“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 twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION”.
The ‘preamble’ of the Constitution of India is a brief introductory statement that sets out the guiding purpose and principles of the document, and it indicates the source from which the document which derives its authority, meaning, the people.
The hopes and aspiration of the people as well as the ideals before our nation are described in the preamble in clear cut words.
It may be considered as the soul of Constitution.
The preamble can be referred to as the preface which highlights the essence of the entire Constitution.
It was adopted on 26 November 1949 by the Constituent Assembly and came into effect from 26th January, 1950.
It is based on the ‘Objectives Resolution’ which was drafted and moved in the Constituent Assembly by Jawaharlal Nehru on 13 December 1946.
The preamble-page, along with other pages of the original Constitution of India, was designed and decorated solely by renowned painter Beohar Rammanohar Sinha of Jabalpur who was at Shantiniketan with acharya Nandalal Bose at that time.
Nandalal Bose endorsed Beohar Rammanohar Sinha’s artwork without any alteration whatsoever. As such, the page bears Beohar Rammanohar Sinha’s short signature Ram in Devanagari lower-right corner.
As originally enacted the preamble described the state as a “sovereign democratic republic”. In 1976 the Forty-second Amendment changed this to read “sovereign socialist secular democratic republic”.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PREAMBLE
The Preamble to the Constitution contains the aims and objectives which the founding fathers of the Constitution enjoined the polity to achieve.
The purpose of the Preamble is to clarify whom the Constitution has been made for, the sanction, the course, nature of policy and goals and objectives of the Constitution.
The Preamble gives direction and purpose to the Constitution.
Supreme Court has also pointed out the importance and utility of the Preamble in several decisions.
Though it by itself is not enforceable in the Court of Law, the Preamble to the written Constitution promotes and aids the legal interpretation especially in case of ambiguous language.
The Preamble also promotes the aims of democracy; offering of equal opportunity to men and women regardless of other factors in matters of public employment also implements the democratic ideal.
The Indian Constitution provides not only political, but social democracy as well; Social democracy refers to a way of life that acknowledged liberty, equality and fraternity and their mutual intertwined roles.
Constitution also promotes economic democracy and Gandhi’s principles.
No reading of the Constitution is complete without the Preamble.
The Constitution commences from the Preamble.
The Preamble also contains the enacting clause which brought the Constitution into force.
It declares the great rights and freedom which people of India are entitled to as citizens of this nation.
It also elucidates further on the source of the Constitution.
It secures social, economic and political justice as well as liberty of thought, equality of status and opportunity and dignity of individuals for the Indian citizen.
Preamble is the basic structure of the constitution and it states that people are the ultimate authority in a democracy.
Preamble may also be invoked to determine the ambit of Fundamental Rights and DPSP.
The Preamble along with the Fundamental Rights and DPSP has been characterised as the trinity of the Indian Constitution.
The Constitution of India has an elaborate Preamble unlike Constitution of Australia, the US or Canada.
That the preamble is not an integral part of the Indian constitution was declared by the Supreme Court of India in BeruBari case therefore it is not enforceable in a court of law.
However, Supreme Court of India has, in the Kesavananda case, overruled earlier decisions and recognised that the preamble may be used to interpret ambiguous areas of the constitution where differing interpretations present themselves.
In the 1995 case of Union Government Vs LIC of India also, the Supreme Court has once again held that Preamble is the integral part of the Constitution.
It has been clarified by the Supreme Court of India that being a part of Constitution, the Preamble can be subjected to Constitutional Amendments exercised under article 368, however, the basic structure cannot be altered.
MEANING OF IMPORTANT TERMS OF PREAMBLE:
Sovereign: The word ‘sovereign’ implies that India is neither a dependency nor a dominion of any other nation, but an independent state. There is no authority above it, and it is free to conduct its own affairs (both internal and external).
Socialist: Even before the term was added by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, the Constitution had a socialist content in the form of certain Directive Principles of State Policy. The Indian brand of socialism is a ‘democratic socialism’ and not a ‘communistic socialism’. Democratic socialism holds faith in a ‘mixed economy’ where both public and private sectors co-exist. According to Supreme Court ‘Democratic socialism aims to end poverty, ignorance, disease and inequality of opportunity. Indian socialism is a blend of Marxism and Gandhism, leaning heavily towards Gandhian socialism.
Secular: The term ‘secular’ too was added by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1976. The Indian Constitution embodies the positive concept of secularism ie, all religions in our country (irrespective of their strength) have the same status and support from the state.
Democratic: A democratic polity, as stipulated in the Preamble, is based on the doctrine of popular sovereignty, that is, possession of supreme power by the people. The Indian Constitution provides for representative parliamentary democracy under which the executive is responsible to the legislature for all its policies and actions. Universal adult franchise, periodic elections, rule of law, independence of judiciary, and absence of discrimination on certain grounds are the manifestations of the democratic character of the Indian polity. The term ‘democratic’ is used in the Preamble in the broader sense embracing not only political democracy but also social and economic democracy.
Republic: The term ‘republic’ in our Preamble indicates that India has an elected head called the president. He is elected indirectly for a fixed period of five years. A republic also means two more things: one, vesting of political sovereignty in the people and not in a single individual like a king; second, the absence of any privileged class and hence all public offices being opened to every citizen without any discrimination.
Justice: The term ‘justice’ in the Preamble embraces three distinct forms—social, economic and political, 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, colour, race, religion, sex and so on. It means absence of privileges being extended to any particular section of the society, and improvement in the conditions of backward classes (SCs, STs and OBCs) and women.
Economic justice denotes the non-discrimination between people on the basis of economic factors. It involves the elimination of glaring in-equalities in wealth, income and property. A combination of social justice and economic justice denotes what is known as ‘distributive justice’.
Political justice implies that all citizens should have equal political rights, equal access to all political offices and equal voice in the government.
Liberty: The term ‘liberty’ means the absence of restraints on the activities of individuals, and at the same time, providing opportunities for the development of individual personalities. The Preamble secures to all citizens of India liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, through their Fundamental Rights, enforceable in court of law, in case of violation.
Equality: The term ‘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. The Preamble secures to all citizens of India equality of status and opportunity. This provision embraces three dimensions of equality—civic, political and economic.
Fraternity: Fraternity means a sense of brotherhood. The Constitution promotes this feeling of fraternity by the system of single citizenship. Also, the Fundamental Duties (Article 51-A) say that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic, regional or sectional diversities. The Preamble declares that fraternity has to assure two things—the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation. The word ‘integrity’ has been added to the preamble by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment (1976).