Sri Keshavananda Bharati was born to Manjathaya Sreedhara Bhatt and Padmavathi. He took to Sanyasa at a young age of 19 and later became the head of Edaneeru Matha in 1960. The Edneeru Matha has a history of 1200 years and belongs to the parampara of Sri Totakacharya, one of the first four disciples of Sri Adi Shankaracharya.
The legal battle led by Kesavananda Bharati was one of the most historical and long cases to protect fundamental rights. The case known as 'The Kesavananda Bharati Case' is one of the most cited judgments in the legal fraternity when it comes to the basic structure of the constitution. Keshavananda Swamiji had filed a writ questioning the 29th Amendment of Constitution in 1971, Kerala Land Reforms Act in 1969 and the Kerala Land Reforms Amendment Act in 1971.
Following this, Keshavananda Swami became the first petitioner to question the amendment of fundamental rights. Due to the political relevance of the case, intense pressure was imposed on the court from the very beginning by the then ruling establishment. The Supreme Court full bench consisting of 13 judges tried the case for 66 days creating another history. Kesavananda Bharati case made it to the headlines of newspapers in the country every day during that period.
The majority that delivered the landmark verdict in the Kesavananda Bharati case on April 24, 1973, (from left) then Chief Justice of India S M Sikri, and Justices J M Shelat, K S Hegde, A N Grover, P Jaganmohan Reddy, A K Mukherjea and H R Khanna (IE Photo)
The government argued in the court that the Constitution can be amended to ensure the upliftment of the common people and social justice. The judiciary and the government were engaged in verbal duel in the court over the nature and basic structure of the constitution.
Finally, the judiciary prevailed as the Supreme Court pronounced the verdict with a 6-7 majority that the fundamental rights in the Constitution cannot be amended by the Parliament. The historical verdict was pronounced on April 24, 1973. It was also known that the judges who took a stand against the government were denied promotions by the subsequent Congress governments.