Preamble of the Indian constitution
The term preamble refers to introduction or preface of the constitution. It was first introduced by the American constitution, later many countries followed this practice. Preamble declares India to be of a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic and republican polity. Justice, liberty, equality and fraternity are its objectives. It has been amended only once by the 42nd constitutional amendment act, 1976. On December 13, 1946, Jawaharlal Nehru moved an objective resolution in the assembly and adopted it by the assembly on January 22, 1947. Its modified version forms the present preamble of the constitution. N A Palkhivala, a constitutional expert called it as the identity card of the constitution.
Key words in the preamble
Sovereign : the word sovereign implies that India is neither a dependency nor a dominion of any other nation, but an independent state.
Socialist : India brand of socialism is a democratic socialism. It holds faith in a mixed economy where public and private sectors coexist side by side.
Secular : The term secular implies all religions in the country have the same status and support from the state.
Democratic : Indian democracy is an indirect democracy in which the representatives are elected by the people. The people exercise the supreme power and thus carry on the government and make the laws. The term democratic is used in the preamble in the border sense embracing not only political democracy but also social and economic democracy.
Republic : the term republic in the preamble indicates that India has an elected head called the president. He is elected indirectly for a fixed period of five years. A republic also mean one, vesting of political sovereignty in the people and not in a single individual like a king and the absence of any privileged class and hence all public offices being opened to evry citizen without any discrimination.
Justice : the term justice in the preamble embraces social, economic and political, secured through various provisions of fundamental rights and directive principles. The ideal of justice has been taken from the Russian revolution 1917.
Liberty : the term liberty means absence of restraints on the activities of individuals and it is not license to do one’s likes. The ideal of liberty, equality and fraternity in our preamble have been taken from the French revolution 1789-1799.
Equality : the preamble secures to all citizens of India equality of status and opportunities for all individuals without any discrimination
Fraternity : it means a sense of brotherhood. The preamble declared that fraternity has to assure two things – the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation. The term integrity was added to the preamble by 42nd constitutional amendment act 1976.
In 1960, the Supreme Court said that the Preamble isn’t a part of the Constitution in the Berubari Union case.
In 1973 the Supreme Court rejected the earlier opinion and held that Preamble is a part of the Constitution in Kesavananda Bharati case.
In 1995, in the LIC of india case, the supreme court again held that the preamble is an integral part of the constitution.
Provisions in the preamble are non-enforceable in the court of law, that is, it’s non-justiciable.
Amendability of the preamble : the parliament can amend the preamble of the constitution under article 368, subject to the condition that no amendment is done to the basic features.