Preamble of Indian Constitution
A preamble is an introductory and explanatory statement in a document that explains the document’s purpose and underlying philosophy. The Preamble of our constitution reads as follows:
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, have 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 HERE BY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
The words Socialist, Secular, and Integrity were not in the original constitution and have been inserted by 42nd amendment act 1976. Thus, the express declaration that India is a secular state came only with the 42nd amendment. Currently, the word “secular appears in constitution for two times – in Preamble and then in Article 25.
The preamble indicates that the source of constitution is “we the people of India”. It has been also called Political Horoscope of Indian Constitution (by KM Munshi), Soul of the Constitution (by Thakurdas Bhargav) and identity card of the constitution (by NA Palkhiwala).
Is preamble a borrowed feature?
In the legislative history of India, for the first time, the Government of India Act 1919 (Montague Chelmsford Reforms) had a separate preamble. However, government of India Act 1935 had NO preamble. It is not incorrect to assume that idea of the Preamble was borrowed from the Constitution of USA.
Is preamble part of Constitution?
Yes. Preamble is a part of the constitution. In Berubari Case (1960), Supreme Court had held that Preamble is NOT a part of the constitution but later in Kesavanada Bharati Case (1973), the supreme Court gave an elaborate verdict which inter alia said that Preamble is Part of Constitution and is subject to the amending power of the parliament as any other provisions of the Constitution, provided the basic structure of the constitution is not destroyed. In the light of Kesavanad Bharti as well as other judgments, the following points about the constitution must be noted (for Civil Services Examination):
- Preamble is a Part of Constitution
- Preamble Indicates basic structure of the Constitution (SR Bommai Case)
- Preamble can be amended by Parliament using its amendment powers as per article 368. We note here that preamble has been amended only once so far through the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act 1976. The words Secular, Socialist and Integrity were added to the constitution.
- Preamble enshrines the ideas and philosophy of the constitution, and NOT the narrow objectives of the governments.
- It also does NOT provide any legal framework of constitutional law.
- Preamble is neither a source of power nor a source of limitations.
- It neither provides any power nor imposes any duty.
- Its importance is in role to be played in interpretation of statues, also in the interpretation of provisions of the Constitution.
- Constitution should be read and interpreted in the light of grand and novel vision expressed in the preamble.
- Preamble is neither enforceable not justifiable in a court of law. This implies that courts cannot pass orders against the government in India to implement the ideas in the Preamble.
What is relevance of Preamble?
The Preamble sets out the aims and aspirations of the people and these have been embodied in various provisions of the constitution. The Preamble of the Constitution contains the basic objectives of the Constitution such as:
- to secure to all its citizens social, economic and political justice
- liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship
- equality of status and opportunity, and
- to promote among them fraternity so as to secure the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.
The purpose of the Preamble is to clarify who has made the Constitution, what is its source, what is the ultimate sanction behind it; what is the nature of the polity which is sought to be established by the Constitution and what are its goals and objectives? It provides assurance of dignity of an individual and Ideals that the state should follow.