Preamble to the Constitution

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Preamble to the Constitution of India

A preamble is an introductory and expressionary statement in a document that explains the document's purpose and underlying philosophy. The Preamble of our constitution is the introductory statement which states the guiding purpose and principles of the Constitution. 

It also indicates the source from which the Constitution derives its authority, meaning, the people. It may be considered as the soul of Constitution. The concept of preamble was not there in Government of India Act 1935. The The idea of the Preamble was borrowed from the Constitution of USA 

The page of preamble along with other pages of the original Constitution of India, was designed and decorated by renowned painter Beohar Rammanohar Sinha of Jabalpur who was at Shantiniketan with acharya Nandalal Bose at that time.

Facts about Preamble to the Constitution
  • America started the practice of inclusion of Preamble in the Constitution.
  • The idea to include such a preamble in Indian Constitution belongs to Pandit Nehru.
  • It is also defined as the “identity card of the Constitution”.
  • By 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 three new words were added to the preamble which are – socialist, secular & integrity (note: integrity has been added into the preamble with other name i.e. fraternity).
Constituents of the Preamble
  • It contains the date of adoption of constitution i.e. November 26, 1949.
  • It declares the nature of Indian state as sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic & republic.
  • It declares the objectives of the constitution as justice, liberty, equality and fraternity as the objectives.
  • Sources of authority of the Constitution: The Preamble states that the Constitution derives its authority from the people of India.

Words used in the Preamble & their meaning

Sr. No. Word Meaning / Description
1 Sovereign It means that India is an independent country. No country or any organization has control over India. India is free to take its own decision & has no obligation on it.
2 Socialist Our socialism is different from communist socialism. Our socialism is called democratic socialism. Communist socialism means state control on means of production & abolition of private property. Democratic socialism means to put an end poverty, ignorance, disease and inequality of opportunity.
3 Secular It means that India as a country practices secularism i.e. all religions in India have the same status & all get equal support from the Indian state.
4 Democratic Democratic government means the government which is of the people, by the people & for the people.
5 Republic It means that the head of the state (President) in case of India is elected one & do not come from monarchy or royal family like in the case of England where President comes from the royal family.
6 Justice By this word, it means that India offers justice to its citizens in three forms – social, economic & political justice.
7 Liberty It means absence of restraints on the activities of individuals, and at the same time providing opportunities for the development of individual personalities.
8 Equality It means the absence of special privileges to any section of the society, and the provision of adequate opportunities for all individuals without any discrimination.
9 Fraternity Fraternity means a sense of brotherhood.


Conflicts over the question whether Preamble is a part of the constitution :

Sr.No. Milestone / Case Description
1. Berubari Union Case(1960) Though Supreme Court (SC) in this case underlined the importance of Preamble, it said that Preamble is not a part of the Constitution.
2. Kesavananda Bharati Case (1973) SC rejected the earlier opinion and held that Preamble is a part of the Constitution.
3. LIC of India Case (1995) SC again held that Preamble is an integral part of the Constitution

Characteristics of preamble

  • It is non-justiciable in nature i.e. its provisions are not enforceable in court of law.
  • Preamble is neither a source of power to legislature nor a prohibition upon the powers of legislature.

Why Preamble was added in the end after the creation of Constitution ?
It was added in the end for the simple reason that preamble needed to be incorporating the essence of the Constitution. Constitution went a number of changes during its making & hence creation of Preamble at the starting point was meaningless & hence was added in the last after the making of constitution was finished.

Can Preamble be amended under Article 368 ?

  • The question regarding this came for the first time with the historic case of Kesavananda Bharati (1973).
  • It was argued that Preamble can’t be amended under Article 368 as it is not a part of the constitution.
  • But SC in its judgement said that what SC had given the verdict in the Berubari case that Preamble is not a part of the constitution is wrong. SC in its verdict said that Preamble is a part of constitution & hence can be amended by Article 368. But Preamble can’t be amended if such an amendment is going to amend the “basic features” of the constitution.
  • Preamble till now has been amended only once i.e. by 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 which added three words in the Preamble – Socialist, Secular and Integrity. This amendment was held valid as these three words define the same goals as mentioned in the Constitution.
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