Question – Write a short note on Preamble to the Constitution of India. [BJS 2000; BJS 2006, MPJS 2012]

Answer : The Preamble to an Act sets out the main objectives with the legislation it is intended to achieve. It is a sort of introduction to the statute and many times very helpful to understand the policy and legislative intent it expresses. The framers of our Indian Constitution gave to the Preamble ‘the place of pride’ as it embodies the ideals which the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution desired to achieve by the citizen, in their best interest. According to the Supreme Court, the Preamble to the constitution is a key to open the mind of the makers and shows the general purpose for which they made the several provisions in the constitution.

The Preamble to the Constitution of India spells out its authority, i.e. ‘People of India’ and expresses the social and political philosophy of India with the nation’s concept of Social Justice in its widest term. It contains the enacting clause which brings into force the constitution. It declared the great rights and freedoms which the people of India intended to secure to all citizens and the basic type of government and polity which was to be established.

The significance of the Preamble lies in its components. It embodies the source of the Constitution i.e., the people of India. The terms sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, republic in the Preamble suggests the nature of the state. The ideals of justice, liberty, equality, fraternity reflects the objectives of the Constitution.

The philosophy of the Indian Constitution is reflected in the Preamble. The independence of India earned through struggle for independence is sought to be emphasised by the use of the word ‘Sovereign’ in the Preamble. The Gandhian ideals are aimed to be secured by the incorporation of the word ‘Socialist’ in the Preamble by the 42nd Amendment.

The same amendment inserted the word ‘Secular’ to reflect the secular nature of Indian society. The word ‘Republic’ in the Preamble indicates that India has an elected head, though indirectly elected, the Indian President is the choice of the people of India. These values are further strengthened by the word ‘Democratic’ in the Preamble.

To emphasise these values the Constitution framers have resorted to the use of the concepts like justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. Justice-social, economic and political to be secured through the provisions of Fundamental Rights.

Preamble is a part of the constitution and amendable under Article 368. The question whether the preamble is a part of the constitution was first discussed in the Re Berubari’s (1960) case where the Supreme Court held that the Preamble was not a part of the Constitution and therefore it could never be regarded as a source of any substantive powers.

According to the court, our preamble has a limited scope and can be reinstated in circumstances where the legislation is ambiguous. If the terminology used in the constitution are vague or susceptible of having two interpretations, the aims stated in the constitution may be utilised to help interpret them, and construction that suits the Preamble may be favoured.

However, in Kesavananda Bharti (1973) case, the Supreme Court rejected the above view and laid down the following prepositions:

  • That the Preamble to the Indian Constitution is a part of the Constitution.
  • That the preamble is not a source of power nor a source of limitations or prohibitions; and
  • The preamble has a significant role to play in the interpretation of statutes, and also in the interpretation of the provisions of the constitution.

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

Thus, the core ideas, purposes, and philosophical postulates that the Constitution of India stands for are contained in the Preamble to the Constitution of Free India. Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava, a member of constitution assembly, was very right when he summed up the importance of the Preamble in following words – “The preamble is most precious part of the constitution. It is the proper yardstick with which can measure the worth of the constitution.” When supreme court struck down article 377 of IPC, it also held one of the provision of the preamble i.e. dignity of individual.

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