Challenge To Preamble Amendment: 'Secularism' Held To Be Basic Structure Of Constitution In Many Judgments, Says Supreme Court

Gyanvi Khanna

10 July 2024 10:11 AM GMT

  • Challenge To Preamble Amendment: Secularism Held To Be Basic Structure Of Constitution In Many Judgments, Says Supreme Court

    The Supreme Court today (on July 10) adjourned a Public Interest Litigation filed by former Rajya Sabha MP Dr. Subramanian Swamy to delete the words "Socialist" & "Secular" from the Preamble to the Constitution of India to August. While doing so, Justice Sanjiv Khanna also said that so far as the word “Secular” was concerned, there are a number of judgments of this Court...

    The Supreme Court today (on July 10) adjourned a Public Interest Litigation filed by former Rajya Sabha MP Dr. Subramanian Swamy to delete the words "Socialist" & "Secular" from the Preamble to the Constitution of India to August.

    While doing so, Justice Sanjiv Khanna also said that so far as the word “Secular” was concerned, there are a number of judgments of this Court holding that it is a basic structure of our Constitution.

    As far as 'socialist' is concerned, probably we have given our own definition to the term 'socialist'. We have not gone by a proper dictionary definition.,” he added.

    Considering that there are three petitions on the same issue and the petitioner counsel in one of the pleas sought for accommodation, the Court ordered the matter to be re-listed in the week commencing August 12.

    It may also be noted that previously, the Court had asked the counsels to consider, from an academic point of view, if the Preamble could have been amended earlier (by the 42nd Amendment Act in 1976) to include the words Socialist and Secular while keeping the date of adoption (November 29, 1949) intact.

    Background

    The present petition challenges the validity of insertion of words "socialist" and "secular" in the Preamble of Indian Constitution vide the 42nd Constitution Amendment of 1976 during the time of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. It is argued that such insertion was beyond the amending power of the Parliament under Article 368.

    The petitioners claim that the framers of the Constitution never intended to introduce socialist or secular concepts in democratic governance. It is further averred that Dr. BR Ambedkar had rejected the incorporation of these words as the Constitution cannot thrust upon the citizens certain political ideologies by taking away their right to choose.

    Rajya Sabha MP Binoy Viswam of the Communist Party of India has filed an intervention in the matter, opposing the petition, by saying that Secularism and Socialism are inherent features of the Indian Constitution and, hence, the addition of these words in the Preamble did not alter the nature of the Constitution.

    Case Title : Dr. Subramanian Swamy and Anr. v. Union of India and Anr., WP(C) 1467/2020 (and connected case)

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