When the Constitution of India was drafted by The Drafting Committee under
the Chairmanship of Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar it was needed in the views of Pt.
Jawaharlal Nehru, as the then one of the senior member of the said committee to
have an introductory part to the Constitution which primarily defines the
components of the whole constitution. It took two years, eleven months,
seventeen days to complete the drafting of this constitution before adopting and
enacting it and the preamble was added in the end of the drafting that’s why it
contains all the essential elements in very precise form which is written there
in the Constitution.
The desire of the framers can easily be perceived by reading the preamble to the
Constitution as it contains the basic components and requisite elements
operating the entire constitution with a primary aim to promote fraternity and
to conserve and safeguard the dignity of the citizens of the state. Preamble can
be called as the summary of the basic structure as well with its elements.
Features of Basic Structure of The Constitution
- Supremacy of the constitution.
- Republican & democratic form of Government.
- Secular Perspective.
- Separation of Powers between the Legislature, the Executive & the
- Federal character of the Constitution. (Basically held in
Keshavananda Bharti Sripadgalvaru V. State of Kerala 1973 SC)
It works as preface to the Constitution nevertheless it focuses upon the
aspirations of the drafting committee that was the principal aim to make India a
substantial state with having the defined characteristics existing within it.
With the same sight Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru proposed to insert the preamble and
passed an “objective resolution’ to add it in the foremost part of the
constitution. Preamble was not made during the preparatory time period rather it
was added at the end of drafting the Constitution.
Preamble acts as an introductory statement which manifests the elements of basic
structure of Constitution. It in itself is not the basic structure rather it set
out the essence of the basic structure present in the various Articles within
the Constitution. Every single word written in the preamble is to be read as
noun independently but with its features these terms plays the role of adjective
to each other.
It was held in the case of Pradeep Jain (Dr.) v/s. Union of India
SC, that the preamble of constitution has been framed with great care and
deliberation so that it reflects and delineate the ultimate purpose and noble
objective of the makers of the constitution.
The golden approach for enhancement of fraternity will in its all ways to
promote Justice, Liberty, & Equality. It includes Social, Economic & political
justice. All these aims and objectives are specified in the Preamble with a
fundamental purpose to achieve them by harmonizing the all other features stated
in the constitution with an aim to make India a prosperous state on the globe.
Initially, when the preamble was proposed and inserted by the framers, it has 81
words in total in it which was a matter of greatness that the longest written
Constitution in the world has been converted into only 81 words that too
defining the spirit of the whole constitution. These few words in comparison
with the complete Constitution somehow shows the significance of every single
word written within it. There on that stage it was framed to be the introductory
part to the constitution which put emphasis and determine the sole features i.e.
the spirit of the Constitution.
Later by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976 four words were added in
the preamble. That was the very first amendment done to the preamble. Those 4
words are: Socialist, Secular, Integrity & And, between Unity & Integrity. There
is only single amendment has been made to the preamble as of now and no further
change has been done till the present date.
Presently, preamble is having 85 words which demonstrate the various components.
Components of Preamble
There are four major components which preamble elucidate. These are as
- It defines the nature of the constitution.
- It defines objective of the constitution.
- It defines the date of enactment, adoption etc.
- It defines the source of authority.
Here after this brief description these two questions arises
Whether the preamble is the part of Constitution?
Whether the preamble be amended?
Whether the preamble is the part of constitution?
This issue was arisen before the judiciary first time in the case of Re Berubari
Union Case in 1960, before nine Judges bench, headed by Gajendera Gadkiar
Justice, it has been held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that as like the preamble
to the Constitution is as like the Preamble to any other statute and is not the
part of the Constitution. However, it opens the mind of Framers or the
Constituent Assembly it cannot be said as the part of Indian Constitution rather
it can superlatively be used as the best tool for interpretation of the of the
Constitution and to unfold the intentions of the framers. Hence, it is not the
part of the constitution.
Nevertheless, in 1973, after 13 years of this judgement given by Hon’ble Supreme
Court, the ruling in the prior Judgement was challenged before the Court in the
case of Keshavananda Bharti Sripadgalvaru V. Union of India
1973 SC in
which court was held contrary to the prior judgement. It held that the preamble
of the Constitution of India can’t be compare with the preamble of any other
statute and affirmed it as peculiar as the other provisions of the Constitution.
Hon’ble Court stated it with a word ‘Sacrosanct’ which means sacred. It directly
defines it as a special part which is indestructible part of the Constitution.
However, beyond that the court also held that by declaring it as the part of the
Constitution it doesn’t mean it is a provision in the Constitution rather it
will remain the inoperative part of the Constitution i.e. it is unjustifiable
before the court of law. Preamble will not be applied upon the practical
situations rather only Articles will apply. Court also held that preamble is not
the source of basic structure in fact it is only a declaration of the
manifestation of the elements of the basic structure.
Whether the preamble be amended?
Article 368 of the Constitution of India deals with the procedure to be followed
to amend any provision or any part of the Constitution of India. As above
mentioned, it was held in the ruling of Keshavananda Bharti case that preamble
is the non- operative part of the Constitution and it suggests that this can be
amended as the other parts of the Constitution. However, it should not be dealt
as a provision of the Constitution rather a non- functional part of it. It is
also the mandate in amending the Preamble that any amendment done to the
Preamble would proportionally effect the main provision given under the
Constitution. Therefore, the amendment should be positive in nature and shall
not violate the basic structure of the Constitution i.e. the salient principal
of the constitution which in any case shall not be abrogated.
As the preamble is not to be considered as the provision of the Constitution
rather only an inseparable part of it.
Here a question arises: Whether, the Preamble should be amended by simple
majority or by the procedure of Article 368 of the Constitution of India?
Preamble being the important and sacrosanct part of the Constitution, as was
held in the Keshavananda Bharti case
by the Hon’ble SC, it should not be
amended by simple majority. A special status should be given to this part as
well with keeping in mind the prestige of this part. Therefore, procedure given
under Article 368 of the Constitution of India shall rigidly to be followed.
Substantially, there are few instructions which were held in the case of
Minerva Mills V. Union of India
1980 SC, an amendment to the preamble shall
be in a positive form only i.e. only to make it more vibrant and manifest. An
amendment to the preamble shall be done by keeping the boundaries of basic
structure of the Constitution in mind.
Moreover, by 42nd amendment 1976 Indian legislature took a step to amend the
preamble by adding four words to it. It was an attempt to make this preamble
more spirited and dynamic. Socialist, Secular, integrity & And (between Unity &
Integrity) was added. Which apparently shows that it was a positive amendment.
It was also held that a negative amendment shall not be accepted or done unless
it is harshly required. As it will also effect the main provisions of the
Constitution. Hence, an amendment to the preamble shall be done to make it more
explicit and that too in a positive form and not the negative unless required.