Constitutional morality in its strictest sense of the term implies strict and complete adherence to the constitutional principles as enshrined in various segments of the document. When a country is endowed with a Constitution, there is an accompanying promise which stipulates that every member of the country right from its citizens to the high constitutional functionaries must idolize the constitutional fundamentals.
This duty imposed by the Constitution stems from the fact that the Constitution is the indispensable foundational base that functions as the guiding force to protect and ensure that the democratic setup promised to the citizenry remains unperturbed. The constitutional functionaries owe a greater degree of responsibility towards this eloquent instrument for it is from this document that they derive their power and authority and, as a natural corollary, they must ensure that they cultivate and develop a spirit of constitutionalism where every action taken by them is governed by and is in strict conformity with the basic tenets of the Constitution.
In this context, the observations made by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar are of great significance:¬
“Constitutional morality is not a natural sentiment. It has to be cultivated. We must realize that our people are yet to learn it. Democracy in India is only a top-dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic.”
Constitutional morality is that fulcrum which acts as an essential check upon the high functionaries and citizens alike, as experience has shown that unbridled power without any checks and balances would result in a despotic and tyrannical situation which is antithetical to the very idea of democracy.
The following passage from Manoj Narula v. Union of India can aptly be quoted to throw some light on the idea:¬
“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”
In the said case, it has been further observed:¬
“Regard being had to the aforesaid concept, it would not be out of place to state that institutional respectability and adoption of precautions for the sustenance of constitutional values would include reverence for the constitutional structure. It is always profitable to remember the famous line of Laurence H. Tribe that a Constitution is “written in blood, rather than ink.”
Constitutional morality acts as a check against lapses on the part of the governmental agencies and colourable activities aimed at affecting the democratic nature of polity. In Krishnamoorthy v. Sivakumar and others, it has been explained thus:¬
“Democracy, which has been best defined as the government of the people, by the people and for the people, expects prevalence of genuine orderliness, positive propriety, dedicated discipline and sanguine sanctity by constant affirmance of constitutional morality which is the pillar stone of good governance.”
Constitutional morality, appositely understood, means the morality that has inherent elements in the constitutional norms and the conscience of the Constitution. Any act to garner justification must possess the potentiality to be in harmony with the constitutional impulse.
When one is expressing an idea of generosity, he may not be meeting the standard of justness. There may be an element of condescension. But when one shows justness in action, there is no feeling of any grant or generosity. That will come within the normative value. That is the test of constitutional justness which falls within the sweep of constitutional morality. It advocates the principle of constitutional justness without subjective exposition of generosity.
Our Constitution, in its grandness, resolutely embraces the theory of “checks and balances”. This concept of checks and balances, in turn, gives birth to the principle of “constitutional objectivity”. The Constitution expects the organs of the State adorned by high constitutional functionaries that while discharging their duties, they remain alive to the allegiance they bear to the Constitution. Neutrality as envisaged under the constitutional scheme should guide them in the performance of their duties and functions under the Constitution. This is the trust which the Constitution reposes in them.
The founding fathers of our Constitution had a vision for our Nation whose ultimate aim was to make right the upheaval that existed before setting up of the Constituent Assembly. The concept of constitutional objectivity is, by itself, inherent in this vision and it is incumbent upon the organs of the State to make comprehensive efforts towards realization of this vision. But, at the same time, they must remain true to the Constitution by upholding the trust which the Constitution places in them and thereby exhibit constitutional objectivity in its truest sense.
In Indra Sawhney v. Union of India and others, the Court observed: ¬
“…Therefore, the permissible judicial creativity in tune with the Constitutional objectivity is essential to the interpretation of the Constitutional provisions so that the dominant values may be discovered and enforced. At the same time, one has to be very cautious and careful in approaching the issues in a very pragmatic and realistic manner.”
The aforesaid passage tells us in an illuminating manner how the Court is expected to proceed on the path of judicial creativity in consonance with constitutional objectivity having a keen sense of pragmatism.
It can be said without inviting any controversy that the concept of constitutional objectivity has to be equally followed by the Executive and the Legislature as it is the Constitution from which they derive their power and, in turn, the Constitution expects them to be just and reasonable in the exercise of such power. The decisions taken by constitutional functionaries, in the discharge of their duties, must be based on normative acceptability.
Such decisions, thus, have to be in accord with the principles of constitutional objectivity which, as a lighthouse, will guide the authorities to take a constitutionally right decision. This action, needless to say, would be in the spirit of the Constitution. It may be further noted here that it is not only the decision itself but also the process adopted in such decision making which should be in tune with constitutional objectivity.
A decision by a constitutional functionary may, in the ultimate analysis, withstand scrutiny but unless the process adopted for arriving at such a decision is in tandem with the idea of constitutional objectivity, it invites criticism. Therefore, the decision making process should never by-pass the established norms and conventions which are time tested and should affirm to the idea of constitutionalism.
Govt of NCT of Delhi v. Union of India (2023)
 (2014) 9 SCC 1
 (2015) 3 SCC 467
 AIR 1993 SC 477