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The Preamble To The Indian Constitution

The term Preamble means a preliminary or introductory statement, especially attached to a statute or constitution setting forth its purpose.[1] The 'Preamble' is an introduction to a Statute. The Preamble to the Constitution of India records the aims and aspirations of the people of India which have been translated into the various provisions of the Constitution. In the Berubari case[2] the Supreme Court has expressed that the Preamble is a key to open the mind of the makers and shows the purpose why they have made several provisions in the Constitution. For these reasons the Preamble is also a legitimate aid in the interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution. It expresses what we thought or dreamt for so long[3]

Background
The Preamble of the Indian Constitution is primarily based on the Objective Resolution written by Jawaharlal Nehru. He introduced this objective resolution on 13th December, 1946 and was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 22nd January, 1947. Initially, the Preamble was drafted by Sh. B. N. Rau in his memorandum of May 30, 1947, and was later reproduced in the Draft of October 7, 1947. In the context of the deliberations by the Constituent Assembly, the Preamble was reformulated.

The preamble can also be called the soul of the constitution as it has everything about the constitution. It was adopted on 26th November, 1949 and it was implemented from 26th January, 1950 also known as Republic Day.

In forming the Preamble on the basis of Objective Resolution, the Drafting Committee felt that the Preamble should only deal with the basic features of the State and its objectives. The Committee has mentioned the words Sovereign, Democratic, Republic as used in the Objective Resolution.

The word Fraternity has also been used by the Committee. However, this word is not a part of the Objective Resolution. The Committee has tried to keep the spirit and language of the Objective Resolution in the Preamble as far as possible.

For these reasons the Preamble is also a legitimate aid in the interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution. It expresses what we thought or dreamt for so long.[4] In simple words the Preamble serves as an introduction to the Constitution and highlights in brief the basic ideas for which the constitution stands and what the frames of the Constitution sought out to achieve for the citizens of India.

Purpose
The purpose of the preamble is:
  1. The source from which the Constitution comes is indicated viz., the people of India.
  2. The enacting clause which brings the Constitution into force is contained.
  3. The rights and freedoms which the people of India intended to secure to all citizens are declared and the basic type of government and polity which were to be established.[5]
Therefore, it declares that the source of authority under the Constitution is the People of India and there is no subordination to any external authority. Scope
The Preamble does not grant any power but it gives a direction and purpose to the Constitution. It outlines the objectives of the whole Constitution. The Preamble contains the fundamentals of the constitution. The preamble to an Act sets out the main objectives which the legislation is intended to achieve.[6]

In A.K Gopalan v. State of Madras[7] it was contended that the preamble to our constitution which seeks to give India a democratic constitution should be the guiding start in its interpretation and hence any law made under Article 21 should be held as void if it offends the principles of natural justice, for otherwise the so-called fundamental rights to life and personal liberty would have no protection. The majority on the bench of the Supreme Court rejected this contention holding that law in Article 21 refers to positive or state made law and not natural justice and that this meaning of the language of Article 21 could not be modified with reference to the preamble.

Preamble indicates the ultimate source for the validity of and the sanction behind the constitution is will of the people. Thus the source of the Constitution are the people themselves from whom the Constitution derives its ultimate sanction.

This assertion affirms the Republican and Democratic character of the Indian polity and Sovereignty of the people. The People of India thus constitute the sovereign political body who hold the ultimate power and who conduct the government of their elected representatives. As regard the nature of the Indian Polity, the Preamble to the Constitution declares India to be Sovereign Secular Democratic Republic. It sets out the objectives and socio-economic goals to achieve which the Indian Polity has been established, these are stated in the Preamble.

These are:
  1. social, economic and political Justice
  2. Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
  3. Equality of status and of opportunity;
  4. and to promote among them all Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.

For a proper appreciation of aims and aspirations embodied in our constitution, therefore, we must turn to the various expressions contained in the Preamble. Combining the ideals of political, social and economic democracy with that of equality and fraternity, the Preamble seeks to establish what Mahatma Gandhi described as The India of my dreams[8], namely
An India, in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country in whose making an effective voice? an India in which all communities shall live in perfect harmony.

Principles Enshrined In The Preamble

The preamble is a key to open to the minds of the makers.

The Preamble declares:

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.

The aforesaid provision may be explained under the following headings:

We, the People of India:
The words we the people indicate that the people of India are the source of authority behind the Constitution. The opening words of the preamble ('we the people of India') emphasize the ultimate authority of the people from whose will the constitution emerges. The Supreme Court in Union of India v. Madangopal[9], referred to the words We the people of India in the Preamble and observed that our Constitution, as appears from the Preamble, derives its authority from the people of India.

Sovereign:

The word Sovereign has been adopted from Article 5 of the Ireland Constitution.
Cooley has defined Sovereign as, "A State is sovereign when there resides within itself a supreme absolute power, acknowledging no superior." Sovereign defined by R.H. Soltan Sovereignty is the exercise of the final legal coercive power of the State. [10]

The Preamble states that India is a Sovereign State which implies the independent authority of India. India is not under the control of or dependent upon any other external power. The Parliament of India can enact laws in the country subject to certain restrictions imposed by the Constitution.

In the case of Synthetic & Chemicals Ltd. v. the State of Uttar Pradesh[11], the Supreme Court decided that the word sovereign means that the state has the authority everything within the restrictions given by the Constitution. Sovereign means supreme or independence. This case helped in differentiating between external and internal sovereign. This case proposed that No country can have its own constitution unless it is not sovereign

Socialist

The term Socialist was added after the 42nd Amendment, 1976, during the emergency. The term socialist denotes democratic socialism. It means a political-economic system that provides social, economic, and political justice. Even prior to this amendment the idea was implicit in the constitution, in the form of directive principles of state policy and in the words of Preamble, 'Justice social, economic and political' as well as 'Equality- of status and opportunity.'

In Excel Wear v. Union of India, [12] the Supreme Court found that with the addition of the word socialist, a portal is opened to lean the judgments in favor of nationalization and state ownership of the industry. But the principle of socialism and social justice can not ignore the interest of a different section of the society majorly the private owners.

In D.S. Nakara v. Union of India,[13] the Court observed that the basic framework of socialism is to provide a descent standard of life to the working people and especially provide from cradle to grave. This amongst others on economic side envisaged economic equality and equitable distribution of income. The principal aim of a socialist State, the Supreme Court held, was to eliminate inequality in income and status and standard of life. Thus we can say that democratic socialism aims to end poverty, ignorance, disease and inequality of opportunity.

Secularism:

The term Secular was also added by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, during the emergency. The Constitution states India as a secular state as the state has no official religion. The Preamble reflects the way of life adopted by Indian citizens for themselves after independence. In fact, every civilization has also been a mirror of the way of life as well as reflecting movement of human spirit. Religion in each civilizastion has indicated about the faith of human beings in absolute values and a way of life to realize them.

The concept of Secularism is also contained in Articles 25 to 30 of the Constitution by way of Right to Freedom of Religion. The Supreme Court in St. Xaviers College v. State of Gujarat,[14] explained that India is neither anti -God, nor pro-God; it treats alike the devout, the antagonistic and the atheist.

It eliminates God from the matters of the State and ensures that no one shall be discriminated against on t he ground of religion. That every person if free to go to the God or Heaven in his own ways. And, that worshipping God is left to be dictated by his own conscience.

In the case of Bal Patil v. Union of India, the Court held that all religions and religious groups must be treated equally and with equal respect. India is a secular state where people have the right to choose their religion. But the state will have no specific religion.

In the case of S.R. Bommai v. Union of India,[15] the nine-judge bench of Apex Courts found the concept of secularism as the basic feature of the Constitution.

Democratic

The term Democratic is derived from the Greek words where demos means people and Kratos means authority. Thus literally, democracy signifies 'the rule of the people.' The definition given by Abraham Lincoln reads "Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, and for the people."

The Supreme Court in the case of Union of India v. Association for Democratic Reforms, observed: "a successful democracy posits an aware citizenry". "Democracy cannot survive without free and fair elections, without free and fairly informed voters".[16] The power bestowed upon the citizens of India to elect the government is clearly emphasized.

The Supreme Court in Mohan Lal v. Dist. Magistrate Rai Bareilly, observed: "Democracy is a concept, a political philosophy, an ideal practiced by many nations culturally advanced and politically mature by resorting to governance by representatives of the people elected directly or, indirectly."[17]

Republic

India has a republic form of government as the head of state is elected and not a hereditary monarch like a king or queen. The term Republic is obtained from res publica that means public property or commonwealth. It means the power to elect the head of the state for a fixed term lies within the people. So, in conclusion, the word republic shows a government where the head of state is elected by the people rather than any birthright.

Objectives Enshrined In The Preamble

The Preamble to the Constitution of India secured to all its citizens:

  • Justice-Social, economic and political
  • Liberty- Of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship
  • Equality - Of status and of opportunity
  • Fraternity- Assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of
These ideals of the Constitution are detailed in the headings to follow.

The term Justice comprises of three elements that complete the definition, which is social, economic, and political. Justice among the citizens is necessary to maintain order in society. Justice is promised through various provisions of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy provided by the Constitution of India.

Social Justice:

Social justice means that the Constitution wants to create a society without discrimination on any grounds like caste, creed, gender, religion, etc. Where people have equal social status by helping the less privileged people. The Constitution tries to eliminate all the exploitations which harm equality in the society.

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. It means everyone has equal rights to access political offices and have equal participation in the processes of the government.

To achieve this ideal of social justice, the Constitution lays down the Directives Principles of State Policy in Part IV of the Constitution. In the case of Air India Statutory Corporation v. United Labor Union, [18] the Supreme Court observed that the aim of social justice was to attain a substantial degree of social, economic and political equality which was the legitimate expectation and constitutional goal.

Liberty (of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship)

Liberty has been derived from the Latin word 'liber' which means free. The idea of Liberty came to the forefront with the French Revolution in 1789 and the leaders defined liberty as "the power to do like anything that does not injure another is liberty."

The Constitution of India professes to secure the liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship, which are regarded as essential to the development of the individual in the Nation.
The same principle is reflected in Articles 25-28 of the Constitution which talk about the Right to Freedom of Religion and Article 19 (1) (a) which talks about the liberty in the field of expression.

Equality (of status and of opportunity)

D.D. Basu has observed that it is the same equality of status and opportunity that the constitution of India professes to offer to the citizens by the preamble. Equality of status and opportunity is secured to the people of India by abolishing all distinctions and discriminations by the state between citizen and citizen on the ground of religion, race, caste sex and by throwing open public places, by abolishing untouchability and titles, by securing equality for opportunity in the matters relating to employment or matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the state.

The principle of equality of law means not the same law should apply to everyone, but that a law should deal alike with all in one class; that these should be equality of treatment under equal circumstances. It means that should not be treated unlike and unlikes should not be treated alike. Likes should be treated alike.[19] Equality is one of the magnificent cornerstones of Indian democracy.[20]An equality status permeates the basic structure of the constitution.[21]

Fraternity

Fraternity means the spirit of brotherhood, a feeling that all people are children of the same soil, the same motherland. The term was added to the preamble by a drafting committee of the constituent assembly, as the committee felt the need for fraternal concord and the goodwill in India was never greater than by then in this particular aim of the new Constitution should be emphasized by special mention in the preamble.

The expression to promote among them all preceding the word fraternity is significant in this respect. Among them, all promotes, more particularly the word all-not only among underprivileged classes but also among the entire people of India. Do hereby adopt, enact etc. has been borrowed from the last line the preamble of the Irish constitution.
The last part of the preamble is the date of adoption which shows that our constitution is adopted on the 26th day of November 1949.

Preamble: Whether a part of the Constitution?

It has been highly a matter of arguments and discussions in the past that whether Preamble should be treated as a part of the constitution or not. The vexed question whether the Preamble is a part of the Constitution or not was dealt with in two leading cases on the subject:
  1. Beruberi Case

    Beruberi Case [22] was the Presidential Reference under Article 143(1) of the Constitution of India on the implementation of the Indo-Pakistan Agreement Relating to Beruberi Union and Exchange of Enclaves which came up for consideration by a bench consisting of eight judges headed by the Chief Justice B.P. Singh. Justice Gajendragadkar delivered the unanimous opinion of the Court.

    The court ruled out that the Preamble to the Constitution, containing the declaration made by the people of India in exercise of their sovereign will, no doubt it is a key to open the mind of the makers which may show the general purposes for which they made the several provisions in the Constitution but nevertheless the Preamble is not a part of the Constitution.
     
  2. Kesavananda Bharati case

    This case has created history. For the first time, a bench of 13 judges assembled and sat in its original jurisdiction hearing the writ petition. Thirteen judges placed on record 11 separate opinions.
To the extent necessary for the purpose of the Preamble, it can be safely concluded that the majority in Kesavananda Bharati case leans in favor of holding:
  1. That the Preamble to the Constitution of India is a part of the Constitution;
  2. That the Preamble is not a source of power or a source of limitations or prohibitions;
  3. The Preamble has a significant role to play in the interpretation of statutes and also in the interpretation of provisions of the Constitution.

Kesavanada Bharati case is a milestone and also a turning point in the constitutional history of India. D.G. Palekar, J. held that the Preamble is a part of the Constitution and, therefore, is amendable under Article 368. It can be concluded that Preamble is an introductory part of our Constitution. The Preamble is based on the Objective Resolution of Nehru. So, it can be concluded that preamble is part of the introductory part of the Constitution.

Amendment To The Preamble
The issue that whether the preamble to the constitution of India can be amended or not was raised before the Supreme Court in the famous case of Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, 1973. The Supreme Court has held that Preamble is the part of the constitution and it can be amended but, Parliament cannot amend the basic features of the preamble.

The court observed:
The edifice of our constitution is based upon the basic element in the Preamble. If any of these elements are removed the structure will not survive and it will not be the same constitution and will not be able to maintain its identity.

The Preamble is the part of the Constitution it can be amended but subject to the condition that the "basic features" in the Preamble cannot be amended. It will not be the same Constitution if any of these elements are removed. India has been constituted into the Sovereign Democratic Republic by the people as declared by the Preamble. Amending power cannot be interpreted to confer power on the Parliament to take away any of these fundamental and basic characteristics.

The 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 was the first act ever to amend the preamble of the Constitution. On December 18th, 1976, Socialist, Secular, and Integrity were added to the preamble to protect economic justice and eliminate discrimination whatsoever. Through this amendment, socialist and secular were added between sovereign and democratic, and Unity of the Nation was changed to Unity and Integrity of the Nation. So, in the end, the preamble of the Constitution is considered a beautiful preface to the document as it contains all the basic information like the objective and philosophy of the Constitution.

The Preamble of the Constitution of USA

The Preamble of the constitution of the USA declares,
We the people of United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves, and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The preamble of the constitution of the USA, in a precise form, contains a declaration and a descriptive objective. The declaration is to the effect that the people of the United States ordain and establish the constitution for the United States of America.

The constitution of the U.S.A is a unique constitution presenting a constitutional model entirely different from U.K. Its stability and strength is the envy of the different constitution of the world .Some of the developing democracies like Sri Lanka and Pakistan have opted for it . The constitution has aura of the sacred about it. It occupies a shrine up in the higher stretches of American reverence. [23]

The Preamble of the Constitution of Canada

The constitution of Canada consists of many laws as well as political convention and judicial practices. The preamble state that the province of Canada nova Scotia and new Brunswick have expressed their desire to be federally united into one domain under the crown with the constitution similar in the Principle to that of the united kingdom.

The preamble of the constitution has cited the fourfold objective:

  1. To fulfill the desire of the constituent units of Canada to form into a union under the crown.
  2. That such a union would be conducive to the welfare of the provinces and promote the interest of the British Empire.
  3. That a legislative authority and an executive government be provided for.
  4. To enable the eventual admission into the union of other parts of British North America.
Prof. A. V. Dicey thought that preamble of Canada was inaccurate when it described the constitution of Canada, he has stated that if preamble were intended to express anything like whole truth, for the world kingdom ought to have been substituted by the states.

As Indian Preamble lays down the basic structure of Indian Constitution which is not as such depicted in the Preamble of Canada and USA, so it can be concluded that Indian Preamble is more structured than Preamble of USA and Canada.

Conclusion
To conclude, it will not be wrong to say that the spirit or the ideology behind the Constitution is sufficiently crystallized in the preamble. The Preamble highlights some of the fundamental values and guiding principles on which the constitution is based. It is a guiding light having interpretational value.

It plays a pivotal role in case of ambiguity. The Preamble of the Constitution of India is one of the best of its kind ever drafted. Both in ideas and expression, it is a unique one. It embodies the spirit of the constitution to build up an independent nation which will ensure the triumph of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity.

The drafters of the Constitution also drafted the Preamble as a mirror and an introduction of the same. It would not be wrong to say that the spirit of the Constitution is sufficiently summated in the Preamble.

End-Notes:
  1. Oxford Dictionary of Law, Oxford university Press, New York, p.416
  2. Berubari Union and Exchange of Enclaves, Re, AIR 1960 SC 845,856: (1960) 3 SCR 250.
  3. Sir AlladiKrishnaswami- Constituent Assembly Debates. Vol. 10, 417.
  4. Sir AlladiKrishnaswami- Constituent Assembly Debates. Vol. 10, 417.
  5. Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, AIR 1973 SC 1461.
  6. Subba Rao. C.J., in I.C. GolakNath v. State of Punjab, AIR 1967 SC 1643
  7. AIR 1950 SC 27
  8. Retrieved from http://www.mkgandhi.org/momgandhi/chap64.htm
  9. 1954 AIR 158, 1954 SCR 541
  10. SR. Myneni,, Political Science for Law Students, Allahabad Law Agency, 2006,p.100.
  11. 1990 AIR 1927, 1989 SCR Supl. (1) 623
  12. 1979 AIR 25, 1979 SCR (1)1009
  13. AIR 1979 SC 25
  14. AIR 1974 SC 1389
  15. 1994 AIR 1918, 1994 SCC (3) 1
  16. 2002 AIR 2112
  17. 1992 SCC (4) 80
  18. AIR 1997 SC 645
  19. Gauri Shankar V. Union Of India, Air 1995 Sc 55
  20. Indra Sawheny V. Union Of India Air 1993 Sc 477; 1992 (Supp-3) Scc 217
  21. Velamuri Venkata Sivaprasad V. Kothari Venkateswaralu Air 2000 Sc 434;(2000) 2scc 139
  22. Re. Berubari Union and Exchange of Enclaves, AIR 1960 SC 845.
  23. Aparajita Baruah, Preamble of the Constitution of India :an insight and comparison with other constitution , Deep and Deep Publications, New Delhi

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