Preamble of Indian Constitution

Preamble of Indian Constitution

This article deals with ‘Preamble of Indian Constitution.’ This is part of our series on ‘Polity’ which is important pillar of GS-2 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here


First Preamble Constitution  of USA  was the first to have Preamble  
Based on Objective Resolution, 1947 drafted & moved by Nehru and adopted by Constituent Assembly  
Words added later SECULAR SOCIALIST INTEGRITY – Three words by 42nd Constitutional Amendment  
Reveals Four things  
1. Source of authority : Derives power from people of India
2. Nature of state : Sovereign, Socialist , Secular, Democratic, Republic
3. Objective :To achieve Justice,Liberty,Equality & Fraternity
4. Date of Adoption : Nov 26,1949

Important Note : Order  is important for Prelims

Sovereign -> Socialist -> Secular -> Democratic -> Republic (S3DR)

Keywords & Meaning 

1 . Sovereign

  • India is neither dependency nor dominion of any nation
  • 1949 controversy : India declared continuance of full membership of commonwealth and accepted British crown as head of commonwealth but this did not affect sovereignty in any respect

2. Socialist

  • Added by 42nd Amendment : Explicitly mentioned via Amendment although implicitly already present in form of Directive Principles
  • Indian Socialism is Democratic Socialism which hold faith in mixed economy and has blend of both Marxism & Gandhism  leaning heavily towards Gandhism

3. Secular

  • Added by 42nd Amendment : Amendment stated it explicitly,  although implicitly it was already present
  • Constitution makers assured this through Articles 25 to 28
  • Indian constitution envisaged positive concept of secularism ie equal protection of all religions by state (western countries have adopted negative concept of secularism and constructs wall between State & Religion )
  • Concept of secularism of state ie State  will have no religion  was propounded in Minerva Mills Case 1980

4. Democratic

  • Based on doctrine of popular sovereignty
  • In India, Democratic system is indirect & Parliamentary

5. Republic

  • Democratic polity can be of two types 
    • Monarchy
    • Republic
  • India is Republic i.e head of state is elected and not hereditary
  • All public offices in India are opened to all citizens

6. Justice

  • Justice – social, economic & political
  • Secured through various Directive Principles & F.R.
Social Justice Equal treatment of all
Economic Justice Non discrimination of people on economic basis
Political Justice Equal political rights to all people
  • Taken from Russian Revolution

7. Liberty

  • Absence of restraints on activities of individuals and providing opportunities for development
  • Secured through Fundamental Rights which are enforceable in court of law
  • Qualified and not absolute
  • Taken from French Revolution

8. Equality

  • Absence of special privileges to any section of  society
  • There will be equality both of status as well as of opportunity.

9. Fraternity

  • Fraternity means sense of brotherhood
  • Promotes sense of brotherhood by single citizenship
  • Fundamental  Duties Article 51A also calls for fraternity

Preamble as part of Constitution

Question was raised that whether Preamble is part of constitution or not ? Various judgements of Supreme Court has given answer to these questions.

1 . Berubari union Case,1960

  • Preamble is not part of constitution but shows key to minds of constitution makers
  • When terms in constitution are ambiguous , preamble can be used in interpretation

2. Keshavananda Bharti case,1973

  • Rejected earlier decision and held that Preamble is part of constitution
  • But
    • Neither source of power to legislature nor prohibits it
    • Non justiciable & not enforceable by court

Amendability of Preamble

Another question which came up was that – Whether Preamble can be amended or not ? Supreme Court has given judgement on this issue

Keshavananda Bharti case,1973

  • Preamble is part of constitution & since it is part of constitution it can be amended under Article 368
  • But subject to condition that basic features are not amended in doing so/basic structure is not damaged.

Present Controversy on Socialism & Secularism Debate

BJP leaders frequently raise this issue that word Socialism and Secularism which was added in Preamble should be removed . But this is a controversial issue which needs serious debate .

My take on this issue

  1. Doctrine of Basic structure says that Socialist + Secular + Preamble constitute Basic Structure of Constitution.  44th Amendment reverted almost all key aspects of 42nd Amendment but Preamble remained unchanged .
  2. During Constituent Assembly Debates, Issue of including Secularism and Socialism in Constitution was sufficiently discussed. They were not included because
    • Secularism : There was only one model of secularism known at that time which makes wall between State and Religion. But when in 1970s , we were sure that Indian variant of Secularism is different, we included it in Preamble
    • Socialism : Same reason
  3. Elimination of economic inequality still remains our national goal & MNREGA & food security bill and Jan Dhan Yojana point towards that . Hence, Socialism remains important even today and shouldn’t be removed

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