Sunday, November 10, 2013

Preamble of the Indian Constitution

Preamble is a prelude to the Constitution which means that it presents summary of the Constitution and its brief introduction. American Constitution is the first Written Constitution in the world where Preamble was written. So far Indian Constitution is concerned Preamble unravels the minds of our Constitution makers as to what ideals inspired them to write Preamble and Provisions of the Constitution. In other words it is an essence of the Constitution which gives ideology and philosophy to the Constitution.

In any Written Constitution, Preamble is needed for following four reasons or may also be said to be the main four Ingredients or Components of a Written Constitution -

1. It declares the ultimate source of authority such as "We the people of India"

2. It declares the type of Government such as

"Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic "

3. It decides the objective of administration such as social, economic and political justice.

4. It declares the date of adoption of Constitution that is 26th November, 1949.

TEXT OF THE PREAMBLE

The Preamble reads as below - 

"WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, HAVING SOLEMNLY RESOLVED TO
constitute INDIA INTO A "SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC" AND to secure all its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY, of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY , of status and opportunity; and to promote among them all;

FRATERNITY, assuring the dignity of individual the unity and integrity of nation;

IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION."

The Executive, Legislature and Judiciary of India are equal in strength to each other who collectively gather their power from the Government of India which in turn gathers its power from the Constitution which in turns gathers its power from the people of India that is why it is mentioned as "We the people of India"

Preamble is non-enforceable and non justifiable part of the Constitution i.e. it is not binding upon the State and Government. It is a controlled Constitution which gives guidance to the Government. In many judgement s of the Supreme Court and other scholars of the Constitution have expressed Preamble variously such as -

1. It is key to the Constitution - Supreme Court of India - Berubari Judgement

2. It is the soul of the Constitution  - Keshavanda Bharati Judgement of the Supreme Court.

3. It is an ID card of the Constitution - Nani Palkivala

4. It is the Horoscope of the Constitution - K.M. Munshi

5. If we want to understand the Constitution we need to understand the Preamble first - Justice Ramaswamy.

6. Only Preamble declares India a secular country - Paul S Walsamma - University of Kochi

7. Preamble makes it clear that ultimate authority lies in the people of the country - Gopalan Vs The State of Madras

In Berubari Case 1959, Supreme Court said that Preamble is the key to the Constitution. After the verdict of the Berubari case it was said that Preamble is different from Constitution so the Parliament did not had the power to change the Preamble according to the provisions listed under Article 368 as this Article empowers Parliament to amend the Constitution. 

On 24th April, 1973 the verdict was reversed by the Supreme Court in the Keshavananda Bharati Judgement. The Judgement of the case declared that the Preamble is the soul of the Constitution and so it is an integral part of the Constitution and is not different from it, so the Parliament had the authority to amend the Preamble but Parliament can not amend the basic structure of the Constitution.

The basic structure of the Constitution was defined in subsequent judgement s till the Minerva Mill Judgement (1980). 

In next article you will read about the Doctrine of Basic Structure and Amend-ability of the Constitution.

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