PREAMBLE OF THE CONSTITUTION (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Polity)

News-CRUX-10     10th February 2024        
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Context: The Supreme Court recently questioned whether the Preamble of the Constitution could be amended while keeping the date of adoption, November 26, 1949, intact.

  • A bench of Justices posed the question to former Rajya Sabha MP who have sought deletion of the words "Socialist" and "Secular" from the Preamble of the Constitution.

Important Aspects of Preamble

  • Sovereign: Sovereignty refers to the independent authority of a state, free from external control. It includes internal sovereignty (lawmaking) and external sovereignty (territory). 
  • Socialist: Inserted by 42nd Amendment Act in 1976, the term "Socialist" made explicit the implicit ideals of socialism already present in the Constitution. 

oIn the case of D.S. Nakara v. Union of India (1983), the Supreme Court held that the primary objective of a socialist state is to eradicate inequality in income, status, and the standard of living.

oRegarding the inclusion of 'socialist,' Dr B.R. Ambedkar argued in Constituent Assembly debates that it goes against the essence of democracy to decide within the Constitution the type of society in which the people of India should live.

  • Secular: In India, a secular state implies equal protection of all religions by the State. It was incorporated into the Constitution through the 42nd Amendment Act in 1976. 

oFundamental Rights (Articles 14, 15, 16, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, and 30) safeguard individual and collective religious rights. 

oThe Directive Principles of State Policy include Article 44, which promotes the concept of a Uniform Civil Code.

oDr B.R. Ambedkar reasoned in Constituent Assembly debates that the term 'secular' was unnecessary in the Preamble because the entire Constitution embodied the concept of a secular state.

Whether Preamble can be amended?

  • Berubari Union Case (1960): The Supreme Court (SC) ruled that the Preamble cannot be considered as a part of the Constitution and therefore cannot be amended. 
  • Kesavananda Bharati Case (1973): SC clarified that the Preamble is indeed a part of the Constitution and can be amended, as long as it does not violate the basic structure of the Constitution.
  • Union Government Vs LIC of India Case (1995): SC reaffirmed that the Preamble is an integral part of the Constitution, but its provisions are not directly enforceable in court. 
  • Private member Bill in 2021: Former Minister KJ Alphons introduced a bill in Rajya Sabha to amend the Indian Constitution's preamble, seeking to replace "socialist" with "equitable" and make other changes.