The Preamble
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Baljit Dhaka

The Preamble

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Polity

The Preamble

The Preamble:

  • The preamble refers to the introduction or preface to the Constitution. It contains the summary or essence of the Constitution.
  • It is the mirror of the Indian Constitution.
  • It embodies the ideals and aspirations of the people of India.
  • The Preamble is based on the ‘Objective Resolution’, drafted and moved by Pandit Nehru, and adopted by the Constituent Assembly.
  • The American Constitution was the first, to begin with, a Preamble.

Text of the Preamble:
“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to ensure to all the 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 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”.

Ingredients of the Preamble:

  • The Preamble states that the Constitution derives its authority from the people of India.
  • It declares India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, and republican country.
  • It specifies justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity as the objectives.
  • It specifies November 26, 1949, as the date of adoption of the Constitution.

Basic values in the Preamble:

We, the People:

  • These values were inscribed to recognize and respect the citizens of the country.
  • It reaffirms that the Constitution derives its authority from the people of India and the good governance is measured by the well being of the people.

Sovereignty:

  • Sovereignty means that the state has supreme and absolute power, having complete political freedom and it is free to conduct its own affairs (both internal and external).
  • India is neither a dependency nor a dominion of any other nation, but an independent state.
  • Being a sovereign state, India can either acquire a foreign territory or cede a part of its territory in favor of a foreign state.

Socialist:

  • This word though implicit in the Constitution was explicitly added by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976.
  • Socialism means the achievement of socialist ends through democratic means, known as ‘democratic socialism’.
  • Democratic Socialism aims to end poverty, ignorance, disease, and inequality of opportunity.

Secular:

  • It was also added by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976.
  • The Indian Constitution embodies the positive concept of secularism that means India is neutral in religious matters and treats all religions impartially.
  • India is neither religious nor irreligious nor anti-religious but is only non-religious.

Democratic:

  • Democracy is of 2 types, direct and indirect. In a direct democracy, the people exercise their supreme power directly like in Switzerland. In an indirect democracy, the representatives elected by the people exercise the supreme power and carry on the government and make laws.
  • The democratic set up followed in India is ‘Representative Democracy’. In Representative democracy, people choose their representatives who carry on the government and the executive is responsible to the Legislature for all its policies and actions.

Republic:

  • In a Republic, the head of the state is always elected directly or indirectly for a fixed period. Ex. USA
  • In India, the President is the head of the state and he is elected by the people for a fixed term of 5 years.
  • A Republic also means vesting of political sovereignty in the people and not in a single individual like a king.
  • It strengthens the idea of democracy that every citizen is equally eligible to become the head of the state.

Objectives of the Constitution:

  • The Preamble states the objectives to be secured to every citizen.

Justice:

  • Justice involves social, economic, and political justice, secured through various provisions of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles.
  • Social justice denotes the equal treatment of all citizens without any social distinction based on caste, color, race, religion, sex, and so on.
  • Economic justice denotes the non-discrimination between people based on economic factors. It involves the elimination of inequalities in wealth, income, and property.
  • Political justice means that all citizens should have equal political rights, equal access to all political offices, and equal voice in the government.

(Note: Social Justice + Economic Justice= Distributive Justice)

Liberty:

  • It means the absence of restraints on the activities of individuals, and at the same time, providing opportunities for the development of individual personalities.
  • Democracy cannot be established unless certain minimal rights which are essential for a free and civilized existence are assured to every member of the community.

Equality:

  • Equality means the absence of special privileges to any section of the society and the provision of adequate opportunities for all individuals without any discrimination.
  • Civic, political and economic equality have been granted to citizens through Fundamental Rights and Directive principles.

Fraternity:

  • It stands for the spirit of brotherhood or sisterhood.
  • Democracy has been given the responsibility to generate this spirit of brotherhood amongst all sections of people.
  • Art. 51A (e) declares it as a duty of every citizen of India to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic, and regional or sectional diversities.
  • Art. 51A (f) asks each citizen to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.

The dignity of the individual:

  • If the dignity of an individual is not recognized, due rights of an individual including liberty and equality would not be secured from the state.
  • Our Constitution acknowledges that all citizens, men, and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood (Art. 39a) and just and humane conditions of work (Art. 42). Art. 17 has abolished the practice of untouchability.
  • Unity and integrity of the nation:
  • It was inserted by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976.
  • To maintain the independence of the country, unity, and integrity of the nation is important.
  • Our Constitution has specified a Fundamental duty to uphold and protect the unity and integrity of India as a matter of duty.

Significance of the Preamble:

  • The preamble indicates that the Constitution derives its powers from the people.
  • It declares the rights and freedom which the people of India intended to secure for all citizens and the mode of realization of the ideas and operations.
  • It aids in the legal interpretation of the Constitution where the language of the Constitution is found to be ambiguous.
  • It declares the type of government which is to be established in the country.
  • It specifies the date of adoption of the Constitution.

Preamble as part of the Constitution:

  • In the Berubari Union case, the Supreme Court said that the Preamble shows the general purposes behind the several provisions in the Constitution, and is thus a key to the minds of the makers of the Constitution. But, Supreme Court opined that Preamble is not a part of the Constitution.
  • In the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973), the Supreme Court rejected the earlier opinion and held that Preamble is a part of the Constitution.
  • In the LIC of India case (1995), the Supreme Court again held that the Preamble is an integral part of the Constitution.

Amenability of the Preamble:

  • In the Berubari vs. Union case (1960), the Supreme Court held that Preamble is not a part of the Constitution. Since it is not a part of the Constitution, Parliament cannot amend the Preamble by its amending powers under Art. 368.
  • In the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973), the Supreme Court overruled its earlier decision and held that the Preamble is a part of the Constitution and it is subject to the amending powers of Parliament, provided that the ‘basic structure of the Constitution’ is not destroyed.
  • The 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1976 amended the Preamble and added 3 new words ie. Socialist, Secular, and Integrity to it.

Limitations of the Preamble:

  • It is neither a source of power to the legislature nor a prohibition upon the powers of the legislature.
  • The Preamble cannot override the express provisions of the Constitution. It is non-justiciable and cannot be enforced in a court of law.
  • It can only be resorted to when there is an ambiguity in the provisions of the Constitution.