Anoushka Mehta

Anoushka Mehta is currently a penultimate year law student (B.A., LL.B) (Hons.) at Maharashtra National Law University Mumbai. She is a reviewer at Economic & Political Weekly and is also pursuing a Diploma in Advanced Contract Drafting, Negotiation and Dispute Resolution. She aims to write on legal issues alongside working in the area of corporate law.

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PIL filed to strike down words ‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’ from the Constitution of India

Petition moved in the SC which seeks the words ‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’ to be removed as they are antithetical to the constitutional tenets as well as the historical and cultural theme of India.

A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court of India challenging the insertion and existence of the words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ in the Preamble of the Constitution of India which were added to the Constitution by the 42nd amendment made in 1976. The PIL seeks the words to be removed by stating that they are antithetical to the constitutional tenets as well as the historical and cultural theme of India. It further argues that such insertion was illegal per se as it violates the concept of freedom of speech and expression enumerated in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution and the right to freedom of religion guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution. 

It said the amendment was also against the historical and cultural theme of the great republic of Bharat, India which is known to be the oldest civilization of the world. This civilization had always had a clear concept 'Dharma' different from the concept of religion. Even though the concept has various interpretations, it basically envisions a right way of life with certain duties and principles to be followed. It does not mean a strict abiding nature to a particular, defined religion. The petition argued these concepts of Socialism and Secularism came about from the communist theory of State as propounded and conceptualized by Karl Marx. It states that this communist theory is not in tune with the religious and socio-economic conditions of India and hence cannot be applied in the Indian context. 

The said case is filed by Balram Singh and Karunesh Kumar Shukla through their Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain. They seek appropriate orders and directions from the opposite party i.e. Union of India to declare that the concepts of 'socialism' and 'secularism' then referred to the nature of the republic. They argue that the scope of these words is narrowed and limited to the working of the sovereign function of the State and the same does not apply to the citizens, the political parties, and the social organizations of the State. 

This petition has also questioned the insertion of these words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ in section 29 A (5) of the Representation of People Act, 1951 that makes it compulsory for the political parties, applying for registration before Election Commission of India, to make specific provision in its memorandum or rules and regulations that the association or body shall bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established and to the principles of ‘Socialism’ and ‘Secularism’ and ‘democracy’ and would agree to uphold the sovereignty and integrity of India. 

The PIL further argues that the words contradict the provisions in the Constitution vis-à-vis grants made in favour of minorities by stating that ‘a secular state cannot provide any grant to any religious community. Such types of grants being given by the state are alien to the concept of secular state. Secularism and grant to minority institution cannot go together. These are antithesis to each other.’

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