A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court of India to restore the Preamble of Constitution to the one originally drafted by Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar, the architect of Indian Constitution. The Preamble to the Constitution was amended through the 42nd Constitutional Amendment brought in in 1976 during the Emergency imposed by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ were added to the Preamble of the Constitution of India.
The PIL filed by advocates Balram Singh and Karunesh Kumar Shukla and an individual Pravesh Kumar said that the amendment made during the Emergency in 1976 was “antithetical to the constitutional tenets as well as the historical and cultural theme of India.” The move was “per se illegal for violating 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 petition further states that such a move by the Indira Gandhi government during the Emergency was also against the historical and cultural theme of the “great republic of Bharat, the oldest civilization of the world, having clear concept of ‘Dharma’ different from the concept of religion”. The plea further states that the communist theory of State cannot be applied in Indian context as it was not in tune with the religious sentiments and socio- economic conditions of India.
The petitioners have said that they intend to launch a political party and one of the conditions of registering a political party with the Election Commission of India (ECI) requires them to compulsorily follow principles of socialism and secularism. Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain, who filed the petition, said that the concept of ‘socialism’ and ‘secularism’ are political thoughts and when seen in light of right to practice religion (Article 25) and right to free speech (Article 19(1)(a)), they are against the principles of democracy. The petitioner argues that the ones who had originally drafted the Constitution deliberately kept these concepts out of the Preamble.
Hindustan Times report states that the Constituent Assembly, on 15 November 1948 rejected Prof KT Shah’s proposal of adding the words “Secular, Federal and Socialist Nation” after a lengthy discussion. On 25 November 1948, a second amendment was introduced and discussed on incorporating the word ‘secular’ in the draft Constitution. That, too, was rejected. A week later on December 3 that same year, a third attempt was made to include ‘secular’ in the Article 18 of the Constitution. This, too, was dismissed by the Constituent Assembly. However, Indira Gandhi government during the State imposed Emergency, added the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’ to the constitution originally drafted by Dr BR Ambedkar.
Indira Gandhi changed Constitution drafted by Dr Ambedkar
There have been 104 Amendments to the Indian constitution starting with the first one brought in by Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of independent India. Between PM Narendra Modi and ex-PM Atal Bihar Vajpayee, the BJP ruled government has made 20 amendments in total. However, the most far-reaching amendment in the history of independent India was made by none other than Indira Gandhi. The 42nd amendment came in when the opposition was in prison under the draconian rules of Emergency.