The concept of preamble was borrowed from the American constitution. In fact, America was the first country to adopt the Preamble in its constitution.
The preamble of Indian constitution is introductory in nature. However, It gives a brief overview of the objectives and the philosophy of our constitution.
The first meeting of the constituent assembly was held on December 9, 1946. On December 13, 1946, An objective resolution was presented by Mr. Jawahar Lal Nehru which provided the basis for the philosophy and objectives of our constitution i.e the Preamble.
Mr. N. A. Palkhiyala (an eminent jurist and a constitutional expert) called Preamble as the identity card of the constitution.
The preamble of India is;
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 26th day of November 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
(Note: Three words i.e. socialist, secular, and integrity was included in the preamble in 1976 by the 42nd Amendment Act)
Now let’s discuss the important terms or keywords like sovereign, socialist, secular, Democratic, and Republic which are present in the preamble of the Indian constitution.
It means that India is an independent country. It is neither dependent nor it is a dominion of any other nation, no authority above it and we are free to conduct our own internal and external affairs. In a Nutshell, India is free to take its decision
This word was included in the preamble by the 42nd amendment act in 1976. it is based on our directive principle of State Policy. Indian socialism is democratic socialism rather than communistic socialism.
It means that our socialism is a mix of both democratic and communalism. Socialism focus to provide complete equality in society.
It was also added by the 42nd amendment act. Indian secularism is different from western secularism. In western secularism religion and politics are fully separated which is called as negative secularism, But In India, we have positive secularism which means that all religions have the same status and same support from the state.
Democratic means that people have the power to choose their government by using universal adult franchises. In other words, it means the possession of power by the people based on the doctrine of popular sovereignty.
Republic means that India has an elected head (i.e. President). It also means that political sovereignty vesting in the people and other meaning is that the absence of any privileged class means that all the public offices are open to every citizen of our country without any discrimination based on race, religion, caste, sex, and place of birth.
Q. Is Britain a republic country?
No. Because the head of state of Britain is Queen (or King), which is a hereditary post. Hence, despite being a democratic country, Britain can’t be said a republic nation.
Justice in the preamble of the Indian constitution, are of three types;
- Social Justice
- economic justice
- Political justice
These are provided to the people of India through fundamental rights and Directive Principles present in our constitution part 3 and part 4 respectively.
Social Justice includes that all citizens shall be given equal treatment without any social distinction based on colour, caste, race, sex, religion. In other words, the absence of privileges and improvement of social conditions of the poor.
Political justice includes equal political rights with equal access to all political offices and an equal role in government formation.
The idea of justice was taken from Russian Revolution (1917).
Liberty simply means the absence of external restraints on the activity of individuals like thought expression belief faith and worships.
It was taken from the french revolution and it’s is not absolute in nature but qualified.
It means that there should not be any special privileges to anyone in society. Equal opportunity should provide to everyone without discrimination in civil political and economic spheres.
It’s nothing but to uphold the diversity of our country through creating a sense of brotherhood as well as promote harmony to uphold the dignity of individuals and uphold the unity and integrity of the country. The word integrity was added by the 42nd amendment act.
According to Mr. K M Munshi, Preamble is the horoscope of our democratic republic.
Some other members like Pandit Thakur Das said that the Preamble is the soul of our constitution
The importance of the Preamble in India is that it tells about the nature and intention of our country, the objective and philosophy of our nation, the source of authority, and the principle of governance.
On 17 October 1949, a debate was held in the constituent assembly, Some members wanted that the Preamble should start from “in the name of God”. However, the other members opposed this suggestion and said that if God’s name is included, it would destroy the freedom and Faith of people and it would become a compulsion of faith under our preamble.
On January 22, 1947, the preamble was officially adopted by the constituent assembly. However, the preamble is not enforceable by any Court.
Though the preamble of India is not enforceable by any court in the country, it always helps courts to interpret the articles/laws in a vague condition.
With time, some controversy also erupted, that is it a part of the constitution or not.
Supreme Court in the Berubari union case in 1960 takes a narrow view and said that preamble is not part of the constitution. But later on in the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973), Supreme Court said that Preamble is a part of the constitution and rejected its earlier judgment of the Berubari union case
In the Union Government Vs LIC of India case (1995), Supreme Court again said that preamble is an integral part of the constitution.
Two things must be noted that;
- The preamble is neither a source of power to legislature nor it is a prohibition upon the powers of the Legislature.
- It is non-justiciable means that not enforceable in the court of law.
Click here to download the preamble of Indian constitution – pdf (available in 18 languages)
This article is written by;
Mr. Pankaj Kumar Gupta
(Email ID: [email protected])