|Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual introduction.
Body. Philosophy of the Indian polity as enshrined in the preamble. Changes made to preamble since adoption.
Conclusion. Way forward.
The term ‘Preamble’ refers to the introduction or preface to the Constitution. The Preamble to Indian Constitution is based on the Objective Resolution drafted by Jawaharlal Nehru and adopted by the framers of the Constitution. The significance of the Preamble lies in its components. It embodies the source of the Constitution i.e. the people of India.
Philosophy of the Indian polity as enshrined in the preamble:
- Power lies in people: First few words of i.e. “we the people of India” suggest that the ultimate power lies in the hands of the people. It is a democracy in real sense indicating the rule by the people, for the people and of the people.
- Nature of Indian State: It declares India to be of a sovereign, socialist, secular democratic and republican polity.
- Sovereign: The word ‘sovereign’ implies that India is neither a dependency nor a dominion of any other nation, but an independent state. There is no authority above it, and it is free to conduct its own affairs (both internal and external).
- Socialist: The Indian brand of socialism is a democratic socialism. Democratic socialism holds faith in a ‘mixed economy’ where both public and private sectors co-exist side by side. According to Supreme Court, Indian socialism aims to end poverty, ignorance, disease and inequality of opportunity.
- Secular: The Indian Constitution embodies the positive concept of secularism i.e. all religions in our country (irrespective of their strength) have the same status and support from the state.
- Democratic: The Indian Constitution provides for representative parliamentary democracy under which the executive is responsible to the legislature for all its policies and actions. Universal adult franchise, periodic elections, rule of law, independence of judiciary, and absence of discrimination on certain grounds are the manifestations of the democratic character of the Indian polity.
- Republic: The term ‘republic’ in our Preamble indicates that India has an elected head called the president.
- Objectives of Indian state: Justice, equality, liberty and fraternity are most sought concepts embodied here.
- Justice: The term ‘justice’ in the Preamble embraces three distinct forms—social, economic and political, secured through various provisions of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles.
- Liberty: The term ‘liberty’ means the absence of restraints on the activities of individuals, and at the same time, providing opportunities for the development of individual personalities. The Preamble secures to all citizens of India liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, through their Fundamental Rights, enforceable in court of law, in case of violation.
- Equality: The term ‘equality’ means the absence of special privileges to any section of the society, and the provision of adequate opportunities for all individuals without any discrimination. The Preamble secures to all citizens of India equality of status and opportunity. This provision embraces three dimensions of equality—civic, political and economic.
- Fraternity: Fraternity means a sense of brotherhood. The Constitution promotes this feeling of fraternity by the system of single citizenship. Also, the Fundamental Duties (Article 51-A) say that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic, regional or sectional diversities. The Preamble declares that fraternity has to assure two things, the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation.
Changes made to preamble since its adoption:
- Amendment in the Preamble: In 1976, the Preamble was amended (only once till date) by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act. Three new terms, Socialist, Secular, and Integrity were added to the Preamble.
- Various Interpretation by the Supreme Court:
- The Supreme Court in the Berubari Union case (1960) recognised that the Preamble could be used as a guiding principle if a term in any article of the Constitution is ambiguous or has more than one meaning.
- In KesavanandaBharati case (1973), the Supreme Court held that the Preamble is a part of the Constitution and can be amended under Article 368 of the Constitution.
- Again, in LIC of India case, the Supreme Court held that the Preamble is a part of the Constitution.
Thus the Preamble to the Constitution of free India contains the basic ideals, objectives, and philosophical postulates the Constitution of India stands for. They provide justifications for constitutional provisions.