Preamble to the constitution of India


1. Introduction

The word Preamble has been taken from the Latin term Preambulus which means to go before. The Preamble of any statute is like a preface which sets out the goals and objectives for which the statute is constituted. It gives the basic idea of the intention of statute makers for constituting the statute. The Preamble to the constitution of India talks about the basic idea for which our constitution was made. As said by Earnest Baker, “The preamble of Indian Constitution is the keynote of the constitution.” The idea of Preamble has been borrowed from the constitution of USA.

2. History of Preamble

Preamble of our Constitution is based on objective resolution which was presented by Former Prime minister Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru on 13 December 1946 and was adopted by constituent assembly on 22 January 1947.

3. The Preamble of the constitution may be interpreted by the terms used in it


We the people of India” it indicates that the constitution of India is made with the consent of the people of India which they gave by way of choosing the members of Constituent Assembly. Thus the people of India are source of The Indian constitution.

Nature of Indian constitution

The five terms used in preamble i.e. “Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic” describe the nature of Indian Constitution. Let us know what these terms mean.

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The word sovereign means absolute power and in the preamble it means that our country India is an independent country, and is not controlled by any other country or, dependent on any other country. However, India is still the member of Commonwealth Nations but, it has nothing to do with its status of sovereignty.


The word socialist was added in preamble by 42nd amendment 1976. This means all the people of the country shall be treated equally and they should get equal opportunity and Equal share in state resources. In the further parts of constitution i.e., (part3rd fundamental rights and part 4 DPSP) particular Provisions are enshrined to put emphasis on Socialism.


The word secular was also added by 42nd amendment 1976. It means that the state has no religion of its own in other words it doesn’t supports any religion but, the individuals may freely practice, profess, and propagate their religion. (Right to freedom of Religion – Article 25-30) The next part of Preamble holds the objectives of our constitution which are:


Social, economic and political; which means the people of India have right to get justice in all its forms viz; social, economic and political. No one shall be treated unequal. The main provisions regarding this in our constitution are Article 22 talks which safeguards against arbitrary arrest and detention. And the writ Of Habeas Corpus under Article 32 which gives quick and immediate remedy to the person who is unlawfully detained.

Directive principles of state policy

Directive principles of state policy which are given under Article 36-51, Lay down the ideals which the union and state Government must keep in mind while they formulate any policy or law. They lay down certain social , economic, political principles which will help in providing equal justice to each individual. Article 39A provides for equal justice and free legal aid to economically backward class.

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Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship; means all the citizens of country are free to speak their thoughts, profess their religion and worship there God without Any restriction. Article 19 gives right to freedom of speech with reasonable restrictions, and under Article 25-28 right to freedom of religion is provided.


Equality of status and of opportunity, and to promote among them all; Article 14-18 of constitution contains Right to equality and prohibits unreasonable discrimination between persons ( reasonable discrimination can be done On the basis of intelligible differentia for those who are left out)


assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation.

4. How many times Preamble of the constitution of India has been amended?

Can it be amended? The preamble of the constitution was amended only once by way of 42nd amendment of 1976. By this amendment three new words (Secularism, Socialism, and Integrity) were inserted in the preamble. The second question may be elaborated with the help of following case laws.

In Re Berubari union case when it was contended that the Preamble constituted an implied limitation on the power to amend the constitution under Art 368. The above contention was Negative by the 7 judge’s bench and it was held that “preamble was not a part of constitution and the only purpose of it is to show the general purpose for which the authors of the constitution made the several provisions of constitution.

The above observation was upheld by the Supreme Court in Golaknath v. state of punjab The 13 judge bench in the historic case of Keshvananda Bharti v. state of kerala overruled Golaknath case and also negative the observation of SC in Berubari case (but the entire opinion was not overruled) It was held that the preamble of the constitution of India was put to vote after enacting its substantive provisions by the same process and then adopted as a part of constitution.

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The word “this constitution” in Article 368 therefore includes the preamble and is not beyond the pale of amending power and nor does anything in the preamble restrict the amending power conferred by Article 368. The court also had the edifice of our constitution is based upon basic elements mentioned in the preamble, thus amendment of the preamble is subject to this condition that basic features in the preamble cannot be amended.

5. Conclusion

Thus it may be concluded that the preamble indicates the source from which the constitution comes, viz., the people of India. And it presents the idea of the basic structure of the provisions contained in our constitution and motive of the authors behind it. Different cases have made it clear that Preamble is a Part of the constitution because it was created and passed in the same manner as all other provisions of it and also it can be amended under Article 368 subject to the condition of not destroying the basic structure of constitution.

Author: Saumya Shukla,
Final year CMP degree college Prayagraj

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