Can Preamble of Indian Constitution be amended without altering the date: SC asks

The Supreme Court on Friday asked whether the ‘Preamble’ of the Indian Constitution can be amended without altering the date from November 26, 1949, when the document was adopted by the Constituent Assembly.

New Delhi, Feb 9 : The Supreme Court on Friday asked whether the ‘Preamble’ of the Indian Constitution can be amended without altering the date from November 26, 1949, when the document was adopted by the Constituent Assembly.

The top court questioned this while hearing a petition filed by former Union Minister Subramanian Swamy to delete the words “socialist” and “secular” from the Preamble of the Indian Constitution.

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The court said, the academic question will be whether the amendment could be made without changing the date from November 26, 1949 when the Preamble was adopted by the Constituent Assembly.

A bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta said there was no issue in amending the Preamble, but asked the counsel to consider on an academic level if a preamble that has a date mentioned on it, can be changed without altering the date.

Justice Dipankar Datta said on an academic level it may be considered if a preamble that has a date mentioned can be changed without altering the date before ‘adopt, enact and give to ourselves’. Otherwise, the preamble can be amended, no issues, the Judge said.

The last line in the Preamble to the Indian Constitution says, “In our constituent assembly this twenty-sixth day of November 1949, do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this constitution.” The academic question will be if an amendment could be made without changing the date from November 26, 1949. Justice Datta asked.

Subramanian Swamy filed the PIL in the Supreme Court challenging the amendment saying that it was done during the “draconian” Emergency (1975-77).

The Indira Gandhi government amended the Preamble to add words “socialist” and “secular” through the 42nd Constitution Amendment of 1976. The said amendment was brought in during the state of emergency declared by the then PM Gandhi, Swamy said.

The apex court in its landmark judgment in Kesavananda Bharti Case had ruled that the Preamble is an integral part of the Constitution and can be amended under Article 368 without changing the basic structure of the Indian Constitution.

The SC ruled that Preamble is not the supreme power or source of any prohibition but it plays an important role in the interpretation of statutes and provisions of the Indian Constitution.

Quoting the judgment of the ‘Union Government Vs LIC of India’ case, the bench remarked that the Supreme Court, in 1995 again held that the Preamble is an integral part of the Constitution.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing in the last week of April.