The preamble of a Constitution sets out the main objectives which the legislature seeks to secure for the people. It expresses what the legislature has dreamt or thought to achieve. It embodies the ideals which the framers of the Constitution wanted for the general purpose of the people in their best interests.
The Preamble of Indian Constitution declares:
“We, the People of India, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a Sovereign, Socialist, and Secular. Democratic Republic and to secure to all its citizens:
Justice, social, economic and political;
Liberty, of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
Equality of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all;
Fraternity, assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation.
In our Constituent Assembly this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949 do hereby Adopt, Enact and Give to ourselves this Constitution.”
In Keshavanand Bharti v. State of Kerala, AIR 1973, SC 1461, the Supreme Court has held the view that the Preamble is the part of the Constitution.
Chief Justice Sikrl has observed in this case as follows,
“It seems to me that the Preamble of our Constitution is of extreme importance and the Constitution should be read and interpreted in the light of the grand and noble vision expressed in the Preamble.”
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In fact, the Preamble was relied on in infusing implied limitations on the amending power of the Parliament under Article 368 of the Constitution. In this case it was held that the “basic elements” of the Preamble cannot be amended under Article 368.
In Randhir Singh v. Union of India, AIR 1982 S.C. 879, the Supreme Court relying on the Preamble and Articles 14 and 16 held that Article 39(a) envisages a constitutional right on “equal pay for equal work” for both men and women.
The Preamble of Constitution serves the following purposes as the matters of its importance:
(1) It indicates the source from which the Constitution comes into existence, Le. The people of India.
(2) It contains the enacting clause which brings into force the Constitution.
(3) It declares the rights and freedoms which the people of India intended to secure to all citizens and the basic structure of the Government and the polity which was to be established.
The following objectives which the Preamble secures to every citizen are :
Justice—Social, economic and political;
Liberty—of thought, expression, faith and worship;
Equality—of status and opportunity, and to promote among them all;
Fraternity—assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation.
Democracy would be meaningless if it fails to generate the spirit of brotherhood among all sections of the society—the feeling that they are children of the same soil and of the same motherland. The concept of brotherhood could be achieved if it is given the practical shape by abolishing titles and untouchability.
Liberty, equality and fraternity were the slogans of French Revolution, which have been adopted in our Constitution. These concepts bring the feeling of oneness to the people of India. The attainment of the collective good of the society as distinguished from individual good is the main objective of rendering justice to the people. Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of Nation, had the vision of India where the poorest persons shall feel that it is their country in whose making they have an effective voice.
It’s Relevance in Interpreting the Constitution:
The Preamble secures to every citizen, justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. It provides social, economic and political justice. It secures liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship. It provides equality of status and opportunity.
It assures the dignity of individual and the unity and Integrity of the Nation. The Preamble of the Constitution is quite relevant for the interpretation of the Constitution. This question was raised for the first time before the Supreme Court in the historic case of Keshavanand Bharti v. State of Kerala.
In this case the Attorney General of India argued that by virtue of its amending power in Article 368, even the Preamble of the Constitution could be amended. The petitioners, however, contended that the amending power under Article 368 is limited.
The Preamble creates an implied limitation on the power of amendment. The Preamble contains the basic elements or the fundamental features of our Constitution. Consequently, amending power cannot be used so as to destroy or damage these basic features mentioned in the Preamble. It was argued that Preamble cannot be amended as Preamble is not a part of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court held that the Preamble Is part of the Constitution. The majority view of the Supreme Court was that although Preamble is the part of the Constitution, it could be amended but subject to the condition that “the basic features” In the Preamble could not be amended. The Court held, “The edifice of our Constitution is based upon the basic elements mentioned in the Preamble.
If any of these elements are removed, the structure will not survive and it will not maintain its identity. The Preamble declares that the people of India have resolved to constitute their country into a Sovereign Democratic Republic.
No one can suggest that these words and expressions are ambiguous in any manner. The amending power would be interpreted so as to confer power on the Parliament to take away any of these fundamental and basic characteristics of our Constitution.” The amending power cannot change the Constitution In such a way that it ceases to be a Sovereign Democratic Republic.
In Excel Wear v. Union of India, AIR 1979 SC 25, the Supreme Court considered the effect of the word, “socialist” in the Preamble. The Court held that the addition of the word, “socialist” might enable the court to lead more in favor of nationalization and State ownership of an industry.
But so long as private ownership of industries is recognized and governs an overwhelming large portion of our economic structure, the principles of socialism and social justice cannot be pushed so as to ignore completely or to a very large extent, the interest of another section of the public, namely, the private owners of the undertaking.
In D.S. Nakara v. Union of India, AIR 1983 SC 130, the Supreme Court held that the basic framework of socialism is to provide a decent standard of life to the working people and especially provide security from cradle to the grave.
This amongst others on economic side envisaged economic equality and equitable distribution of income. This is a blend of Marxism and Gandhism leaning heavily towards Gandhian socialism. This is the type of socialism which we wish to establish in our country.
In our Constitution, the Preamble has combined the elements of socialism and democracy. By uniting these two elements, the Indian Republic has become a blend of socialism and capitalism.
In this way we may conclude that the preamble is quite relevant for the interpretation of our Constitution.