WHAT YOU WILL LEARN about preamble of indian constitution


WHAT IS PREAMBLE OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION SAYS – 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 2[unity and integrity of the Nation];



Constitutions all over the world generally have a Preamble. The form, content and length of the Preamble differ from constitution to constitution. Irrespective of these differences, the Preamble generally sets the ideals and goals which the makers of the constitution intend to achieve through that constitution.‘ Therefore, it is also regarded as ” ’a key to open the mind of the makers’ of the Constitution which may show the general purposes for which they made several provisions in the Constitution”. Therefore, the Preamble is a legitimate aid in the interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution. In this respect, subject to the clarification given below, the Preamble of the Constitution stands on the same footing as the Preamble of an Act.

The Significance “of preamble of indian constitution Act cannot control/ qualify or restrict the meaning and application of its enacting part, if that part is explicit and unambiguous. But if the enacting part is ambiguous, the Preamble can be used to explain and elucidate it In Powell v. Kempton Park Racecourse Co. Ltd., Lord Halsbury LC said: ‘

Two propositions are quite clear: one that a preamble may afford useful light as to What the statute intends to reach; and another, that if an enactment is itself clear and unambiguous, no preamble can qualify or cut down the enactment.

Again in Attorney General V. HRH. Prince Ernest Augustus of Hanover“, Lord Normand for the House of Lords said:

If they [the enacting words] admit of only one construction, that construction will receive effect even if it is inconsistent with the preamble of Indian Constitution , but if the enacting words are capable of either of the constructions offered by the parties, the construction which fits the preamble may be preferred.

These propositions are, however, subject to the clarification that the Preamble to an Act is not part of the Act, because it is not enacted and adopted by the enacting body in the same manner as the enacting provisions. The Preamble of_ an Act is not introduced, discussed and passed in the enacting body-the legislature -1ike the enacted provisions sections -of the Act. The Preamble of our Constitution was, however, enacted and adopted by the same procedure as the rest of the Constitution. It was introduced and discussed in the Constituent Assembly and passed by it like the rest of the provisions of the Constitution. This difference was not brought to the notice of the Supreme Court in Berubari Union and Exchange of Enclaves re, where it observed that ”the preamble is not part of the Constitution“? Later when the constituent history of the Preamble was brought to the notice of the court in Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala“, it held that ”constitution of India preamble was part of the Constitution and the observations to the contrary in Berubari Union case. were not correct”.The Indian constitution preamble is also part of the basic structure of the Constitution.

The recognition of the Preamble of Indian Constitution as an integral part of the Constitution makes the Preamble a valuable aid in the construction of the provisions of the Constitution because, unlike the Preamble to an Act, the Preamble to the Constitution occupies the same position as other enacting words or provisions of the Constitution. Therefore reference to Preamble 1n constitutional adjudication is quite frequent


The framers of the Constitution of India had set out three broad purposes in the Preamble:

First, they sought to constitute India into a ”Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic”. India is a republic because the head of the State is elected and is not a hereditary monarch. It is democratic because the Constitution ensures the creation and existence of the government at the will of the people, through their participation in the formation of the government at regular intervals, on the principle of universal adult franchise.“ It is sovereign because it can make or unmake any decision with respect to itself without interference by any other country Her membership of the Commonwealth of the Nations is not inconsistent with her independent and sovereign status.


The words ”socialist” and ”secular” were added in the Preamble by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976. The addition of ”socialist” indicates the incorporation of the philosophy of ”socialism” in the Constitution, which aims at the elimination of inequality in income and status and standards of life, and may enable the courts to lean more and more in favour of nationalisation and State ownership of industry. After the adoption of the new economic policy in 1991 which is oriented towards free market and privatization, doubts were raised if that policy was consistent with socialism as envisaged in the Preamble. The Supreme Court has, however, upheld the privatisation of several enterprises without going into the question if that conflicts with the word ”socialist” in the Preamble. In some of the decisions, the Court has also used the word ”socialist” in the Preamble for evolving a concept of social democracy, which comes closer to the concept of social welfare state expressed as ”social Republic”, ”social state”, for example, in the Constitutions of France and Germany respectively. The word ”secular” recognises the concept of secularism as manifested in the guarantee of freedom of religion as a fuhdamental right in the Constitution. Thus, secularism was as much part of the Constitution even before the word ”secular” was inserted in the Preamble. Teaching of Sanskrit in schools, reservation of seats for Sangha in the Legislative Assembly of Sikkim, and acquisition of places of worship, including mosques, is not against secularism. Governments and political parties which lack religious tolerance, deny equal treatment to all religious groups and which fail to protect their life, property and places of worship run counter to secularism. Similarly, seeking votes at an election on the ground of religion is against secularism, while inter-religion or inter-caste marriages promote secularism. Secularism in India does not envisage a strict wall of separation between the State and religion as, for example, in the US. In India, it is susceptible to a positive meaning, that is, developing understanding and respect towards different religions. For more details on secularism and some other foregoing concepts also refer to Part II of Introduction to this book.

Although the original expression “Sovereign Democratic Republic” has been modified into ”Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic”, it remains as much a composite expression as before. Absence of any punctuation mark between different words of the expression supports this fact. It is further supported by its print in capital letters.

Second, they sought to secure to citizens of India justice social, economic, and politica1;liberty of thought, expression, faith, and worship; equality of status and opportunity; and to promote among the people of India, fraternity, assuring dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation. Although the expressions, ”justice”, ”liberty”, ”equality”, and ”fraternity” do not have fixed contents and may not be easy to define, they are not without contents or mere platitudes. They are given content by the enacting provisions of the Constitution, particularly by Part III, the Fundamental Rights; Part IV, the Directive Principles of State Policy; Part IV-A, the Fundamental Duties; and Part XVI, Special Provisions Relating to Certain Classes. Special attention has been drawn to the sequence of these values in the Preamble which establishes primacy of justice over freedom and equality and this is What the Constitution does by making special provisions for the weaker and excluded sections of society, women, children and minorities.”

Third, they made it clear that the Constitution emanates from ”We, the people Of India” and not from any external or lesser source. It is a conclusive assumption and a legal fiction which cannot be tested or questioned in any court.


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