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‘Constitutional Morality’ is rooted in the Constitution itself and is founded on its essential facets. Explain the doctrine of ‘Constitutional Morality’ with the help of relevant judicial decisions.  (UPSC GS2 2021)

Constitutional morality means the adherence to the norms of the Constitution in a democracy. It is not just limited to following the constitutional provisions in their literal sense, but includes a commitment to an inclusive and democratic political process in which both individual and collective interests of the society are satisfied. It requires a practical percolation of values like sovereignty, social justice and equality in the realm of constitutional adjudication.
While the term ‘Constitutional Morality’ is not found in Indian Constitution, nevertheless it is rooted in various facets of the constitution.

  • Preamble – Spells out values like justice, liberty, equality and fraternity to be the foundation stones of our democracy.  
  • Fundamental Rights – Protects the rights of individuals against arbitrary use of power by the State. Especially, Article 32 provides for enforcement of these rights in SC.  
  • Directive Principles – Guidelines to the State to implement the vision of the makers of the constitution. These include Gandhian, Socialist and Liberal-Intellectual directions.  
  • Fundamental Duties – Citizens not only enjoy rights but have to fulfill certain duties towards the nation. 
  • Check and Balances – like Legislative check on executive; judicial review of legislative and executive actions etc. 

Constitutional Morality as per various Supreme Court Judgements

  • Government of NCT of Delhi Vs. Union of India – All high functionaries need to follow constitutional morality and protect the constitutional values spelt out by the Constitution. Constitutional Morality acts as check on arbitrary use of power by high functionaries. 
  • Navtej Singh Johar & Ors. Vs. Union of India – Supreme Court opined that Section 377 violates the right of members of the LQBTQI community on the bedrock of the principles enunciated in Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution [dignity of individuals] 
  • Naz Foundation case, the Supreme Court opined that only Constitutional Morality and not Public Morality should prevail 
  • Justice K.S. Puttaswamy & Anr. Vs. Union of India & Ors. – SC upheld the constitutional validity of Aadhaar subject to certain limitations. Constitutional Morality ensures courts must neutralize the excesses of power by the executive and strike down any legislation or even executive action if it is unconstitutional. 
  • Indian Young Lawyer’s Association v. State of Kerala [Sabrimala Case]– SC opined that constitutional morality which includes values like justice, liberty, equality and fraternity ought to be preferred over customary values, traditions and beliefs. It allowed the entry of women into sabrimala temple irrespective of their ages. [fighting perception, stereotype and prejudices]
  • Constitutional morality is crucial for constitutional laws to be effective. Without constitutional morality, the operation of the constitution tends to become arbitrary, erratic and capricious.

Topics covered - Constitution, Fundamental Rights

The document UPSC Mains Previous Year Questions: Constitutional Morality | Indian Polity for UPSC CSE is a part of the UPSC Course Indian Polity for UPSC CSE.
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FAQs on UPSC Mains Previous Year Questions: Constitutional Morality - Indian Polity for UPSC CSE

1. What is constitutional morality?
Ans. Constitutional morality refers to the adherence and respect for the principles and values enshrined in the constitution of a country. It requires individuals, institutions, and the government to act in accordance with the spirit and objectives of the constitution. Constitutional morality ensures that all actions and decisions are guided by the principles of justice, equality, liberty, and fraternity as laid down in the constitution.
2. How is constitutional morality different from personal morality?
Ans. Constitutional morality differs from personal morality in that it is not based on individual beliefs or preferences. Personal morality is subjective and varies from person to person, while constitutional morality is an objective standard that is universally applicable. Personal morality may be influenced by personal bias, cultural norms, or religious beliefs, whereas constitutional morality is grounded in the principles and values enshrined in the constitution, which are agreed upon by the society as a whole.
3. Why is constitutional morality important in a democratic society?
Ans. Constitutional morality is crucial in a democratic society as it ensures that the government and its institutions function in accordance with the principles of the constitution. It acts as a check on the exercise of power, promoting fairness, accountability, and transparency. Constitutional morality protects the rights and freedoms of individuals, promotes social justice, and upholds the rule of law. It fosters a sense of unity and shared values among citizens, strengthening the democratic fabric of the society.
4. How does constitutional morality protect minority rights?
Ans. Constitutional morality plays a significant role in safeguarding minority rights by ensuring that the majority does not oppress or discriminate against minorities. It provides a framework for the protection of fundamental rights, equality, and non-discrimination. Constitutional morality prohibits the imposition of majoritarian views or practices that may infringe upon the rights of minorities. It upholds the principle of inclusiveness and ensures equal opportunities and protections for all individuals, irrespective of their religion, caste, gender, or other identities.
5. Can constitutional morality be changed or amended?
Ans. Constitutional morality can be amended or changed through the process of constitutional amendment. However, any amendment to the constitution must adhere to the established procedures and principles laid down in the constitution itself. Amendments should not violate the basic structure or core values of the constitution. The amendment process typically involves a deliberative and consultative process, ensuring broad consensus and reflecting the will of the people. The objective of any amendment should be to strengthen and improve the constitution, rather than undermining its fundamental principles.
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