PREAMBLE OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION

This article is written by Anshika Agrawal @LEXCLIQ on the topic Preamble of the Constitution. 

INTRODUCTION

The Preamble sets the ideals and goals which the makers of the Constitution intend to achieve through the Constitution. Therefore, it has been regarded as a “key to open the mind of the makers” of the constitution which may show the general purposes for which they made several provisions in the Constitution as was held in the Re: Berubari Union AIR 1960 SC 845. Therefore, the Preamble is a legitimate aid in the interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution. In this respect the Preamble of the Constitution is different from the Preamble of ordinary statute because in ordinary statutes the preamble cannot be relied upon for interpreting the statute but in case of Constitution it is allowed. This is due to the reason that the Preamble in its initial form was introduced in the Constituent Assembly in the form of Objective Resolution as the first substantive issue to be discussed and decided as a guide for its subsequent deliberations and decisions in the making of the Constitution. It was, however, finalized as the last item in the Constitution making process to ensure its consistency with the rest of the Constitution because “the Preamble forms part of the Constitution”. Later when the constituent history of Preamble was brought to the notice of the Court in Keshavnanda Bharti V. State of Kerala AIR 1973 SC 1461, it was held that the Preamble of the Constitution was a part of the Constitution and the contrary opinion in Berubari Union was incorrect. Now it has been settled finally that not only is Preamble a part of the Constitution but it is also a part of its basic structure.

IMPORTANCE 

The recognition of the Preamble as an integral part of the Constitution makes the Preamble a valuable aid in the construction of the provisions of the Constitution. Therefore, reference to Preamble in constitutional interpretation is quiet frequent.

The framers of the Constitution had set out three broad goals in the Preamble:

First, they sought to constitute India into a “Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic”. India is a Republic because the head of the state is elected and is not a hereditary monarch. It is democratic because the Constitution ensures the creation and existence of the government at the will of the people, through their participation in the formation of the government at regular intervals on the principle of Universal Adult Franchise.

It is sovereign it can make or unmake any decision with respect to itself without interference by any other external authority. Sometimes people doubt the sovereignty of India due to India’s membership of the Commonwealth of nations, it should be remembered that that it is not inconsistent with the independent and sovereign status of India because it was so agreed upon between all the commonwealth countries before the adoption of the Constitution.

As far as the words “socialist” and “secular” are concerned they were added in the Preamble by 42nd Amendment of the Constitution in 1976. The addition of “socialist” indicates the incorporating of the philosophy of “socialism” in the Constitution, which aims at elimination of inequality in income and status and standard of life, and has enabled the Courts to uphold the nationalization and State ownership of industry in certain cases. In certain other decisions, the Court has also used the word “socialist” in the Preamble for evolving a concept of social democracy, which comes closer to the concept of social welfare state expressed as “Social Republic”, “Social State”, for example, in the Constitution of France and Germany respectively.

The word “secular” recognizes the concept of secularism as manifested in the guarantee of freedom of religion as a fundamental right in the Constitution much before the word “secular” was inserted in the Preamble. By addition of word “secular” it has been made express that which was earlier implied. The concept of secularism in India does not envisage a strict wall of separation between the State and religion as in U.S. or U.K. In India it means equal treatment to all religions.

Secondly, the Constitution makers sought to secure to citizens of India justice-social, economic and political; liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; equality of status and opportunity; and to promote among the people of India, fraternity, assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation. Although the expressions, “justice”, “liberty”, “equality”, “fraternity” and “dignity of the individual” do not have fixed contents and may not be easy to define, yet they are not without content or as mere platitudes. They must be read in the light of the enacting provisions of the Constitution like the Fundamental Rights contained in part IV, Fundamental Duties contained in part IV-A; and Part XVI which contains special provisions relating to certain classes.

Thirdly, Preamble also includes “unity and integrity of the Nation”. Before the words “and integrity” were inserted by the 42nd amendment, the unity of the nation was considered as one of the three fundamentals of the Constitution along with democracy and social revolution. Addition of the words “and integrity” has just strengthened and reasserted the word “unity”.

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