[Solved] What is meant by the term ‘constitutional morality’? How does one upholdconstitutional morality? ( UPSC GS-4 Mains 2019)

[Solved] What is meant by the term ‘constitutional morality’? How does one upholdconstitutional morality? ( UPSC GS-4 Mains  2019)

Morality as we know is individual’s sense of right and wrong. Hence, constitutional morality is broadly a metric of what the constitution deems to be right or wrong. The values of any country’s constitution depends upon its tradition, its social and cultural movements, the vision of its founding fathers etc. In case of India, the national freedom movement, socio-cultural reform movements, traditions of thousand years, the progressive radical outlook of constituent assembly went into defining what our constitutional morality would be.

  • Very briefly, our constitution believes that inequality is not right (Article 14), injustice is wrong (Preamble), deprivation of human dignity is not right (Article 21) etc. It doesn’t deem right deprivation of some fundamental rights of individuals in the name of culture (Article 14). It doesn’t allow state to intervene into cultural practices if they don’t infringe upon basic rights (Article 29/30).
  •  So, these are some ideals our constitution gives to us based on which our society and state that repasts it takes decisions. This is the sum and substance of constitutional morality. This prefix clearly gives a special status to constitutional morality among other competing sources of morality like religion, culture, customs, laws etc.
  • As we know, India society has unimaginable diversity of all kinds be it language, religion, caste,
  • ethnicity, tribes etc. Each of these impose alternate versions of morality on an individual. They may also be at conflict. Religion ordinarily subjugates women but article 14 treats them equally. Hence, a mutually agreeable set of right and wrong is needed to resolve such conflicts. We cannot allow cultural relativism to prevail as it will lead to chaos.
  • To uphold constitutional morality, first of all one should know what it is. One should be well versed with not only letter but spirit of constitution. Indian constitution keeps individual growth and progress at the center and attempts to reform existing social practices in this direction. Regressive practices like untouchability, child marriage, gender discrimination etc. have been banned. It upholds individual
  • liberty and sense of dignity. It attempts to create a just society. Hence, in one’s actions, one must try to see if golden triangle of article 14, 19 and 21 are reflected or not. One should also keep essence of judicial pronouncements in mind as they clarify what our founding fathers envisaged while making
  • the constitution. Constituent assembly debates can be another way to enter the minds of the makers of constitution. Part 3 and part 4 of the constitution are the most important parts that contain what kind of society India has to become. This part should guide one in taking actions on public life.
  • If we take leaf from judicial verdicts of recent past, verdicts on section 377, Sabrimala judgment, Aadhar judgment etc. all are guided by this constitutional morality like freedom of individual, equality of treatment, respect for privacy etc. The doctrine of creative interpretation and a good sense is needed to grasp what this morality is. Even such laws which don’t go with this spirit should be opposed.
  • Constitutional morality means adherence to the core principles of the constitutional democracy. Constitutional morality mean an effective coordination between conflicting interests of different people and the administrative cooperation to resolve the issues without any confrontation amongst the various groups. It is a sentiment to be cultivated in the minds of a responsible citizen but to be promoted by an independent judiciary embodied with values and ethics.
  • How does one uphold constitutional morality?
  • By criticising and raising voice against the non-constitutional practices.It is necessary to speak up against any actions, which you feel as illegal or unethical under the constitution. By going against the convention and taking a moral high ground, you act as a preserver of constitutional values.
  • Only our beliefs and actions for upholding constitutional values is not enough. It is our moral obligation to educate public regarding the importance to uphold these ideals. This will be fruitful for our democracy on the long run.Ex: Conducting programmes in schools where children are trained to inculcate constitutional values and practice them in their day to day life.
  • By letting constitutional morality guide the Court’s decision instead of popular morality, while interpreting the constitution, constitutional morality is being upheld.
  • By locating the content and contours of constitutional morality so that it is not being ignorantly and dangerously used in courts.
  • By making a commitment to the values like constitutional supremacy, rule of law, liberty, equality, parliamentary form of government, self restraint and intolerance for corruption etc.
  • By using it as an aid in making choices because it can give another set of clues while searching for constitutional meaning in cases wherein the words of the constitutional clause can be read in different ways.
  • By having paramount reverence for the forms of the constitution, enforcing obedience to authority and acting under and within these forms.
  • Even the constitution itself mentions this concept only four times (twice in Article 19 and twice in Right to religious Freedom under Article 25 and 26), and it has been understudied and ignored for a long while by people in general as well. It needs to be changed in order to understand the constitution with a new perspective exploring further possibilities of this concept.
  • Constitutional morality involve adherence to constitutional principles like:
  • Commitment to liberty.
  • Constitutional supremacy.
  • Parliamentary form of government and self restraint.
  • Rule of law.
  • Equality
  • Intolerance for corruption, to name a few.
  • Constitutional morality is important for constitutional laws to be effective. Without constitutional morality, the operation of a constitution tends to become arbitrary, erratic, and capricious. It has been observed that young officers are resigning from service and aim to uphold ‘constitutional morality’, which they say is being violated.But the fact is that ‘constitutional molarity’ can be better preserved by being part of the system and initiating reforms rather than working out of the system.Thus, we can conclude that upholding’ constitutional morality’ is indeed very important part of our official as well as moral duty and it needs combined efforts of all the sections of the society to make it possible.
  • How to uphold constitutional morality
  • Criticise non-constitutional practices
  • It is necessary to speak up against any actions, which you feel as illegal or unethical under the constitution. By going against the convention and taking a moral high ground, you act as a preserver of constutional values.
  • Ex: As a public servant you see that basic constitutional rights(Freedom, equality etc) are being violated and you decide to speak up, regardless of the consequences.
  • Propagating the importance to public
  • Only our beliefs and actions for upholding constitutional values is not enough. It is our moral obligation to educate public regarding the importance to uphold these ideals. This will be fruitful for our democracy on the long run.
  • Ex: Conducting programmes in schools where children are trained to inculcate constitutional values and practice them in their day to day life.

 Conclusion

 Constitutional Morality is a sentiment to be cultivated in the minds of a responsible citizen. Upholding constitutional morality is not just the duty of Judiciary or state but also of individuals.

 The preamble of the constitution explicitly mentions the type of society we wish to establish; it is only through constitutional morality it can become reality.

 The progressive and monumental precedents have been set-up by the judiciary in the past few years, where this doctrine has been applied especially in relation to the cases of gender-justice, institutional propriety, social uplift, checking majoritarianism and other such evils.

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