February 23, 2024

The next hearing will be on April 29.

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court on Friday questioned whether the Preamble of the Constitution could be amended while keeping the date of adoption, November 26, 1949, intact.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta posed the question to former Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy and lawyer Vishnu Shankar Jain, who have sought deletion of the words “Socialist” and “Secular” from the Preamble of the Constitution.

“For the academic purpose, can a Preamble that has the date mentioned, be changed without altering the date of adoption. Otherwise, yes the Preamble can be amended. There is no problem with that,” Justice Datta said.

Mr Swamy replied, “That’s precisely the question in the matter.”

Justice Datta further said, “this is perhaps the only Preamble I have seen which comes with a date. We give this Constitution to us on so and so date … originally these two words (Socialist and Secular) were not there.” Mr Jain said that the Preamble of Constitution of India comes with a specific date, therefore it cannot be amended without discussion.

Mr Swamy intervened and said that the 42nd Amendment Act was passed during the Emergency (1975-77).

Justice Khanna, at the outset, told mr Swamy that the judges had received the case files early in the morning and due to the paucity in time, they had not gone through them.

The bench said that the matter required detailed discussion and posted the hearing on the two petitions to April 29.

On September 2, 2022, the top court had tagged Mr Swamy’s plea with anotther pending matter – filed by one Balram Singh and others – for hearing.

Both Mr Swamy and Mr Singh have sought deletion of words “Socialist” and “Secular” from the Preamble.

The words ‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’ were inserted in the Preamble of the Constitution under the 42nd Constitutional amendment moved by the Indira Gandhi government in 1976.

The amendment changed the description of India in the Preamble from a “sovereign, democratic republic” to a “sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic.” Mr Swamy, in his petition, has contended that Preamble cannot be altered, varied, or repealed.

He said in his petition that the Preamble not only indicated the essential features of the Constitution but also the fundamental conditions based on which it was adopted to create a unified integrated community.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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