In a clear indication that the higher judiciary is not prepared to give up all its historic powers, Chief Justice of India (CJI) D Y Chandrachud said over the weekend that the basic structure of the Constitution had served as the “North Star” for legal interpreters of that document. This represents a major defence of the utility and purpose of the basic-structure doctrine, which is under attack for being supposedly undemocratic. Some in the government have attacked the doctrine, which allows the Supreme Court to declare even legal changes that have gone through the difficult process required for formal amendments incompatible with the “basic structure” of the Constitution they seek to amend. Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankhar, for example, has pointed out this restricts the powers of Parliament, which is the democratically accountable body in the constitutional framework. While this undoubtedly constrains the immediate powers of the electorate to make perma
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