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The Constitution Of India: Preamble

Constitution is the set of rules which tells about the political structure of the country, it is the supreme law of the land that provides convenience as well as regulations for all the citizens living in a country. The term preamble refers to the first page of the Constitution or we can say it is the preface of the Constitution, an eminent jurist N.A Palkhivala called the preamble the �identity card of the constitution�.

The preamble of the Indian Constitution is based on the �Objective Resolution�, moved by J.L. Nehru. The American constitution was the first, to begin with Preamble. Many countries including India followed this practice. The preamble of Indian Constitution was once amended by the 42nd Amendment Act 1976 when three words Socialist, Secular, and Integrity were added to the preamble of India. The preamble cannot be enforced in the court, this decision was announced in the decision of Union of India v. Madan Gopal, 1957.


The Modern State is considered to be a state for the welfare of the people. It is, therefore, suggested that it should have a government of a particular form with appropriate powers and functions. The document containing laws and rules which determine and describe the form of the government, the relationship between the citizens and the government, is called a Constitution. As such a constitution is concerned with two main aspects the relation between the different levels of government and between the government and the citizens.

A constitution is the basic fundamental law of a State. It lays down the objectives of the State which it has to achieve. It also provides for the constitutional framework that is, various structures and organs of the governments at different levels. In addition, it describes the rights and duties of the citizens. It is, therefore, considered to be the basis for the governance of the country both in terms of goals and objectives as also their structures and functions.

Objective Of The Constitution:

The Constitution of independent India was framed in the background of about 200 years of colonial rule, a mass-based freedom struggle, the national movement, partition of the country, and the spread of communal violence. Therefore, the framers of the Constitution were concerned about the aspirations of the people, integrity, and unity of the country, and establishment of a democratic society. Amongst the members, some held different ideological views.

Others were inclined to socialist principles, still others holding Gandhian thinking but nothing could act as any kind of impediment in the progress of the Assembly�s work because all these members were of liberal ideas. Their main aim was to give India a �Constitution� which will fulfill the cherished ideas and ideals of the people of this country.

Conscious efforts were made to have consensus on different issues and principles and thereby avoid disagreement. The consensus came in the form of the �Objectives Resolution� moved by Jawahar Lal Nehru in the Constituent Assembly on December 17, 1946 which was almost unanimously adopted on January 22, 1947. In the light of these �Objectives�, the Assembly completed its task by November 26, 1949.

The constitution was enforced with effect from January 26, 1950. From that day India became a Republic. Exactly twenty years before the first independence day was celebrated on Jan. 26, 1930, as decided by the Lahore session of the Congress on Dec. 31, 1929. Hence, January 26, 1950, was decided as the day to enforce the constitution.

The Preamble to the Indian Constitution:

WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, The 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 opportunity,
and to promote among them all,
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and the integrity of the Nation;

Is Preamble a Part of the Constitution?

In Case Kesavananda Bharati v/s State of Kerala (1973) case overruled its earlier decision (Berubari Case 1965) and made it clear that the Preamble is a part of the constitution and is subjected to the amending power of the Parliament within the core limits of the basic structure doctrine.
  • It is an important guide to interpret the true spirit of the Constitution.
  • LIC of India Case (1995) � upheld the Preamble and said that it is an integral part of the Constitution.

Components of the Preamble:

The four components of the preamble are as follows
  • It reveals the source of the authority of the constitution i.e. the people of India.
  • It tells the nature of Indian state as sovereign, socialist, secular, republic and democratic polity.
  • It specifies the objective of the constitution as justice, liberty, equality and fraternity to its people.
  • It mentions the date (26 November 1949) on which the Constitution was adopted.

Key terms used in Preamble

The word �Sovereign� emphasizes that there is no authority outside India on which the country is in any way dependent. The word sovereignty has been taken from the French Constitution.

By the word �Socialist� the Constitution means that the achievement of the socialistic pattern of society through democratic means. The ideas of socialism in India were given by Mahatma Gandhi and that�s why Indian socialism is known as Democratic Socialism or Gandhian Socialism. Socialist goals should be achieved through democratic means. The term establishes India as a public welfare state.

India is a �Secular State�, does not mean that India is non-religious or irreligious, or anti-religious, but simply that the State in itself is not religious and follows the age-old Indian principle of �Sarva Dharma Sambhava�. It also means that the State shall not discriminate against the citizens in any way based on religion. The State regards religion to be the private affair of a person, including the right to believe or not to believe in a religion.

The term �Democratic� means that the rulers elected by the people only have the authority to run the government. India follows a system of �Representative Democracy�, where the MPs and MLAs are elected directly by the people.
  • Efforts are being made to take democracy to the grassroots through Panchayats and Municipalities (73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts, 1992).
  • However, the Preamble and DPSP envisages not only political democracy but also social and economic democracies.

The word �Republic� means, the head of the state is an elected representative (directly or indirectly) and not the hereditary monarch.

The preamble encompasses the term justice in three different forms � social, economic, and political, which have been achieved through various provisions of fundamental and directive principles of policy.
  • Social justice in the Preamble refers to the creation of a more equitable society by the Constitution based on equal social status.
  • Economic justice refers to the equal distribution of wealth among different members of society, so that wealth cannot be concentrated in a few hands.
  • Political justice refers to the right of all citizens to equal political participation.
  • The Indian Constitution provides universal adult suffrage and equal value for every vote.

Equality refers to the abolition of privilege or discrimination against any section of society. The Preamble of the Constitution provides equality of status and opportunities for all the people of the country.
  • Article 14-18 ensure civil equality
  • There are two other provisions in the constitution that ensure citizen equality �
No person shall be disqualified from being included in the electoral rolls based on religion, sex, and caste (Article 325).
Provision of adult franchise for Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies. (Article 326)
Brotherhood refers to a feeling of fraternity. The Preamble of the Constitution promotes brotherhood among the people to maintain the dignity of unity and integrity of the individual and the nation

A Constitution symbolizes the independence of a country. Framework and structure for the governance of a free country are provided in the Constitution. The Constituent Assembly prepared the draft of the Constitution by keeping the �Objectives Resolution� as the backdrop which reflected the aspirations of the people of India.

The framing of the Constitution was completed on November 26, 1949, when the Constituent Assembly formally adopted the new Constitution. The Constitution came into force with effect on January 26, 1950. The Constitution begins with a Preamble which declares India to be a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic.

The Preamble also mentions the goals of securing justice, liberty, and equality for all its citizens and promotion of national unity and integrity based on fraternity among the people assuring the dignity of the individual. The Constitution of India has several distinctive features. It is the lengthiest Constitution in the world and is a combination of rigidity and flexibility. The Constitution provides for a quasi-federal set up with a strong center. There is a clear division of powers between the Centre and the States.

The Supreme Court of India is the apex court of India that will resolve the disputes between the center and state or between the states. India has a parliamentary democracy. The Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister enjoys the real powers and is responsible to the Parliament. The Indian Constitution provides for justiciable Fundamental Rights. Ten Fundamental Duties have also been added to the Constitution. The Directive Principles of State Policy give a concrete shape to the welfare concept.

Written by: Tanya Khan

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