27 May RAS Mains Answer Writing

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SUBJECT – Indian Political System

TOPIC – Constitution of India: Framing, Features, Amendments, Basic Structure | Ideological Contents: Preamble, Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State Policy, Fundamental Duties

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Indian Polity PYQs – Click Here

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Q1 Define the word ‘Secular’ as contained in the preamble of India’s Constitution. 2M


Secularism in preamble means that all religions in our country (irrespective of their strength) have the same status and support from the state

  • Indian Preamble has positive model of secularism
    • Maintaining a neutral stance towards all religions
    • Supporting all religion without any form of discrimination 
    • Ex – Chardham yatra, Haj subsidy, schemes for religious minorities 
  • It was added by 42nd constitutional amendment act 
  • Has been guaranteed by Article 25 to 28 in Indian Constitution 

Q2 Highlight the major changes introduced by the 103rd Constitutional Amendment Act and examine their constitutional validity. 5M 


The 103rd Amendment provides for 10 percent reservation in education and government jobs to the economically weaker sections (EWS) among non-OBC and non-SC/ST sections of the population. It  inserted Articles 15(6) and 16(6) in the Constitution. 

  • Article 15(6): Up to 10% of seats may be reserved for EWS for admission in educational institutions. Such reservations will not apply to minority educational institutions.
  • Article 16(6): It permits the government to reserve up to 10% of all government posts for the EWS.

Constitutional Validity:In Janhit Abhiyan v Union of India, with a 3-2 majority, the Supreme Court upheld the 103rd Constitutional Amendment providing EWS reservation.

Majority Opinion

  1. Reservations based on economic criteria alone is permissible  : 
    1. Poverty is an adequate marker of deprivation that the state can address through reservations. EWS is distinct from SEBCs, allowing for separate reservations.
    2. Reservation is a tool of affirmative action ensuring inclusivity and countering inequalities, encompassing socially and educationally backward classes as well as any disadvantaged section. 
    3. reservation structured singularly on economic background does not violate basic structure of the Constitution.
  2. Exclusion of SC/ST, SEBC from quota is not discriminatory :Article 16(4) exhausts reservation for backward classes, but it’s not exhaustive regarding reservation. The new amendment introduces another distinct affirmative action method.
  3. Breach of 50% ceiling for reservations : The Supreme Court held that the 50% ceiling, by itself, is not inflexible, and it applies to backward classes. It can be overstretched to provide reservation for an entirely different class, consisting of the EWS.

EWS quota In Private Colleges :  Under Article 15(5) of the Constitution, the state has power to make reservations in private educational institutions. Basic structure can’t be breached by enabling the state to make provisions for education.

Q3 How does the ‘basic structure of the Constitution’ serve as a guiding principle akin to a North Star, despite facing criticism regarding its legitimacy? 10M


The Doctrine of Basic Structure was put forward by the Supreme Court in the Kesavananda Bharati Judgment (1973). It recognises the most fundamental features of the Constitution and protects those features from any form of amendments or legislative interventions. 

  • It Includes sovereignty (Kesavananda Bharati case), Secularism, democracy (S.R. Bommai case), rule of law (Maneka Gandhi case), Separation of powers, federalism, judicial review (Kesavananda Bharati case) as Basic structures.

Guiding Principle: Basic Structure Doctrine as a North Star

  1. Limiting Parliamentary Power: Balances parliamentary sovereignty (art 368 ) and judicial sovereignty by restricting parliamentary amending power.
  2. Ensuring Constitutionality : Upholds constitutional supremacy and prevents potential damage by any organ of government.
  3. Safeguarding Democracy: Acts as a safeguard against the risk of a totalitarian regime and preserves the principles established by the Constitution’s framers.
    1. Prevented 42nd amendment abrogating judicial review and federation during Emergency.
    2. Maintains public confidence established in Article 21, 19 due to checks on state excess.
  4. Bedrock of judicial review: Ensures a true separation of power and maintains the independence of the judiciary.
    1. The 99th CAA 2015, dealing with the NJAC, was rejected for letting the government interfere with the judicial Independence, which goes against the separation of powers
  5. Adaptability and Progressiveness: Exhibits a dynamic and progressive nature, allowing for adaptation to changing times.
  6. Global Influence : The Basic Structure doctrine migrated to neighboring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, then spread to South Korea, Japan, Latin America, and Africa, becoming a rare success story of legal ideas diffusing across continents in constitutional democracies.

Criticism regarding its legitimacy:

  1. Not in Original Constitution :Critics argue that by evolving a non-textual test, the judiciary may be encroaching on Parliament’s powers.
  2. Anti-Democratic and Counter-Majoritarian: giving “unelected judges” the power to strike down constitutional amendments.
  3. Judicial Arbitrariness: Since it is not clearly defined, there is scope for subjectivity in its application. 
  4. Supreme Control to Judiciary: Translates judiciary into third decisive chamber of parliament.

Post Kesavananda Bharati, only six out of around 76 constitutional amendments in 50 years have been struck down, primarily to protect core constitutional features and judicial independence. Thus, while the Basic Structure doctrine remains essential for safeguarding constitutional principles, addressing judicial arbitrariness is crucial for its continued relevance.

(Chief Justice of India Dr. DY Chandrachud regards the ‘basic structure doctrine’ as the North Star guiding the interpretation and implementation of the Constitution in convoluted paths.)

Q4 Make a precis of the following passage in about one-third of its length: 
Home is for the young, who know “nothing of the world and who would be forlorn and sad, if thrown upon it. It is providential, shelter of the weak and inexperienced, who have to learn as yet to cope with the temptations which lies outside of it. It is the place of training of those who are not only ignorant, but have no yet learnt how to learn, and who have to be taught by careful individual trail, how to set about profiting by the lessons of teacher. And it is the school of elementary studies not of advances, for such studies alone can make master minds. Moreover, it is the shrine of our best affections, the bosom of our fondest recollections, at spell upon our after life, a stay for world weary mind and soul; wherever we are, till the end comes. Such are attributes or offices of home, and like to these, in one or other sense or measure, are the attributes and offices of a college in a university.


Precise: Home and College: Sanctuaries of Growth

Home shelters the young who are weak and unexperienced and unable to face the temptations in life. It is a centre of their elementary education and a nursery of sweet affections and pleasant memories. Its magic lasts for ever. A weary mind turn to it for rest. Such is the function of a home and in some measure of the university.

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