The Preamble to Constitution of India is guidelines to guide people of the nation, to present the principles of the Constitution, to indicate the source from which the document derives its authority, and meaning. It reflects the hopes and aspirations of the people. The preamble is referred to as the preface of the constitution which highlights the entire Constitution.
It was adopted on 26 November 1949 by the Constituent Assembly and came into effect on 26 January 1950, celebrated as the Republic day in India. Preamble was made in 1947 but was adopted in 1949.
The preamble basically gives idea of the following things/objects:
- Source of the Constitution
- Nature of Indian State
- tatement of its objectives
- Date of its adoption
The preamble is based on the ‘Objectives Resolution’ which was drafted and moved in the Constituent Assembly by Jawaharlal Nehru on 13 December 1946 and adopted by Constituent Assembly on 22 January 1947.
The Supreme Court of India originally stated in the Berubari case presidential reference that the preamble is not an integral part of the Indian Constitution, and therefore it is not enforceable in a court of law. However, the same court, in the 1973 Kesavananda case, over-ruled earlier decisions and recognized that the preamble may be used to interpret ambiguous areas of the constitution where differing interpretations present themselves. In the 1995 case of Union Government Vs LIC of India, the Supreme Court once again held that the Preamble is an integral part of the Constitution.
Although the preamble is not enforceable in court of law, but the Preamble states the objectives of the Constitution, and acts as an aid during the interpretation of Articles when language is found ambiguous.
COMPONENTS OF PREAMBLE
- It is indicated by the Preamble that the source of authority of the Constitution lies with the people of India.
- Preamble declares India to be a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic.
- The objectives stated by the Preamble are to secure justice, liberty, equality to all citizens and promote fraternity to maintain unity and integrity of the nation.
- The date is mentioned in the preamble when it was adopted i.e., November 26, 1949.
The Preamble constitutes many key words, with specific meaning and reference, it is important to interpret the exact meaning of the words in the context,
- We, the people of India: It indicates the ultimate sovereignty of the people of India. Sovereignty means the independent authority of the State, not being subject to the control of any other State or external power.
- Sovereign: The term means that India has its own independent authority and it is not a dominion of any other external power. In the country, the legislature has the power to make laws which are subject to certain limitations.
- Socialist: The term means the achievement of socialist ends through democratic means. It holds faith in a mixed economy where both private and public sectors co-exist side by side. It was added in the Preamble by 42nd Amendment, 1976.
- Secular: The term means that all the religions in India get equal respect, protection and support from the state. It was incorporated in the Preamble by 42nd Constitutional Amendment, 1976.
- Democratic: The term implies that the Constitution of India has an established form of Constitution which gets its authority from the will of the people expressed in an election.
- Republic: The term indicates that the head of the state is elected by the people. In India, the President of India is the elected head of the state.
The preamble has been amended only once so far. On 18 December 1976, during the Emergency in India, the Indira Gandhi government pushed through several changes in the Forty-second Amendment of the constitution. A committee under the chairmanship of Sardar Swaran Singh recommended that this amendment be enacted after being consulted to study the question of amending the constitution in the light of past experience. Through this amendment, the words “socialist” and “secular” were added between the words “Sovereign” and “democratic” and the words “unity of the Nation” were changed to “unity and integrity of the Nation”.
- 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 26thJanuary 1950.
- The concept of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity in our Preamble was adopted from the French Motto of the French Revolution.