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Preamble of the Indian Constitution: History, importance and amendment

The ideals that formed the rudiments of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution were laid down by Jawaharlal Nehru’s Objectives Resolution, adopted by the Constituent Assembly on January 22, 1947.

July 25, 2021: Preamble of the Indian Constitution pertains to the guidelines to guide and regulate the affairs of the massive Indian populace, after Independence. Adopted in the year 1949, on November 26, it presents the principles of the constitution and prevents anarchy under a democratic Indian government of the people, by the people and for the people.

Definition of preamble

In general terms, a preamble refers to introductory statement in a document that explains the document’s philosophy and objectives. When placed within the contextual bounds of a Constitution, it presents the intention of its framers, the history behind its creation, and the core values and principles of the nation. The Preamble of the Indian Constitution lays down the basic tenets regarding topics like, source of the constitution, nature of Indian state, statement of its objectives, date of its adoption and history of the Preamble to Indian Constitution.

Ideals governing Preamble of the Indian Constitution

The ideals that formed the rudiments of the Preamble of the Indian Constitution were laid down by Jawaharlal Nehru’s Objectives Resolution, adopted by the Constituent Assembly on January 22, 1947.

While these guidelines are not enforceable in court, the Preamble of the Indian Constitution in an essence of a guideline, states the objectives of the Constitution, and acts as an aid during the interpretation of Articles when language is found obscure.

What constitutes the Preamble?

The Preamble underlines the fact that the source of authority of the Constitution lies with the people of India. In the introductory pages, India is identified as a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic nation.

Objectives in Preamble of the Indian Constitution

Here are the important objectives of Preamble of the Indian Constitution:

– To secure Justice liberty and equality to all Indian citizens irrespective of social, economic or racial denominations.
– To promote fraternity to maintain unity and integrity of the nation.

Details inside the Preamble

We, the people of India: The first line in the Preamble of the Indian Constitution hints at a brotherhood, humanitarian spirit of unity and commonality among the citizens of the glorious country of India. It points at the ultimate sovereignty of the people of India as a people of a democratic nation, with the power to elect their leader. Sovereignty means the independent authority of the State, not being subject to the control of any other State or external power.

Sovereign: It implies that India has its own independent authority and it is not a dominion of any other external power. The sole powers in the country, vest with the legislature has the power to make laws which are subject to certain limitations.

Socialist: The term means the achievement of socialist ends through democratic means. It holds faith in a mixed economy where both private and public sectors co-exist side by side, thereby maintaining strong universal bonds as well as healthy inter-relations. It was added in the Preamble by 42nd Amendment, 1976.

Secular: The word stands for the fact that all the religions in India get equal respect, protection and support from the state. The constitution bans all prejudices. It was incorporated in the Preamble by 42nd Constitutional Amendment, 1976.

Democratic: The term implies that the Constitution of India has an established form of Constitution which gets its authority from the will of the people expressed in an election.

Republic: It implies that the head of the state is elected by the people. In India, the President of India is the elected head of the state.

Position of the Preamble

The Preamble being part of the Constitution is brought up in many instances, in the Supreme Court. It can be understood by reading the following two cases.

Preamble: A part of the Constitution or not

Berubari Case: The Preamble was employed as a reference under Article 143(1) of the Constitution pertaining to the implementation of the Indo-Pakistan Agreement related to the Berubari Union and in exchanging the enclaves which were decided for consideration by the bench consisting of eight judges.

It was this Berubari Case, which made the Court state that ‘Preamble is the key to open the mind of the makers’ but it can not be considered as part of the Constitution. Therefore it is not enforceable in a court of law.

Kesavananda Bharati Case: Making history, it was for the first time, that a bench of 13 judges was assembled to hear a writ petition. The Court held that:

The Preamble of the Constitution will now be considered as part of the Constitution.

The Preamble is not the supreme power or source of any restriction or prohibition but it plays an important role in the interpretation of statutes and provisions of the Constitution.

Thereafter, the Preamble was held to be a section in the introductory part of the Indian Constitution.

In the 1995 case of Union Government Vs LIC of India also, the Supreme Court has once again held that Preamble is the integral part of the Constitution but is not directly enforceable in a court of justice in India.

Also read: Day 2 of farmer protests at Jantar Mantar: New farm laws are destroying mandi system

Amendment of the Preamble

42nd Amendment Act, 1976: After the judgment of the Kesavanand Bharati case, it was accepted that the preamble is part of the Constitution.

Thus, the Preamble was subject to amendments, as a part of the Constitution, preamble, under Article 368 of the Constitution, exempting the basic structure of the preamble from any amendment.

Owing to the structure of the Constitution built on the foundational elements of the Preamble, in the present scenario, the preamble has only been amended once through the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976.

The term ‘Socialist’, ‘Secular’, and ‘Integrity’ were added to the preamble through 42nd Amendment Act, 1976. ‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’ were added between ‘Sovereign’ and ‘Democratic’. ‘Unity of the Nation’ was changed to ‘Unity and Integrity of the Nation’.

By Arpita Patro


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