The preamble of the Indian Constitution
WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolve to constitute India into a [SOVERIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC] and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic, and political;
LIBERTY of thoughts, expression, belief, faith, and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity;
and 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 OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION
Meaning of Preamble
The word Preamble comes from the Latin term preambulus which means “walking before.” And that’s what a preamble does — it “walks” before a speech, often explaining what’s coming.
According to Black’s Law Dictionary, ‘the preamble means a clause at the beginning of a statute explanatory of the reasons for its enactment and the objectives sought to be accomplished.
Constitutions of different countries have different types of preamble but generally, it sets ideas and goals which the makers of the constitution intended to achieve through the constitution.
The preamble of The Indian Constitution
The Preamble of the Indian constitution is based on, ‘objective resolution’ and was enacted and adopted by the constituent assembly by the same procedure as the rest of the constitution. It was adopted by the assembly on 22 January 1947. The preamble was the last document that was passed by the constituent assembly.
In Golak Nath v. State of Punjab, it was held that “The preamble to an Act sets out the main objectives which the legislation is intended to achieve” the court said “the preamble contains, in a nutshell, its ideas and its aspirations”
A.T. Philips and K.H. Shivaji Rao quoted that “The Preamble is an ornamental part of the Constitution and is couched in lofty and stirring language. These words like justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity evoke in our mind, the memories of the great struggles the nation had to go through in order to secure them. These words tell us why we in India fought the protracted freedom struggle in which thousands of our people died. With noble ideals like justice, fraternity, equality, and liberty enshrined in the Preamble, we can build the India of our dreams. The Preamble is an embodiment of the principles in the objective resolution adopted by the Constituent Assembly in 1947”.
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The Preamble of India is divided into three parts-
- WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA is the declaratory part.
- SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, SECULAR, DEMOCRATIC, REPUBLIC is known to be the obligatory part.
- JUSTICE, LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY is the descriptive part.
WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA is known as a declaratory part. It shows that the constitution gets its powers from the people of India.
The second part, i.e. sovereign, socialist, secular, and a democratic republic can be understood as an obligatory part. It was amended on 18 December 1976 during the time of emergency, which is known as the 42nd amendment or the mini-constitution. The words socialist and secular were added in between sovereign and democratic by this amendment.
Meaning of the keywords used in Preamble
- Sovereign: India is sovereign because it can make laws or decisions for its welfare without any interference. Even though India is a part of the commonwealth of nations it is independent to take its own decisions.
- Socialist: The word socialist was added to the preamble by the 42nd amendment 1976 to eliminate social and economic inequalities. In the case of D.S. Nakara vs Union of India the court stated that “the basic framework of socialism is to provide a decent standard of life to the working people and especially provide security from cradle to grave”.
- Secular: This was also added to the preamble by the Constitution (42ndAmendment) Act, 1976. It means that the state shall not discriminate against the people on the basis of their religion and protect, respect every religion. In the case of S.R Bommai vs. Union of India, it was held that the preamble is the basic structure of the constitution. Article 15(2), 16(2), and 25 to 29 of the constitution defines the concept of secularism.
- Democratic: Democracy is derived from the Greek words ‘demos’ which means ‘people’ and ‘Kratos which means ‘authority. In the case of Mohan Lal vs. District Magistrate, it was observed that “Democracy is a concept, a political philosophy, an ideal practiced by many nations culturally advanced and politically mature by resorting to governance by representatives of the people elected directly or indirectly”
In India, we have a democratic form of government in which the head of the state is elected according to the procedure at regular intervals of time by application of the Universal adult franchise.
- Republic: The term republic means a state in which the power is vested in the people and their elected head. In India, we have a ‘republican form of government’. The head of the country i.e. the President is elected by the people(Indirectly) for a fixed tenure.
And the third part i.e. Justice, Liberty, Equality, Fraternity is known as the descriptive part. The constitution provides political, social, and economic justice. It also ensures Liberty of thoughts, expression faith belief, and worship and the term ‘Fraternity’ means a feeling of brotherhood and an emotional attachment with the country and all the people.
Is preamble a part of the Constitution?
Till 1960 it was not recognized that either the preamble is a part of the constitution or not. But in 1960 in the case of Berubari Union, it was held that the preamble is not an integral part of the constitution and cannot be enforced in a court of law. But later on in 1973 in Kesavananda Bharti Case overruling the Berubari union case, it was held that the preamble is an integral part of the constitution of India and can be used to interpret the ambiguous parts of the constitution and it was also held that it is the basic structure.
The case of Union Government vs LIC of India once again recognizes it as a part of the constitution. Also in another case of State of U.P vs Dinanath Shukla, it is stated that the preamble is the basic structure of the Constitution.
The preamble is an integral part of the Indian constitution as held in the case of Kesavananda Bharati. It plays a very important role in the interpretation of the constitution. It is the basic structure of the constitution and it was amended only once. It is an embodiment of the principles. The preamble provides India be a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, and Democratic Republic State.
Written by Mr. Mohit Bhardwaj, a 5th-semester, BBA LLB student at United world School of Law, Karnavati University.
 Golak Nath v. State of Punjab AIR 1967 SC 1643
 AIR 1967 SC 1643
 CHAPTER-V Preamble of the Indian Constitution – A Declaration of the State of India to Secure Justice and Security to the People http://184.108.40.206/bitstream/123456789/1797/12/12%20CHAPTER%20%E2%80%93%20V.pdf
 The Constitution (Forty-second Amendment) Act, 1976
 Kesvanandan Bharati v. State of Kerala 1973 SC 1461
 D.S Nakara v. Union of India AIR 1983 SC 130
 AIR 1994 SC 1918
 AIR 1993 SC 2042
 R.C. Poudyal v. Union of India, AIR 1993 SC 1804
 Re. Berubari Union and Exchange of Enclaves, AIR 1960 SC 845
 Kesvanandan Bharati v. State of Kerala 1973 SC 1461
 AIR 1995 SC 1811
 AIR 1997 SC 1095