3. It is worthwhile to note that the preamble was
adopted by the Constituent Assembly after the Draft
Constitution had been approved.
The basic idea behind it was the preamble should be in
conformity with the provisions of the constitution and
express in a few words the philosophy of the
It may be recalled that after the transfer of power, the
Constituent Assembly became sovereign, which is
reflected in the use of words “give to ourselves this
constitution” in the preamble.
It also implied that the preamble emanated from the
people of India and sovereignty lies with them.
Unlike the Constitution of Canada or the U.S.A., the
constitution of India has an elaborate preamble.
4. The Preamble to the Indian constitution is based on “Objective
Resolution” of Nehru.
Jawaharlal Nehru introduced an objective resolution on
December 13, 1947, and it was adopted by Constituent
assembly on 22 January 1947.
The drafting committee of the assembly in formulating the
Preamble in the light of “Objective Resolution” felt that the
Preamble should be restricted to defining the essential
features of the new state and its basic socio-political objectives
and that the other matters dealt with Resolution could be
more appropriately provided for in the substantive parts of the
5. The committee adopted the expression ‘Sovereign
Democratic Republic’ in place of ‘Sovereign Independent
Republic’ as used in the “Objective Resolution,” for it
thought the independence was implied in the word
The committee added the word Fraternity which was not
present in the Objective Resolution.
Initially, the Preamble was drafted by Sh. B. N. Rau in his
memorandum of May 30, 1947, and was later reproduced
in the Draft of October 7, 1947. In the context of the
deliberations by the Constituent Assembly, the Preamble
6. WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to
constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST
SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all
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.
7. The Preamble indicates that the source of authority of the
Constitution lies with the people of India.
It declares India to be a socialist, secular, secular, democratic
and a republic nation.
It states its objectives to secure justice, liberty, equality to all
citizens and promote fraternity to maintain unity and integrity
of the nation. (Chief Justice Subba Rao in Golak Nath v. State of Punjab had held
that “The preamble to an Act sets out the main objectives which the legislation is
intended to achieve”.)
It mentions the date (November 26, 1949) on which the
constitution was adopted.
8. The Preamble does not grant any power but it gives a direction and
purpose to the Constitution.
The preamble to an Act sets out the main objectives which the legislation
is intended to achieve.
The Preamble contains the fundamentals of the constitution.
The proper function of the preamble is to explain and recite certain facts
which are necessary to be explained before the enactment contained in an
act of Parliament could be understood.
It may be legitimately consulted for the purpose of solving an ambiguity or
fixing the connotation of words which may possibly have more meaning, or
determining of the Act, whenever the enacting part in any of these respect
is prone to doubt.
A majority of the full bench held that the objectives specified in the
preamble contain the basic structure of our constitution, which cannot be
amended in exercise of the power under Article 368 of the constitution.
The Preamble proclaims that India is a Sovereign State. 'Sovereign' means
that India has its own independent authority and it is not a dominion or
dependent state of any other external power. The Legislature of India has
the powers to enact laws in the country subject to certain limitations
imposed by the Constitution.
The word 'Socialist' was added to the Preamble by the 42nd Constitutional
Amendment in 1976. Socialism means the achievement of socialist ends
through democratic means. India has adopted 'Democratic Socialism'.
Democratic Socialism holds faith in a mixed economy where both private
and public sectors co-exist side by side. It aims to end poverty, ignorance,
disease and inequality of opportunity. (Excel Wear v UOI, D.S. Nakara v
The word 'Secular' was incorporated in the Preamble by the 42nd
Constitutional Amendment in 1976. The term secular in the
Constitution of India means that all the religions in India get equal
respect, protection and support from the state. Articles 25 to 28 in
Part III of the Constitution guarantee Freedom of Religion as a
Fundamental Right. (S.R. Bommai v UOI, Aruna Roy v UOI,
Shabnam Hashmi v UOI)
The term Democratic indicates that the Constitution has established
a form of government which gets its authority from the will of the
people expressed in an election. The Preamble resolves India to be a
democratic country. That means, the supreme power lies with the
people. In the Preamble, the term democracy is used for political,
economic and social democracy. The responsible representative
government, universal adult franchise, one vote one value,
independent judiciary etc. are the features of Indian democracy.
In a Republic, the head of the state is elected by the people directly or indirectly. In
India, the President is the head of the state. The President of India is elected
indirectly by the people; that means, through their representatives in the
Parliament and the State Assemblies. Moreover, in a republic, the political
sovereignty is vested in the people rather than a monarch.
The term Justice in the Preamble embraces three distinct forms: Social, economic
and political, secured through various provisions of the Fundamental and Directive
Social justice in the Preamble means that the Constitution wants to create a more
equitable society based on equal social status. Economic justice means equitable
distribution of wealth among the individual members of the society so that wealth is
not concentrated in few hands. Political Justice means that all the citizens have
equal right in political participation. Indian Constitution provides for universal
adult suffrage and equal value for each vote.
Liberty implies absence of restraints or domination on the
activities of an individual such as freedom from slavery,
serfdom, imprisonment, despotism etc. The Preamble provides
for liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship.
Equality means absence of privileges or discrimination against
any section of the society. The Preamble provides for equality of
status and opportunity to all the people of the country. The
Constitution strives to provide social, economic and political
equality in the country.
Fraternity means feeling of brotherhood. The Preamble seeks to
promote fraternity among the people assuring the dignity of the
individual and the unity and integrity of the nation.
13. In 1976, the Preamble was amended (only once till date) by
the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act. Three new terms,
were added to the Preamble. The Supreme Court held this
14. In A.K Gopalan v. State of Madras, it was contended that the
preamble to our constitution which seeks to give India a ‘democratic’
constitution should be the guiding start in its interpretation
In State of Rajasthan v. Basant Nahata it was held that a preamble
with an ordinary Statute is to be resorted only when the language is
itself capable of more than one meaning and not when something is
not capable of being given a precise meaning as in case of public
In Berubari Union case the Supreme Court held that “if the terms
used in any of the articles in the constitution are ambiguous or
capable of two meanings, in interpreting them some assistance may
be sought in the objectives enshrined in the Preamble.”
15. It has been highly a matter of arguments and
discussions in the past that whether Preamble
should be treated as a part of the constitution or
not. 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. Keshavananda Bharti Case
20. 1. Beruberi Case
Berubari Enclave v UOI case was the Presidential Reference
under Article 143(1) of the Constitution of India on the
implementation of the Indo-Pakistan Agreement Relating to
Beruberi Union and Exchange of Enclaves which came up for
consideration by a bench consisting of eight judges headed by
the Chief Justice B.P. Singh. Justice Gajendragadkar delivered
the unanimous opinion of the Court.
The court ruled out that the Preamble to the Constitution,
containing the declaration made by the people of India in
exercise of their sovereign will, no doubt it is “a key to open the
mind of the makers” which may show the general purposes for
which they made the several provisions in the Constitution but
nevertheless the Preamble is not a part of the Constitution.
21. 2. Kesavananda Bharati case
His holiness Kesavananda Bharati v State of Kerala case has created history. For
the first time, a bench of 13 judges assembled and sat in its original jurisdiction
hearing the writ petition. Kesavananda Bharati case leans in favor of holding,
(i) That the Preamble to the Constitution of India is a part of the Constitution;
(ii) That the Preamble is not a source of power or a source of limitations or
(iii) The Preamble has a significant role to play in the interpretation of statutes
and also in the interpretation of provisions of the Constitution.
Kesavanada Bharati case is a milestone and also a turning point in the
constitutional history of India. D.G. Palekar, J. held that the Preamble is a part of
the Constitution and, therefore, is amendable under Article 368.
Again, in Union Government v LIC of India case, the Supreme Court held that the
Preamble is a part of the Constitution.
Thus the Preamble to the Constitution of free India remains a beautifully worded
prologue. It contains the basic ideals, objectives, and philosophical postulates the
Constitution of India stands for. They provide justifications for constitutional