Last week, a nine-judge Supreme Court bench began hearing appeals relating to the interpretation of Part XIII of the Constitution (Articles 301-307). This nine-judge-bench is the sixteenth time that the Supreme Court has assembled in such strength. Most earlier benches handled fundamental rights questions. This is, perhaps, the first one to examine the taxation powers of the Parliament and the state legislatures.
Article 301 was patterned on Section 92 of the 1900 Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act. It is commonly misinterpreted by academicians and advocates. Due to Article 301's Australian origins, our Court seems to have over-relied on cases from that jurisdiction. This considerable confusion especially in the landmark Atiabari Case.
In a detailed analysis, Rahul Unnikrishnan, a Madras High Court advocate, discusses the present reference before the Court and two earlier precedents: Atiabari and Automobile Transport.