Why is it in the news?
- Recently, the leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha claimed that the words “socialist” and “secular” were missing in the Preamble of the Constitution of India in copies given to MPs.
- These two words were added to the Preamble by The Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976.
Introduction of Socialist and Secular in the Preamble
- “Socialist” was inserted in the Preamble during the Indira Gandhi government to emphasize that socialism was a goal and philosophy of the Indian state.
- The Indian brand of socialism did not involve the nationalization of all means of production but focused on selective nationalization where necessary.
- “Secular” was added to ensure that the state protects all religions equally, maintains neutrality, and does not uphold any one religion as a “state religion.”
- The secular nature of the Indian state is secured by Articles 25-28 of the Constitution.
Secularism in the Constitution
- Secularism in the Indian Constitution is not a matter of religious sentiment but a matter of law.
- It signifies the state’s concern with the relationship between individuals rather than between individuals and God, which is a matter of personal choice.
- Critics have debated the term’s implications, with some claiming it supports “pseudo-secularism” and “vote-bank politics.”
- Secularism always Implicit:
- The philosophy of secularism was implicit in the Constitution even before the 42nd Amendment.
- Founding documents like Articles 25, 26, and 27 were adopted with the intention of promoting secularism.
- The 42nd Amendment made explicit what was already implicit in the Constitution’s provisions and overall philosophy.
- Past Supreme Court Petitions:
- Various petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court seeking the removal of “socialist” and “secular” from the Preamble.
- Petitioners argued that these words were not originally intended and that their inclusion exceeds the amending power of Parliament under Article 368.
- In 2008, the Supreme Court rejected a plea to remove “socialist,” stating that socialism in a broader sense means welfare measures for citizens and has a different meaning at different times.