SAILENT FEATURES OF CONSTITUTION: WELFARE STATE AND SECULAR STATE

WELFARE STATE


The Indian Constitution has been conceived and drafted in the mid-twentieth
century when the concept of social welfare state is the rule of the day. The
Constitution is thus pervaded with the modern outlook regarding the objectives
and functions of the state. It embodies a distinct philosophy of government, and
explicitly declares that India will be organised as a social welfare state, i.e., a
state which renders social services to the people and promotes their general
welfare. In the formulations and declarations of the social objectives contained
in the Preamble, one can clearly discern the impact of the modern political
philosophy which regards the state as an organ to secure the good and welfare
of the people.
This concept of a welfare state is further strengthened by the Directive Principles
of State Policy which set out the economic, social and political goals of the
Indian Constitutional system. These directives confer certain non-justiciable
rights on the people, and place the government under an obligation to achieve
and maximise social welfare and basic social values like education, employment,
health, etc.
In consonance with the modern beliefs of man, the Indian Constitution sets up
a machinery to achieve the goal of economic democracy along with political democracy,
for the latter would be meaningless without the former in a poor country
like India.

SECULAR STATE


India is a country of religions. There exist multifarious religious groups in
the country but, in spite of this, the Constitution stands for a secular state of
India.
The word ‘secular’ was not present originally in the Preamble. It was added
thereto by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment in 1976. What was implicit in
the Constitution until then became explicit. Even before 1976, the concept of
secularism was very much embedded in the Indian constitutional jurisprudence as
many court cases of this era would testify.


The concept of “secularism” is difficult to define and has not thus been defined
in the Constitution. Secularism has been inserted in the Preamble by reason
of the Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976. The object of insertion
was to spell out expressly the high ideas of secularism and the compulsive need
to maintain the integrity of the nation which are subjected to considerable
stresses and strains, and vested interests have been trying to promote their selfish
ends to the great detriment of the public good. The concept is based on certain
postulates. Thus, there is no official religion in India. There is no state recognized
church or religion. Several fundamental rights guarantee freedom of
worship and religion as well as outlaw discrimination on the ground of religion

and, thus, by implication prohibit the establishment of a theocratic state. The
state does not identify itself with, or favour, any particular religion. The state is
enjoined to treat all religions and religious sects equally. No one is disabled to
hold any office on the ground of religion. There is only one electoral roll on
which are borne the names of all qualified voters.


The essential basis of the Indian Constitution is that all citizens are equal,
and that the religion of a citizen is irrelevant in the matter of his enjoyment of
Fundamental Rights. The Constitution ensures equal freedom for all religions
and provides that the religion of the citizen has nothing to do in socio-economic
matters. “Though the Indian Constitution is secular and does not interfere with
religious freedom, it does not allow religion to impinge adversely on the secular
rights of citizens or the power of the state to regulate socio-economic relations.”
The Supreme Court has declared secularism as the basic feature of the Indian
Constitution. The Court has further declared that secularism is a part of
fundamental law and an unalienable segment of the basic structure of the
country’s political system. It has explained that secularism is not to be confused
with communal or religious concepts of an individual or a group of persons.

It means that the State should have no religion of its own and no one
could proclaim to make the State have one such or endeavour to create a
theocratic State. Persons belonging to different religions live throughout the
length and breadth of the country. Each person, whatever be his religion, must
get an assurance from the State that he has the protection of law freely to profess,
practise and propagate his religion and freedom of conscience. Otherwise,
the rule of law will become replaced by individual perceptions of one’s
own presumptions of good social order. Religion cannot be mixed with secular
activities of the State and fundamentalism of any kind cannot be permitted
to masquerade as political philosophies to the detriment of the larger interest
of society and basic requirement of a Welfare State. The Court noted disturbing
trends. It noted that lately, vested interests fanning religious fundamentalism
of all kinds, and vying with each other, are attempting to subject
the Constitutional machineries of the State