Preamble of the Constitution
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.
- It sets out the main objectives which the constituent assembly intended.
- Based on Objective Resolution moved by Nehru on December 13, 1946 and adopted by the Constituent Assembly on January 22, 1947.
- Not justiciable in nature. Not enforceable in a court of law, it provides a key to the understanding and interpretation of the constitution. In case of doubt, the Supreme Court has referred to the Preamble to elucidate vague aspects of the constitution.
- Idea of preamble from US.
- N.A. Palkhiwala, an eminent jurist termed as the ‘identity card of the Constitution’.
- India was a dependency (colony) of the British Empire till the passage of the Indian Independence act 1947. From August 15, 1947 to January 26, 1950 India was having a political status of a dominion in the British Commonwealth of Nations. India declared herself a Sovereign Republic on January 26, 1950. However, Pakistan remained as a British dominion till 1956.
- Sovereign: India is internally and externally sovereign – externally free from the control of any foreign power and internally, it has a free government which is directly elected by the people and makes laws that govern the people. No external power can dictate the government of India. Though in 1949, India declared the continuation of her full membership of the Commonwealth of Nations and accepted the British Crown as the head of the Commonwealth, this extra-constitutional declaration does not affect India’s sovereignty in any manner. Further, India’s membership of the United Nations Organization (UNO) also in no way constitutes a limitation on her sovereignty. India became a member of the UNO in 1945.
- Socialist: “Socialism” as an economic philosophy where means of production and distribution are owned by the State. India adopted a Mixed Economy, where apart from the state, there will be private production too. Socialism as a social philosophy stresses more on societal equality. Moreover, the Congress party itself adopted a resolution to establish a ‘socialistic pattern of society’ in its Avadi session as early as in 1955 and took measures accordingly.
- Secular: Features of secularism as envisaged in the Preamble is to mean that the state will have no religion of its own and all persons will be equally entitled to the freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate the religion of their choice. (S R Bommai and Others v Union of India, AIR 1994 SC 1918).
- On the basis of the attitude of the state towards religion, three types of states can be conceived of:
(a) Atheistic State: The state is anti-religion and hence, condemns all religions.
(b) Theocratic State: The state is pro-religion and hence, declares one particular religion as the state religion, as for example, Bangladesh, Burma, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and so on.
(c) Secular State: The state is neutral in the matter of religion and hence, does not uphold any particular religion as the state religion, as for example, USA and India.
- Democratic: Indicates that the Constitution has established a form of Government which gets its authority from the will of the people. The rulers are elected by the people and are responsible to them.
- Democracy is of two types—direct and indirect. In direct democracy, the people exercise their supreme power directly as is the case in Switzerland.
- There are four devices of direct democracy, namely, Referendum, Initiative, Recall and Plebiscite.
- Referendum is a procedure whereby a proposed legislation is referred to the electorate for settlement by their direct votes.
- Initiative is a method by means of which the people can propose a bill to the legislature for enactment.
- Recall is a method by means of which the voters can remove a representative or an officer before the expiry of his term, when he fails to discharge his duties properly.
- Plebiscite is a method of obtaining the opinion of India’s people on any issue of public importance. It is generally used to solve territorial disputes.
- In indirect democracy, on the other hand, the representatives elected by the people exercise the supreme power and thus carry on the government and make the laws. This type of democracy, also known as representative democracy, is of two kinds—parliamentary and presidential.
- Republic: As opposed to a monarchy, in which the head of state is appointed on the hereditary basis for a lifetime or until he abdicates from the throne, a democratic republic is an entity in which the head of state is elected, directly or indirectly, for a fixed tenure. The President of India is elected by an electoral college for a term of five years. The post of the President Of India is not hereditary. Every citizen of India is eligible to become the President of the country.
- Date of adoption of the Constitution is 26th November, 1949. But most of the articles in the Constitution came into force on January 26th, 1950. Those articles which came into existence on 26th November 1949 are given by Article 394.
- Article 394 states that this article (394) and articles 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 60, 324, 366, 367, 379, 380, 388, 391, 392 and 393 shall come into force at once, and the remaining provisions of this Constitution shall come into force on the twenty-sixth day of January, 1950, which day is referred to in this Constitution as the commencement of this Constitution.
- 26 January was selected for this purpose because it was this day in 1930 when the Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed by the Indian National Congress.
- The preamble-page, along with other pages of the original Constitution of India, was designed and decorated solely by renowned painter Beohar Rammanohar Sinha of Jabalpur.
- Social, Economic And Political – from Russian Revolution of 1917.
- Liberty, Equality And Fraternity –from French revolution 1789-1799.
- Indian brand of socialism is a democratic socialism not communistic socialism.
- Amended by 42nd constitution amendment act, 1976 with effect from 3-1-1977 by which three new words – Socialist, Secular and Integrity.
- Berubari union case 1960, SC specifically opined that Preamble is not a part of the constitution.
- Keshavananda Bharati Case (1973) held that preamble is a part of the constitution. And also in LIC of India Case 1995.
- Also in above case, Preamble can be amended, subject to the condition that no amendment is done to the basic features. Only once so far in 1976.
- Constitution last signed 24th January 1950.
NOTE : Bold statements have been asked in different Pre Exams.
MAINS QUESTIONS :
- When did the constitution of India come into force? [RJS 1984]
- Write a short note on Preamble to the Constitution of India. [BJS 2000, BJS 2006, MPJS 2012]
- What are the major commitments of the Constitution of India as incorporated in its Preamble? [MPJS 2014]