Constitutional morality, means adherence to the core principles of the
constitution, going beyond the literal meaning of constitutional provisions but to also ensure the fulfilment of the aim of the constitution. In Naz Foundation case 2009 Supreme Court opined that only constitutional morality, not public morality should prevail.
Secularism and socialism, which were added in the 42nd amendment of
constitution in 1976, has been challenged in court, questioning the constitutional morality.
The addition of these term in the preamble does not mean addition in the
constitution, as the essence of both the word were already present in the
constitution during the formation of the constitution, which was explicitly
mentioned in the preamble in 1976, so its removal from preamble would hardly bring any change to the working of constitution.
The preamble refers to summary or essence of the constitution.
As N.A. Palkhiwalan an eminent jurist and constitutional expert called preamble as “identity card of the constitution”.
Even before the 42nd Amendment in 1976, The Constitution had a socialist content in the form Directive Principles of State Policy “classified into three broad categories – Socialistic, Gandhian and liberal-intellectual”
Also, the Congress party itself adopted a resolution to establish a ‘socialistic pattern of society’ in its Avadi session as early as in 1955.
According to Supreme Court, ‘Democratic socialism aims to end poverty,
ignorance, disease and inequality of opportunity. Indian socialism is a blend of Marxism and Gandhism, leaning heavily towards the Gandhian socialism’.
Article 39(b) and 39(c) of the DPSP represent socialistic principles.
In 2008, Supreme Court on a plea regarding the removal of the word socialist from the constitution said not to take socialism in a narrow sense defined by communist but in a broader sense it means welfare measure for citizen and it is a facet of democracy.
The word secularism has been explained in one of the previous articles please refer to do it for the explanation of Indian version of secularism.
Constitution of India stands for a Secular State. Hence, it does not uphold
any particular religion as the official the religion of the Indian State.
Article 14, 15, 16, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 44 not only promote but also contains the essence of secularism.
Firstly, if Article 1 is observed, it describes India as a ‘union of states’ which implies the indestructible nature of the Indian union. The article aims at overcoming the challenges to national integration like communalism regionalism, casteism, linguism and so on. The first article itself stands opposite to communalism.
Secondly, in 1973, during the kesavananda Bharati case also known as the
fundamental right case. Apex court not only laid down a new ‘doctrine of basic structure’, which cannot be altered by the power of parliament under Article 368.
Also, declared the secular character of the constitution, as the basic structure.
The 42nd amendment in which the word secular was added in the preamble was done at a later stage.
Points to Ponder
- Even the word secular was added at a much later phase. The constitution already had the provisions of a secular state. Just removing the word from preamble will not make the constitution unsecular. As the preamble is neither of a source of power nor it prohibits upon the power of the legislature. To make the constitution against secularism a lot of changes is required and just removal of a word from preamble does not change anything.
- In Kihoto Holllohon case 1993, the supreme court declared free and fair election as an element of the basic structure. If elections would be fought on communal lines it would not be fair, which would also violate another basic structure of the constitution.
- Is there any bill or law pending just because of the word ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ in preamble?
- The 42nd amendment in 1976, added three words to preamble socialist secular and integrity. If we somehow assume that before 1976 we were not socialist or secular. Does the same concept apply with integrity? Or is the integrity is going to change after removal of the word from preamble?
Secularization means the decreasing influence of religion in society, which is tough to measure. However some of its dimensions can be analyzed.
- Education in a school, in the same class, is not imparted according to religion or belief of the student, but the syllabus followed is the same for everyone. Also the educational board CBSE/ICSE is not controlled by any religious institution.
- ‘The mega Diwali sale’ in market is an example of our secular economy. People are not given discount based on their faith.
- In the marketplace, we are not concerned with the religion of the seller or the producer of the goods. Shows how our economic relations have come above the communal lines or the line of division.
- In the health sector, people do not go to their respective religious preacher or find a doctor following same religion.
The question of constitutional morality is to be decided by the apex court, but we can check public morality. We live in a secular environment except for the political scenario.
Its time people need to look above caste and religion factor
during elections. It’s time that we the people of India solemnly resolve and recognize our identity as Indian. Start taking steps towards achieving justice, liberty, equality and fraternity as envisioned by our constitution-makers.