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What is the importance of preamble in the constitution?

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  • Last Updated : 13 Jun, 2022
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A constitution’s preamble is the first portion of the introduction of the document. It usually includes the country’s history, fundamental ideas and goals, and a declaration of the country’s intentions. The preamble to a constitution is significant because it establishes the tone for the entire document. It also explains why the document was made in the first place. 

The American constitution is the first to include the concept of a preface in their constitution. It has been suggested that the Preamble is not merely a preface to the Constitution, but also a declaration of self-evident fundamental truths.

Significance of The Preamble

The Indian Constitution is a document that describes what India stands for and how it will be governed, making it one of the most important documents in the country. The preamble is an introduction to the constitution that explains what it stands for and how it will be applied. It’s almost like the Indian constitution’s mission statement. It attempts to summarize what India represents as a country and a society in a single paragraph. Furthermore, it is based on Pandit Nehru’s ‘Objectives Resolution. 

According to the preamble, India is declared a sovereign nation and a democratic republic. It follows socialism and is secular in terms of religion. The Preamble outlines the Constitution’s purposes, which include ensuring justice, protecting people’s liberty, achieving social equality, and instilling a sense of fraternity among citizens. The day the constitution was adopted, November 26, 1949, is referenced in the Preamble.

A debate on whether the preamble is a part of the constitution existed previously, as there is no mention of it in the constitution. The clarity on that came after a few judgments given by the supreme court, which stand out as the landmark judgments. 

According to the Supreme Court in the Berubari Union case, the Preamble explains the overarching purpose of the various provisions of the Constitution and so acts as a key to the framers’ views. Even though the court recognizes the importance of the preamble, it believes it is not a component of the constitution.

The Supreme Court rejected the earlier decision in the Kesavananda Bharati case and concluded that the Preamble is a component of the Constitution. It reflected this statement in the LIC of India case.
It is important to remember that, while the preamble can be concluded as a part of the constitution, it is not enforceable by law as the rest of the parts.

Amendments to the preamble

Only when the preamble is part of the constitution is it feasible to change it. Following the clarification that the preamble is a component of the constitution, the topic of amenability arose. It was decided that the preamble can be amended, but only if the core elements and features remained unchanged.

The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 amended the constitution’s preamble, adding the words “socialist,” “secular,” and “integrity” to the preamble.

Important words of the Preamble

  1. Sovereign: India is a sovereign country, by this conception. It denotes that it is not ruled by or under the jurisdiction of any external authority or country.
  2. Socialist: The 42nd Amendment Act adds the phrase “socialist” to the preamble. Rather than traditional communalist socialism, Indian socialism is democratic. It operates in a mixed economy, with public and private ownership coexisting.
  3. Secular: The 42nd amendment established the term “secular.” It establishes that the state has no official religion and is not prejudiced against any faith. It distinguishes between states and religion.
  4. Democratic republic: It asserts that India will pursue a republican, or people’s representative, democratic system of governance. To display the democratic republic character, the constitution covers various themes such as universal adult franchise, an independent judiciary, eradication of discrimination, and so on.
  5. Justice: The preamble indicates that the justice here is social, economic, and political justice. Social justice refers to the equitable treatment of all citizens of the country, regardless of sex, caste, religion, gender, or other factors.
  6. Liberty: Liberty is defined as freedom from restriction, force, or control. Liberty refers to our power to make decisions about our own lives in this context. Fundamental rights provide freedom of thought, faith, speech, belief, and worship, and when they are violated, they can be enforced in a court of law. Liberty is not limitless, and no one can do whatever they want while jeopardizing others’ fundamental rights or the constitution itself.
  7. Equality: The phrase “equality” refers to the lack of preferential treatment for any group in society, as well as the provision of suitable opportunities for all people, without regard for their race or gender.
    Fraternity: Fraternity is defined as a sense of brotherhood among people. According to the Preamble, the fraternity must provide two things: human dignity and national unity and integrity.

Sample Questions

Question 1: Why does a constitution need a preamble?

Answer:

The preamble to a constitution is significant because it establishes the tone for the entire document. It also explains why the document was made in the first place. It reflects the essence and root thoughts of the constitution-makers in making the constitution. Furthermore, it gives a glance and the basic structure of the constitution.

Question 2: What does the preamble represent in the Indian constitution?

Answer:

The preamble of the Indian constitution represents the main key concepts adopted by the constitution. Many important words are included in it, which at a glance explains the factors of the Indian constitution. It explains the objectives and goals, the nature, and the date of commencement of the Indian constitution.

Question 3: Is the preamble a part of the constitution?

Answer:

A debate on whether the preamble is a part of the constitution existed previously, as there is no mention of it in the constitution. The clarity on that came after a few judgments given by the supreme court, which stand out as the landmark judgments. In the  Berubari Union case, the supreme court opinioned that the preamble is not a part of the constitution. In the kesavananda bharati case, it rejected its earlier decision and concluded that the preamble is a part of the constitution. It is important to remember that, while the preamble can be concluded as a part of the constitution, it is not enforceable by law as the rest of the parts.

Question 4: What is an amendment of the constitution, and is the amenability applicable to the preamble?

Answer:

The concept of amending the constitution refers to revising any element or act of the constitution. This includes adding new acts, changing existing acts, and eliminating old acts. The case of kesavananda bharati, in which the supreme court determined that the preamble is an element of the constitution that can be amended without compromising its core ideas, clarified whether alteration of the preamble is feasible.

Question 5: Discuss the amendment of the preamble by the 42nd amendment act?

Answer:

The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 amended the constitution’s preamble, adding the words “socialist,” “secular,” and “integrity” to the preamble. Even though these principles are represented in numerous provisions of the constitution, the actual use of these phrases is not. 

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