September 5, 2022
Good morning. In today’s either/view, we discuss whether the Preamble should be considered a part of the Indian Constitution. We also look at the construction of heliports to boost tourism in Himachal Pradesh, among other news.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Is The Preamble A Part Of The Indian Constitution?
Every student in India has had to memorize “We, the people of India do solemnly swear… adopt, enact and give to ourselves this Constitution” in an attempt to ace their civics examinations. However, the role of the Preamble in the Constitution has been debated for decades now.
Even until last week when the former Rajya Sabha MP, Subramanian Swamy, filed a writ petition seeking the removal of the words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Secularism’ from the Preamble, the debate continues.
The petition filed by the former MP is mainly in opposition to the 42nd Constitution Amendment of 1976 when the two words were added during the tenure of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Advocate Satya Sabharwal has also emerged as the second petitioner in this case. The validity of the words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Secularism’ have been challenged as they argued that the insertion or alteration of the Preamble is beyond the amending power of the Parliament under Article 368.
The Preamble serves primarily as an introduction to the Constitution, laying down the basic principles and goals of the latter. During her tenure, Indira Gandhi attempted to cement her approval of the masses by focusing on maintaining a pro-poor image and thereby posing as a socialist. Against the backdrop of the 1976 Emergency, changes were made to the Preamble through the 42nd Amendment with the Indira government attempting to further centralise power.
The petition filed against this move highlights that since the Preamble does not fall under the category of an ordinary statute, policymakers cannot vary, alter or repeal it. The petition also argues that the framers of the Constitution had no intention of introducing socialist or secular concepts in democratic governance. Swamy also mentioned in his petition that Dr BR Ambedkar also opposed the addition of these words as he was of the opinion that the Constitution could not push political ideologies onto its citizens.
While the preamble embodies the spirit of the Constitution, can it be invoked as an Act?
VIEW: Preamble is a part of the Constitution
One of the most revolutionary judgements regarding the role of the preamble in the Constitution came after the Kesavananda Bharti case. For the first time in the history of legal proceedings, a bench of 13 judges was hearing the writ petition resulting in 11 different opinions. Ultimately, the court held that the preamble is a part of the Constitution, however, it is not a source of power nor limitations. Additionally, it held that the preamble played a significant role in the interpretation of provisions of the Constitution.
The fact that the addition of the words ‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’ to the preamble has been met with opposition in the form of multiple petitions over the years, reveals that the preface is very much a part of the book. In 2020, for example, BJP MP Rakesh Sinha moved a resolution in the Rajya Sabha looking to eliminate the word ‘Socialist’ from the preamble. He argued that one could not bind a generation to one way of thinking. He also highlighted that the Congress party had shifted from being socialist to neo-liberal, negating its own earlier position.
Additionally, the judgement on the Bommai case described a new application of the preamble. Since it indicates the basic structure of the Constitution, a proclamation under Article 356(1) is eligible for judicial review on the grounds of violating the basic structure of the Constitution. If there is a proclamation that the basic features, as summarized in the preamble, are violated, they can be struck down as unconstitutional.
COUNTERVIEW: Preamble is merely an introduction
The violation of any of the principles written in the preamble cannot be taken up in court, rendering them ‘non-justiciable.’ While judgements can include these principles in an additional capacity in their reasoning, decisions cannot be based on them.
The Berubari case judgement reinforces this line of reasoning. The 9-judge bench held that while the preamble is the key to the mind of the framers of the Constitution, thereby revealing their intentions for the nation, it is not a part of the Constitution. The case of Union Government vs LIC of India also held that while the preamble is an integral part of the Constitution, it is not directly enforceable in a court of justice in India.
Regarding the amendment of the preamble, the 1980 Minerva Mills vs Union of India case held that any ‘positive amendment’ could be made as it upholds the philosophy of the Constitution. This judgement explicitly allows changes to be made to the preface as long as they are positive in nature.
- Subramanian Swamy’s Plea To Delete “Socialism” & “Secularism” From Preamble To Constitution (Live Law)
- PART XX: Amendment of the Constitution (MEA)
- The history and debates about ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ in the preamble of the Constitution (The Indian Express)
- The Berubari Union vs Unknown (Indian Kanoon)
- Kesavananda Bharti vs State of Kerala (Indian Kanoon)
- S. R. Bommai vs Union of India (Indian Kanoon)
- L.I.C of India vs Union of India and Ors (Indian Kanoon)
- Preamble- A Part of the Constitution or Not (Legal Service India)
- Is Preamble a Part of the Indian Constitution? (Law Octopus)
- Supreme Court lists Subramanian Swamy’s plea on ‘secular, socialist Constitution’ (The New Indian Express)
What’s your opinion on this?
(Only subscribers can participate in polls)
a) The Preamble is a part of the Indian Constitution.
b) The Preamble is not a part of the Indian Constitution.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
‘Vishwa Guru’ India Needs To Learn From Southeast Asia’s Pluralist Ethos
For the Left:
Opposition Needs Kingmaker To Fight The King
🇮🇳 STATE OF THE STATES
Heliports to boost tourism (Himachal Pradesh) – A new heliport was inaugurated by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur in Shimla. The initiative is to help boost tourism in the state to unexplored areas. The government is looking to establish a network of heliports to improve air connectivity. The heliports at Shimla were completed under the Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) scheme. Operations at these sites will begin soon.
Why it matters: There are currently 64 helipads in the state, with 38 new ones being developed. One in Mandi is close to completion, and another is being developed at Manali. In January, Thakur inaugurated a heliport near the Sanjauli-Dhalli bypass. The Centre provided ₹12.13 crores under the UDAN scheme and the Himalayan Circuit of the Swadesh Darshan programme. The heliports will also come in handy for emergencies.
Underwater survey for port (Tamil Nadu) – In association with the National Institute of Oceanography and Indian Maritime University, the state launched an underwater survey to find evidence of the Sangam-era port of Korkai. A ship equipped with echo-sounding and sonar tools arrived at VOC port in Thoothukudi. The survey is being done as part of the Porunai (Thamirabarani) river valley civilization explorations.
Why it matters: It’s expected to help find the actual location of the ancient port which was part of the Pandiyan kingdom. It was a popular harbour on the east coast during the 5th century CE. In 1981, the state government conducted an offshore survey in Poompuhar. Another survey was done in 2005 by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) in Mamallapuram. This current survey will help determine future excavations.
Content Capital of India? (Chhattisgarh) – Chhattisgarh’s Tulsi village is a unique one, with most of the youngsters and teenagers there wanting to become content creators. Of the 3,000 residents, around 1,000 are successful YouTubers. The oldest is an 85-year-old grandmother, and the youngest is a 15-year-old boy. Each of them has an individual channel on the site. They collaborate on content that includes plays and songs.
Why it matters: These YouTubers aren’t just earning praise for their content, they’re also earning money from it. The locals have 40 channels on YouTube. The phenomenon was started by two friends. Others soon followed. For some, it has become a tool for empowerment, particularly for women and girls.
Investments ahead of Summit (Rajasthan) – Ahead of the Invest Rajasthan Summit next month, the state has ₹10.44 lakh crores worth of investments lined up. Speaking to the media, state Minister of Industries and Commerce Shakuntla Rawat said the summit would have 3,000 delegates from different sectors and industries. The theme will be “Committed: Delivered” emphasising sustainable partnerships with domestic and foreign investors.
Why it matters: The government hopes the summit will attract investments worth ₹10 trillion. Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said Rajasthan has great potential to attract investors from all over the world. He spoke of the slogan “Padharo Mahare Desh” (Welcome to my state) as the message to put forward. A separate conclave for MSMEs will also be organised on October 8.
Resettlement of Mizo tribals (Tripura) – Mizo and Bengali communities have opposed the state government’s ongoing initiative to rehabilitate more than 37,000 Reang tribals who were displaced from Mizoram 25 years ago. The Joint Movement Committee (JMC), the Suraksha Mancha (NSM), and Mizo Convention are leading the opposition citing locals’ livelihoods will be affected. They said they aren’t against resettlement, but it shouldn’t be done at the cost of locals. Instead, they want them to be resettled across districts to maintain demographic balance.
Why it matters: The government’s previous August 31 rehabilitation deadline wasn’t achieved due to internal opposition and threats of agitations. The tribals have been sheltered in seven camps in the Kanchanpur and nearby Panisagar sub-division since 1997. An agreement signed between Mizoram and Tripura stated each family would get one-time financial assistance of ₹4 lakh.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
₹1.14 lakh crores – The refund amount issued by the Income Tax department in the past five months. The money went to more than 1.97 lakh taxpayers beginning this fiscal.