The term Preamble
means a preliminary or introductory statement, especially
attached to a statute or constitution setting forth its purpose. 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
 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
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,
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.
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. 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.
The purpose of the preamble is:
- The source from which the Constitution comes is indicated viz., the
people of India.
- The enacting clause which brings the Constitution into force is
- 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.
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.
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.
In A.K Gopalan v. State of Madras
 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
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.
- social, economic and political Justice
- 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.
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, 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
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
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.
, 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.
The word Sovereign
has been adopted from Article 5 of the Ireland
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. 
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
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
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
,  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
, 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
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
, explained that India is neither
anti -God, nor pro-God; it treats alike the devout, the antagonistic and the
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
, 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
, the nine-judge bench of Apex
Courts found the concept of secularism as the basic feature of the
The term Democratic
is derived from the Greek words where demos
. 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
, observed: "a successful democracy posits an aware citizenry". "Democracy
cannot survive without free and fair elections, without free and fairly informed
voters". 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
"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."
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
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 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 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 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
,  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
, 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
 Equality is one of the magnificent cornerstones of Indian
democracy.An equality status permeates the basic structure of the
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:
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:
Beruberi Case  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.
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.
Kesavanada Bharati case
- That the Preamble to the Constitution of India is a part of the
- That the Preamble is not a source of power or a source of limitations or
- The Preamble has a significant role to play in the interpretation of
statutes and also in the interpretation of provisions of the Constitution.
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
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
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. 
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
- To fulfill the desire of the constituent units of Canada to form into a union
under the crown.
- That such a union would be conducive to the welfare of the provinces and promote
the interest of the British Empire.
- That a legislative authority and an executive government be provided for.
- To enable the eventual admission into the union of other parts of British North
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.
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.
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,
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.
- Oxford Dictionary of Law, Oxford university Press, New York, p.416
- Berubari Union and Exchange of Enclaves, Re, AIR 1960 SC 845,856: (1960)
3 SCR 250.
- Sir AlladiKrishnaswami- Constituent Assembly Debates. Vol. 10, 417.
- Sir AlladiKrishnaswami- Constituent Assembly Debates. Vol. 10, 417.
- Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, AIR 1973 SC 1461.
- Subba Rao. C.J., in I.C. GolakNath v. State of Punjab, AIR 1967 SC 1643
- AIR 1950 SC 27
- Retrieved from http://www.mkgandhi.org/momgandhi/chap64.htm
- 1954 AIR 158, 1954 SCR 541
- SR. Myneni,, Political Science for Law Students, Allahabad Law Agency,
- 1990 AIR 1927, 1989 SCR Supl. (1) 623
- 1979 AIR 25, 1979 SCR (1)1009
- AIR 1979 SC 25
- AIR 1974 SC 1389
- 1994 AIR 1918, 1994 SCC (3) 1
- 2002 AIR 2112
- 1992 SCC (4) 80
- AIR 1997 SC 645
- Gauri Shankar V. Union Of India, Air 1995 Sc 55
- Indra Sawheny V. Union Of India Air 1993 Sc 477; 1992 (Supp-3) Scc 217
- Velamuri Venkata Sivaprasad V. Kothari Venkateswaralu Air 2000 Sc
434;(2000) 2scc 139
- Re. Berubari Union and Exchange of Enclaves, AIR 1960 SC 845.
- Aparajita Baruah, Preamble of the Constitution of India :an insight and
comparison with other constitution , Deep and Deep Publications, New Delhi