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Business News/ News / India/  Can Preamble of Constitution be amended without altering date? SC to hear plea in April to delete 'secular' &‘social
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Can Preamble of Constitution be amended without altering date? SC to hear plea in April to delete 'secular' &‘social

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta posed the question to former Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy and lawyer Vishnu Shankar Jain, who have sought deletion of the words ‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’ from the Preamble of the Constitution.

A view of the Supreme Court of India (SCI) building, in New Delhi. (ANI)Premium
A view of the Supreme Court of India (SCI) building, in New Delhi. (ANI)

The Supreme Court on Friday questioned whether the Preamble of the Constitution could be amended while keeping the date of adoption, November 26, 1949 intact.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta posed the question to former Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy and lawyer Vishnu Shankar Jain, who have sought deletion of the words "Socialist" and "Secular" from the Preamble of the Constitution.

"For the academic purpose, can a Preamble that has the date mentioned, be changed without altering the date of adoption. Otherwise, yes the Preamble can be amended. There is no problem with that," Justice Datta said.

Swamy replied, "That's precisely the question in the matter."

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Dutta posted the matter in the week commencing from April 29.

Swamy in his petition had said that the two words, inserted in the Preamble through the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act of 1976 during the Emergency, violated the basic structure doctrine enunciated in the famous Kesavananda Bharati judgment by the 13-judge bench in 1973, by which Parliament's power to amend the Constitution was barred from tinkering with the basic features of the Constitution.

"The framers of the Constitution had specifically rejected the inclusion of these two words in the Constitution and alleged that these two words were thrust upon the citizens even when the framers never had intended to introduce socialist and secular concepts in democratic governance," Swamy had contended.

Justice Datta further said, "this is perhaps the only Preamble I have seen which comes with a date. We give this Constitution to us on so and so date … originally these two words (Socialist and Secular) were not there."

Jain said that the  Preamble of Constitution of India comes with a specific date, therefore it cannot be amended without discussion.

Swamy intervened and said that the 42nd Amendment Act was passed during the Emergency (1975-77).

Justice Khanna at the outset told Swamy that the judges had received the case files early in the morning and due to the paucity in time, they had not gone through them.

The bench said that the matter required detailed discussion and posted the hearing on the two petitions to April 29.

Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament and the Communist Party of India leader Binoy Viswam had also approached the Supreme Court opposing Swamy's plea saying that 'secularism and socialism' are inherent and basic features of the Constitution.

"It is the intent of the plea filed by Swamy to have a free rein on Indian polity leaving behind secularism and socialism," Viswam had said.

"Swamy's petition is an absolute abuse of the process of law and is devoid of merit and deserves to be dismissed with exemplary costs as it challenges the 42nd Amendment to the Constitution of India," the application of Viswam had stated.

The CPI MP in his impleadment application had said the real purpose behind the PIL is to allow political parties to seek votes in the name of religion.

"The 42nd amendment is challenged by the petitioner as an eyewash to succeed in striking down sub-section 5 of section 29(A) of the Representation of People's Act, 1951," the application had stated.

The section mandates the political parties seeking registration with the Election Commission to abide by the Constitution and its principles of "secularism, socialism and democracy".

Another plea was also filed in the apex court seeking the deletion of 'secularism and socialism' from the preamble by lawyers Balram Singh and Karunesh Kumar Shukla.

*With Agency Inputs

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Published: 09 Feb 2024, 05:45 PM IST
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