File Copyright Online - File mutual Divorce in Delhi - Online Legal Advice - Lawyers in India

Significance and Interpretation of the Preamble in the Indian 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 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.

n simple words, the Preamble is an introductory statement. It outlines the fundamental values, principles, the objectives upon which the Constitution (the law of the land) is built. It serves as a symbolic expression of the ideals and aspirations that the Constitution of a country aims to achieve.

In the words of Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava, "Preamble is the most precious part of the Constitution, it is the soul of the Constitution, it is the key to the Constitution, it is the key to open the mind of the makers of the Constitution. It is a jewel set in the Constitution. It is a superb prose poem, nay, it is perfection in itself. It is a proper yardstick with which one can measure the worth of the Constitution."

K.M. Munshi said the Preamble is the 'Horoscope of the Constitution.�

N.A. Palkivala said the Preamble is the 'Identity of the Constitution.�

Thus, the Preamble is the key to, and soul of, the Constitution.

Significance Of Preamble In Indian Constitution

The Constitution of India is the supreme law of the land. The Constitution begins with the preamble. The Preamble is part of the basic structure of the Constitution.

It holds significant importance for several reasons which are as follows:
  • Guiding principles.
    The preamble of the Indian Constitution provides for the guiding principles by which the provisions of the Constitution are interpreted. It acts as a moral compass for the judiciary and other organs of the government. To ensure that the objectives of the Constitution are upheld.
  • Unity in diversity
    The Indian Constitution is designed in such a way as to accommodate the diverse cultural, linguistic, religious, and social backgrounds of the country. Mentioning words such as 'fraternity� in the preamble emphasizes the need for unity and harmony among the people of India.
  • Constitutional identity
    The preamble defines the essential identity of the Indian Constitution. It sets the tone for the entire legal framework and for the subsequent articles and provisions in the Constitution.
  • International influence
    The use of the words such as 'Justice�, 'Liberty�, and 'Equality� in the preamble, reflects the influence of international ideals and principles. It highlights India�s commitment to global values of human rights, social justice, and equality.
  • Reflection of historical struggles
    The preamble reflects the sacrifices made and the struggles faced by the Indian people in their fight for an independent India and Justice. It pays homage to the freedom fighters and the principles for which they fought.
In summary, the preamble of the Indian Constitution encapsulates the foundational values, principles, and objectives that guide the nation�s governance. It plays a very significant role in shaping the interpretation and application of the provisions of the Constitution and serves as a reminder of the vision and the goals of the framers of the Constitution.

Salient Features
The preamble of the Indian Constitution lays down the nature of the Indian state and the objectives which are to be achieved for all of the citizens of India. It also upholds the sovereignty of the people of India and records the date on which the Constitution was finally adopted by the constituent assembly. Each word of the preamble conveys a set of ideas. The interpretation of the Constitution is done keeping in mind the preamble.

The following are the salient features of the preamble:
  1. The source of all authority is popular sovereignty
  2. Nature of the Indian states
  3. Four cardinal objectives
  4. Date of adoption and enactment of the Constitution
  5. Self-made constitution

The source of all authority.
The preamble of the Indian Constitution accepts the principle of popular sovereignty. It begins with the words, "We the people of India". This clearly testifies to the fact that the people of India are the ultimate source of all the authority. The government only derives its power from the people. The roots of the Constitution are from the people and the Constitution derives its sovereignty also from the people. In this respect, the preamble of the Indian Constitution is similar to the preamble of the United States Constitution.

In the constituent assembly, two members objected to the use of the phrase "We the people of India". H.V. Kamath wanted the preamble should begin with the words 'In the name of God� however, this amendment got defeated as not everyone prays to God for courage, support, and strength. There are some people who do not believe in God and one should not impose their own beliefs on others.

Another member, Maulana Hasrat Mohani objected to the use of these words. He asserted that the constituent assembly was elected by a small electorate which does not represent all the people of India, hence making it not fully representative. However, this view was also rejected.

Nature of Indian State.
The preamble states the five cardinal features or five cardinal features of the Indian state. It declares India to be a Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic.
  1. India as a Sovereign State:
    declaring India as a sovereign state in the preamble was the sine qua non to denote that the British rule over India had ended. The proclamation of the term 'sovereign� testifies to the fact that India is no longer a dependency, colony, or possession of the British crown. India emerged as a fully sovereign independent state with the adoption of the Constitution by the constituent assembly.

    It is both internally and externally free to make her own decisions and implement them for her people and territories. However, there are some critics who point out that the membership of 'The Commonwealth of Nations� limits the sovereign status of India, as under the Commonwealth, there is acceptance of the British King or Queen as the head of the Commonwealth. But this view is not correct.

    The Commonwealth is no longer the British Commonwealth after 1949. It has now become an association of sovereign equal nations who are friends with each other and who are connected because of the historical links and have preferred to join hands for the promotion of the national interest through cooperative efforts.
  2. India as a Socialist State:
    In the year 1979, the preamble of the Indian Constitution was amended (42nd Constitutional Amendment) to include the term 'socialism�. Socialism is not regarded as a prime feature of the Indian state. It lays down the fact that India is committed to securing justice, social, economic, and political to all of its people by ending all forms of exploitation and by securing equitable distribution of income, resources, and wealth. All this has to be secured by peaceful, constitutional, and democratic means.

    'Socialism� in India does not have the same meaning as it has been assigned to in Russia. The Indian judiciary has explained the meaning of the term socialism in several landmark cases. In Excel Wear V. U.O.I.,[1] the Hon�ble apex court found that with the addition of the word socialist a portal is opened to lean the judges in favor of the nationalization and state ownership of the industry. But the principle of socialism and social justice cannot ignore the interests and rights of the different sections of the society, that is, the private owners.

    In Minerva Mills Ltd. V. U.O.I.,[2] the constitutional bench considered the meaning of the word 'socialism� to crystallize the socialist state, securing to all its people, Socio-economic justice by interplay of the fundamental rights and directive principles. In D.S. Nakara V. U.O.I.,[3] the Hon'ble Supreme Court said that socialism aims at providing the working people a decent standard of living.
  3. India as a Secular State:
    By the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act in the year 1976, the term secular was incorporated in the preamble. Its enculturation simply made the secular nature of the Indian constitution more crystal clear. As a secular state, India gives special status to no religion. There is no such thing as a state religion of India. India is different from theocratic polities like the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and other Islamic countries. India is neither irreligious nor anti-religious.

    In S.R. Bommai v. U.O.I.[4], the Hon'ble apex court held that secularism is part of the basic structure of the Constitution and that there is religious tolerance in India. In St. Xaviers College V. State of Gujarat & Anr.,[5] the Hon'ble court said that secularism is neither Anti-God nor Pro-God, secularism means the elimination of God from the matters of the state and the state has nothing to do with the religion of the people.
  4. India as a Democratic State:
    The preamble of the Indian Constitution declares that India is a democracy. The people of India elect their own government through free, fair, and periodic elections at all levels, that is Union, State, and Local by a system of universal adult franchises popularly known as ' one man one vote�. Every citizen of India who is 18 years and above has the right to vote without any discrimination on the basis of caste, color, creed, sex, religion, or race.
  5. India as a Republic:
    The preamble declares India to be a republic. Negatively, this means that India is not ruled by a monarch or a nominated head of state. Positively it means that India has an elected head of state who wears the power for a fixed term. Madison, while defining the Republic, has observed, "It is a government which derives its powers, directly or indirectly from the great body of the people, and is administered by the persons holding their office during the pleasure of the people, for a limited period or during good behavior." India met this standard perfectly and hence is a republic.

Four Cardinal Objectives

The preamble of the Indian constitution refers to the four cardinal objectives of the Indian state, namely Justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity.

Justice, social, economic, and political
  • Social justice refers to the abolition of inequalities in the society
  • Economic justice refers to the principle of equal wages for equal work
  • Political justice means the elimination of unreasonable distinctions in the political matters of the state.

Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship
  • Liberty is a state where there is an absence of restrictions.

Equality of status and opportunity
  • Equality of status refers to the natural equality of all persons as equal and free citizens of India, enjoying equality before the law
  • Equality of opportunity, that is, adequate opportunities for all to develop.

It is a feeling of spiritual and psychological unity. It means a spirit of oneness and brotherhood for ensuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation.

Date of adoption and enactment of Constitution
In the final paragraph, the preamble specifies the important historical fact that the Constitution was adopted on 26 November 1949. It was on this date that the Constitution received the signature of the President of the constituent assembly and was declared passed. Every year on November 26, we celebrate the Constitution of India. It was adopted and enacted by the constituent assembly acting as the representative of the sovereign people of India.

The Indian constitution, however, came into force on January 26, 1950. This is because, on this date in the year 1930, India declared the demand for Poorna Swaraj as its ultimate goal for independence. Thus, in order to celebrate this declaration, the Constitution came into force on January 26, 1950.

Self-made Constitution

The Constitution of India is adopted and enacted as a self-made Constitution. It was adopted on in acted by the constituent assembly as the elective representative body acting on behalf of the people of India.

Is Preamble The Part Of The Constitution?
Can It Be Amended?
In Re Berubari Case,[6] a seven-judge constitutional bench held that the preamble is the key to opening the minds of the framers. It is not a part of the constitution therefore, it cannot be amended by and under Article 368 of the Constitution.

However, in Keshavananda Bharti V. State of Kerela,[7] 13 judge constitutional bench held that the preamble is not the source of power or the source of limitations of the Constitution. It is very much a part of the constitution and thus, it can be amended by and under Article 368 of the Indian constitution.

  • Excel Wear v. Union of India, 1979 AIR 25, 1979 SCR [1] 1009.
  • Minerva Mills Ltd. v. Union of India, AIR 1980 SC 1789.
  • D.S. Nakara v. Union of India, 1983 AIR 130, 1983 SCR (2) 165.
  • S.R. Bommai v. Union of India, (1994) 3 SCC 1.
  • St. Xaviers College v. State of Gujarat and Anr., (1997) 1 SCR 173.
  • In Re Berubari Enclave Case, AIR 1960 SC 845.
  • Keshavananda Bharti v. State of Kerala, AIR 1973 SC 1461.
Written By: Kanishka Rajeev Singh, student V semester, BA.LLB. Babu Banarsi Das University, Lucknow.

Law Article in India

Ask A Lawyers

You May Like

Legal Question & Answers

Lawyers in India - Search By City

Copyright Filing
Online Copyright Registration


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi


How To File For Mutual Divorce In Delhi Mutual Consent Divorce is the Simplest Way to Obtain a D...

Increased Age For Girls Marriage


It is hoped that the Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which intends to inc...

Facade of Social Media


One may very easily get absorbed in the lives of others as one scrolls through a Facebook news ...

Section 482 CrPc - Quashing Of FIR: Guid...


The Inherent power under Section 482 in The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (37th Chapter of t...

The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) in India: A...


The Uniform Civil Code (UCC) is a concept that proposes the unification of personal laws across...

Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Legal...


Artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing various sectors of the economy, and the legal i...

Lawyers Registration
Lawyers Membership - Get Clients Online

File caveat In Supreme Court Instantly