Secularism in the Indian constitution!

By Subrata Mukherjee

In love with Golapi Subratagolapi.

The New World (Natun Prithibi)

The original Preamble of the Constitution of India adopted by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, declared India a “Sovereign Democratic Republic”.

The preamble of the constitution of India reads as

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity,
and to promote among them all,

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;


The preamble of the constitution of India described the state as a “sovereign democratic republic”, to which the terms “Secular” and “Socialist” were later inserted by the 42nd Amendment of 1976, the Preamble now reads “Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic”.

  • What is the meaning of “Sovereign”?

The word “Sovereign” signifies that the State is with the independent authority and not under the control or authority of any foreign or external force . It means the state has the power to legislate on any subject and it is not subject to the control of any other State or external power.

Sovereignty denotes supreme and ultimate power which may be real or normal, legal, political, individual or pluralistic.

According to the preamble, the constitution of India has been attributed to the solemn resolution of the people of India to constitute India into a ‘Sovereign Democratic Republic’ and to secure specific objects set forth in the preamble.

According to Dr. Durga Das Basu, the word ‘Sovereign’ is taken from article 5 of the constitution of Ireland. ‘Sovereign or supreme power is that which is absolute and uncontrolled within its own sphere’. In the words of Cooley, “A state is sovereign when there resides within itself supreme and absolute power, acknowledging no superior”.

Sovereignty means the independent authority of a state with the two folds aspects 1.external and 2. internal.

What is External sovereignty ?

External sovereignty is the independence of a state of the will of other foreign or external states or with other states in the committee of nations.

What is internal Sovereignty?

Internal Sovereignty relates to internal and domestic affairs, and is divided into four organs, namely, the executive, the legislature, the judiciary and the administrative.

  • Why is the meaning of “Socialist”?

This term “Socialist” was not in the original constitution but was added by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, the Constitution had socialist content in the form of implementation of certain Directive Principles of State Policy under the Articles 36 to 51 depicted in the Part IV of the constitution. The term “Socialist” signifies to democratic socialism, i.e. achievement of socialistic goals through democratic, evolutionary and non-violent means to minimise the gap of the rich and the poor.

  • What is the meaning of “Secular”?

The word “Secular” means the relationship between the government and religious groups are determined according to constitution and law. This term was inserted by the 42nd Amendment in 1976.

There is no role of the state in the conduct or application of any religion. As the religion a personal matter and not the state matter.The state has no religion. All the citizens of India are allowed to profess, practice and propagate the forms of religions as per their faith and belief and Secularism is the basic feature of the constitution.

In the words of P.B. Gajendragadkar, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme court of India the Indian context of Secularism does not owe loyalty to any particular religion as such and the is not inclined to any religion rather the state is neutral to the religions.

In the judgement of the Supreme court of India in S.R. Bommai vs Union of India in 1994 the Secularism has been upheld as the basic features of the constitution of India.

Secularism in India is not in conflict with the Articles 25 to 28 of the Constitution of India which provides both the citizens and non citizens the right to freedom of conscience, right to profess, practice and propagate any religion of their choice.

Even the non believers or the atheists are on same footing with the believers of any religion in the context of Secularism as depicted and defined in the constitution of India.

  • What is to the meaning of “Democratic”?

The word “Democratic” means the people of India elect their representatives to form the government by a system of universal adult franchise. The word democratic refers to the political, social and economic democracy.

What is the meaning of “Republic?”

The word “Republic” means a form of government where the head of the state is elected by the people and is not a hereditary monarch. The President of India who is indirectly elected and has a fixed term of office and he or she is not a hereditary monarch.

Secularism in the Indian constitution.

The New World (Natun Prithibi)

©️ Subratagolapi

Acknowledgment : 

1.The Constitution of India by Dr. Durgadas Basu2.Wikipedia.

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