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Preamble to the Constitution of India

Updated: Jul 15, 2021

Preamble to the Constitution of India

(i) The Preamble indicates the source of the Constitution i.e., the Sovereign will of the people and also states the great objects of the Constitution (Corwin). In fact, as was observed in Keshavananda Bharati's case: "it is of 'extreme' importance that the Constitution should be read and interpreted in the light of the grand and noble vision expressed in the Preamble."

(ii) Major written Constitutions of the world have preamble to their Constitutions. For example, the U.S. Constitution, provides as follows:

"We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice .secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and to our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the U.S.A."

Our Constitution in its Preamble declares

'We, the people of India having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic, and to secure all its citizens : Justice, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity and Unity and Integrity of the Nation, in our Constituent Assembly this 26th day of Nov. 1949, do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this Constitution.

'We, the people of India . . . give unto ourselves this Constitution.' This speaks to the Sovereign will of the people, which is the source of the Constitution.

(iii) Objectives:

(a) The major objective is to constitute India into a 'Sovereign, Socialist, Secular Democratic Republic'. Sovereign refers to India's International Status as a Sovereign State with Sovereignty within and without. Socialist does not mean any ism, but means absence of any 'Exploitation'. 'Secular' indicates that all religions are equal (these two were inserted by the 42nd Amendment). Democracy is a reference to the way of life, to a system of government by discussion. It is a government by the people, of the and for the people. Republic is a reference to the Executive Head—the President—being elected. It is opposed to a hereditary office,

(b) Certain basic values are enshrined in the Preamble.

1. Justice : Social, Economic and Political.

2. Liberty : Of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship.

3. Equality : Of status and opportunity.

4. Fraternity : Assuring the dignity of the Individual.

5. Unity and Integrity of the Nation (42nd Amendment),

(iv) Interpretation : The spirit of the Constitution is embodied in the Preamble and serves as a guide to interpret the Constitution. The Preamble is a useful handy instrument to the Judges in interpreting the Constitution.

(a) According to Dyer C. J., the Preamble is "the key to open the minds of the makers of the Constitution". The Supreme Court had held in Beruberi Union case that the preamble was not a part of the Constitution, but this has been overruled in Bharti's case. Hence, the preamble is part of the Constitution and if the words in the body of the Constitution are capable of two meanings—i.e., ambiguity—that which fits into the preamble is preferred by the Courts.

(b) If there are specific provisions in the Constitution, then they are not controlled by the Preamble (Gopalan's case).

(c) The preamble is not a source of power. It cannot restrict a power given in the Constitution.

(d) The preamble is part of the Constitution and may be amended under Art.368. But amendment should not affect the 'basic structure' of the Constitution (Bharati's case).

(e) The objectives enshrined in the preamble contain the basic structure of the Constitution like the Supremacy of the Constitution, Equality, Republican and democratic form of Government, Secular Character, Separation of powers ,Federal character etc

[Bharathi case and Excel Wear case]


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