ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Promissory Constitutionalism


Until recently, it was a common understanding that the Indian Constitution has been an important regulatory document and which acquired added significance, particularly on 26 January 1950. It is also true that on this day, the spectacle of military power on Vijay Path in Delhi tends to create in citizens the sense of a strong state that they believe would protect them from external threat. Constitutional principles, arguably, appear to be less spectacular to some of us. However, this is not to suggest that we are not in touch with the Constitution. It is needless to emphasise that our familiarity with our Constitution gets demonstrated through the teaching of the Constitution, which takes place at various levels of learning: schools, colleges and the universities. Similarly, one could also see the invocation of the Constitution at the oath-taking ceremony of ministers who are to be inducted in the ministries at both central as well as state levels. Thus, the Constitution and oath-taking have been an important aspect of the top-ranking officials working in various government services. Oaths are given and taken as and when needed. Such moral commitment to the Constitution that is demonstrated through the oath-taking ceremony, in above cases, however, takes place at the individual, legal level.

With this background, it is important to focus our attention on mass oath-taking ceremonies that are taking place through several protests, which are being organised at various places. Citizens have chosen this sacred path of oath-taking to confirm their commitment with the universal principles that are enshrined in the Constitution. Oath-taking is also directed at those government institutions that are failing in their ­con­sti­tutional duty to strengthen democratic traditions in the ­country. Spokespersons of the government, if asked the straight­forward question of whether or not they are failing to perform their constitutional duties, would seldom answer in the affirmative. They would be quite confident in making the claim that the government in power is totally committed to follow the Constitution. They would ­further say that they have taken the oaths to follow the Constitution.

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Updated On : 3rd Feb, 2020
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