Preamble of the Indian Constitution
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This article is written by Gaurav Raj Grover, a law student at Lloyd Law College, Greater Noida and Diksha Paliwal. The article talks about the introductory part of the Constitution of India, i.e., the Preamble. Before this, it gives a brief introduction to the meaning of the term Constitution followed by a detailed discussion of the term ‘preamble’. It further talks about the historical background of the Preamble as well as the Constitution. In the later part, it discusses the critical elements of the Preamble along with some important judicial pronouncements that helped in a better interpretation of the purpose and use of the Preamble. 

It has been published by Rachit Garg.

Table of Contents


26th February 1948 and 26th January 1950 embarks the two remarkable events in the legal chronicles of India. These dates mark the public release of the Constitution and its enforcement, respectively. This resulted in the birth of a new republic in the world. Before delving further into the article, the question that arises is, what does the term ‘Constitution’ mean? In common parlance, it connotes a document having special legal sanctity. It sets out the legal framework and the predominant functions of all the governing bodies of a State. It further lays down the principles that will govern the operation of these organs.

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The fundamental law of the land, i.e., the Constitution deals with the institution of the State and its organs. By setting up a legal framework, the Constitution regulates the relationship between the State and its population. Also, it constrains and restricts the powers bestowed upon the State and its instrumentalities. 

The introductory part of the Constitution, which reflects the core constitutional values embodied in the Constitution, is termed the ‘Preamble’. It is drafted to explain certain crucial facts and substance before diving into the provisions of the Act or statute. It sets out the aims and objectives of the statute, which it intends to achieve. 

The article in its initial part gives a brief introduction regarding the Indian Constitution, its historical background and its salient features. It then explains the meaning of the term ‘Preamble’ from a general perspective and then discusses the Preamble of the Constitution of India, its history, its objectives, key components and the important amendments done in the Preamble. Further, it deals with important judicial developments pertaining to the Preamble of the Constitution. 

Before discussing in detail the preamble to the Indian Constitution, let’s have a brief overview of the Constitution. 

Constitution of India, 1950

The Indian Constitution is a statute containing provisions which establish the powers of the State and its instrumentalities, citizen’s rights, and the relationship between the state and its population. The enforcement date of this remarkable legal document is 26th January 1950. The Constitution of India is undoubtedly a product of research and deliberations of the body of eminent representatives of the people. It is certainly not a product of a political revolution. It is the result of the hard work of these distinguished representatives who wanted to improve the administration of the country and in general, improve the existing system of the country. In order to have a better understanding of any Constitution, having a look at the historical process and events which led to its enactment plays a very significant role. The historical background helps in having a better insight and understanding of its provisions and the purpose behind it. Let’s have a brief overview of the critical events that led to the enactment of the lengthiest written Constitution in the world. 

Historical Background of the Indian Constitution 

Under the British regime, India was divided into two parts, namely, the British provinces and the princely states. In the British ruling period, the Union of India was a combination of more than 550 princely states in addition to approximately 52 per cent of the Indian territory, which was under the direct rule of the Britishers, namely the British provinces. In order to understand the historical background of the Constitution, getting a hold of the events of the colonial period is sufficient, since the main political institutions originated and developed in that period only. Our Constitution has significantly adopted many provisions from the Acts and Rules enacted by the British and the Constitution’s Preamble is the result of the principles written by the Constituent Assembly. 

The enactment of the Constitution has been a result of various events which are broadly divided under various phases. These events can be classified under the following period as discussed in the below-mentioned subheadings.

1600-1765: The coming of the British

Initially, the British came to India for trading in the year 1600. The Britishers started trading under the company named British East India Company. The company derived its constitution,  authorisation to work, privileges, and other powers from a Charter signed by Queen Elizabeth in December 1600. By way of this Charter, the company had a monopoly over trading in India. Initially, the period was 15 years which was later extended. The management of the company was in the hands of a governor and 24 other members who had the authorization to carry out and organise the trade expeditions in India. Such authorization and power were vested through the Charter. Eventually, when the Britishers made so much money with trading, they started establishing their trading centres with the consent of Indian rulers in several places of India. The Britishers even managed to get permission from the Indian rulers to retain their own laws. These concessions gradually paved the way for the Britishers and the Crown to exercise undivided sovereignty throughout British India. 

In the year 1601, a new Charter was enacted by the Crown which granted the East India Company legislative power, thereby empowering them to make rules, laws and ordinances for the good governance of the company. This legislative power granted to the company was not a power to legislate or rule a foreign territory but was just restricted to the trading concerns of the company. However, these charters that bestowed the company with various powers were of great significance as these were the gems out of which ultimately the Anglo-Indian Codes were developed. Later on in the year 1609 and 1661 similar powers were granted by the Crown, thereby affirming the earlier charters. 

In the year 1726, a new charter was enacted which had great legislative significance. Previously, the legislative powers were vested in the Court of Directors in England. However, these people were not well-acquainted with the prevailing conditions of India. Hence, a decision was taken by the Crown that the law-making power be vested with the ones who are acquainted with the Indian conditions. Accordingly, the Charter gave power to the Governor and a Council that constituted three other members, for formulating bye-laws, rules and ordinances along with penalty provisions in case of contravention of laws. The Charter further established the Mayor’s Court in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, thereby introducing English laws into the Presidencies. 

In the second half of the 18th century, the death of Emperor Aurangzeb led to instability in India due to which India became a battleground of rival contesting principalities.  Britishers took advantage of this chaotic situation and established themselves as the master of the  Indian subcontinent. This gradual shift of power to the Britishers was due to the Battle of Plassey (1857), which was fought between the East India Company and Sirajudullallah (the then Nawab of Bengal). Britishers won this battle and thus the foundation of the British Empire was laid in India.

1765-1858: Beginning of the British Rule

Around 1765, Emperor Shah Alam granted the responsibility of collecting revenue to the East India Company. This eventually led to the handover of the administration of the civil justice system up to a certain extent. This year is often regarded as the year of starting the era of territorial sovereignty by the East India Company over India. However, the company did not start to take over this task of revenue collection immediately, the reason being the unfamiliarity with the revenue collection system. The Britishers decided that for the time being let the Indians perform the task, but they appointed English officers to supervise the working of the system of revenue collection. This system proved very harmful for the Indians as the Britishers started exploiting the Indians. 

In the year 1772, a committee was formulated by the Crown to look into the working of the Company, and the results were published after the inquiry. The Crown came to know about the insufficiencies of the company, and hence a new Regulation Act was enacted by the Parliament. This Regulating Act of 1773 holds great importance in the history of the Constitution. It was for the very first time that a right was conferred on the Parliament to regulate the matters of the company. This Act mainly enacted the following things- recognition of the government of Calcutta, change in the Company’s Constitution, Presidencies of Madras and Bombay were brought under the Control of Bengal’s Governor General, and an establishment of the Supreme Court in Calcutta. 

Later on, to remove the ambiguity and irregularities of the Regulating Act of 1773 a new Act, i.e., the Regulating Act of 1781 was passed. This Act came up with certain new provisions like- the exemption of government employees from certain punishment for the actions done while they were on duty, questions pertaining to the jurisdiction, a clarification regarding what laws were to be applied by the Supreme Court provided, and Governors under various capacities were empowered to make laws. 

In the year 1784, Pitts India Act was enacted which separated the political affairs from the commercial affairs of the Company. The Court of Directors were authorised to manage the commercial affairs of the company whereas a committee consisting of six members was constituted for managing the political affairs of the Britishers. Later on, the Charter Act of 1813 snatched the monopoly of trading from the British East India Company. The Charter also asserted better control over the power bestowed on the various Councils. 

The Charter Act of 1833 in a way centralised the power of the Britishers. It appointed a Governor General Of India, who was previously titled the Governor General of Bengal. A council under his leadership was also formulated which was empowered to make laws and regulations for both Britishers as well as the Indians living in British India. The Act also appointed a law member who had no say in the executive matters and was purely directed to deal with the law matters. The previous laws were called Regulations, however, the Acts from 1833 were the Acts of Parliament. 

Thereafter, in 1853 a new Charter was enacted which in a way though not expressly introduced the concept of separation of powers. This Charter of 1853 separated the executive machinery from the legislative machinery. Also, the concept of local representatives was introduced in the Indian Legislature for the first time. These Acts certainly paved the way for the transfer of Indian sovereignty to the Crown almost completely. 

1858-1919: End of British East India Company’s Rule

The establishment of a double government via the Pitts India Act 1784 failed miserably. The Company was also not having proper control over the affairs of the country and was also losing trade profits in many regions. Simultaneously, the people of India were furious because of the atrocities caused by the Britishers. The first war against the Britishers, i.e., the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 came as a shock before the Britishers. All these adverse circumstances against the company’s ruling led to the enactment of a new Act by the Parliament, which came to be known as the Government of India Act 1858. This Act transferred the ruling of India to the Crown from that of the British East India Company. India was now governed and ruled by Her Majesty. The Crown on its behalf empowered the Secretary of India who was assisted by a Council, comprising 15 members to manage the affairs of India. The Act also constituted the Secretary of the State and the Council as a corporate body which was capable of suing and being sued in India and England. This Act officially established the “direct rule by the Crown”.

In the later period, the Indian Council Act of 1861 was enacted, which formed the basis of or the beginning of representative institutions. Indians for the very first time were associated with the matters of government, especially with the work of legislation. This Act holds great importance in Constitutional history. Firstly because it associated Indians with law-making and secondly because it granted power of legislation to the government of Bombay and Madras. In a way, it granted internal autonomy to the Provinces. 

In the year 1892, a new Indian Council Act was passed. This Act introduced three important things, namely, the introduction of election systems, the number of members in the Central and Provincial Councils was increased and the Council’s functions and tasks were enlarged. This Act laid the foundation of the representative government. However, it still had some differences pertaining to various provisions like an election system, lack of representation for certain people, etc. and hence the Indian Council Act of 1909 was enacted which was also associated with the Morley- Minto Reforms

The 1909 Act introduced an increase in the size of Legislative Councils for both Central as well as Provincial. The Council was also conferred with the right of holding discussion and moving a resolution on the financial statement, however, they were not conferred with the power of voting.

1919-1947: Introduction to Self Government 

Criminal litigation

This phase holds a remarkable place in Constitutional history as the most important Act, i.e., the Government of India Act, 1919 which was a result of the Montagu Chelmsford Report was passed. The Act established the concept of responsible government along with introducing the idea of federal structure. For the first time, a Public Service Commission was established. It also introduced the concept of dyarchy in the Provinces. 

The Act of 1919 had various shortcomings. Along with that, the Britishers faced an increasing demand for formulating better reforms and this resulted in the appointment of the Simon Commission. A report was submitted by the commission, after which the report was discussed at a Round-Table Conference. This Conference has members of the British government as well as the State rulers. After the recommendations of the report and the discussions made at the conference the Government of India Act, 1935 (hereinafter referred to as Act of 1935). 

The Government of India Act, 1935 introduced the dyarchy system at the Central level which was initially established at the Provincial level. The Act further officially marked the beginning of the autonomy of the Provinces. It also established the concept of the federal legislature which was to consist of two houses, namely, the Council of States and the Legislative Assembly. A more stable and regulated government with a better separate legislative system was formulated. Also, the provision for the distribution of legislative power between the centre and the provinces was introduced. Not only this, the Act also established a Federal Court. This court was supposed to have one Chief Justice along with a maximum strength of 6 other judges.

The Indians were still not happy with the Britishers and wanted Swaraj. Hence, the British then sent Sir Stafford Cripps to negotiate with the Indian leaders and to secure their cooperation in the World War. Certain proposals like the making of a constitution body, responsibility for control and defence, etc. were made by the Britishers, however, the Indians rejected them. The Indians wanted the Congress in the Cabinet Government. 

Later on, in 1946 the Cabinet Mission came to India with certain recommendations by the British which were accepted. The proposal included the lapse of the paramountcy of the Crown, the setting up of a Constituent Assembly for making the Constitution, the set up of an interim government and the existence of a Union of India constituting both British India as well as the states. 

In 1947, the Indian Independence Act was passed. This Act provided the establishment of two independent Dominions, namely, India and Pakistan from the fifteenth of August, 1947. A Governor-General for each Dominion was to be appointed by the King. The Act empowered the Constituent Assemblies of both Dominions to frame laws for their territories. This Act ended the paramountcy of British rule in India. It further stated that until the Dominions frame their respective Constitutions, they were to be ruled by the provisions of the Act of 1935.. Thus, the British rule in India came to an end.

1947-1950: The framing of the new Constitution 

With the ceasing of the rule of the Britishers, a new challenge was standing in front of the Indian leaders. They wanted India to stand as an independent nation, along with establishing a democracy based on the principles of equality, justice, liberty and fraternity. 

The Constituent Assembly after several debates and meetings, released its first draft of the Indian Constitution in January 1948. The citizens were given eight months to suggest amendments to the draft of the Constitution that was published in 1948. After a sitting of 2 years, 11 months and 18 days, India received its Constitution. Initially, the Constitution was a compilation of 395 articles spread in twenty-two parts and eight schedules. 

Salient features of the Indian Constitution 

Every Constitution is unique in its way. The Indian Constitution was developed in the mid-twentieth century which in a way benefited the making of the Constitution. By this time, various countries across the world had developed their constitutions. This helped the makers to draw a vast amount of knowledge pertaining to various laws, rules, government systems, etc. Analysing these constitutions and understanding what provisions could be taken from various constitutions helped in making our Constitution much better. The influence of different laws from different parts of the world is quite pervasive. Our Constitution in its unique way turned out to be an excellent document having distinctive features. Though we might have taken certain provisions from the Constitutions of other countries, our Constitution has created a separate path, new patterns, and approaches of its own. Let’s have a look at the salient features of the Constitution of India.

Lengthiest written Constitution 

Our Constitution is the lengthiest written constitution in the world having detailed provisions pertaining to almost all the important aspects that a democratic country must consider. The original draft of the Constitution consisted of 395 Articles and eight Schedules. 

Elaborate preamble 

The preface of the Constitution, i.e., the Preamble, is a very detailed and elaborate document. It does not grant any power, rather it gives a purpose and direction to the Constitution. 

Socialist, welfare and a secular state 

The word ‘socialist’ was initially not present in the preamble of the Constitution of India. It was inserted by the 42nd Amendment in 1976. Also, our Constitution establishes India as a welfare state. The Constitution also states that our Country is a secular state, i.e., despite being a country of religion, the Indian Constitution stands for a secular state of India. 

Parliamentary form of government 

The Constitution establishes a parliamentary form of Government, both at central and state level. In this system, the executive organ of the government is responsible to the elected legislature. 

Fundamental rights and duties 

The Constitution guarantees the people certain rights and these rights are enforceable by law. These fundamental rights are enshrined under Part IV of the Constitution. Apart from this it also confers certain duties and obligations on the people which are enshrined in Part VI-A of the Constitution. 

Federal structure

The Constitution of India is federal in nature. The Indian Constitution establishes a dual polity, i.e., the government at the central and state level. 

Independent judiciary

The Constitution of India establishes an independent judiciary, which is free from the other organs of the government. 

A unique blend of rigidity and flexibility

The amendment procedure of the Constitution is neither very flexible nor is it rigid constitution, leaving zero scope for amendment. The Constitution is a living document having a unique blend of rigidity and flexibility. 

Objectives of the Indian Constitution given in the Preamble 

The Constitution of India reflects a symbol of unity in diversity, uniquely crafted by the makers of the Constitution to adequately protect the interests of every person and community. The striking features of the Constitution, exemplify the herculean task done by the makers to achieve the objectives the Constitution sought to achieve. 

As said by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, “Constitution is not a mere lawyers’ document, it is a vehicle of Life, and its spirit is always the spirit of Age.” The makers of the Constitution desired an ideal model of governance that would serve the country with the needs of its people being the priority. This Constitution, with the farsightedness and visionary leadership of some of the eminent personalities of that time, was framed with the objective of promoting harmony in the country, along with maintaining equality, liberty, justice, and fraternity in the country. This document of significant importance has served the country and worked as a beacon for the nation for the past 75 years.  

With a long vision for the future in mind, the objectives that the Constitution sought to achieve are mentioned as under:


The starting words of the Preamble of the Constitution, i.e., “we the people of India”, make a clear announcement that the ultimate sovereignty rests with the people of India and the government and its organs derive its power from the people of India. The word also connotes complete political freedom. A Country free from all external forces and a will of its own. 


Our Constitution has several provisions that clarify our country’s policy of promoting a welfare state, which is free from exploitation in all spheres in existence. The state is duty-bound to work in order to promote social order, where social, economic and political justice supersedes all the institutions of national life. The main motive of socialism is providing “a basic minimum to all”.


The term means that the state will have no religion and all the religions will have equal protection. The ideal concept of secularism in our country upholds that the state is not guided by any religion or religious consideration. 


The term ‘Justice’ comprises three elements that complete the definition, which is social, economic, and political. Justice among the citizens is necessary to maintain order in society. Justice is promised through various provisions of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy provided by the Constitution of India.


The term ‘Equality’ means no section of society has any special privileges and all the people have been given equal opportunities for everything without any discrimination. It means removing all types of discrimination from society to build a healthy environment for people to live in. Everyone is equal before the law. 


The term ‘Liberty’ means freedom for the people to choose their way of life, and have political views and behaviour in society. It means no unreasonable restrictions can be imposed on the citizens in terms of their thoughts, feelings, and views. But liberty does not mean freedom to do anything, a person can do anything but within the limit set by the law. Anything that creates public disorder can not come under liberty. It is important to understand that liberty in no way means ‘absolute liberty’. These limits or reasonable restrictions are set by the Constitution to avoid injuries in the name of liberty.


The term ‘Fraternity’ means a feeling of brotherhood and an emotional attachment to the country and all the people. It refers to a feeling which helps to believe everyone is the child of the same soil and is connected with each other. Brotherhood is above social norms or regulations, it is the relationship above caste, age, or gender. Fraternity helps to promote dignity and unity in the nation. The preamble of the Indian Constitution does not grant any power or superiority to anyone while it gives direction and purpose to the Constitution. It only gives the fundamentals of the Constitution. 

Unity and integrity of the nation 

The Preamble and the Constitution by emphasising on the word fraternity, make it clear that the country seeks to foster unity amongst its people. In order to retain the independence of our country, which was the gift of our freedom fighters, keeping the unity and integrity of the nation intact is of significant importance. 

What is the Preamble?

In general, Constitutions all over the world consist of a Preamble in order to facilitate a better understanding of the ideals and goals of the legal document. Although, the length, pattern, content and form of the Preamble of different Constitutions may vary from each other, sometimes significantly while other times a very minor difference. Put simply, a preamble is nothing but an introductory part of an act, statute, bill, or any other document. It gives a brief idea of what the document exactly purports. 

The preamble of the Constitution of India is an introduction of the Constitution which includes the sets of rules and regulations to guide the people of the country. The inspiration and the motto of the citizens are explained in it. The preamble can be considered as the beginning of the Constitution which highlights the base of the Constitution. 

Meaning and definition

A preamble to a statute is the preliminary statement of reasons, which ultimately makes the enactment or passing of that statute desirable. The preamble being the introductory part of the statute or any other document is usually placed before the starting of the main substance of the document. A Preamble can also be regarded as a declaration that the legislature makes containing the reasons for the enactment of the statute. It is that introductory part which helps in the interpretation of the provisions of the statute and any ambiguity that exists in those provisions. It may be used as a concise explanation of the statute.

The term ‘Preamble’ as defined in the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary connotes an opening statement that elucidates the purpose of any book, document, philosophy, bill, statute, etc. Whereas, the term is defined as a preface or an introduction, mainly to an Act of Parliament which gives reasons and purposes for its enactment, in the Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary. 

Talking about the legal definition, the famous Black’s Law Dictionary defines it as a clause that exists at the beginning of a Constitution or statute, consisting of an explanation regarding its enactment and the objectives for which it is passed. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as an introductory statement made for the purpose of clarifying the intent of the law and for mentioning the reasons for the enactment. Whereas, Britannica Dictionary defines it as a statement that is made at the introduction of a legal document, which generally gives the reasons and explanation for the parts that follow. 

Functions of a Preamble

The preamble is said to set the stage for a document, statute, bill or Act. It is an introductory or expression statement that underlines the values, aims, objectives and principles of the Constitution. It is the preface reflecting the goals and objectives of the makers of the particular bill, statute, etc. Its major function is to recite and explain peculiar facts of the enactment which are crucial to explain and recite before understanding and diving into the enactment.  Further, it can also be used as a document that will restrict the scope of certain expressions contained in the document or for providing an explanation and introduction to the definitions that are present in the enactment. 

The preamble is construed as an important means that reflects the intentions of the statute and is a key to understanding the statute. Generally, it states or professes to state the object and purpose of the legislature behind the enactment. Put simply, a preamble is meant to function as a legitimate aid in consulting for the purpose of clarifying any ambiguity that exists in any clause, section or schedule. Thus, a preamble reflects the source of the document, contains the enacting clause of the document, and declares the rights and freedoms that the document will provide. 

Apart from this, a preamble majorly has an interpretational value. It helps in interpreting the provisions of the document, and it also acts as the source of interpretation of statutes which are the product of the document to that preamble.

Preamble of the Indian Constitution 

The preamble to the Constitution aims to introduce the purpose behind the provisions of the Constitution. The inspiration and the essence based on which the Indian Constitution has been drafted is embodied in the Preamble. It is the part highlighting the goals and principles of the Constitution. The Preamble of the Constitution of India embodies the ideology and the authority of the Constitution.

The preamble paves the way for a better interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution. Thus, it is a legitimate aid in interpreting the provisions of the Constitution. In the Constituent Assembly debates, Sir Alladi Krishnaswami opined that Preamble is something that expresses “what we thought for or dreamt for so long”. It has been assigned “the place of pride”, by the makers of the Indian Constitution. It breaks open the mind of the makers and helps them in realising the general purpose behind the enactment of various provisions of the Constitution. In the case of Kesavananda Bharti v. State of Kerala (1973), Justices Shelat and Grover opined that the Preamble of the Constitution of India embodies in an earnestly religious form all the ideals and aims for which India has dreamt for so long and struggled, during the entire colonial period.

Historical background of the preamble 

One of the first assignments that the Constituent Assembly was required to do was the crafting and drawing up of the aims, objectives and guiding principles that will form the basis of the Constitution.  The principles and objectives that were to be formulated were supposed to reflect the democratic spirit that the Constitution of India stood for. 

An expert committee was appointed by the National Congress in 1946. The committee in its meeting dated 22nd of July drafted a ‘declaration’ that contained the objectives of the Constitution. Based on the contents of this draft, Nehru moved a draft resolution, which came to be known as ‘Objectives Resolution’. It was presented before the Constituent Assembly on the 13th of December, 1946. Apart from this Nehru delivered a long speech mainly talking about the broad features, objectives and aspirations of the Constitution. After being debated at length this resolution was adopted by the Assembly on 22nd of January, 1947. 

The main contents of this objective resolution are briefly stated as under:

  • The firm resolution of the Constituent Assembly to declare India as an independent sovereign republic which shall be governed in future by the Constitution. 
  • That, the territories of India that were under the British and the other provinces that were under the indirect rule of the British, shall together constitute and form a ‘Union of India’.
  • The said territories that will form part of the Union of India, shall be autonomous units, which will possess powers and shall function as a government. 
  • That, the powers and authority of the state units shall be derived from the people of the Independent sovereign.
  • All people of India shall be secured and guaranteed justice, social, economic and political; equality of status, of opportunity, and before the law; freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, association and action, subject to law and public morality.
  • The minorities, depressed and backward classes of people and people from tribal areas shall be provided adequate safeguards. 
  • That, the republic shall have sovereign rights on land, sea, and air according to justice and the law of civilised nations, and the integrity of territories shall be maintained.  
  • That, the country has a rightful and honoured place in the world and is willing to contribute to the promotion of peace, harmony and welfare of mankind.

The founding fathers described the objective resolution as “something that breathes life in humankind”. It was also regarded as a kind of spiritual preamble that will permeate each and every section, clause and schedule of the Constitution. 

Thereafter, B.N Rao settled a draft of the Preamble which can be read as; “We, the people of India, seeking to promote the common good, do hereby, through our chosen representatives enact, adopt and give to ourselves this constitution”.

The draft settled by B.N Rao was reproduced before the Constituent Assembly, on the 4th of July, 1947. The Union Constituent Assembly decided that the Preamble of the Constitution of India will be based on the Objective Resolution. Later on, Nehru suggested that the drafting of the Preamble should be postponed until the Partition. 

The Drafting Committee of the Assembly decided that the Preamble should be restricted to contain the essential features of the new India and its basic socio-political objectives, along with the other matters that were dealt with in the Objective Resolution. After a number of sitting and lengthy debates, a redrafted Preamble was put forth by the Constitution. After a few changes like replacing the word ‘Sovereign Indian Republic’ with the expression ‘Sovereign Democratic Republic’, the word ‘unity of the nation’ was replaced by ‘unity and integrity of the nation’, adding the word ‘fraternity’ which was not presently originally in the Objective Resolution, and eliminating the clause pertaining to safeguarding provisions for minorities and other backward classes. 

After a number of amendments were moved and rejected, the preamble was formulated containing the language and the spirit of the objective resolution up to a great extent. The draft of the Preamble was finalised after the finalisation of the Constitution so that it can be in consonance with the Constitution. 

Some words from eminent personalities to define the Preamble

The above discussion clearly states the significant role that the Preamble of the Indian Constitution plays in not just interpreting the Constitution of India but in understanding the intent and purpose of the enactment, dealing with the ambiguity of certain expressions, etc. Below are some phrases and statements used for defining the preamble by some eminent personalities. 

Sir Dyer CJ states that the preamble is the “Key to open the minds of the makers of the Constitution”, Shri K.M. Munshi states it as the “horoscope of over  Sovereign Democratic Republic”, and Sir Earnest Parker terms it as the “keynote to the Constitution”. Sir Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava connotes it as “a most precious part of the Constitution. It is the soul of the Constitution. It is key to the Constitution”. Nehru while emphasising the goals and objectives of the Preamble said that it is a “firm resolution and a solid promise”.

Who wrote the Preamble of India and the date of its adoption

The Preamble of the Indian Constitution is predominantly based on the ‘Objective Resolution’ written by Jawaharlal Nehru. As discussed in the above paragraphs, Mr Nehru the objective resolution, based on which the current preamble exists, was introduced on December 13, 1946, and 22 January 1947, marks the date of acceptance of the resolution by the Constituent Assembly. 

The Preamble to the Constitution, also called the spirit, backbone and soul of the Constitution reflects anything and everything that the Constitution aims to achieve. It was adopted on 26th November 1949 and its enforcement date is 26th January 1950 also known as Republic Day. 

Components of Preamble of the Indian Constitution

The components of the preamble are:

We the people of India 

The opening words of the preamble show that the people of India are the source of authority and that the Constitution of India is the result of the will of the people of India. It means power lies with the citizens to elect their representatives and they also have the right to criticise their representatives. 

In the case of Union of India v. Madan Gopal Kabra (1954), the Apex Court opined that the people of India are the source of the Indian Constitution as written in the Preamble.

Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Republic, Democratic

The Preamble by the will of the people declares India as a  ‘sovereign’, ‘socialist’, ‘secular’, ‘democratic’, and  ‘republic’. These four terms reflect the nature of the Indian State. 

Let’s have a brief overview of these terms.


The preamble of the Constitution states that India is a Sovereign State. The term ‘Sovereign’ means the independent authority of the state. It means the state has control over every subject and no other authority or external power has control over it. So, the legislature of our country has the powers to make laws in the country with restrictions keeping in mind imposed by the Constitution. 

Sovereignty, in general, has two types: external and internal. External sovereignty means the sovereignty in International Law which means the independence of the state against other states while internal sovereignty talks about the relationship between the state and the people living in it. 

In the case of Synthetic & Chemicals Ltd. v. the State of Uttar Pradesh (1989), the Supreme Court decided that the word ‘sovereign’ means that the state has the authority to control everything within the restrictions given by the Constitution. Sovereign means supreme or independence. This case helped in differentiating between external and internal sovereign. This case proposed that ‘No country can have its own constitution unless it is not sovereign’. 


The term ‘Socialist’ was added after the 42nd Amendment, 1976, during the emergency. The term socialist denotes democratic socialism. It means a political-economic system that provides social, economic, and political justice. 

Mrs. Indira Gandhi explained socialist as ‘equality of opportunity’ or ‘better life for the people’. She said socialism is like democracy, everyone has their own set of interpretations but in India socialism is a way for the better life of the people. 

  • In the case of Excel Wear v. Union of India (1978), the Supreme Court found that with the addition of the word socialist, a portal was opened to learn the judgments in favour of nationalisation and state ownership of the industry. But the principle of socialism and social justice can not ignore the interest of a different section of the society, majorly the private owners. 
  • In the case of D.S. Nakara v. Union of India (1982), the Court held that “the basic purpose of socialism is to provide a decent standard of life to the people living in the country and to protect them from the day they are born till the day they die”. 


The term ‘Secular’ was also added by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, during the emergency. The Constitution states India as a secular state as the state has no official religion. The citizens have their own view of life and can choose their religion as they like. The state provides full freedom to the people to practise any religion of their choice. The state treats all religions equally, with equal respect and can not discriminate between them. The state has no right interfering with the people with their choice of religion, faith or idol of worship. 

Important Components of Secularism are:

  • The right to equality is guaranteed by Article 14 of the Constitution. 
  • Discrimination on any grounds such as religion, caste, etc is prohibited by Article 15 and 16 of the Constitution. 
  • Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution discuss all the freedoms of the citizens, including freedom of speech and expression. 
  • Article 24 to Article 28 covers the rights related to practising religion.
  • Article 44 of the Constitution abandoned the fundamental duty of the state to enact uniform civil laws treating all citizens as equal.

In the case of S.R. Bommai v. Union of India (1994), the nine-judge bench of Apex Courts found the concept of secularism as the basic feature of the Constitution. 

In the case of Bal Patil v. Union of India (2005), the Court held that all religions and religious groups must be treated equally and with equal respect. India is a secular state where people have the right to choose their religion. But the state will have no specific religion. 

In the case of M.P. Gopalkrishnan Nair v. the State of Kerala (2005), the Court stated that the secular state is different from an atheist society, which means the state allows every religion and disrespect none. 


The term ‘Democratic’ is derived from the Greek words where ‘demos’ means ‘people’ and ‘Kratos’ means ‘authority’. These terms collectively mean the government is constructed by the people. India is a democratic state as the people elect their government at all levels, that means, union, state, and local or ground level. Everyone has the right to vote irrespective of their caste, creed or gender. So, in a democratic form of government, every person has a direct or indirect share in administration. 

In the case of Mohan Lal v. District Magistrate of Rai Bareilly (1992) , the Court stated that Democracy is a philosophical topic related to politics where the people elect their representatives to form a government, where the basic principle is to treat the minority the same way people treat the majority. Every citizen is equal before the law in the democratic form of government. 

In the case of Union of India v. Association of Democratic Reforms (2002), the Court states that the basic requirement of a successful democracy is awareness of the people. A democratic form of Government can not survive without fair elections as fair elections are the soul of democracy. Democracy also improves the way of life by protecting human dignity, equality, and the rule of law. 


India has a republic form of government as the head of state is elected and not a hereditary monarch like a king or queen. The term ‘Republic’ is obtained from ‘res publica’ that means public property or commonwealth. It means the power to elect the head of the state for a fixed term lies within the people. So, in conclusion, the word ‘republic’ shows a government where the head of state is elected by the people rather than any birthright. The term as embodied in our Preamble, firmly connotes that the country will be run by the people and not by the wills and whims of the ones elected. Everything and anything shall be legislated, executed and governed by keeping the will of the people of the country as a priority. 

Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity

The Preamble further declares to secure all the citizens of the country ‘justice’, ‘liberty’, ‘equality’ and ‘fraternity’. 


As discussed earlier also, the term justice is to include social, economical, and political justice. 

  • Social Justice – Social justice means that the Constitution wants to create a society without discrimination on any grounds like caste, creed, gender, religion, etc. Where people have equal social status by helping the less privileged people. The Constitution tries to eliminate all the exploitations which harm equality in the society.
  • Economic Justice – Economic Justice means no discrimination can be caused by people on the basis of their wealth, income, and economic status. It means wealth must be distributed on the basis of their work, not with any other reason. Every person must be paid equally for an equal position and all people must get opportunities to earn for their living.
  • Political Justice – Political Justice means all the people have an equal, free and fair right without any discrimination to participate in political opportunities. It means everyone has equal rights to access political offices and have equal participation in the processes of the government. 


The word liberty includes freedom or liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship. 


The term equality connotes equal status and opportunity to every person. 


Lastly, the term fraternity aims to maintain the unity and integrity of the nation along with a pledge to protect the dignity of every individual.

Adoption date


It comprises the date of its adoption which is November 26th, 1949. It is pertinent to note here that the Preamble was drafted after the making of the Indian Constitution. However, the commencement date of both is marked as 26th January 1950.

Preamble as an aid in interpretation of the Constitution 

As discussed below, the Apex Court has made it clear that Preamble forms a part of the Constitution, although this does not mean that Preamble has got the authority to override the express provisions enunciated in the Indian Constitution. In case the terms used in any of the Articles mentioned in the Constitution have two meanings or are ambiguous, Preamble acts as a valuable aid in interpreting and understanding the purpose of that provision. An assistance can be taken up to a great extent from the objectives enshrined in the Preamble.

Justice Sikri while emphasising on the significance that the Preamble holds, in the case of Kesavananda Bharati opined that, “It seems to me that the Preamble of our Constitution is of extreme importance and the Constitution should be read and interpreted in the light of the grand and noble vision expressed in the Preamble.”

The Preamble was even used and relied upon while imposing implied limitations on the power of amendment given to the Parliament under Article 368 of the Constitution. 

In the case of Randhir Singh v. Union of India (1982), the Supreme Court while taking into considerations the key words of Preamble, held that Article 39(d) of the Constitution also includes “equal pay for equal work”, which is a constitutional right, irrespective of the gender. Our preamble expressly provides for providing equality of status and opportunity to its people and in pursuance to this, the court acknowledged equal pay for equal work as a constitutional right. 

Preamble of the Indian Constitution, different from the Preamble of an Act 

As far as the Preamble of the Indian Constitution is concerned, it stands entirely on a different footing from the preamble of any other Act. Generally, the preamble of any Act in general, is not enacted by the legislature, and this is the reason why its use is limited to removing the ambiguity of the provisions of an Act, and hence the interpretation is restricted to helping with the ambiguity of the provisions present in the Act. However, as far as the Preamble of the Indian Constitution is concerned it was enacted and adopted by the Constituent Assembly in the same manner and procedure as that of the Constitution. 

This fact can further be corroborated by the history of the Preamble. Initially, the Preamble was introduced in the Constituent Assembly in the form of Objective resolutions. These resolutions were the first few substantive issues that were to be discussed and decided as the guide for further deliberations. The Preamble was finalised at the end, i.e., after the completion of the entire Constitution. The reason behind this was that the makers of the Constitution wanted to be consistent with the Constitution since it is a part of it. 

Is the Preamble a part of the Constitution

The Preamble is the preface of the Constitution. It contains the ideals and principles of the Constitution and reflects the purpose or the objectives that the Constitution sought to achieve. Punit Thakur Das (elected to the central Legislative Assembly) while a debate going on in the Constituent Assembly emphasised on the significance of the Preamble and said that, “the Preamble is the most precious part of the Constitution. It is the soul of the Constitution. It is a key to the Constitution. It is a jewel set in the Constitution.”

The question whether the preamble is a part of the Constitution or not was a topic of debates for a long time and was finally settled in the Kesavananda Bharati case (as discussed in the later section). In order to understand whether or not the preamble is a part of the Constitution, the two cases, namely the Berubari Case and Kesavananda Bharati case play an important role. Initially, the view taken by the highest court was that the Preamble is not a part of the Consitution of India. However, later on, the same was reversed in the Kesavananda Bharti case. 

Let’s have an overview of the above mentioned two cases. 

The Berubari Union and…. v. Unknown (1960)

The Berubari Case arose through a presidential reference under Article 143(1) of the Constitution, which was on the implementation of the Indo-Pakistan Agreement related to Berubari Union. The issue before the court was to decide whether Article 3 of the Constitution gives Parliament the power to give any part of the country to a foreign country. The second issue before the court was whether the legislative action necessary for complying with the Nehru-Noon Agreement. However, the relevant part for this article is limited to the question of the Preamble being part of the Constitution, which was also dealt with in this case.

Through this case, the Court stated that ‘Preamble is the key to open the mind of the makers’ but it can not be considered as part of the Constitution. The court while saying so, relied on a quote by a renowned Professor Willough of America, wherein he has emphasised on the fact that the Preamble to the American Constitution has never been a source of power. The Professor said and I quote “it has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the Government of the United States, or on any of its departments. Such powers embrace only those expressly granted in the body of the Constitution and such as may be implied from those so granted.”

To read the case in detail, refer to this link-

Kesavananda Bharati v. State Of Kerala and anr. (1973)

This case created history and holds great importance. A bench comprising 13 judges was constituted to hear this landmark case, wherein the question before the court was, whether the Parliament has the power to amend the Preamble and the extent to which this power can be exercised. Along with this the petitioner also challenged the 24th and 25th Amendment of the Constitution. The Court, in this case, has held that:

  1. The Preamble of the Constitution will now be considered as part of the Constitution. 
  2. The Preamble is not the supreme power or source of any restriction or prohibition but it plays an important role in the interpretation of statutes and provisions of the Constitution. 

So, it can be concluded that preamble is part of the introductory part of the Constitution. 

After the judgement of the Kesavanand Bharati case, it was accepted that the preamble is part of the Constitution. The court relied on various excerpts from the Constituent Assembly, wherein it was contended that Preamble will be a part of the Constitution. So, as a part of the Constitution, it can be amended under Article 368 of the Constitution, but the basic structure of the preamble can not be amended. Because the structure of the Constitution is based on the basic elements of the Preamble. 

To learn more about the case, refer to this link-

Amendment to the Preamble

The question whether a preamble can be amended or not by the Parliament under the amending powers enunciated under Article 368 came before the Apex Court for the first time in the Kesavananda Bharati case. The court held that, since the Preamble is a part of the Constitution it can be amended, however, the scope for the same is limited. It cannot be amended in a way that the proposed amendment destroys the basic features. It was opined that the premise of our Constitution is largely based on the basic elements embodied in the Preamble. In the event of destruction or removal of any of these elements, the purpose and objective of the Constitution will not be served. The amending power of the Parliament in no manner connotes that it has the right and authority to take away or disrupt the fundamentals and the essential characteristics of the Constitutional policy. Doing so will only result in wrecking up the Constitution entirely. 

Since the enactment of the Constitution of India, it has been amended multiple times. The Constitution is a living document and it is important that any law changes as per the needs of the society. However, the only instance of the Preamble being amended was in the year 1976. This amendment was introduced by the then government led by Indira Gandhi which left the Preamble in its present form. The three terms that were added by this amendment were secularism, socialism, and integrity. It was not that these concepts were not a part of the Constitution prior to this amendment. These concepts were merely spelled out clearly in this amendment by expressly mentioning these terms in the Preamble.  

The two changes brought by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 are mentioned as under:

42nd Amendment Act, 1976

The 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 was the first act ever to amend the preamble of the Constitution. On December 18th, 1976, ‘Socialist’, ‘Secular’, and ‘Integrity’ were added to the preamble to protect economic justice and eliminate discrimination whatsoever. Through this amendment, ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ were added between ‘sovereign’ and ‘democratic’, and ‘Unity of the Nation’ was changed to ‘Unity and Integrity of the Nation’. 

This amendment of introduction of the two words namely, ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ was done by Section 2 of the Amendment Act, 1976. Also, the replacement of the term “unity of the nation” with “unity and integrity of the nation” was mentioned in Section 2 of the Amendment. 

However, the Apex Court in the case of S.R. Bommai case held that even though the addition of the term Secularism in the Preamble was done in the later stage by the Act of 1976, the provisions of the Constitution contained the concept of secularism, though not directly. 

Interpretation by the Supreme Court

The preamble was finalised after the complete crafting of the Indian Constitution. In the Berubari Union Case, the Supreme Court held that the preamble is the key to open the minds of its makers, however, it cannot be treated as a part of the Constitution. The Preamble must be considered as the guiding principle for the provisions of the Constitution. 

In the Kesavananda Bharati case, the Supreme Court changed its previous decision and accepted the preamble as part of the Constitution which means it can be amended under Article 368 of the Constitution. This landmark case, by including the preamble as a part of the Constitution, opined that preamble constitutes an important part. It embodies the fundamentals underlying the Constitution. It was further stated that “Preamble is unamendable, and it cannot be varied altered or repealed” and that the “Preamble is a part of the Constitution and relates to the basic structure or framework of the Constitution”.

In the case of L.I.C. Of India & Anr v. Consumer Education & Research (1995), the Supreme Court reiterated that the preamble is a part of the Constitution. 

So, in the end, the preamble of the Constitution is considered a beautiful preface to the document as it contains all the basic information like the objective and philosophy of the Constitution. 

15 facts you didn’t know about the Preamble and Indian Constitution 

  1. The original Constitution of India was written by Prem Bihari Narain Raizada in calligraphy with a flowing italic style. 
  2. The original copies of the Indian Constitution written in both Hindi and English are present in special helium-filled cases, in the library of the Parliament of India. 
  3. The Indian Constitution consists of 25 parts with 448 articles and 12 schedules, which makes it the longest-written constitution of any sovereign country in the world.
  4. The Constituent Assembly took exactly 2 years, 11 months, and 18 days to complete the final draft of the Indian Constitution. 
  5. Around 2000 amendments were made before finalising the Constitution. 
  6. The preamble of the Constitution of the United States of America also starts with ‘We the people’. 
  7. The concept of fundamental rights came from the American Constitution as they had nine fundamental rights for the citizens. 
  8. The 44th amendment deleted the Right to Property as the fundamental right which was given under Article 31 of the Constitution as ‘No person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law’. 
  9. The Constitution of India is considered as the best Constitution as it tries to change the errors or mistakes in it. Because of this, the Constitution had more than 100 amendments in the past. 
  10. The page of the preamble along with all the other pages of the Constitution were designed and decorated by the renowned painter Beohar Rammanohar Sinha of Jabalpur. 
  11. The Constitution of India is a handwritten Constitution that was signed on 24th January 1950 by 284 members of the Constituent Assembly, where 15 of them were women came into force on 26th January, two days later from signing. 
  12. The final draft of the Constitution was completed on 26th November 1949 and it came into force after two months on 26th January 1950 known as Republic Day. 
  13. Many provisions are adopted from various Constitutions by our drafting committee while drafting the Constitution. 
  14. The concept of Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) was adopted from Ireland. 
  15. The concept of liberty, equality, and fraternity in our Preamble was adopted from the French Motto of the French Revolution. 


In conclusion, the preamble is an integral part of the Constitution and is widely appreciated as the quintessence of the soul, spirit, and backbone of the Constitution. The preamble highlights the fundamental values and guiding principles of the Constitution. The preamble declares that the citizens of India accepted the Constitution on 26th November 1949, but the date of commencement of the Constitution was decided to be 26th January 1950. 

The very purpose of the enactment of the preamble to the Constitution was served after the amendment done in the year 1976, which substituted the term ‘sovereign democratic republic’ to ‘sovereign socialist secular democratic republic’. The Preamble to the Constitution epitomises the aspiration of the people of India. 

Article 394 of the Constitution states that Articles 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 60, 324, 367, 379, and 394 came into force since the adoption of the Constitution on 26th November 1949 and the rest of the provisions on 26th January 1950. The preamble of the Constitution of India is one of the best preambles ever drafted, not only in ideas but in expressions as well. It contains the purpose of the constitution, to build an independent nation that protects justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity which are the objectives of the Constitution.

Frequently Added Questions (FAQs)

The Supreme Court in which case opined that secularism was an important part of the Constitution even before the 1976 Amendment Act?

The Supreme Court in the case of  S.R. Bommai v. Union of India (1994), opined that the concept of secularism has been embedded as an essential feature of the basic structure of the Constitution and has been a significant part of constitutional philosophy even before the 42nd Amendment. The court also held that “secularism is the bastion to build fraternity”.

In which case the concept of fraternity was discussed for the first time in detail?

In the case of  Indra Sawhney etc. v. Union Of India And Others (1992), the concept of fraternity was used in two significant issues namely, to defend the provision of reservation embodied in the Constitution in regards to fraternity, and also to discuss its effects on fraternal relations when used in a misguided manner. The concept of fraternity which is laid down in our preamble was used to justify the practice of reservation for backward segments of the society in order to bring progress in the vulnerable sections of the society. 

Is the Preamble part of the basic structure doctrine of the Indian Constitution?

The objectives enumerated in the Preamble forms a part of the basic structure doctrine of the Consitution of India. As per the doctrine, the Parliament has an unlimited powe to amend the Constittuion. However, the amendment must not disrupt the basic structure of the Constitution. As discussed in the article, it is the settled position in law that a Preamble forms the part of the Consitution amd hence just like the Constitution it can be amended as well, keeping in mind the basic structure doctrine. As far as what constitutes the basic structure of the Constitution, it was left for the courts to decide as per the facts and circumstances. 


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