In this post you will know all about the Preamble of Indian constitution, including, history of the Preamble, text, present status, key words in the preamble. You can also download a PDF file of the Preamble on this page.
The term ‘Preamble’ means the introduction to a statute. It is the introductory part of the constitution.
The Preamble to the Indian Constitution records the aims and aspirations of the people of India which have been translated into the various provisions of the Constitution.
History of the Preamble
The Preamble to Indian constitution is based on “Objective Resolution” of Jawaharlal Nehru, introduced on December 13, 1947 and adopted by the Constituent assembly on 22 January 1947.
It is interesting to note that the preamble was adopted by the Constituent Assembly after the Draft Constitution had been approved.
The American Constitution was the first to begin with a Preamble. Other countries, including India, followed this practice later.
Text of the Indian Preamble
“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.”
Also Read: Salient Features of Indian Constitution
Is Preamble a Part of the Constitution?
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. Berubari Case
2. Kesavananda Bharati case
In Berubari Case (1960), the Supreme Court had held that Preamble is NOT a part of the constitution but later in Kesavanada Bharati Case (1973), the supreme Court gave an elaborate verdict which inter alia said that Preamble is a part of the Constitution and is subject to the amending power of the parliament as any other provision of the Constitution; provided that the basic structure of the constitution is not altered.
Note: The Preamble has been amended only once so far through the 42nd Constitution Amendment Act 1976. The words Secular, Socialist and Integrity were added to the Preamble.
Can the Preamble be Amended?
The Supreme Court, in the landmark Kesavananda Bharati case of 1973, held that the Preamble can be amended, subject to the condition that no amendment is done to the ‘basic features’. In other words, the Court held that the basic elements or the fundamental features of the Constitution as contained in the Preamble cannot be altered by an amendment under Article 368.
Present status of the Preamble
- Preamble is a Part of Constitution
- Preamble highlights the basic structure of the Constitution (SR Bommai Case)
- Preamble can be amended by Parliament using its amendment powers under Article 368.
- Preamble enshrines the ideas and philosophy of the constitution, and NOT the narrow objectives of the governments.
- It also does NOT provide any legal framework of constitutional law.
- Preamble is neither a source of power nor a source of limitations.
- It neither provides any power nor imposes any duty.
- Its importance is in role to be played in interpretation of statues, also in the interpretation of provisions of the Constitution.
- Preamble is neither enforceable not justifiable in a court of law. This implies that courts cannot pass orders against the government in India to implement the ideas in the Preamble.
Also Read: Fundamental Duties in Indian Constitution
Meaning of Keywords in the Preamble
|Sr. No.||Key words in Preamble||Constitutional Provision or Meaning|
|1.||Sovereign||This implies that India is neither a dependency nor a dominion of any other nation. Rather, it is an independent state.|
|2.||Socialist||Socialism refers to Democratic socialism and not state socialism. Provisions in Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), Articles 36 to 51, underline the socialist leanings.|
|3.||Secular||Secularism means equal treatment of all religions by the state. Articles 25 to 28 (guaranteeing the fundamental right to freedom of religion) highlight the secular character.|
|4.||Democratic||Very wide notion of democracy. The Constitution aims for embracing not only political democracy but also social and economic democracy.|
|5.||Republic||Republic means that the Head of the state is elected. Articles 54 and 55 relate to the election of President.|
|6.||Justice||The Constitution covers Social, Economic and Political justice. This is achieved through Fundamental Rights and DPSPs.|
|7.||Liberty||Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship is guaranteed to all citizens through the Fundamental Rights.|
|8.||Equality||Equality of status and opportunity. This is achieved through civic, political and economic equality. Civic equality is guaranteed by the Fundamental Rights. Political equality by Article 325 (non-discrimination in inclusion on electoral rolls) and Article 326 (universal adult franchise). Article 39 (DPSP) strives for economic equality.|
|9.||Fraternity||Fraternity means a sense of brotherhood. Single citizenship fosters fraternity. Article 51A (Fundamental duties) were inserted specifically with the vision of fostering a sense of fraternity among the citizens.|
Quotes regarding the Preamble of Constitution
the Preamble is the ‘horoscope of our sovereign democratic republic
The Preamble is the most precious part of the Constitution. It is the soul of the Constitution
Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava
Download the PDF file of the Preamble here