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Preamble and its utility



The Preamble of the Indian Constitution serves as a profound declaration of the nation's sovereignty and aspirations. It unequivocally proclaims that the Constitution emanates from the will of the Indian people, ordained through their representatives convened in a sovereign Constituent Assembly.

By explicitly stating that the Constitution is adopted, enacted, and bestowed upon themselves by the people of India, the Preamble highlights the democratic foundation upon which the nation is built.

Moreover, the Preamble encapsulates the fundamental purposes, objectives, and ideals that underpin the Constitution. It elucidates the core principles that guide the functioning of the state and delineates the basic character of the Indian polity. 

Foremost among these principles is the establishment of a Sovereign Democratic Republic, wherein the sovereignty ultimately resides with the people, and governance is conducted through democratic institutions.

The Preamble stands as a testament to the collective will and aspirations of the Indian populace, enshrining the values of democracy, sovereignty, and republicanism at the heart of the nation's constitutional ethos.


The Text of Preamble

The Preamble to the Indian Constitution reads:

     “WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN, SOCIALIST, 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.”

Reflecting the Will of the People

The Preamble of the Indian Constitution succinctly outlines the objectives and aspirations of the Indian people, emphasising justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity. At its core lies the overarching goal of securing the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation.

This preamble serves as a guiding light, directing the formulation of various provisions within the Constitution to reflect the aims and desires of the populace.

While in Western societies, societal reformation often stems from the grassroots, in India, it has been largely influenced by the elite strata of society. 

Legislative actions, for instance, are not always a direct reflection of societal shifts, but rather initiatives set forth by bodies like the Constituent Assembly, which projected a system aligned with the people's aims and aspirations.

Despite not being directly elected by the populace, the Constituent Assembly, in enacting and adopting the Constitution, effectively represented the sentiments of the people.

The Constitution, ratified in 1949, has since been embraced and upheld by the Indian populace, indicating its binding force rooted in the sovereign will of the people.

The preamble's declaration that the Constitution originates from and is given to themselves by the people of India underscores this sovereign authority.

Parliament, while bound by the Constitution, does not hold sovereignty; instead, it is the people who bestow legitimacy upon the Constitution.

Hence, the Constitution's source lies within the Indian populace themselves, signifying their ultimate sanction and ownership.

It is a document not imposed by external authority but crafted and endorsed by the collective will of the Indian people, embodying their aspirations and vision for the nation's future.

Preamble: Essence and Utility

The Preamble of the Constitution of India encapsulates the core principles, ideals, and objectives that underpin the entire constitutional framework.

It has been described as the quintessence, the philosophy, and the soul of the Constitution, reflecting the result of deep deliberation and precision.


While the Preamble itself does not confer any powers, its significance lies in providing direction and purpose to the Constitution. Its utility can be outlined as follows:

  • Enacting Clause: The Preamble serves as the enacting clause that brings the Constitution into force, symbolising the commencement of the nation's foundational document.

  • Source Declaration: It indicates the source of the Constitution, affirming that it originates from the will of the people of India.

  • Government Type: The Preamble declares the basic type of government and polity envisaged for the country, outlining the democratic and republican ideals to be upheld.

  • Statement of Objectives: It outlines the objectives of the Constitution, including the implementation of Directive Principles, serving as a guiding framework for legislation.

  • Challenge to the People: By invoking principles such as justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity, the Preamble sets forth a challenge to the citizens to adhere to these ideals in their collective endeavours.

  • Introduction and Legislative Intent: As an introduction to the statute, the Preamble aids in understanding the policy and legislative intent behind the Constitution, serving as a "Key-Note" to the minds of its framers.

  • Legal Interpretation: While not enforceable in a court of law by itself, the Preamble assists in legal interpretation, especially in cases of ambiguous language within the Constitution. Court decisions have highlighted its importance in guiding constitutional interpretation, although it cannot override express provisions of an act.

Interpretation of the Preamble

The interpretation of the Preamble of the Constitution of India has been a subject of judicial scrutiny and debate, with differing views emerging over time.

Two landmark cases, Berubari Case and Keshavananda Bharati Case, have significantly influenced the understanding of the Preamble.

In the Berubari Case (AIR 1960 SC 858), the Supreme Court held that the Preamble is not a part of the Constitution and therefore does not confer any substantive powers or import any limitations.

However, in the Keshavananda Bharati Case (AIR 1973 SC 1461), the Court reversed its stance, declaring that the Preamble is indeed a part of the Constitution and of extreme importance. It emphasised that the Constitution should be interpreted in the light of the grand and noble vision expressed in the Preamble.

Furthermore, the Keshavananda Bharati Case established that while the Preamble can be amended under Article 368, the basic features enshrined within it cannot be amended.

The Court held that these basic features form the foundation of the Constitution, and altering them would fundamentally change its character.

Thus, while the Preamble itself can be amended, any amendments that alter its basic features would render the Constitution unrecognisable.

It's noteworthy that the Constitution (42nd) Amendment Act, 1976, amended the Preamble to include the terms "Socialist", "Secular", and "Integrity".

Despite this amendment, the basic structure of the Constitution, as reflected in the Preamble, remains inviolable and serves as a guiding principle for constitutional interpretation and amendment.


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