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Preamble: A Key to Open the Minds of the Framers of the Constitution

Written by: Romit Agrawal
Patent laws
Legal Service
  • The Preamble to a Constitution embodies the fundamental values and the philosophy, on which the Constitution is based, and the aims and objectives, which the founding fathers of the Constitution enjoined the polity to strive to achieve. The importance and utility of the Preamble has been pointed out in several decisions of the Supreme Court of India.

    Though, by itself, it is not enforceable in Court of Law , the Preamble to a written Constitution states the objects which the constitution seeks to establish and promote and also aids the legal interpretation of the Constitution where the language is found to be ambiguous . The Preamble to our Constitution serves, two purposes:
    (a) It indicates the source from which the constitution derives its authority:
    (b) It also states the objects which the constitution seeks to establish and promote.

    The words- We, the people of India. adopt, enact and give to ourselves this Constitution?, thus, declare the ultimate sovereignty of the people of India and that the constitution rests on their authority . Sovereignty means the independent authority of a state. It means that it has the power to legislate on any subject; and that is not subject to the control of any other state or external power. The Preamble declares, therefore, in unequivocal terms that the source of all authority under the Constitution is the people of India and that there is no subordination to any external authority. It means a government by the people and for the people.

    The fraternity which is professed in the Preamble is not confined within the bounds of the national territory; it is ready to overflow them to reach the loftier ideal of universal brotherhood; which can hardly be better expressed than in the memorable words of Pandit Nehru:
    the only possible, real object that we, in common with other nations, can have is the object of co-operating in building up some kind of a world structure, call it one world, call it what you like.

    Thus, though India declares her Sovereignty to manage her own affairs, in no unmistakable terms, the Constitution does not support isolationism. The picture of a democratic republic which the Preamble envisages is democratic not only from the political but also from the social standpoint; in other words, it envisages not only a democratic form of government but also a democratic society, infused with the spirit of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity.
    (a) As a form of government, the democracy, which is envisaged, is, of course, a representative democracy and there are in our Constitution no agencies of direct control by the people, such as referendum or initiative. The Constitution holds out equality to all citizens in the matter of choices of their representatives, who are to run the governmental machinery. The ideal of a democratic republic enshrined in the Preamble of the Constitution can be best explained with the reference to the adoption of universal suffrage.

    (b) The offering of equal opportunity to men and women, irrespective of their caste and creed, in the matter of public employment also implements this democratic ideal. The treatment of minorities, even apart from the constitutional safeguards, clearly brings out that those in power have not overlooked the philosophy underlying the Constitution.

    That this Democratic Republic stands for the good of all the people is embodied in the concept of a ?Welfare State? that inspires the Directive Principles of State policy. The economic justice assured by the Preamble can hardly achieved if the democracy envisaged by the Constitution were confined to a political democracy.

    In the words of Pandit Nehru:

    Democracy has been spoken of chiefly in the past, as political democracy, roughly represented by every person having a vote. But a vote by itself does not represent very much to a person who is down and out, by itself, is not enough except that it may be used to obtain a gradually increasing measure of economic democracy, equality and the spread of good things of life to others and removal of gross inequalities.

    Dr. Radhakrishnan has put it-

    Poor people who wander about, find no work, no wages and starve, whose lives are a Continual round of sore affliction and pinching poverty, cannot be proud of the constitution or its law. This shows that the Indian Constitution provides not only political but also social democracy,

    As explained by Dr. Ambedkar in his speech in Constituent Assembly:

    Political democracy cannot last unless there lies at the base of it social democracy. What does social democracy mean? It means a way of life that recognizes liberty, equality and fraternity, which are not to be treated as separate items in a trinity. They form a union of trinity in the sense that to divorce one from the other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy. Liberty cannot be divorced from equality; equality cannot be divorced from liberty. Nor can liberty and equality be divorced from fraternity.

    The state in a democratic society derives its strength from the cooperative and dispassionate will of all its free and equal citizens . Social and economic democracy is the foundation on which political democracy would be a way of life in the Indian polity . The banishment of poverty, not by expropriation of those who have, but by the multiplication of the national wealth and resources and an equitable distribution thereof amongst all who contribute towards its production, is the aim of the state envisaged by the Directive Principles to the extent that this goal is reached. The ideal of economic justice is to make equality of status meaningful and life worth living at its best removing inequality of opportunity and of status- social, economic and political . SOCIAL JUSTICE is a fundamental right . Social Justice is the comprehensive form to remove social imbalance and will build up a welfare state . Combining the ideals of political, social and economic democracy with that of equality and fraternity, the Preamble seeks to establish what Mahatma Gandhi described as The India of my dreams, namely-
    An India, in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country in whose making an effective voice?an India in which all communities shall live in perfect harmony.

    Nowhere does a Constitution state expressly or declare that all powers vest in the ultimate analysis in the people of India or the ultimate or residual power or the sovereignty vests in the people of India. The Constituent Assembly itself was divide

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