- Chamber 20th Century Dictionary, ‘Preamble means a preface, introduction, especially that of an act of Parliament, giving its reasons and purposes.’
- Black’s Law Dictionary, ‘Preamble means a clause at the beginning of a Constitution or a statute explanatory of the reasons for its enactment and objectives sought to be accomplished.
CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY’S VIEWS ON PREAMBLE –
The Constituent Assembly talked about the Preamble on 17th October 1949. The debates around the Preamble circled round the name of India and the inclusion of ‘God’ and ‘Gandhi’.
One member encouraged the Assembly to rename India as the ‘Union of Indian Socialistic Republics’, almost like the USSR. Members weren’t convinced with this suggestion as they felt that it might contradict the adopted constitutional scheme.
Another member sought to include ‘In the name of God’. Many were against this suggestion. One member believed that the inclusion of ‘God’ would amount to the ‘compulsion of religion’ and violate the primitive right to freedom of faith. Another proposal was made to include Gandhi’s name within the Preamble. A member was discontent with the already adopted draft articles as he felt that our Indian constitution was supported by the American Supreme lawsuits and Government of India Act. He opposed any association of Gandhi with the ‘rotten Constitution’.
The amendments moved by the members were rejected. However, this was one among the rare occasion of the Assembly proceedings wherein the members voted on the proposal to include ‘God’ by a show of hands. The Assembly was divided with 41 voting in favour and 68 voting against it.
The Assembly adopted the Preamble as presented by the Drafting Committee.
SCOPE OF THE PREAMBLE –
- Preamble’s objective is to bring out the objectives of our Constituent Assembly. Our Supreme Court as observed that the ‘Preamble is a key to the minds of the makers of our Constitution’.
- The preamble cannot override the provisions of our Constitution. If a conflict arises between the provisions of Preamble and the provisions of our Constitution, our Constitution will prevail.
- The preamble does not specify the powers of government neither it limits the powers of government. The powers and limitations of government will be done by our Constitution itself.
- Preamble as a very important yet limited role. It plays a vital role in removing the ambiguities in the provisions of our Constitution.
- The preamble is non-justiciable.
IMPORTANCE OF THE PREAMBLE –
- Preamble enshrines the source of our Constitution that is the people of India.
- The preamble contains the enacting clause which brings into force our Constitution as it symbolizes that our Constitution is a law by the people, for the people, and of the people.
- The preamble sets up our government and minimum requirements by declaring the rights and freedoms of people.
OBJECTIVES OF THE PREAMBLE –
- Preamble promotes social, economical, and political justice.
- Preamble ensures liberty of belief, taught, expression, faith, and worship.
- Preamble promotes equality of status and opportunities.
- Preamble safeguards the unity and integrity of our Nation.
- Preamble ensures the dignity of an individual.
- Preamble promotes fraternity among citizens.
VALUES ENSHRINED IN THE PREAMBLE –
- We the people of India – indicate the ultimate sovereignty of the people of India. It provides nature and meaning through which our Constitution as come into force.
- Sovereignty – it signifies the independent authority of our nation, not being subject to the control of any other State or external power. It means to make or unmake any decision concerning itself without interference by any other Country.
- Socialistic – was incorporated into the Preamble by 42nd Amendment, 1976. It indicates the incorporation of the philosophy of ‘socialism’ in our Constitution, which aims to remove inequality in income and status of a standard of life. In recent years it is being used to signify social democracy.
- Secular – was incorporated into the Preamble by 42nd Amendment, 1976. It recognizes the concept of secularism as manifested in the ‘Freedom of Religion’ as a fundamental right in our Constitution. Thus, it discourages Political representatives from seeking votes in the name of religion and promotes inter-religion marriage to secure secularism.
- Democratic – it symbolizes that the creation of government is through the will of people expressed in an election.
- Republic – indicates that the head of the State is elected directly or indirectly by the people. In our County, our President is indirectly elected by the people.
- Justice – it promotes social justice [by allowing reservation in educational institutions], economic justice [by allowing the creation of separate tax slabs and allowing to make separate categories of economically backward classes] and political justice [by allowing any person to contest for election and allowing every citizen to cast his or her vote].
- Equality – it promotes equality of status [through horizontal reservation] and equality of opportunity [through vertical reservation].
- Liberty- it ensures liberty to every citizen in terms of his or her belief, taught, expression, faith, and worship.
- Fraternity – it promotes the feeling of brotherhood among the citizens.
CASE LAWS –
A.K. Gopalan vs the State of Madras
It was contended that the Preamble to our Constitution which seeks to give India a democratic Constitution, should be used as a ‘guiding start’ in the interpretation of our Constitution. Hence, a law made under Article 21 should be held as void if it offends natural justice.
Berubari Union Case
Our Supreme Court held that the Preamble is not a part of our Constitution. It was observed that it is not a source of any substantive power conferred on our government or any of the departments. It was added that “if terms in our Constitution are ambiguous or capable of two meanings, then the assistance of our Preamble should be sought”.
Keshvananda Bharti vs the State of Kerala
Our Supreme Court overruled its earlier decision and held that the Preamble is a part of our Constitution and can be amended under Article 368 of our Constitution. It was observed that Preamble is of extreme importance and ‘our Constitution should be read and interpreted in the light of the grand and Nobel vision expressed in our Preamble’.
- P Jain, Constitution of India, Justice Jasti Chelameswar and Justice Dama Seshadri Naidu, 8th edition, LexisNexis, Printed by Saurabh Printers Pvt limited (2018).
- N SHUKLA, Constitution of India, Mahendra Pal Singh, 13th edition, Easter Book Company, Printed by Gopsons Papers Ltd (2019).
- The Constitution of India, by PM Bakshi
cases- AIR 1950 SC 27  AIR 1960 SC 845, 1960 3 SCR 250  AIR 1973 SC 1461: (1973) 4 SCC 225: (1974) 1 SCC (JI.) 3.
This blog is written by Kushal, KLE Society’s Law College.
Some more of Kushal BLOGs,
- LOCUST ATTACK: WREAKS HAVOC
- MOHORI BIBEE VS DHARMODAS GHOSE (Case Summary)
- CONTINGENT CONTRACTS
- THE BERUBARI UNION CASE (CASE SUMMARY)
- I.C. GOLAKNATH AND OTHERS VS STATE OF PUNJAB AND ANOTHER (CASE SUMMARY)
- CARLILL VS CARBOLIC SMOKE BALL CO (Case Summary)
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