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The Preamble - An Integral Part of the Constitution

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Last updated date: 23rd Apr 2024
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What is the Preamble of India Constitution?

The dictionary meaning of Preamble, if we consider it, is a preliminary or preparatory statement or an introduction in the form of speech or writing. Thus, A preamble is an introduction or exposition in a document to briefly explain its philosophies and objectives. The preamble of India constitution acts like the introduction that presents the intention of the framers, the core values, principles, and history behind the creation of the Constitution. It also gives an idea about the source of the Constitution, the date of its adoption, the nature of the Indian State, and statement of objectives.


Text of the Preamble

We, The People Of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic and to secure all its citizens: 

Justice, social, economic and political; Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; 

Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all

Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation; 

In Our Constituent Assembly this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do Hereby Adopt, Enact And Give To Ourselves This Constitution.


History of the Preamble to Indian Constitution 

Jawaharlal Nehru laid down the ideals behind setting up the Preamble in his Objectives Resolution which was then adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 22nd of January, 1947. The objective resolution moved that time by him was considered as the base of the Indian preamble. Despite being the key to the Constitution, it is not enforceable in a court. It states the objectives of the Constitution and helps with the interpretation of Articles when the language is ambiguous. The drafting committee of the Constituent Assembly was said to have adopted the expression "Sovereign Democratic Republic" instead of the expression mentioned in the Objective resolution that was "Sovereign Independent Republic"


Components of Preamble

  • It is through the preamble of India constitution that we get to know that the source of the power lies with the citizens of India.

  • Preamble proclaims India as a country to be a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic.

  • Preamble has some objectives stated for the country like justice, liberty, and equality to all citizens. It also aims at promoting fraternity to maintain the integrity and unity of the country.

  • The Preamble also informed us about the date when it was adopted that is 26th of November, 1949. 


Key words in the Preamble of India

The Preamble of the constitution meaning can essentially be understood using all the keywords that makeup the Preamble. They are as follows:

1) We, the People of India: This signifies that the real power resides in the people of India. They are the ones who will elect representatives to govern the country on behalf of the people. 

2) Sovereign: The sovereign meaning in Indian Constitution implies that India as a country is not dependent on any external power and it is not the dominion of any other state. It is an independent state and has autonomous powers in conducting both its internal and external affairs. India can also acquire any foriegn territory or give away a part of its own to a foreign state. 

3) Socialist: The term Socialist aims at achieving the socialist ends through democratic means. It favours a mixed economy with the co-existence of private and public sectors.

It holds faith in a mixed economy where both private and public sectors co-exist side by side. This term was an add on to the Preamble by the 42nd Amendment, 1976.

4) Secular: The term Secular means that all the religions coexist together in the country and are given equal importance, respect, protection and support by the State. This term was also included in the Preamble by 42nd Constitutional Amendment, 1976.

5) Democratic: This term intends to say that the Constitution establishes political, social, and economic democracy and provides directives for a representative government where the members will be chosen by the citizens of the country by means of voting. Periodic elections, universal adult franchise, independent judiciary, absence of discrimination of different grounds - all are the features of democracy in Indian polity.

6) Republic: The term Republic implies that the head of the state is elected by the people of the country i.e. the President of India is the head of the State who attains his position through an election procedure.


Understanding the Objectives of the Indian Constitution using the Preamble

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land that helps to maintain the integrity in the society while also promoting unity amongst the citizens to help with nation building. The main objective of the Constitution is to promote and nurture harmony throughout the country. These factors present in the preamble of India help to achieve these objectives:

1) Justice: It is crucial to maintain order in the society which can be done through laws laid down by the Constitution and provisions like Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy to protect citizens of India. The three elements of justice include social, economic, and political justice.

  • Social Justice –  This means that the Constitution aims at creating a society devoid of discrimination on the grounds of race, caste, colour, gender, religion, etc.

  • Economic Justice – This implies that no discrimination will occur in the basis of income, wealth and economic statusm Every person should be paid for equal work and position and everyone should get the opportunity to earn their living.

  • Political Justice – Political Justice implies that all the citizens have equal, free and fair rights and will not be discriminated against to participate in political opportunities.

2) Equality: The term ‘Equality' implies that no section of the society will be allotted any special kind of privilege and everyone will be given equal opportunities for everything without any discrimination. It also means that all citizens are equal before the law.

3) Liberty: The word ‘Liberty’ intends that all the people are free to choose a path of their lives, be it political opinions and behaviour in the society. This means that a person or citizen of the country can do anything but under the constraints of the law.

4) Fraternity: The word Fraternity implies brotherhood and an emotional bond with the nation and its citizens. It helps to nurture unity and dignity in the country.


Significance of The Preamble

The significance of the preamble can be seen as follows by understanding different interpretations of the eminent personalities about the preamble:

Dyer C J 

Key to open the minds of the makers of the Constitution

K.M. Munshi 

The horoscope of over Sovereign Democratic Republic

Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava

The preamble is the most precious part of the constitution. It is the soul of the constitution. It is a key to the constitution

Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer

The preamble to over Constitution expresses what we had thought or dreamt so long. 

Sir Ernest Parker

Key note to the Constitution

Nehru

Preamble is a firm resolution and a solid promise. 

Phalkewala

Identity card of the Constitution

Supreme Court of India (in various judgments)

Preamble is the key to the minds of the framers of the constitution

Preamble is an epitome of the broad features of the constitution 

Preamble epitomized the principles on which the Government was to function.  It is the very soul of the constitution eternal and unalterable. 


Conclusion

It is through the Preamble that one can understand the different provisions and statues in the Constitution and it acts as a great tool for interpretation of all of them. This is why is the preamble called the soul of the Indian constitution and has more crucial significance than just being the introduction to the Constitution. It is important to note that it is the introduction of the Constitution but it was written after the completion of the constitution and thus consists of the crux of the entire constitution. 

FAQs on The Preamble - An Integral Part of the Constitution

1. What is the importance of objectives?

The objectives in the Preamble help to provide a way of life where fraternity, liberty, and equality come together to form a happy life.


Liberty and equality cannot be kept unattached and vice versa. Similarly, liberty and equality cannot be disconnected from fraternity.


If equality did not exist then liberty would produce supremacy of few over plenty. Without the fraternity, liberty and equality - the normal course of things can get deterred.

2. Which cases help to determine the status of the Preamble?

The status of the preamble can be understood using two cases.

  • Berubari Case: This was used as a reference under Article 143(1) of the Constitution which was on the execution of the Indo-Pakistan Agreement related to the Berubari Union in exchanging the enclaves which were decided for consideration by the bench comprising eight judges. In this case, the court said that the ‘Preamble is the key to open the mind of the makers’ but that it was not a part of the constitution and cannot be enforced under a court of law.

  • Kesavananda Bharati Case: 13 judges overheard this writ petition case. Here the court held that the Preamble of the Constitution will now be considered as part of the Constitution. It is of great power and plays a crucial part in the interpretation of the different provisions and statutes of the constitution. So Preamble became a part of the introductory part of the Constitution.

  • In 1995, in the case between the Union Government and LIC of India, the Supreme Court has once again held that the Preamble is a vital part of the Constitution but is not an enforceable part in a court of justice in India.

3. Was there any amendment of the Preamble?

There was only one amendment to the Preamble till date called the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976. The Preamble was accepted to be an integral part of the Constitution after the Kesavananda Bharati case. As it is a part of the constitution, it can be amended under  Article 368 of the Constitution, by keeping the basic structure of the Preamble the same as the structure of the Constitution depends on the basics of the Preamble.


In the 42nd Amendment Act, the terms ‘Socialist’, ‘Secular’, and ‘Integrity’ were included in the Preamble.


were added to the preamble through 42nd Amendment Act, 1976.


‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’ were added between ‘Sovereign’ and ‘Democratic’.


‘Unity of the Nation’ was changed to ‘Unity and Integrity of the Nation’.