Supreme Court lawyers reading Preamble to the Constitution of India back in January 2020, in the backdrop of CAA 2019 protests
Supreme Court lawyers reading Preamble to the Constitution of India back in January 2020, in the backdrop of CAA 2019 protests
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Can State compel citizens to be secular given the freedom of religion? Plea in SC seeks removal of "Socialist" & "Secular" from Constitution

The concepts of socialist and secular have been challenged as notions propagated by Karl Marx, "the pioneer of communist thought", which, the plea notes, has been disapproved by a large number of nations.

Debayan Roy

A petition in the Supreme Court has called for striking down the words "socialist" and "secular" from the Constitution of India as it was a "political thought" to include them.

The petition by Supreme Court advocates Dr Balram Singh and Karunesh Kumar Shukla, and social worker Pravesh Kumar, has been filed through Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain. It states that no citizen can be "compelled" to be secular when the Constitution itself guarantees the freedom to practice religion under Article 25 of the Constitution.

The plea states that ‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’ concepts are political thoughts that may be applicable so far as the nature of the Governance of the country in a vital sense is concerned. At the same time, in a democratic setup, "the subjects of the nation are not bound to accept a particular ideology and the application of the ideology depends on the will of the people to be reflected through votes from time to time."

Next, the concepts of socialist and secular have been assailed as notions propagated by Karl Marx, "the pioneer of communist thought", which, the plea notes, has been disapproved by a large number of nations.

The plea has challengied the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976 by which the words “socialist” and “secular” were inserted into the Preamble of the Constitution of India as being "per se illegal for violating the concept of freedom of 'Speech and Expression' enumerated in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India and the right to 'freedom of religion' guaranteed under Article 25."

The plea has also challenged the insertion of the words ‘Secular’ and “Socialist’ in Section 29 A (5) of the Representation of People Act, 1951 added by Act No. 1 of 1989, making compulsory for the political parties, to bear adherence to the concepts in question i.e the principles of socialism and secularism.

The petitioners state that the Constitution makers never intended to introduce Socialist and Secular concepts for the governance of a democracy. It is stated that it was only intended that the Government not show its inclination towards any religion and that the State will treat its subjects equally without any religious bias.

Apart from seeking a direction to strike off "socialist" and "secular" from the Constitution, the petitioners also pray that the concepts of socialism and secularism should not be applicable to common citizens, political parties or social organizations.

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