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Preamble to the Constitution of India

The original text of the Preamble, (before the 42nd Amendment) of the Constitution

Preamble to the Constitution of India is a brief introductory statement that sets out the guiding purpose and principles of the document, and it indicates the source from which the document derives its authority, meaning, the people.[1] The hopes and aspirations of the people as well as the ideals before our nation are described in the preamble in clear words. It may be considered as the heart and soul of Constitution. The preamble can be referred to as the preface which highlights the entire Constitution. It was adopted on 26 November 1949 by the Constituent Assembly and came into effect on 26th January 1950, secularism was included in the preamble of India on 18th March.


Historic backgroundEdit

The preamble is based on the Objectives which was drafted and moved in the Constituent Assembly by Jawaharlal Nehru on 13 December 1946.[2] B. R. Ambedkar said about the preamble:

It was, indeed, a way of life, which recognizes liberty, equality, and fraternity as the principles of life and which cannot be divorced from each other: 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. Without fraternity, liberty and equality could not become a natural course of things.[3]

The Supreme Court of India originally stated in the BeruBari case presidential reference [4] that the preamble is not an integral part of the Indian constitution, and therefore it is not enforceable in a court of law. However, the same court, in the 1973 Kesavananda case, overruled earlier decisions and recognised that the preamble may be used to interpret ambiguous areas of the constitution where differing interpretations present themselves. In the 1995 case of Union Government Vs LIC of India, the Supreme Court once again held that the Preamble is an integral part of the Constitution.

As originally enacted the preamble described the state as a "sovereign democratic republic", to which the terms "Secular" and "Socialist" were later added by the 42nd Amendment.[5]

The preamble-page, along with other pages of the original Constitution of India, was designed and decorated by the renowned painter Beohar Rammanohar Sinha of Jabalpur who was at Shantiniketan with acharya Nandalal Bose at that time. Nandalal Bose endorsed Beohar Rammanohar Sinha's artwork without any alteration whatsoever. As such, the page bears Beohar Rammanohar Sinha's short signature Ram in Devanagari lower-right corner. The calligraphy was done by Prem Behari Narain Raizada.




India is a sovereign state in the sense that she is internally supreme and externally independent. Internally supreme in the sense that the Central government or the Indian Constitution controls all other states and she is externally independent in the sense that India is not under the control of an other foreign countries.She is free to conduct external relations with other countries of the world. [7]


Before the term was added by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, the Constitution had a socialist content in the form of certain Directive Principles of State Policy. The term socialist here means democratic socialism i.e. achievement of socialistic goals through democratic, evolutionary and non-violent means.Socialist state basically means that wealth is generated socially and should be shared equally by society through distributive justice.It shall not be concentrated in the hands of few. Government should regulate the ownership of land and industry to reduce socio-economic inequalities. [8]


Secular means the relationship between the government and the people which is determined according to constitution and law. By the 42nd Amendment in 1976, the term "Secular" was also incorporated in the Preamble. There is no difference of religion i.e. all religion are equally respected and moreover there is no state religion. All the citizens of India are allowed to profess, practise and propagate any religion. Explaining the meaning of secularism as adopted by India, Alexander Owics has written, "Secularism is a part of the basic of the Indian Constitution and it means equal freedom and respect for all religions. [9]


The people of India elect their governments at l) by a system of universal adult franchise; popularly known as "one man one vote". Every citizen of India, 18 years of age and above and not otherwise debarred by law, is entitled to vote.The word 'democratic' not only refers to political but also to social & economic democracy.



In a republic form of government, the head of the state is an elected person and not a heredity monarch . This word denotes a government where no one holds a public power as proprietary right . As opposed to a monarchy, in which the head of state is appointed on hereditary basis for a lifetime or until he abdicates from the throne, a democratic republic is an entity in which the head of state is elected, directly or indirectly, for a fixed tenure. [11]


India seeks to secure social, economic and political justice for its people.

(i) Social Justice:

Social Justice means the absence of socially privileged classes in the society and no discrimination against any citizen on grounds of caste, creed, colour, religion, sex or place of birth. India stands for eliminating all forms of exploitations from the society.

(ii) Economic Justice:

Economic Justice means no discrimination between man and woman on the basis of income, wealth and economic status. It stands for equitable distribution of wealth, economic equality, end of monopolistic control over means of production and distribution, decentralisation of economic resources, and securing of adequate opportunities to all for earning their living.

(iii) Political Justice:

Political Justice means equal, free and fair opportunities to the people for participation in the political process. It stands for the grant of equal political rights to all the people without any discrimination. The Constitution of India provides for a liberal democracy in which all the people have the right and freedom to participate. [12]


The idea of Liberty refers to the freedom on the activities of Indian nationals. This establishes that there are no unreasonable restrictions on Indian citizens in term of what they think, their manner of expressions and the way they wish to follow up their thoughts in action. This is found to be an important tool in ensuring democratic framework. However, liberty does not mean freedom to do anything, and it must be exercised within the constitutional limits.This is second provision.


This envisages that no section of the society enjoys special privileges and individuals are provided with adequate opportunities without any discrimination.All are equal in front of law. Again, there are three dimensions of Equality - Political, Economic & Civic.


This refers to a feeling of brotherhood and a sense of belonging with the country among its people. It embraces psychological as well as territorial dimensions of National Integration. It leaves no room for regionalism, communalism, casteism etc,which hinders the Unity of the State.The inclusion of the word "Fraternity" is proposed by Dr. B.R Ambedkar.

   The Preamble declares that fraternity has to assure two things-- the diginity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation. The word 'integrity' has been added to the Preamble by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment (1976)


In Berubari Case (1960), The amendability & the Significance of the same came to the force. An important & very interesting question was raised relating to the powers of the Parliament to cede Indian territory to a foreign country, as an interpretation of the Article 3. Supreme Court had held that the power of Parliament to diminish the area of a state as guaranteed in article 3 of the Constitution does not cover cession of the Indian territory to a foreign country. Hence, Indian territory can be ceded to a foreign country only by means of amendment of the Constitution under the Article 368. Consequently, the 9th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1960 was enacted to transfer the Berubari Union to Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan). Supreme Court also held the view that Preamble can not be a part of the constitution but later in Kesavananda Bharati Case (1973), the Supreme Court gave a comprehensive verdict. It said that Preamble is Part of Constitution and is subject to the amending power of the parliament as any other provisions of the Constitution, provided the basic structure of the constitution is not destroyed.

It has been clarified by the Supreme Court of India that being a part of Constitution, the Preamble can be subjected to Constitutional Amendments exercised under article 368, however, the basic structure cannot be altered.

Forty-second AmendmentEdit

The preamble has been amended only once so far. On 18 December 1976, during the Emergency in India, the Indira Gandhi government pushed through several changes in the Forty-second Amendment of the constitution. A committee under the chairmanship of Sardar Swaran Singh recommended that this amendment be enacted after being constituted to study the question of amending the constitution in the light of past experience. Through this amendment the words "socialist" and "secular" were added between the words "Sovereign" and "democratic" and the words "unity of the Nation" were changed to "unity and integrity of the Nation".[5]


  1. ^ Baruah, Aparijita (2007). Preamble of the Constitution of India: An Insight and Comparison with Other Constitutions. New Delhi: Deep & Deep. p. 177. ISBN 81-7629-996-0. Retrieved 12 November 2015. 
  2. ^ M Laxmikanth. "4". Indian Polity (4th ed.). McGraw Hill Education. p. 4.5. ISBN 978-1-25-906412-8. 
  3. ^ "Fundamental rights in The Preamble,Free Law Study material,IAS Law Notes,Study material for Ancient India Law". Retrieved 2015-10-11. 
  4. ^ Can Parliament give its territory to a foreign country?, available at Learning the Law.
  5. ^ a b "The Constitution (Forty-Second Amendment) Act, 1976". Government of India. Retrieved 1 December 2010. 
  6. ^ Maipaksana Asem,Khumbong under the guidance of Prof. Ma'am Nandini
  7. ^ Maipaksana Asem,Khumbong under the guidance of Prof. Ma'am Nandini
  8. ^ Maipaksana Asem,Khumbong under the guidance of Prof. Ma'am Nandini
  9. ^ Maipaksana Asem,Khumbong under the guidance of Prof. Ma'am Nandini
  10. ^ Maipaksana Asem,Khumbong under the guidance of Prof. Ma'am Nandini
  11. ^ Maipaksana Asem,Khumbong under the guidance of Prof. Ma'am Nandini
  12. ^ Maipaksana Asem,Khumbong under the guidance of Prof. Ma'am Nandini