A Preamble is an introductory statement in a document that explains the philosophy and objective of the that particular document. It is a preliminary statement. In a constitution, it presents the history behind its creation, the core values and principles of the nation, as well as intention of its framers. In the same way, the Preamble of the Indian Constitution presents the guidelines to guide people of the nation, its meaning, to bestow the principles of the constitution, and indicates the source from which the document derives its authority. The Preamble can be referred as the prologue which highlights the entire constitution. It reflects te aim and aspirations of the people.
History of the Preamble
The Preamble of India was adopted on 26 of November 1949 by the Constituent Assembly. It came into effect on 26 January 1950, now celebrated as the Republic day in India. Preamble of the Indian Constitution was made in the year 1947 but adopted in 1949. The Preamble of India is based on the Objectives Resolution which was drafted and also moved in the Constituent Assembly by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on 13 December 1946. It was then adopted by the Constituent Assembly on 22 January 1947.
The Preamble of India was declared as unenforceable, thus stating it as non-integral part of the Constitution in the Berubari case of 1960 by the Supreme Court of India. However the Supreme Court overruled their decision and recognized that the Preamble may be used in order to interpret ambiguous areas of the Constitution in the Kesavananda case of 1973. Whereas in the Union Government v. LIC of India (1995), the Supreme Court again held that the Preamble is an inherent part of the Constitution of India.
The Preamble of India was amended only once. On 18 December 1976, the then government of India pushed through several changes in the forty second amendment of the Constitution. As originally Preamble described the state as ‘a sovereign democratic republic’, the terms “secular” and “socialist” were added and the words ‘unity of the nation’ were changed to “unity and integrity of the nation.” The Preamble along with the other pages of the original constitution was decorated and designed by the renowned painter Beohar Rammanohar Sinha and the calligraphy was done by Prem Behari Narain Raizada.
WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, social, economic and political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to 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 TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION.
- Sovereign: The Preamble of India indicates that India is a sovereign state. By sovereign it means that India has its own independent authority. It particularly specifies that India is not a dominion or dependent state of any other external power. The Legislature of India has the power to enact laws considering certain limitations imposed by the Constitution.
- Socialist: The word ‘socialist’ was added to the Preamble in the year 1976 by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment. The concept of socialism believes that everything in a society is made by the cooperative efforts of the citizens of the country. Socialism holds faith in a mixed economy. Socialism aims at better use of resources, reduces disparity in wealth, end poverty, inequality of opportunity, and ignorance, etc.
- Secular: The term ‘secular’ was incorporated in the Preamble by the 42nd Amendment in 1976. Secular means not to be concerned with religion. In the Constitution, the word ‘secular’ means that all the religions in our country get equal respect, support and protection from the state. Freedom of Religion has been guaranteed in the Article 25 to 28 in Part III of the Constitution.
- Democratic: Democracy means “power of the people.” It basically means a way of governing which depends on the will of the people. Here the term ‘democratic’ indicates that the constitution of India has established a form of government which run on concept of- “Of the People, By the People and For the People.” It states that the government gets its authority from the will of people expressed in an election. That means the supreme power lies with the people of our nation. Hence, Preamble of India resolves India to be a democratic country.
- Republic: Republic means that a country has an elected government and an elected leader. The head of the state is elected by the people either directly or indirectly. In India, President of India is elected indirectly by the people, is the head of the state. Here the sovereignty is vested in the people and not in a monarch.
- Justice: The term ‘justice’ in the preamble of our constitution embraces three well defined forms, viz. Social, economic, and political. These have been secured through various provisions of the Directive and Fundamental Principles. Social justice means that the Constitution wants to create a more equitable society based on equal social status. Economic justice means equal distribution of wealth among the individual members of the society. Whereas Political justices states that all citizens have equal rights in political participation.
- Liberty: Liberty means being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, political views or behavior, etc. It means the condition in which a person has ability to act following his or her own will. Preamble bestows for the liberty of expression, belief, faith, thought and worship.
- Equality: Equality means everyone has the same rights and advantages. Equality is about ensuring any partiality or discrimination against any section of the society. The Preamble provides equal opportunity to all the people of India irrespective of their age, caste, creed, religion, faith, or belief.
- Fraternity: Fraternity clearly means the feeling of brotherhood. The Preamble seeks to promote a sense of support and friendship among the people assuring the dignity of the individual along with unity and integrity of the nation.
- Unity and Integrity: Unity and Integrity of the nation is another promise of the preamble stating that the development and progress of our country must be united. Inspite of India’s federal character, it has one judiciary, one citizenship, one constitution and one set of fundamental rights and a system of all India services. The state of being united and undivided must be maintained.
Preamble of the Indian Constitution has made India a sovereign democratic republic country. With the adoption of the constitution, India becomes the largest democracy in the world and the preamble does not bind to any political or economic ideology. The Preamble is not a system itself, but it reflects the whole constitutional system. It is said to be a source of inspiration and not a source of power. Although not enforceable in the court of law, the Preamble states the objects of the Constitution. The Preamble occupies a very significant place in the structure of the Constitution. Preamble provides justification for constitutional provisions and contains basic ideas and objectives the Indian Constitution stands for. Thus, the Preamble is said to be a beautifully worded prologue to the Constitution of free India.
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