Hormasji “Homi” Maneckji Seervai

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Hormasji “Homi” Maneckji Seervai

Born: 5 December 1906

Died: 26 January 1996

  • He was an Indian eminent jurist, lawyer, and author.
  • He is also considered to be a renowned Constitutional expert, and his works are cited popularly in various Indian cases as well as journals.
  • He is best known for his 1967 analysis, the Constitutional Law of India – a Critical Commentary.
  • This work contributed significantly to Kesavananda Bharati vs. The State of Kerala (1973), his most famous case, which led to the development of the “Basic structure doctrine”, which inhibits politically motivated changes to the Constitution of India.
  • Perhaps, its full repercussions have not yet completely been understood, and it is the defining and distinguishing part of democracy under the written constitution vs. the British model.
  • The decision established that a legislature, elected for the legislative process, does not have the ability to amend the basic structure of the constitution.
  • That in itself indicates a departure from the British Westminster democracy, where the unwritten constitution can be amended at will by the British parliament, which is the ultimate sovereign.
  • The Indian Parliament, however, cannot change the basic structure of the Indian constitution and the same principle is championed in later cases by the Supreme Court of India.
  • His impact on defining the limits of parliamentary sovereignty and declaring the constitution supreme has been great for the entire subcontinent and today it has become an accepted principle that has been upheld by the Supreme Court of Pakistan as well.

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