Heart and Soul of the Constitution: Preamble of Indian Constitution

Heart and Soul of the Constitution: Preamble of Indian Constitution

Heart and Soul of the Constitution: Preamble of Indian Constitution

Preamble of Constitution of India

“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.”

What is the preamble to the Constitution?

Heart and Soul of the Constitution: The Constitution of India starts with a Preamble. The Preamble contains the goals, objectives, and essential standards of the Constitution. The salient features of the Constitution have advanced directly and by implication from these objectives which flow from the Preamble. It is interesting to realize that the Preamble, though the Constitution opens with it, was not the first to appear. It was the last bit of Drafting embraced by the Constituent Assembly at the end of the first perusing of the Constitution and afterward situated at the beginning of the Constitution.

Preamble as such is broadly acknowledged as the core or soul and spirit of the constitution, as it embodies the essentials and the fundamental of the constitution as well as the vision and responsibility of a new liberated country or individuals after its passing through the unavoidable birth aches of national independence from a harsh and pioneer regime.

In this blog we will see how Preamble is being so characteristically important to the Constitution enjoys the advantage of being a part of it.

Preamble To The Constitution Of India

The Preamble to the Constitution of India records the points and desires of the individuals of India which have been converted into the different provisions of the Constitution. A Preamble implies the prologue to the statute. The objective before the Constituent Assembly was to Constitute India into a “sovereign democratic republic” and to make sure about its citizens “justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity“. A definitive point of the makers of the Constitution was to have a government assistance state and a populist society anticipating the aims and aspirations of the individuals of India who relinquished everything for the accomplishment of the nation’s freedom.

Chief Justice Subba Rao in Golak Nath v. State of Punjab[1] had stated that The Preamble to an Act sets out the primary objective which the enactment is proposed to accomplish. In contrast to the Constitution of Australia, Canada, or the U.S.A., the Constitution of India has an intricate Preamble. The reason for the Preamble is to explain who has made the constitution, what is its source, what is a definitive authorization behind it, what is the idea of the nation which is looked to be set up by the constitution.

History of The Preamble to the Constitution

The Preamble to the Indian constitution depends on the “Objective Resolution” of Nehru. Jawaharlal Nehru presented an objective resolution on December 13, 1947, and it was received by Constituent Assembly on 22 January 1947. The drafting council of the assembly in figuring the Preamble in the light of “Objective Resolution” felt that the Preamble should be confined to defining the necessary highlights of the new state and its essential socio-political objectives and that different issues managed Resolution could be more suitably provided in the considerable pieces of the Constitution.

The board adopted the articulation ‘Sovereign Democratic Republic’ instead of ‘Sovereign Independent Republic’ as utilized in the “Objective Resolution,” for it thought the freedom was inferred in the word Sovereign. The board added the word Fraternity which was absent in the Objective Resolution. The board felt that the requirement for congenial harmony and goodwill in India was never more noteworthy than now and that this specific aim of the new Constitution should be stressed by special notice in the Preamble.

Meaning And Concept

The term ‘Preamble’ means the introduction to a statute. It is the introductory part of the constitution. A preamble may also be used to introduce a particular section or group of sections. According to Chambers Twentieth Century Dictionary, a preamble means preface, introduction, especially that of an act of Parliament, giving its reasons and purpose – a prelude.

Black’s Law Dictionary states that “the preamble means a clause at the beginning of a statute explanatory of the reasons for its enactment and the objectives sought to be accomplished. Generally, a Preamble is a declaration made by the legislature of the reasons for the passage of the statute and is helpful in the interpretation of any ambiguities within the statute to which it is prefixed.”

The Constitution opens with a Preamble. Initially, the Preamble was drafted by Sh. B. N. Rau in his memorandum of May 30, 1947, and was later reproduced in the Draft of October 7, 1947. In the context of the deliberations by the Constituent Assembly, the Preamble was reformulated.

Keywords In The Preamble to the Constitution

“We, the People of India”– “he preamble starts with the words ‘We the people of India’ thus clearly signaling the source of all potency of the constitution. The words ‘We, the people of India’ declares in unequivocal terms that the Constitution has been adopted, enacted, and given to themselves by the people of India. It emphasizes the sovereignty of the people and the fact that all powers of government flow from the people. It is the people of India on whose authority the Constitution rests. The preamble surmises that it is the people of India who are the authors of the constitution.

The words ‘we the people of India’ echo in the opening words in the preamble to the constitutions of the United States and of Ireland. It is emphasized that the constitution is founded on the authority of the people, in whom is vested the ultimate sovereignty. The Supreme Court in Union of India v. Madangopal[2], referred to these words in the preamble while recognizing the power of the Indian legislatures, to enact laws with retrospective operation beyond the commencement of the constitution itself”. The court observed that “our constitution as appears from the preamble derives its authority from the people of India.

Sovereign– 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.”

In the case of Synthetic & Chemicals Ltd. v. the State of Uttar Pradesh[3], the Supreme Court stated that the word ‘sovereign’ means that the state has the authority 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 projected that “No country can have its own constitution unless it is not sovereign”.

Socialist– 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.

In the case of Excel wear v. Union of India[4], the Supreme Court observed that with the addition of the word socialist, a portal is opened to lean the judgments in favor of nationalization and state ownership of the industry. But the principle of socialism and social justice cannot 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[5], the Court stated 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.

In Air India Statutory Corporation v. United Labour Union[6], the Supreme Court detailed the idea of “socialism” and declared that the word socialism was expressly brought in the constitution to establish an egalitarian social order through rule of law as its basic structure.

Secular– 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 has no right interfering with the people with their choice of religion, faith, or idol of worship.

In the case of S.R. Bommai v. Union of India[7], the nine-judge bench of Apex Courts found the concept of secularism as the basic feature of the Constitution.

In the case of M.P. Gopalkrishnan Nair v. the State of Kerala[8], the Court held that the secular state is different from an atheist society, which means the state allows every religion and disrespect none.

In the case of St. Xavier’s College v. State of Gujarat[9], the Supreme Court explained secularism is neither anti-God nor pro-God, it treats alike the devout, the agnostic and the atheist. It eliminates God from the matters of the state and ensures that no one shall be discriminated against on the grounds of religion.

Democratic– The term ‘Democratic’ is derived from the Greek words where ‘demos’ means ‘people’ and ‘Kratos’ means ‘authority’. This concludes that 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. Therefore, in a democratic kind of government, every individual directly or indirectly shares in governance.

In the case of Mohan Lal v. District Magistrate of Rai Bareilly[10], the Court held 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[11], the Court held that “the basic requirement of a successful democracy is awareness of the people. A democratic form of Government cannot 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.”

Republic– 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.

Justice– The term Justice in the Preamble embraces three distinct forms: Social, economic and political, secured through various provisions of the Fundamental and Directive Principles.

Social justice in the Preamble means that the Constitution wants to create a more equitable society based on equal social status. Economic justice means equitable distribution of wealth among the individual members of the society so that wealth is not concentrated in a few hands.

Political Justice means that all citizens have equal rights in political participation. Indian Constitution provides for universal adult suffrage and equal value for each vote.

In Air India Statutory Corporation v. United labor Union[12], the Supreme Court stated that “the aim of social justice was to attain a substantial degree of social, economic and political equality which was the legitimate expectation and constitutional goal”. It was held that social justice was a dynamic device to mitigate the sufferings of the poor, weak, Dalits, tribals, and deprived sections of the society and to elevate them to the level of equality, to live a life with dignity of the person.

Liberty– Liberty implies the absence of restraints or domination on the activities of an individual such as freedom from slavery, serfdom, imprisonment, despotism, etc. The Preamble provides for the liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship.

Equality– Equality means the absence of privileges or discrimination against any section of society. The Preamble provides for equality of status and opportunity to all the people of the country. The Constitution strives to provide social, economic, and political equality in the country.

Fraternity– “Fraternity means the feeling of brotherhood. The Preamble seeks to promote fraternity among the people assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation.”

Object, Purpose And Scope Of The Preamble to the Constitution

The Preamble does not aid any power but it gives guidance and purpose to the Constitution. It outlines the objectives of the whole Constitution. The Preamble contains the fundamentals of the constitution. The preamble to an Act sets out the main objectives which the legislation is intended to achieve.

The proper function of the preamble is to explain and recite certain facts which are necessary to be explained and recited before the enactment contained in an act of Parliament could be understood. A preamble may be used for other reasons, such as, to limit the scope of certain expressions or to explain facts or introduce definitions. It usually states or professes to state, the general object and meaning of the legislature in passing the measure. Hence it may be legitimately consulted for the purpose of solving an ambiguity or fixing the connotation of words which may possibly have more meaning, or determining of the Act, whenever the enacting part in any of these respect is prone to doubt.

In a nutshell, a court may look into the object and policy of the Act as recited in the Preamble when a doubt arises in its mind as to whether the narrower or the more liberal interpretation ought to be placed on the language which is capable of bearing both meanings.

In A.K Gopalan v. State of Madras[13], it was held that the preamble to our constitution which desires to give India a ‘democratic’ constitution should be the directing start in its interpretation and hence any law made under Article 21 should be held as void if it violates the principles of natural justice, for otherwise the so-called “fundamental” rights to life and personal liberty would have no security. The absolute majority on the bench of the Supreme Court disapproved this argument holding that ‘law’ in Article 21 refers to supportive or state made law and not natural justice and that this significance of the terminology of Article 21 could not be altered with reference to the preamble.

In the Berubari Union case[14] the Supreme Court stated that the preamble had never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the government or on any of its departments. The court added that “what is true about the powers is equally true about the prohibitions and limitations.

Nonetheless, if the terms used in any of the articles in the constitution are ambiguous or capable of two meanings, in interpreting them some assistance may be sought in the objectives enshrined in the Preamble. In State of Rajasthan v. Basant Nahata[15], it was held that a preamble with an ordinary Statute is to be reported only when the language is itself capable of more than one meaning and not when something is not capable of being given a precise meaning as in case of public policy.

In the Kesavananda Bharati case[16], the Supreme Court attached much importance to the preamble. In this case, the main question before the Supreme Court related to the scope of amending power of the Union Parliament under Article 368 of the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court observed,

No authority has been referred before us to establish the propositions that what is true about the powers is equally true about the prohibitions and limitations. Even from the Preamble limitations have been derived in some cases. 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.

A majority of the full bench held that the objectives specified in the preamble contain the basic structure of our constitution, which cannot be amended in the exercise of the power under Article 368 of the constitution”. It was further held that “being a part of the constitution, the preamble was not outside the reach of the amending power of the Parliament under Article 368. It was in the exercise of this amending power that the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act 1976 amended the preamble inserting therein, the terms socialist, secular, and integrity.

In the 1995 case of Union Government v. LIC of India[17] also the Supreme Court has once again held that the Preamble is an integral part of the Constitution.

Preamble: Whether A Part Of The Constitution?

It has been highly a matter of arguments and discussions in the past that whether Preamble should be treated as a part of the constitution or not. The vexed question whether the Preamble is a part of the Constitution or not was dealt with in two leading cases on the subject.

1. Beruberi Case

Berubari case was the Presidential Remark “under Article 143(1) of the Constitution of India on the implementation of the Indo-Pakistan Agreement Relating to Beruberi Union and Exchange of Enclaves which came up for consideration by a Bench consisting of eight judges headed by the Chief Justice B.P. Singh. Justice Gajendragadkar delivered the unanimous opinion of the Court.

The court ruled out that the Preamble to the Constitution, containing the declaration made by the people of India in the exercise of their sovereign will, no doubt it is a key to open the mind of the makers’ which may show the general purposes for which they made the several provisions in the Constitution but nevertheless the Preamble is not a part of the Constitution.

2. Kesavananda Bharati case

Kesavananda Bharati case has created history. For the first time, a bench of 13 judges assembled and sat in its original jurisdiction hearing the writ petition. Thirteen judges placed on record 11 separate opinions. To the extent necessary for the purpose of the Preamble, it can be safely concluded that the majority in Kesavananda Bharati case leans in favor of holding,

(i) That the Preamble to the Constitution of India is a part of the Constitution;

(ii) That the Preamble is not a source of power or a source of limitations or prohibitions;

(iii) The Preamble has a significant role to play in the interpretation of statutes and also in the interpretation of provisions of the Constitution.

Kesavanada Bharati case is a milestone and also a turning point in the constitutional history of India. D.G. Palekar, J. held that the Preamble is a part of the Constitution and, therefore, is amendable under Article 368. It can be concluded that the Preamble is an introductory part of our Constitution. The Preamble is based on the Objective Resolution of Nehru. Preamble tells about the nature of state and objects that India has to achieve.

Amendment To The Preamble Of The Constitution

The issue that whether the preamble to the constitution of India can be amended or not was raised before the Supreme Court in the famous case of Kesavananda Bharati v. the State of Kerala, 1973. The Supreme Court has held that Preamble is the part of the constitution and it can be amended but, Parliament cannot amend the basic features of the preamble. The court observed, “The edifice of our constitution is based upon the basic element in the Preamble. If any of these elements are removed the structure will not survive and it will not be the same constitution and will not be able to maintain its identity.”

The preamble to the Indian constitution was amended by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 whereby the words Socialist, Secular, and Integrity were added to the preamble by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, to ensure the economic justice and elimination of inequality in income and standard of life. Secularism implies equality of all religions and religious tolerance and does not identify any state religion.” The word integrity assures one of the major purposes and objectives of the preamble assuring the fraternity and unity of the state.

Conclusion

To conclude, it will not be wrong to say that the spirit of the ideology behind the Constitution is sufficiently crystallized in the preamble. It is also right to state that preamble is the basic part of any document and it is but obvious to our constitution because it is the supreme law of our country. The preamble declares that the people of India adopted, enacted and gave to themselves the constitution on 26th November 1949 but the date of commencement of the constitution was fixed to 26 January 1950.

The Preamble highlights some of the fundamental values and guiding principles on which the constitution is based. It is a guiding light having interpretational value. It plays a pivotal role in the case of ambiguity. The Preamble of the Constitution of India is one of the best of its kind ever drafted. Both in ideas and expression, it is a unique one. It embodies the spirit of the constitution to build up an independent nation which will ensure the triumph of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity.


[1] AIR 1967 SC 1643

[2] AIR 1954 SC 158

[3] 1990 AIR 1927

[4] 1979 AIR 25

[5] 1983 AIR 130

[6] AIR 1997 SC 645

[7] 1994 AIR 1918

[8] AIR 2005 SC 3053

[9] AIR 1974 SC 1889

[10] 1993 AIR 2042

[11] 2002 (3) SCR 294

[12] AIR 1997 SC 645

[13] AIR 1950 SC 27

[14] AIR 1960 SC 845

[15] AIR 2005 SC 3401

[16] 1973 SC 1461

[17] 1995 AIR 1811


Constitutional Law Notes: https://www.prolawctor.com/category/study-materials/law-notes/constitutional-law/

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