Hans Raj Khanna
Judge, Award Winner
1912 – 2008
Who was Hans Raj Khanna?
Hans Raj Khanna was a legendary judge of the Supreme Court of India. Two of his judgements form the basis of modern constitutional law, decades after they were delivered. In the Habeas Corpus case during the Indian Emergency, four other judges agreed with the government view that even fundamental rights like the right to life stood abrogated during Emergency. Khanna's dissenting opinion, claiming that the Constitution did not permit right to life and liberty to be subject to executive decree, is widely regarded as a landmark in Indian democracy. Previously he had authored the Basic structure doctrine of the Constitution of India in Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, which curtailed Parliament's amending power, restricting its scope of amendment in areas which were part of the Constitution's "basic structure".
On 3 January 1977, after delivering the Habeas Corpus judgement, he was superseded for the post of Chief Justice by Indira Gandhi, despite being the senior-most judge in the Supreme Court and as a result of this, he resigned from the court.
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