Author :- Siddharth Sharma





According to BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY[i]; preamble means, “A clause at the beginning of the constitution or statute explanatory of the reasons for its enactment and object sought to be accomplished.”

According to N.A. Palkhiwala, “Preamble is an identity card of Constitution and it is an introduction to the statute.”

“Preamble to the constitution of India is its spirit and back.”: Justice R.C. Lahoti.

According to K.M. Munshi, “the Preamble has been called the political horoscope of Indian Constitution.”


The preamble of Indian constitution or according to DR. B.R. Ambedkar, the soul of Indian constitution, is based on objective resolution; drafted and moved by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru on 13th December, 1946 and passed by the constituent assembly. America was the first country which added the preamble in its written constitution. Preamble, which basically sets out the goals, the principles and the ideals for which our country stands; is also known as summary, essence, preface or soul of the constitution. The preamble is termed as introductory part, which contains the philosophy of the basic structure of our constitution. The preamble is non-justiciable in the court of law.


 “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: 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, do hereby adopt, enact and give  to ourselves this constitution.”


NOTE: the preamble was once amended by the 42nd amendment act, 1976; and the words “socialist, secular and Integrity’” were added to the preamble.




Preamble shows the philosophy and important principles of the constitution. It contains 4 major parts:

I.                    The source of authority,

II.                  The nature of Indian state,

III.                Goals and objectives of the constitution and

IV.                Date of its adoption.





I.                    The sovereignty resides in people of India,

II.                  They are the people of India itself, to whom the Constitution delegated its ultimate sanction

III.                It follows the concept of popular sovereignty, which was propounded by Rousseau,

IV.                They are the people of India itself, who enacted and adopted the constitution.



 Preamble shows the nature of the Indian state as follows:



The word Sovereign State means: State is supreme over its internal and external affairs. This means: Now, India is no more under domination of any foreign country or any foreign power, and no one can influence its decisions. In India, we have a Parliament, which is entitled to make laws, but at the same time, subjected to certain regulations.




The word “SOCIALIST” was added in the constitution by the 42nd amendment, which took place in 1976. It aims to achieve socialist ends through democratic means. Swarn Singh, the chief architect of the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 remarked that by the word socialist it meant nothing but mixed economy. It envisages the goal of a welfare state.

In the case of D.S Nakara v. Union of India[ii]: the Supreme Court held that, the main aim of a socialist state is to eliminate inequality in income and status and standards of life.



This word was also inserted in our constitution by the 42nd amendment act, 1976. Secularism doesn’t means that India is an anti-religious, theocratic, or an atheistic state, but it means that all the religions in India get equal respect, protection and support from the state. Even, Indian constitution specifically provide legislation under Article 25-28 for freedom of religion. It separates religious affairs from the state. Unlike the other European countries, where they somewhere follow concept of negative secularism, we, in India, follow the path of positive secularism.



The word Democracy is incorporated through two Greek words: Demos and Kratos, which means government of the people, formulated by themselves, but with certain rules and regulations. Basically, our constitution makers want to achieve political, social and economic democracy. Political democracy means the principle of Adult franchise, one vote for one person and rotation of government. Social democracy means absence of discrimination in society on the basis of caste, religion, race, gender etc. Economic democracy aims to bridge the gap between rich and poor, in terms of income and distribution of wealth and resources.

The aim of our constitution makers behind introducing the democracy in India was to achieve the Rule of law and supremacy of the people of India.



Republican form of government means: the head of state is elected by the people, no matters directly or indirectly, for the fix period of time. It is the symbol that in India, the hereditary rule of monarch is ended. Now, our head of State, the president of India is elected by the people by the method of indirect election.



 The preamble of Indian constitution outlines the aims and objectives of the state, which basically are: Justice, liberty, Equality, Fraternity and to maintain unity and Integrity of the country.



In simple words, justice means: behave fairly; as situation demands. The term justice remains uncompleted without its three elements, which are: social, political and economic justice.


Social Justice: Social justice means: Provide equal and fair opportunities to develop the different sections of the society, without any discrimination. The constitution aims to build the society where no one can be exploited on any grounds like: caste, creed, color, race, sex and religion. It advocates for a welfare state.

Political Justice: political justice means: equal and fair opportunities to participate in political affairs and activities of the country. It advocates for all political rights without any discrimination. Political rights includes: right to vote, right to fight elections, right to form any party or organization, right to hold any government office etc.

Economic Justice: Economic Justice means no discrimination can be done by the people on the basis of their wealth, income, and economic status. It stands for distribution of wealth and resources of country, in a proportional manner, so that all the citizens have at least equal opportunity to earn their livelihood and can develop themselves further.



The word liberty is derived from a Latin word “LIBER” which means: free or freedom. Liberty does not denotes absolute freedom, but it brings freedom with certain restrictions. LIberty is not a licence to do anything, but liberty is power to do what is allowed by law. The preamble of the Constitution of India guarantees liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship: which all are essential to the development of every individual and at the same time, nation also.



Equality means: to treat equals equally and unequals unequally.

According to Laski, “equality does not means the identity of treatment or sameness of rewards. But implies:

I.                    Absence of any special privilege and

II.                  The adequate opportunities are laid open to all.

Our preamble talks about equality of status and equality of opportunity:

Equality of status is secured to the people of India by abolishing all distinctions, titles, untouchability, Discriminations by the state among citizens on the grounds of race, caste, sex and religion.

The equality of opportunity suggests that there should be no discrimination on matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the state.



The word Fraternity suggests that a feeling of being children of same soil, of a same motherland or feeling of brotherhood among all. While keeping our historical background in mind, where many section of our society has suffer a lot, the concept of ‘Fraternity’ has great importance.



The word dignity suggests that the personality of each individual should be recognized and should be respected. Without doing so, we cannot even think to attain democracy as way of our life. Dignity of individual in a nation is the dignity of the nation itself.


As well said by Dr. Ambedkar that:

                "The principles of liberty, equality and fraternity are not to be treated as separate items in a trinity. They form a union of trinity in the sense that to divorce one from the other is to defeat the very purpose of democracy. Liberty cannot be divorced from equality, equality cannot be divorced from liberty, nor can liberty and equality be divorced from fraternity. Without equality, liberty would produce the supremacy of the few over the many. Equality without liberty, would kill individual initiative".



It was the day of 26th November, 1949, when the constitution of India was adopted. Constituent Assembly accomplished the work of drafting the whole constitution in the period of two years eleven months and eighteen days. But, day of 26th January, 1950, was decided for commencement of the constitution. It happened because in 1930, on same day, whole India celebrated “THE POORAN SWARAJYA DAY”. Therefore, the constitution makers wanted to make that day memorable. However, Article 394 of constitution [iii]provides that

Articles 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 60, 324, 367, 379 and 394 came into force on the adoption of the constitution on 26th November, 1949. The rest of the provisions of the constitution came into force on 26th January, 1950.






It has been highly a matter of arguments and discussions in the past that whether Preamble should be treated as a part of the constitution or not. The two leading cases dealt with this question:

Traditional view:

I.                    Beruberi Case[iv]:

In this case, it was held by the honorable Supreme Court that the Preamble is not a part of the Constitution, but definitely, it is the key to open the minds of constitution makers. It is also recognized that the Preamble could be used as a guiding principle if any term in any article of the Constitution is ambiguous or has more than one meaning.


Modern view:

II.                  Keshvananda Bharti Case[v]:

In this historic case, the Supreme Court overturned its previous decision and the bench of 13 honorable judges gave the decision that the preamble is a part of The Constitution. They stated, however, the Preamble is not a source of power or a source of limitations or prohibition, but it has a significant role to play in the interpretation of statutes and also in the interpretation of provisions of the Constitution.




The milestone case of Indian polity, Keshvananda Bharti vs. State of Kerala, which we previously discussed, also deals with this issue. When the question of amendabilty to preamble of the constitution arose in front of The Supreme Court, the honorable court decided that:

I.                    The preamble is a part of the constitution, even it is better to say that it is introductory part of constitution,

II.                  It can be amended under Article 368,

III.                But it is subjected to certain restrictions, because the preamble contains the basic structure of our constitution, and if the basic structure is amended, then it will not be able to maintain the original identity.


The second case was The Rajnarayan Anr Vs. Indira Nehru Gandhi[vi]. The same question also arose in this case. The parliament amended the preamble for the first time by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act. The legality of this amendment was challenged. But the Supreme Court, while upholding its previous decision, declared it valid.


D.G. Palekar held that the Preamble is a part of the Constitution and, therefore, is amendable under Article 368 of constitution.


[i] Blacks Law Dictionary

[ii] AIR 130, 1983 SCR (2) 165

[iii] Constitution of India

[iv] Re. Berubari Union and Exchange of Enclaves, AIR 1960 SC 845.

[v] Kesvanandan Bharati v. State of Kerala 1973 SC 1461

[vi] AIR 1975 SC 2299


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