A Private Member’s Bill moved by BJP MP KJ Alphons seeking to make changes in the Preamble of the Constitution ran into rough weather at the time of introduction in the Rajya Sabha when the opposition members vehemently opposed the move, leading the Chair to “reserve” it.
Alphons had listed The Constitution Amendment Bill, 2021, which states in Section 3: “In the Preamble to the Constitution – (i) for the word ‘SOCIALIST’, the word ‘EQUITABLE’ shall be substituted”.
It also seeks to change the term Equality. Section 3(ii) of the bill states: For the words “EQUALITY of status and of opportunity”, the following shall be substituted, namely – “EQUALITY of status and of opportunity to be born, to be fed, to be educated, to get a job and to be treated with dignity…”
Further, the bill states in Section 3 (iii): For the words “FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation”, the following shall be substituted, namely – “FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the community and the unity and integrity of the Nation… HAPPINESS, assuring a high gross domestic happiness.”
When deputy chairperson Harivansh called Alphons to introduce the bill, Manoj Jha (RJD) and Jairam Ramesh (Congress) led the opposition chorus to not allow it on the grounds that Preamble is part of the “basic structure” of the Constitution and cannot be amended. They requested the Chair not to allow the member to move the bill. Jha cited Rule 62 of the Rules of Conduct of Business to argue his point.
“Amendment to the Preamble is an attack on the edifice of the Constitution… Do you want to ransack everything,” Jha said.
As per the Supreme Court verdict in the Kesavananda Bharati versus State of Kerala, 1973, Parliament cannot change the basic structure of the Constitution.
He also emphasised that such a bill can be moved only after getting approval of the President of India, a stand ruled out by the presiding officer who said the rule does not apply to this bill. The deputy chairperson said the decision on whether a bill can be moved or not has to be taken by the House and not by the Chair. Alphons sought permission to speak on the bill but was denied.
With other opposition members also objecting to the bill, MoS for parliamentary affairs V Muraleedharan requested the Chair to “reserve” the bill and decide on its fate later. Harivansh agreed and reserved the bill.Internet Explorer Channel Network