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Preamble : Constitution of India : IAS Notes

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Preamble - Bare -

  • "Preamble is a microcosm of the constitution and is a key to the constitution."
  • Preamble is not enforceable
  • Words socialist, secular and integrity was added by the 42nd constitutional amendment of 1976

Preambular values

  1. Sovereignity : Sovereignity is a characteristic of the government. It means that there is no authority above the government either outside or inside the country. **Preamble of India establishes popular sovereignity and not parliamentary sovereignity.
  2. Socialist : Socialism means ownership of productive forces by the government so that they benefit people equitably.
  3. Secular : Secularism means separation of religion from politics. Religion is private while politics is public.
  4. Democracy : Democracy means rule by the people.
  5. Republic : Republic is a political order in which the supreme power lies in a body of citizens. Will of people is the basis for governance. Public offices are thrown open to all citizens. It also means a country where the head of State is elected and is not a hereditary institution like the monarchy in Britain.
  6. Justice : It is a concept involving the fair and moral treatment of all persons, both in the formulation and enforcement of laws.
  7. Liberty : Derived from the latin word 'liber' which means freedom from slavery, imprisonment, etc.
  8. Equality : Equality of status means equal treatment under law, independent of one's status.
  9. Fraternity : Fraternity means common brotherhood of all Indians.

Importance of Preamble

Its primary utility lies in assisting in clarifying the essential character of the constitution to judiciary in case of ambiguity in the constitution

Purpose of having a Preamble

  1. It indicates the source from which the constitution derives its authority.
  2. It also states the objects, which the constitution seeks to establish and promote.

Points to Ponder

  • Page of the Preamble and other pages designed and decorated by renowned painter Beohar Rammanohar Sinha of Jabalpur, who was at Shantiniketan with Acharya Nandalal Bose at that time.
  • Wording 'We The People' resembles the preamble to the constitution of Ireland (1937). "We The People" emphasizes popular sovereignty as laid down by J.J. Rosseau.
  • Words Socialist, Secular and Integrity were added by the 42nd amendment act of 1976, which was proposed by Sardar Swaran Singh Committee.
  • Idea of addition of the word 'Socialist' was prompted by Indira Gandhi, as an ode to India's growing relationship with erstwhile USSR.
  • Preamble seeks to establish what Mahatma Gandhi described as the  'India of my dreams' : " ... an India in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country in whose making they have an effective voice,... an India in which all the communities shall live in perfect harmony. There can be no room in such an India for the curse of untouchability or the curse of intoxicating drinks and drugs. Woman will enjoy the same rights as man." 

Q. " The objective of socialism is no more relevant and hence should be dropped from the Preamble". Do you agree?

The word socialist was added to the Preamble by the 42nd amendment act of 1976. Socialism means ownership of productive forces by the Government so that they benefit people equitably. Distributive justice is a part of socialist societies.
Since 1991, there is a new direction to Indian Economic System towards greater role for markets in economic development and retreat of state. It has triggered a debate as to whether the constitutional goal of socialism is being implemented or not. However, the basis for the new economic policy centered around liberalization of economy is to generate wealth which in turn can be distributed to all sections. Government continues to play an active role in social security and distributive justice.
Thus, while India continues to strive for the method of achieving the goal is modified towards market forces playing a greater role in the economy.

Cases worth mentioning

1. A.K. Gopalan v/s State of Madras (1950) & Union of India v/s Madan Gopal Kabra (1953)

  • Ultimate Sovereignty of the people of India and that the Constitution rests on their authority.
2. C.f. Crown Aluminium Works v/s Workmen (1958)
  • The goal envisaged by the Constitution is that of a 'Welfare State' and the establishment of a 'Socialist State'.
3. Berubari Case (1960)
  • Preamble is NOT a part of the Constitution.
4. Keshavanand Bharti Case (1973)
  • Preamble is a part of the Constitution.
  • However, it is not enforceable, and cannot be amended i.e. It can be enriched but not reduced.
  • Preamble is a part of the basic framework of the constitution.
5. Nakara v/s Union of India (1983)
  • The goal of Indian socialism is " a blend of Marxism and Gandhism, leaning heavily towards Gandhian socialism ".
6. Bommai v/s Union of India (1994)
  • It is the spirit of brotherhood that the Preamble of our Constitution reflects.
7. Union Govt. v/s LIC of India (1995)
  • Preamble is an integral part of the Constitution.
8. LIC v/s Consumer Centre (1995)
  • The right to dignity is a Fundamental Right.
9. Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Ltd. v/s Union of India (1996)
  • The idea of economic justice is to make equality of status meaningful and life worth living at its best removing inequality of opportunity and of status - social, economic and political.
10. Ashok Kumar Gupta v/s State of Uttar Pradesh (1997)
  • Social justice is a Fudamental Right.
11. State of Punjab v/s G.S. Gill (1997)
  • The State in a democratic society derives its strength from the cooperative and dispassionate will of all its free and equal citizens.
12. Samantha v/s State of Andhra Pradesh (1997)
  • Social and economic democracy is the foundation on which political democracy would be a way of life in the Indian Polity.
13. S.S. Bola & Ors. v/s S.D. Sardana (1997)
  • Liberty, Equality and Fraternity have to be secured and protected with social justice and economic empowerment and political justice to all the citizens under the rule of law.
  • Liberty should be coupled with social restraint and subordinated to the liberty of the greatest number for common happiness.
13. S.R. Chaudhary v/s State of Punjab & Ors. (2001)
  • The members of the legislature, must owe their power directly or indirectly to the people.
Important Quotes on Preamble to the constitution of India -

Sources : 
1. UPSCportal
2. Introduction to the Constitution of India by Dr. Durga Das Basu
3. Wikipedia


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