DMPQ- What is Ninth Schedule and what are issues related with it?

The first amendment to the Indian Constitution added the Ninth Schedule to it. It was introduced by the Nehru Government, on 10 May 1951 to address judicial decisions and pronouncements espe­cially about the chapter on fundamental rights. Nehru was also very clear on the purpose behind the first amendment. The state wanted to pursue nationalisation, take away lands from the zamindars, re-distribute them, and make special provisions for the socially and economically backward.

Despite having architected the Constitution, Nehru was not confident that the laws made to pursue these special interests of the state would stand up to judicial scrutiny on account of being discriminatory.

The First Amendment that brought in Articles 31A and 31B conferring upon the state the right to make laws to acquire private property and to deem such laws as not being discriminatory and to further protect all such laws from any judicial review by creating something called the Ninth Sched­ule. It is interesting to note that the origins of the Ninth Schedule lie in land acquisition by the state, given the current political debate on SEZs and Singur, Nandigram.

Since the First Amendment, the Ninth Schedule has been relied upon to amend the constitution multiple times over. The 4th amendment inserted six acts to the 9th schedule. The 17th amendment added 44 more acts. The 29th amendment brought in 2 acts from Kerala. The 34th amendment in 1974 added 20 more land tenure and land reforms laws enacted by the states.

In 1975, Indira Gandhi’s infamous abuse of executive power leading up to emergency saw the 39th amendment adding cer­tain central enactments. 1976 saw the 40th amendment even more to the 9th schedule. The 47th amendment in 1984 added more, and then in 1990 the 66th amendment gave more protection to land ceiling acts.

The 76th amendment to accommodate Tamil Nadu Government’s legislation to provide for reservations to the level of 69 percent for SC/ST and OBCs followed. What takes the cake however is the 78th amendment, which was about not just immunity to laws in 9th schedule, which was suspect, but amendments to those laws and making those amendments immune. Since then there were absurd laws from Sugarcane supporting price to the New Delhi Urban Zoning Laws all clamoring for an exalted spot in the much abused Ninth Schedule.

 

SC judgement related to Ninth Schedule:

In a landmark ruling on 11 January 2007, the Supreme Court of India ruled that all laws (including those in the Ninth Schedule) would be open to Judicial Review if they violated the basic structure of the constitution. Chief Justice of India, Yogesh Kumar Sabharwal noted, “If laws put in the Ninth Schedule abridge or abrogate fundamental rights resulting in violation of the basic structure of the constitution, such laws need to be invalidated.”

The Supreme Court judgment laid that the laws placed under Ninth Schedule after April 24, 1973 shall be open to challenge in court if they violated fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 14, 19, 20 and 21 of the Constitution.

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