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In New Delhi, on Friday, the Supreme Court raised the question of whether the Preamble could undergo amendments while retaining the original date, addressing a plea by former Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy seeking the removal of the terms “socialist” and “secular” from it. Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta, constituting the bench, noted that academically, the Preamble had been previously amended by the 42nd Amendment Act in 1976, adding the words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ while preserving the adoption date of November 29, 1949.

The bench, considering this point, mentioned that the Preamble to the Constitution is unique in that it carries a specific date. It was highlighted that originally, the terms ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ were not part of the Preamble. A counsel argued that the Preamble was associated with a specific date, and Swamy added that the Amendment Act was passed during the Emergency (1975-77).

The court scheduled the matter for further hearing in April, with Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain representing Balram Singh and others. The plea questions the inclusion of the words “socialist” and “secular” in the Preamble to the Constitution through the 42nd constitution amendment of 1976, during the tenure of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The petitioners argue that such an insertion goes beyond the amending power of the Parliament under Article 368, asserting that the framers of the Constitution never intended to introduce ‘socialist’ or ‘secular’ concepts in democratic governance.