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This article is written by Kartikeya Kaul, a first-year student pursuing BA.LLB. from Symbiosis Law School, Noida. This is an exhaustive article dealing with the preamble of the Indian Constitution. 

The Indian Constitution in its Preamble provides as under

As per the Preamble of the Constitution, India is a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular democratic country so as to enable to the citizens of India the following:

  • Social, economic and political justice;
  • Freedom/liberty in idea, voicing opinions, faith, and devotion;
  • Equal status and opportunity to everyone;
  • And to promote among them all fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.

The preamble sets out principles which guide the people of our country, present the doctrines of our Constitution and sets out principles of the Indian Constitution. 

The Indian Constitution was adopted on November 26th, 1949 and subsequently amended by 42nd Constitutional Amendment, 1976. The amendment so made signified India into a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, and Democratic Republic. The preamble of our Constitution secures justice, liberty, equality for citizens of India and endorses brotherhood amongst the people of our nation. 

The Preamble of the Constitution of India reflects the fundamental structure and the essence of the Constitution. The preamble operates as a channelizing device for the interpretation of the provisions of the constitution. 

The preamble of the Constitution acts as the face of the Indian Constitution and lays down the idealistic philosophies. 

The Preamble gives following objects for governance of India-

  1. Justice comprising of social, economic and political justice;
  2. Freedom of thoughts, expression, belief, faith, and worship;
  3. Equality of status and opportunity;
  4. And Brotherhood (Fraternity) assuring dignity to each individual and the unity and integrity of the country.

The Apex Court in the case of Kashi Prasad v. State of U.P observed that even though the preamble cannot be used to defeat the provisions of the legislation itself, but it can be used as a critical source for interpretation of legislation.

Meaning and Concept

The ‘Preamble’  of any legislation gives the introduction of a statute. It is also used to introduce a particular section of a statute or a particular group of sections of a statute. The term Preamble has been defined in various dictionaries. 

A Preamble is a statement made by the legislature giving the reasons for passing a particular statute. It is useful in interpreting any lack of certainty  within the statute to which it is prefixed. 

The Preamble of the Indian Constitution was initially drafted by Sh. B. N. Rau by way of a memorandum dated May 30, 1947. It was subsequently reproduced in the Draft of October 7, 1947. 

Scope of the Preamble

The Preamble gives guidance and states the purpose for which the Constitution of India is framed. It does not give any authority, but it encapsulates the fundamental objectives of the Constitution. The Preamble usually sets out the main aim which a particular legislation is intends to achieve.The whole objective of the preamble is to design and deliver specific facts which need to be explained and recited so as to understand the basic objective and purpose of a statute.  

The Preamble of our Constitution explains all aspects of humanity and tolerance as it is required by human beings to survive with dignity and respect.

The majority bench of the Supreme Court in the case of A.K Gopalan v. State of Madras held that the word ‘law’ as used in Article 21 refers to state made law and not natural justice. It was further observed that this meaning of the language of Article 21 could not be modified with reference to the preamble. The contention before the Court was that the preamble to Indian constitution which seeks to give India a popular constitution should be a lead factor in its interpretation.  It was further contended that any law made under Article 21 of the Constitution should be held as invalid if it offends the principles of natural justice and the basic rights to life and personal liberty would have no shield. 

In the case of the Berubari Union case the Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that the preamble can never be regarded as the source of any independent power conferred on the government or on any of its departments. The Hon’ble court further observed that “what is true about the powers is equally true about the prohibitions and limitations”. The Supreme Court further observed  that the preamble has limited applicability and the help of Preamble should not be taken if the language of the provision in the constitution is clear.

In the case of Kesavananda Bharati, the main issue before the Supreme Court was in relation to the scope of amending power of the Union Parliament under Article 368 of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court, before answering the issue, tracked the history of the Preamble and observed that none of authority mentioned before the Court establish the propositions that what is correct about the forcefulness is true in the same manner about the embargo and restrictions. The Court said that limitations have been derived in some cases from the Preamble also. The preamble of our Constitution has extreme importance and it should be interpreted in the light of the purpose expressed in the preamble.

In the case of Union Government v. LIC of India  the Supreme Court held that the Preamble forms an important part of the India Constitution. It specifies that the folks of India are the creator of the India Constitution. It is an act of the people, for the people and by the people. It declares the rights and freedom to be provided to the citizens of India.

Preamble forms an important element of Constitution of India and helps in interpreting the provisions of Indian Constitution.

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Main Definitions of the Preamble

Sovereign

The Preamble states that India is a Sovereign State which implies the independent authority of India. India is not under the control of or dependent upon any other external power. The Parliament of India can enact laws in the country subject to certain restrictions imposed by the Constitution.

Socialist

The term ‘Socialist’ was introduced in the Preamble in the year 1976 through the 42nd Constitutional Amendment. By definition of the said term, it appears that it aims at the achievement of socialist ends through democratic means. By adopting ‘Democratic Socialism’ India maintains a belief in a heterogeneous economy where both individual and government sectors co-exist side by side. The aim is to achieve the end of destitution, ignorance, sickness, and inequity of opportunity. 

Secular

The term ‘Secular’ was included in the Preamble in the year 1976 through the 42nd Constitutional Amendment. Usage of the term secular in the Constitution of India implies that all religions and religious communities in India get equal respect, protection and support from the state. Freedom of Religion is one of the Fundamental Right guaranteed through Articles 25 to 28 in Part III of the Constitution. 

Democratic

The phrase Democratic implies a form of government that gets its authority from the will of the people through duly conducted election. The preamble of the constitution determines India to be a democratic country wherein the supreme power lies with the people of the country. The term democracy is used in the preamble of the Indian Constitution granting political, economic and social democracy. The features of Indian democracy are the accountable representative government, universal adult franchise, one vote one value, an independent judiciary, etc. 

In the case of Mohan Lal v. District Magistrate of Rai Bareilly, it was held that Democracy is  where the people elect their representatives to form a government and where the basic principle is to treat the minority in the same way the majority are being treated.

Republic

The word “Republic” denotes that the head of the state is nominated by the people either directly or indirectly. The President of India is the head of the state in India is elected indirectly by the people; through their spokesperson in the Legislature and the State Assemblies. In a republic nation, political autonomy is vested in the people rather than an imperator.

Justice

The term Justice used in the Preamble of the Indian Constitution embraces Social justice, economic justice, and political justice. The Justice so mentioned in the Preamble is secured through various Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles mentioned in the Constitution.

Through Social justice mentioned in the Preamble, the Constitution intends to create an equitable society founded on equal social status. Economic justice implies a balanced distribution of wealth among the individual members of society. This is to ensure that wealth is not concentrated in the hands of a few individuals only. Through political justice, the Constitution wishes to ensure that the citizens of India have equal rights in so far as participation in politics is concerned. Indian Constitution offers common adult suffrage and equal value for each vote.

Liberty

The term Liberty as given in the Preamble means the absence of restrictions or dominance on the activities of an individual. Few examples of Liberty include but is not limited to, freedom from slavery, imprisonment, repression, etc. The Preamble provides for the liberty of belief, communication,ideology and reverence.

Equality

Equality determines the absence of advantage against any segment of mankind. The Preamble provides for equitability of status and chance to all the people of the country. The Constitution strives to provide communal, economic and political equality in the country.

The Equality is secured by eliminating all differences and discriminations between a citizen of India on the ground of race, religion, caste sex, etc. The Equality is also ensured by opening ‘public places’ for all, by abolishing untouchability, by ensuring equal opportunity for all in relation to employment or appointment to any office under the state. The equality of law means that the  law should deal equally with all in the similar category. Further, there should be equality of action for everyone under the same conditions.Equality means that likes should be treated alike. 

Fraternity

The term Fraternity used in the Indian Constitution means brotherhood. The Preamble seeks to encourage brotherhood amongst the citizens of India ensuring the dignity of a person and the solidarity and esteem of the nation.

It may be noted that the term “Fraternity” was inserted in the preamble of the Indian Constitution by a drafting committee of the constituent assembly due to variety within  India which are based on ethical group, religion, customs and traditions. The kinship is the strengthening factor of the intrinsic varieties. 

Conclusion

The quintessence philosophy behind the Constitution of India is adequately manifested in its preamble and it forms the basis of our constitution which is an ultimate law of India. It emphasizes the fundamental values and guiding principles and forms the basis of our constitution. 

References


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