Constitutional morality versus public morality

The Daily Guardian

In the last piece, this author had highlighted the views of Dr. Ambedkar on “Constitutional Morality” as expressed in the debates of the Constituent Assembly on November 4, 1948. While his views on the subject cannot be interpreted as being representative of the entire Assembly, at the very least what can certainly be inferred is that one school of thought represented by Dr. Ambedkar interpreted constitutional morality as translating to respect for the values as embodied in and by the Constitution, both by the State as well as the people.

Given that constitutional morality is nowhere mentioned, let alone defined, in the Constitution, how does one identify the metes and bounds of this particular form of morality for the purposes of practical application? After all, an amorphous legal doctrine which lacks clear contours, even if well-intentioned, is bound to create more mischief than provide solutions. In the absence of any express mention or definition, one reasonable way appears to be to decipher the collective message of the express provisions of the Constitution and their associated history in order to make sense of the document as a whole. In other words, perhaps constitutional morality translates to the saaransh or the essence of the document. Not only would this approach be consistent with accepted principles of legal interpretation, it would do justice to the nature of a document such as the Constitution which defies a silo-based approach. That said, if there is an express reference to any other form of morality in the Constitution, how does one reconcile a meta construct such as constitutional morality with such express form of morality contained in the Constitution?

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