SALIENT FEATURES OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION: SOCIALIST STATE


The word “socialist” was not there originally in the Preamble. It was added to
the Preamble by the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution in 1976. Thus, the
concept of “socialism” has been made explicit and India’s commitment to this
ideal has been underlined and strengthened.


The term “socialist” has not been defined in the Constitution. It does not however envisage doctrinaire socialism in the sense of insistence on state ownership as a matter of policy. It does not mean total exclusion of private enterprise and complete state ownership of material resources of the Nation. In India, there has always been emphasis on mixed economy, i.e., along with a public sector, the private sector also has a role to play. The government accepts
the policy of mixed economy where both public and private sectors co-exist side by side. However, the private enterprises has so far been rigorously controlled by the government, but signs are appearing on the horizon that in future the private enterprise is going to play a much more important economic role than it has
played so far.


The Supreme Court has in a number of decisions referred to the concept of socialism
and has used this concept along with the Directive Principles of State
Policy to assess and evaluate economic legislation. The Court has derived the
concept of social justice and of an economically egalitarian society from the concept
of socialism. According to the Supreme Court, “the principal aim of socialism
is to eliminate inequality of income and status and standards of life, and to
provide a decent standard of life to the working people.”
Democratic socialism aims to end poverty, ignorance, disease and inequality
of opportunity. Socialistic concept of society should be implemented in the true
spirit of the Constitution.

In Samatha v. State of Andhra Pradesh, the Supreme
Court has stated while defining socialism : “Establishment of the egalitarian
social order through rule of law is the basic structure of the Constitution.”

The Court has laid emphasis on social justice so as to attain substantial degree
of social, economic and political equality. Social justice and equality are complimentary
to each other.
Another idea propounded by the Court is that socialism means distributive
justice so as to bring about the distribution of material resources of the community
so as to subserve the common good.
By reading the word ‘socialist’ in the Preamble with the Fundamental Rights
contained in Arts. 14 and 16, the Supreme Court has deduced the Fundamental
Right to equal pay for equal work and compassionate appointment.