Explained:About the Preamble of the Indian Constitution

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News:The Constitution particularly its Preamble, has frequently been at the centre of the ongoing debate over the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Facts:

About Preamble:

  • The term ‘preamble’ refers to the introduction or preface to the Constitution.It contains the summary or essence of the Constitution.
  • It serves two purposes namely (a)indicates the source from which the Constitution derives its authority and (b)It also states the objects which the Constitution seeks to establish and promote.

Source of Preamble:

  • The Preamble is based on the Objective Resolution moved by Jawaharlal Nehru in the Constituent Assembly on December 13,1946.The Resolution was adopted on January 22, 1947.
  • On October 17, 1949,the Constituent Assembly presided by Rajendra Prasad took up the Preamble for discussion.
  • It was adopted on 26 November 1949 by the Constituent Assembly and came into effect on 26 January 1950, celebrated as the Republic Day in India.

Preamble:The Preamble to the Constitution of India states:

“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 unity and integrity of the Nation:

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION”

Amendments:

  • The original Preamble, adopted by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, declared India a “Sovereign Democratic Republic”.
  • By the 42nd Amendment of 1976, the words “Socialist” and “Secular” were inserted; the Preamble now reads “Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic”.

Supreme Court cases related to Preamble:

Berubari Union case,1960:

  • The Supreme Court said that the Preamble shows the general purposes behind the several provisions in the Constitution.
  • However,it held that the Preamble is not a part of the Constitution.It is also not the source to prohibit the power which is given explicitly in the Constitution.Further,the Preamble is also not enforceable in a Court of Law.

Kesavananda Bharaticase,1973:

  • The Supreme Court rejected the earlier opinion (in the Berubari Case) and held that the Preamble is a part of the Constitution. 
  • It has observed that Preamble is subject to the amending power of the Parliament as are any other provisions of the Constitution,provided the basic structure of the Constitution is not destroyed.