Thursday, April 22, 2021

Preamble of the Constitution of India | Polity Notes for UPSC


"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 individual and the unity and integrity of Nation;


Meaning of the Preamble

The Preamble of constitution embodies the essence of the entire constitution. It means that it embodies the fundamental values and the philosophy on which the constitution is based, the aims & objectives, of our founding fathers, with which constitution is written. Hence provides a guideline to the constitution.

The Objective Resolution, proposed by J.L Nehru and passed by The Constituent Assembly, ultimately became the Preamble of the Constitution of India.

It explains, in brief, the Objectives of Constitution in 2 ways :

  1. About the structure of governance.
  2. About the ideals to be achieved in independent India.

Components of the Preamble

  1. Description of Indian state as Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic.
  2. Date of adoption of constitution, that is November 26, 1949.
  3. Source of authority of the Constitution, that is from the people of India.
  4. Provisions to all the citizens of India, that is Justice, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.

Significance of the Preamble

  • The Preamble to the constitution embodies the fundamental values and the philosophy, on which the constitution is based and the aims & objectives, which the founding fathers of constitution enjoined the polity to strive to achieve.
  • Supreme Court of India at several occasions pointed out the utility and significance of the Preamble. Court has said, "Though, by itself, it is not enforceable in court of law, but it opens the path of explanation and interpretation of constitutional provisions. It also aids the legal interpretation of the constitution, where the language is found to be ambiguous."
  • Our Preamble serves two purpose:
    • It indicates the source from which constitution derives its authority.
    • It also states the objectives which the constitution seeks to establish and promote.
  • It can be narrated that the Preamble is all about the Indian Political System and its philosophical basis.
  • It clearly establishes the main objectives, goals, targets on which the Indian Constitutional structure was crafted.
  • As a Gist, Preamble is a key to Indian Constitution and way to reveal/unfold the minds of makes of constitution.
  • It also embodies the ideas and aspirations of people of India.
  • The preamble is "non-justiciable".
  • It can neither provide definite/real power to state, nor could limit their power.
  • It cannot override the specific provisions of the Indian Constitution.
  • Technically Preamble has a vital role in removing ambiguity and confusion through basic interpretation.
  • There is one very special argument regarding Preamble is that it declares the ultimate sovereignty of the people of India and the Constitution rests on their authority.
  • The Preamble declares in unequivocal terms that the source of all authority under constitution is the people of India and there is no subordination to any external authority. It means the government "by the people and for the people".

Whether Preamble is a part of the Constitution?

  • Supreme Court of India in its judgement of Keshavanand Bharti vs State of Kerela case, 1973 made the following observations
    • Preamble is a part of the constitution
    • Preamble is subjected to the amending power of parliament within the core limits of Basic Structure Doctrine.
  • LIC of India Case, 1995 : Court Upheld the Preamble and said that it is an integral part of the Constitution.

Can preamble be amended?

Legally, yes, Preamble can be amended. Supreme Court of India, in Keshvananda Bharti Case, held that Preamble can be amended as it is a part of constitution, but need to be very careful while amending, specifically while amending those words which has been announced as a part of Basic Structure Doctrine. In case of such words, "no such amendment" could be made which is negatively impacting meaning, spirit, soul or value of the particular word.

How many times preamble has been amended? 

The Preamble has been amended once by 42nd amendment 1976, whereby added 3 words to it:
  1. Socialist
  2. Secular
  3. Integrity

Political Implication of amending Preamble

Though Preamble can be amended, but there might be political implication of doing so because of the following reasons :
  • Preamble played a very important role in institutionalising the values like democracy, secularism, socialism.
  • It shaped Public/Society's Culture in India.
  • It shaped Political Culture in India.
  • It remained source of subject of public debate.
  • Values of the Preamble are important as it sets agenda for political domain/process.

Views of members of Constituent Assembly on Preamble

  • Purnima Banerjee : "The preamble forms one of the most important part of constitution and it stands as charter of our freedom and measure of our success and failure"
  • Thakur Das Bhargava : "It is as a soul to constitution.......... a keystone to the constitution"
  • Dr B.R Ambedkar : "Preamble is the touchstone to validate constitution provision. The preamble contains in itself those values which always remain critical to India's constitutional democracy."
  • Jawaharlal Nehru : "Preamble is beacon of light as well as pathfinder for India's constitutional democracy."



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