The petition also sought to quash the words ‘socialism’ and ‘secularism’ mentioned in Section 29A (5) of the Representation of the People Act and requests SC to declare that concept of socialism and secularism explains the nature of the republic and is limited to the sovereign powers and functioning of the government, and that it does not apply to ordinary citizens, political parties and social organizations.
A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking removal of ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ from the Constitution preamble as these two words were added later during emergency without debate or through parliamentary procedures and when all opposition leaders were in jail. The petition was filed by lawyers Balram Singh and Karunesh Kumar Shukla through advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain.
The petition requests the Supreme Court to declare that the concept of socialism and secularism mentioned in the Preamble explains the nature of the republic and is limited to the sovereign powers and functioning of the government, and that it does not apply to ordinary citizens, political parties and social organizations. Along with this, the petition has sought to quash the words ‘socialism’ and ‘secularism’ mentioned in Section 29A (5) of the Representation of the People’s Act.
Giving the grounds for the removal of the words ‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’, the petition states that both these words were not in the original constitution and that they were undemocratically added on 3 January 1977 through the 42nd Constitutional Amendment when Emergency was enforced on the country. The inclusion of the words was not debated in the House but was passed without debate.
It is pertinent to remember that KT Shah, a member of the Constituent Assembly, had proposed to add the word secular to the constitution thrice but his proposal was rejected by the Constituent Assembly all the three times. KT Shah first proposed to include the word ‘secular’ on 15 November 1948 which was rejected. Shah proposed the same for the second time on 25 November 1948 and the third time on 3 December 1948, but were rejected by the Constituent Assembly on all the occasions.
Bharat Ratna BR Ambedkar had also opposed the proposal.
Socialism and secularism should be confined only to the functioning of government
The petition also states that Articles 14,15 and 27 speak of the government being secular, that is, the government will not discriminate on the basis of religion, language, caste, place or varna. But Article 25 gives citizens the right to religious freedom in which a person has the freedom to believe and promote his religion. The petition say that a government can be secular but not individuals or people. It further demands to remove the words Secular and Socialist from Section 29A (5), which was amended on 15 June 1989 in the People’s Representation Act of 1951.
As per Representation of the People’s Act, political parties have to declare at the time of registration that they will follow principles of secularism. The petition states that the Section 123 of the Representation of People Act says that votes will not be sought on the basis of religion, but this does not mean that organisations cannot be formed on the basis of religion.
The petition referred to the judgment by Justice DY Chandrachud in Abhiram Singh’s case which was heard in the Supreme Court in 2017 which stated that the constitution is aware that discrimination and injustice based on caste, religion, language, etc. has happened in the past. Hence, to raise its voice, organisations can be formed and people can be organised on this basis in electoral politics.
The petitioner states that if he wants to form a political party, he need not make the declaration under section 29A (5). The petition demands that the supreme court declare that the government does not have the right to compel people to follow principles socialism and secularism in personal lives.