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Preamble of the Indian constitution

Read in detail about the Preamble of our constitution

The Preamble of the Constitution of India is an introductory statement of 73 words which highlights the objectives, essence, core values and principles of the constitution.

Noteworthy points about the Preamble of the Constitution :

  • The Preamble of our Constitution is based on the ‘Objectives Resolution’, drafted by Pandit Nehru and adopted by the Constituent Assembly in 1946.
  • It was enacted after the enactment of the entire Constitution of India. It was to ensure that it was in consonance with the final Constitution as adopted by the Constituent Assembly.
  • Preamble is non-justiciable in nature, Meaning, The objectives/statements of the Preamble are not enforceable in courts of law.
  • It is neither a source of power to Parliament nor can it take away the powers of the legislature.
  • The Preamble indicates that the Constitution derives its authority from the people of India. 
  • The Preamble of Indian constitution proclaims Indian Nation to be:
    • Sovereign :  

      • Meaning India is not a dependency/Colony/dominion of any other nation. 
      • It is an independent state which can undertake its duties both internally and externally. 
      • Being a sovereign nation, India can even acquire a foreign territory or cede a part of its territory to a foreign state.
    • Secular :

      • Meaning All religions in the nation (irrespective of their numerical strength) will have the same status and support from the state.
      • The term ‘Secular’ was added to the Preamble by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976.
      • Indian secularism is influenced by the core Gandhian principle of ‘Sarva Dharma Sambhava’ meaning ‘equal respect for all religions.
    • Republic : 

      • Meaning India’s head of the state called the President is always elected.
      • In India, The head of the state called the President is elected indirectly.
      • In the USA, The head of the state called the President is elected directly.
      • Britain which is a Monarchy, The head of the state (King or Queen) enjoys a hereditary position.
    • Socialist : 

      • India adopted the democratic socialism(Inspired by Gandhian Socialism) which believes in a ‘mixed economy’ where both public and private sectors co-exist and flourish side by side.
      • It aims to end poverty, ignorance and inequality of opportunity
      • The term ‘Socialist’ was added to the Preamble by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976.
    • Democratic : 

      • Meaning the ultimate power lies in the hands of people who can exercise their power either directly or indirectly.
      • In Direct democracy, the people exercise their power directly though the instruments like Initiative, Referendum, Recall and Plebiscite.
      • In Indirect democracy, the representatives elected by the people exercise the power and thus carry on the government and make the laws for the people.
      • India adopted the Indirect democracy with the principle of Universal adult franchise(Meaning all adults are eligible to vote without discrimination on the basis of religion, race, sex, caste, places of birth etc. ).
  • The Preamble provides to all citizens of India liberty of:
    • Thought
    • Expression 
    • Belief
    • Faith 
    • Worship
  • It states that the objectives constitution of India is to provide following justices to the people:
    • Social Justice – Meaning equal treatment of all citizens without any social distinction based on caste, color, race, religion, sex and so on.
    • Economic Justice – Meaning no discrimination/inequalities on the basis of economic factors such as wealth, income and property.
    • Political Justice – Meaning all citizens have equal political rights.
  • Ideals of justice (social, economic and political) as mentioned in the Preamble are borrowed from the Constitution of Soviet Union (Present day Russia).
  • Ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity are borrowed from the French Constitution.
  • The American Constitution was the first constitution to start with a Preamble.
  • The Preamble specifies November 26, 1949  as the date of adoption of the Indian Constitution.

Can Preamble be Amended ?

  • In the historic Kesavananda Bharati case (1973), The Supreme Court held that the Preamble is a part of the Constitution hence can be amended by parliament under Article 368.
  • The Court confirmed that the opinion given by it in the Berubari Union case of 1960(Which stated that Preamble was not part of the constitution) in this regard was wrong.
  • The Supreme Court held that the Preamble can be amended, without affecting the ‘basic features of constitution’. With this judgment, the Supreme court introduced the ‘Basic structure doctrine’. 
  • You can read more about the ‘Basic structure doctrine’ here.
  • So far, the Preamble has been amended only once by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976, which added three new words:
    • Socialist
    • Secular
    • Integrity

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