A day after Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there was “no harm” in debating whether the Preamble should have the words ‘secular’ and ‘socialist’, legal luminaries said that given the might of the Constitution and assertive judicial pronouncements, such a debate was “redundant” and “unnecessary”.
“What debate (is to be done)? Article 25 uses the word ‘secular’, and it was always there. The entire Constitution is premised on the idea of equality irrespective of religion, caste, creed or sex… That is secular, and the Constitution guarantees it,” former Chief Justice of India V N Khare told The Indian Express.
“Our Constitution itself is secular, with or without these words in its Preamble, and every Indian is fundamentally equal,” Justice Khare said.
Former Supreme Court Justice K T Thomas said the secular nature of the Constitution no longer required deliberation or debate.
“The secular nature of the Constitution has been well settled in many judgments of the Supreme Court, which has declared the Constitution itself as secular. It doesn’t make a difference whether the words (secular and socialist) were added during the Emergency or not.”
Justice Thomas, however, added that now that the words have been added, “they should remain there”.
Former Attorney General Soli Sorabjee said: “What is the point of arguing all this now? The Preamble only reflects what our Constitution says, and the Constitution lays down equality in every sense of the word for all Indians.”
The “Constitution itself is secular”, and a debate is “totally unnecessary”, Sorabjee said.
Retired Justice Rajindar Sachar, who headed the panel that studied the socio-economic and educational status of Indian Muslims, had stronger words.
“Any attempt to tinker with the Preamble is utterly illegal and grossly unconstitutional,” he said. “It warrants a more stern censure since the idea has come from those who have taken the oath of the same Constitution. It is in breach of that oath… The Prime Minister must issue a statement on behalf of his Cabinet that… the Preamble will not be touched.”
Senior advocate Raju Ramachandran said the two words added by the 42nd Amendment only made explicit what was already part of the original Preamble.
“The Constitution guarantees justice: social, economic and political; liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; equality of status and opportunity, and fraternity. These concepts are surely a part of the basic structure, which, under the law of the land, cannot be done away with. So the principles of secularism and socialism is intrinsic to Constitutional principles,” Ramachandran said.