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PREAMBLE: IS IT PART OF THE CONSTITUTION?

Updated: Aug 9, 2021

By- Arsha Sharma

PREAMBLE:

According to Oxford Dictionary, the word ‘preamble’ means an introduction. The makers of the Constitution of India have made the Indian Constitution very large, explaining each and every provision in an exhaustive manner. The Preamble of the Indian Constitution is considered to be an index or preface of the Constitution of India. The Preamble highlights the salient features of our Constitution. The Preamble is based upon the Objective Resolutions, which were drafted and moved by Jawaharlal Nehru on 13 December 1946. The Objective Resolutions were adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 22 January 1947. The inspiration to include Preamble while making the Indian Constitution was from the Constitution of USA.

PREAMBLE OF INDIA AND ITS MAIN COMPONENTS:

The Preamble of India highlights the main components of the Constitution of India. The main ingredients enshrined in the Constitution are revealed by the Preamble. They are as follows:-

  • Authority of the Constitution- The main source of authority of the Constitution of India is the citizens of India. The people of India are considered to be the main source of authority of the Constitution of India.

  • Indian State and its Nature-The Preamble states that India is a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic and republican state.

  • Constitution of India and its Objectives-The Preamble mentions that the main objectives of the Indian Constitution are- justice, liberty, equality and fraternity.

  • Constitution’s Date of Adoption-The Constitution of India was adopted on 26 November 1949 and it came into effect on 26 January 1950.

SALIENT FEATURES OF THE PREAMBLE OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION:

There are certain key words enshrined in the Preamble which reflect the main features of the Constitution of India. Thus, it is rightly said that the Preamble is an interface of the Constitution of India. The key words of the Preamble of India are as follows:-

  • Sovereign- India is a Sovereign country. India is an independent nation and is not subordinate to any other nation.

  • Socialist- The word ‘Socialist’ was included in the Preamble by the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976. It means that India is a democratic socialist country which believes in a mixed economy. India believes in the existence of both the public sector as well as private sector to eradicate poverty, economic inequality.

  • Secular- Through the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, the word ‘Secular’ was incorporated in the Preamble of India. It highlights that India is a Secular state where all religions are equal. Discrimination on the grounds of religion is strictly prohibited by the Constitution of India. People are free to profess, propagate and follow any religion of their own choice.

  • Democratic- India is one of the largest democracies in the world. In India, indirect democracy is practiced. People have a right to choose their representatives who shall govern the country on their behalf. India is a democratic polity which means that India not only embraces political democracy but also social and economic democracy.

  • Republic- India is a ‘Republic’ which means that the head of the state is the President, who is elected indirectly for a term of five years.

  • Justice- India aims at providing social, economic and political justice to all its citizens. This conception of justice has been borrowed from the Russian Revolution.

  • Liberty- The concept of liberty has been taken from the French Revolution. The Constitution of India guarantees liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship to its citizens.

  • Equality-The Indian Constitution believes in giving its citizens civic, political and economic equality. The idea of equality was taken from the French Revolution.

  • Fraternity- The concept of ‘Fraternity’ was borrowed from the French Revolution of 1789. Through the idea of fraternity, the Constitution of India implies two important points- dignity of citizens and the unity and integrity of our country.

IS PREAMBLE A PART OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA-

One of the disputes regarding the Preamble is that whether the Preamble is a part of the Constitution of India or not. There have been several cases before the Supreme Court. Various arguments have been made before the Supreme Court regarding the position of the Preamble.

  • During the Berubari Union case in 1960, the Supreme Court stated that the Preamble is not a part of the Constitution of India. It stated that the Preamble just asserts the general purpose of the provisions of the Constitution. The Preamble gives the citizens an insight into the minds of the makers of the Constitution that is the Constituent Assembly. The Supreme Court accepted that importance of the Preamble and the ambiguous nature of the provisions of the Constitution lead to more than one interpretation and Preamble can assist in the interpretation of the Constitution. Despite this, the Supreme Court maintained that Preamble is not a part of the Constitution of India.

  • However the judgment of the Berubari Union case was overruled by the judgment in the Kesavananda Bharati case of 1973. The Supreme Court rejected the view that the Preamble was not a part of the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court declared that the Preamble is an integral and significant part of the Constitution. The Supreme Court stated that the various provisions and articles incorporated in the Constitution of India must be read and interpreted in the light of the Preamble.

  • The view of the Supreme Court during the Kesavananda Bharati case, 1973 was upheld in the LIC of India case in 1995. The Supreme Court held that the Preamble is an important part of the Constitution of India.

The Preamble was also enacted and incorporated by the Constituent Assembly after drafting the Constitution of India because the makers of the Constitution of India wanted the Preamble to be in conformity with the Indian Constitution. The Constitution was framed after a lot of deliberations and discussions. When the position of the Preamble as a part of the Constitution was in question in the Constituent Assembly, it was decided through voting. The votes clearly were in favour of the inclusion of Preamble as a part of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has accepted this vision of the makers of the Constitution and has declared Preamble to be an integral part of the Constitution of India.

CAN THE PREAMBLE BE AMENDED?

There was a lot of debate regarding the amendment of the Preamble. This question was put to rest by the Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court explained that the Preamble is a part of the Constitution. Thus, it can be amended under Article 368 of the Constitution of India. However, the ‘basic elements/basic features’ of the Constitution of India enshrined in the Preamble cannot be amended under Article 368 of the Constitution of India. Till date, the Preamble has been amended only once by the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976, through which three ideals- Socialist, Secular and Integrity were incorporated in the Preamble. The amendment was declared to be valid and not in violation of the basic features/basic elements of the Constitution of India.

CONCLUSION:

The Preamble highlights the basic philosophy and fundamental values upon which the Constitution of India is based. KM Munshi believed Preamble to be the horoscope of our sovereign democratic socialist republic. However, it must be kept in mind that the provisions of the Preamble are non-justiciable in nature, that is one cannot move to court to seek their enforcement. Thus, Preamble is not a restraint on the powers of the legislature nor does the legislature derive its power from the Preamble. However, we cannot undermine the Preamble. Preamble is the soul of the Constitution of India.


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