The Preamble to the Constitution of India: Indian Polity UPSC

In this article, You will read Preamble to the Constitution of India: Indian Polity UPSC Notes. This article, Preamble to the Indian Constitution, is a part of our new ambitious article series on Indian Constitution and Polity Notes for UPSC, covering all the important topics.

Preamble to the Constitution of India

A preamble is an introductory statement in a document that explains the document’s philosophy and objectives.

Preamble is an ornamental or decorative part of constitute is considered to be ornamental or decorative part of constitution because it is not enforceable in the Court of Law, also because Preamble is not conferring any substantive power to the organs of government nor it can limit the power however Preamble has its own utility.

It is the essence or whole summary of the constitution and declares the basic values on which the constitution is based. Dr. D D Basu says it contains philosophy or theme of the constitution.

It is customary, not compulsory to the constitution has Preamble. The unwritten constitution does not have a preamble but the written constitution may or may not have a preamble like Govt. of India act 1935 did not have a Preamble.

In a Constitution, it presents the intention of its framers, the history behind its creation, and the core values and principles of the nation.

The preamble is in the form of a declaration, Preamble can not overwrite specific provision of the constitution i.e. it is subordinate to the constitution. The Preamble is neither a source of power to the legislature nor a prohibition upon the powers of the legislature.

It is non-justiciable, that is, its provisions are not enforceable in courts of law.

If there is clash between preamble and articles of constitution, Articles will prevail over Preamble.

As per the supreme court, if there is an ambiguity surrounding an article or articles of the constitution then that interpretation of the constitution or article will be used by courts which tallies with the preamble.

The preamble basically gives idea of the following things/objects:

  • Source of the Constitution
  • Nature of Indian State
  • Statement of its objectives
  • Date of its adoption

History of the Preamble to Indian Constitution

The ideals behind the Preamble to India’s Constitution were laid down by Jawaharlal Nehru’s Objectives Resolution, adopted by the Constituent Assembly on January 22, 1947.

Although not enforceable in court, the Preamble states the objectives of the Constitution and acts as an aid during the interpretation of Articles when language is found ambiguous.

Preamble of Indian Constitution

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to 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.

Components of Preamble

  • It is indicated by the Preamble that the source of authority of the Constitution lies with the people of India themselves and the constitution arises from people only i.e. preamble declares that people are the ultimate sovereign in India.
  • In the Kehar Singh vs Union of India case, a statement was challenged that the constitution derives its power from people directly, however, the court settled the issue by saying that this statement is a legal fiction and a conclusive assumption which can not be questioned, challenged or tested in any court of law.
  • The preamble declares India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular, and democratic republic.
  • The objectives stated by the Preamble are to secure justice, liberty, equality to all citizens, and promote fraternity to maintain unity and integrity of the nation.
  • The date is mentioned in the preamble when it was adopted i.e. November 26, 1949.
  • Preamble helps in legal interpretation of the constitutional provisions.
  • The Preamble contains the ideals and aspirations of the people of India.

Key words in the Preamble

  • We, the people of India: It indicates the ultimate sovereignty of the people of India. Sovereignty means the independent authority of the State, not being subject to the control of any other State or external power.
  • Sovereign: The term means that India has its own independent authority and it is not a dominion of any other external power. In the country, the legislature has the power to make laws that are subject to certain limitations.
  • Socialist: The term means the achievement of socialist ends through democratic means. Indian brand of socialism is ‘democratic socialism’.
    • It holds faith in a mixed economy where both the private and public sectors co-exist side by side.
    • Democratic socialism aims to end poverty, ignorance, disease, and inequality of opportunity.
    • Indian socialism is a blend of Marxism and Gandhism, leaning heavily towards Gandhian socialism.
    • It was added in the Preamble by 42nd Amendment, 1976.
  • Secular: The term means that all the religions in India get equal respect, protection, and support from the state.
    • It was incorporated in the Preamble by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment, 1976.
    • The word secular appeared in only one article that is Article 25 (2)(a) before it was inserted into the Constitution’s Preamble.
    • The state will protect every religion equally but the state will not have any foundation on religion.
    • Accordingly, Articles 25 to 28 (guaranteeing the fundamental right to freedom of religion) have been included in the constitution.
  • Democratic: The term implies that the Constitution of India has an established form of Constitution that gets its authority from the will of the people expressed in an election.
    • The Indian Constitution provides for “representative parliamentary democracy” under which the executive is responsible to the legislature for all its policies and actions.
    • The term ‘democratic’ is used in the Preamble in the broader sense embracing not only political democracy but also social and economic democracy.
  • Republic: The term indicates that the head of the state is elected by the people. In India, the President of India is the elected head of the state.
    • He is elected indirectly for a fixed period of five years. A republic also means two more things:
    • First, vesting of political sovereignty in the people and not in a single individual like a king;
    • Second, the absence of any privileged class and hence all public offices being opened to every citizen without any discrimination.

Objectives of the Indian Constitution

  • The Constitution is the supreme law and it helps to maintain integrity in the society and to promote unity among the citizens to build a great nation.
    • The main objective of the Indian Constitution is to promote harmony throughout the nation.
  • The factors which help in achieving this objective are:
    • Justice: It is necessary to maintain order in a society that is promised through various provisions of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy provided by the Constitution of India. It comprises three elements, which are social, economic, and political.
      • Social Justice – Social justice means that the Constitution wants to create a society without discrimination on any grounds like caste, creed, gender, religion, etc.
      • Economic Justice – Economic Justice means no discrimination can be caused by people on the basis of their wealth, income, and economic status. Every person must be paid equally for an equal position and all people must get opportunities to earn for their living.
      • Political Justice – Political Justice means all the people have an equal, free, and fair right without any discrimination to participate in political opportunities.
    • Equality: The term ‘Equality’ means no section of society has any special privileges and all the people have given equal opportunities for everything without any discriminations. Everyone is equal before the law.
    • Liberty: The term ‘Liberty’ means freedom for the people to choose their way of life, have political views and behavior in society. Liberty does not mean freedom to do anything, a person can do anything but within the limit set by the law. The ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity in our Preamble have been taken from the French Revolution (1789–1799).
    • Fraternity: The term ‘Fraternity’ means a feeling of brotherhood and an emotional attachment with the country and all the people. Fraternity helps to promote dignity and unity in the nation.
  • Importance of Objectives: It provides a way of life. It includes fraternity, liberty, and equality as the notion of a happy life and which can not be taken from each other.
    • Liberty cannot be divorced from equality, equality cannot be divorced from liberty. Nor can liberty and equality be divorced from fraternity.
    • Without equality, liberty would produce the supremacy of the few over the many.
    • Equality without liberty would kill individual initiative.
    • Without fraternity, liberty would produce the supremacy of the few over the many.
    • Without fraternity, liberty and equality could not become a natural course of things.

Status of Preamble

Please note: Preamble is a part of the Indian Constitution.

Initially, the Preamble was not considered a part of the Constitution and its amendment was not accepted. (In the Berubari’s case 1960, the Supreme Court held that “Preamble is NOT a part of the constitution”)

However, later in Kesavananda Bharti v/s State of Kerala 1973 case the Supreme Court ruled that “Preamble is a part of the constitution and can be amended” as any other provisions of the Constitution, provided the basic structure of the constitution is not destroyed.

In the 1995 case of Union Government Vs LIC of India also, the Supreme Court has once again held that Preamble is the integral part of the Constitution but is not directly enforceable in a court of justice in India.

Amendment of the Preamble

  • 42nd Amendment Act, 1976: After the judgment of the Kesavanand Bharati case, it was accepted that the preamble is part of the Constitution.
    • As a part of the Constitution, the preamble can be amended under Article 368 of the Constitution, but the basic structure of the preamble can not be amended.
    • Because the structure of the Constitution is based on the basic elements of the Preamble. As of now, the preamble is only amended once through the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976.
  • The term ‘Socialist’, ‘Secular’, and ‘Integrity’ 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’.

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