the Indian Constitution can not be altered by parliamentary amendment. He was a follower of Smartha Bhagawatha tradition and Advaita Vedanta.

The case in which Bharati had challenged a Kerala Land Reform Act nearly four decades ago set the principle that the Supreme Court is the guardian of the basic structure of the Constitution and the verdict involved 13 judges the largest bench ever to sit in the apex court.

The case of Kesavananda Bharati vs State of Kerala was heard for 68 days and continues to hold the top spot for the longest proceedings ever to have taken place in the top court. The hearing in the case commenced on October 31, 1972, and concluded on March 23, 1973 and it”s the most referred to case name in Indian Constitutional law.

He was the only Shankaracharya who had publicly issued a statement saying that it was a mistake on the part of the government to open the vaults of the Shri Padmanabhaswamy Temple and he publicly asserted that all the assets found in the vault of Shri Padnabhaswamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram.

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