Interpretation of the Preamble of the Constitution with Recent Cases
Written By– Ms Ashima Mishra
If the Constitution was an entire movie, then the preamble would be the trailer.
A Preamble is the introduction of a constitution or it won’t be wrong if we call the preamble the summary of the entire constitution of India. A constitution is incomplete without its preamble; Similarly, the constitution of India cannot be called a complete one without its preamble. The preamble itself describes the whole constitution.
It is based on the objective resolution passed by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in the Constituent Assembly. Even the former Chief Justice of India remarked Preamble as the “soul of the Constitution.”
As the Preamble says-
“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 of opportunity; and to promote among them all;
Fraternity assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and the integrity of the Nation.
In our Constituent Assembly, this twenty-sixth day of November 1949 do Hereby, Adopt, Enact and Give ourselves this Constitution.”
The entire preamble is being interpreted in relation to the Constitution of India. This does not mean that the preamble is superior to the Constitution. It is rather that source of the power of the constitution which is derived from the citizens of the country.
The Preamble is the face of the entire constitution and the interpretation of it is quite difficult. While reading the preamble, one can find the entire constitution written in it in a precise manner but the language of the preamble is so ambiguous that we cannot find which rights and provisions of the constitution are covered under the preamble.
For example- In the preamble, it is mentioned about equality of status which does not that we can get equality even beyond the reasonable restriction. If it happens, it will be considered as negative equality.
Interpretation of Preamble with Constitution and its case laws
As we all know, “India has a borrowed constitution or has a mixture of all constitutions of the world.” America was the first country to have its own preamble for its written constitution. Later this path was followed by India. Our preamble is based on the objective resolution drafted and moved by Jawaharlal Nehru on 13th December 1946 and also passed by the Constituent Assembly.
N.A. Palkhiwala rightly said, “Preamble is an identity card of Constitution and it is an introduction to the statue.”
K.M. Munshi viewed the Preamble as the “political horoscope of the Constitution.”
Some landmark case laws whose judgments have interpreted and changed the facet of the preamble have been mentioned below: –
- It was in the case of I.C. Golak Nath vs. State of Punjab, “where the Supreme Court held that the preamble sets out the main objectives which the legislation is intended to achieve. It further said that the preamble serves as a mind opener for the makers of the constitution.”
- Re. Beriberi Union and Exchange of Enclaves– In the former case, the Apex court held that the preamble is not a part of the constitution and hence as it has limited application, so it can only be resorted to where there is any ambiguity in the statute.
- – The Court held that the preamble indicates the source of the constitution. It is an introduction to the statute, useful to understand the legislative intention and its policies.”
- Keshavananda Bharti Sripadagalvaru Vs. State of Kerala– The Supreme Court rejected the view given in the Berubari case and held that preamble is a part of the Indian Constitution. In any ordinary statute, the preamble does not get so much of significance, the preamble of the constitution seeks to have a great significance and it reflects the whole document in a single paragraph.
This particular case gave rise to a major judgement which in one way regained the importance of the Preamble of the Constitution. The apex court also said that the preamble emphasizes the principle of equality as a basic structure of the constitution.. As it is a basic structure of the constitution, no one can find an error in it unnecessarily.
It was held that the basic elements in the preamble cannot be subjected to amendment under Article 368 of the Constitution.
- , the Supreme Court with relying upon the preamble and Articles 14 and 16 held that Article 39(d) envisages a constitutional “right of equal pay for equal work.”
Our preamble mainly lays an idea about the following things-
- Sources of the Constitution
- Its Nature
- Date of its adoption
It speaks about the people who have made a resolution to make India a country with all the golden qualities carved on it and along with that to provide its citizens appropriate justice, equality, liberty and to motivate people to promote fraternity among all. It also makes promises to maintain the integrity of India. It also states the date of the adoption of the preamble.
- We, the people of India- Here it indicates about the citizens of the Country who are supreme. They are free to choose their own representatives who can guide them. They are the independent authority of the state and not bound by any external power.
- Sovereign- It states that India is a sovereign i.e. supreme nation where the ultimate decision remains in the hands of its people.
- Socialist- It refers to have a mixed economy where both private and public can prevail peacefully without any conflict. It means to have a socialist economy in a democratic state. The term ‘socialist’ got its place in the preamble in the year 1976, I 42nd Amendment.
- Secular- The word secular mean absence of any state religion. India is itself an example of secularism. All religions receive equal respect, protection and support from the state. No discrimination is made on the basis of religion.
- Democratic- This means that the India has an elected head either directly or indirectly by its citizens. In our constitution, there is a president who is executive head and head of the state who is elected for a fixed tenure of five years. In this kind of government, the power remains in the hand of the electorate to elect their representatives through elections.
- Republic- The term Republic states that the head of the state is elected by the people of India.
- Justice- It is the main objective of the preamble. It is of utmost importance to look whether the people of India who are seeking for justice are actually getting or not. Though our preamble promises it, sometimes people don’t get. They should not be deprived of any kind of justice; social, economic or political.
- Liberty- Generally, liberty means freedom. Freedom of a person to live his life without any force or condition. To do everything without restrictions. It can mean anything like to have political views, to assemble at any place peacefully, to criticize the policies of the government. But again it has some reasonable restrictions.
- Equality- It means no special privileges should be given to any particular group. All the people have given equal opportunities and they should not be deprived of it. This is what preamble promises.
- Fraternity- It refers to the feeling of brotherhood and an attachment with the nation where barriers like religion, race, caste, creed or color never comes up.
- Integrity of the Nation- It refers to the promotion of the integrity of nation. To promote the unity among its citizen.
- Lastly, it says that on 26th November, 1949, our constitution was officially adopted.
People may come people may go but the only thing which will stay with us forever is this preamble and our constitution. The preamble has in every way made us realize that it consists of the basic philosophy and fundamental values like political, social, the religion of the constitution are found. It reflects the dreams of the country and its constitution. It has been interpreted by several philosopher but no one could have made the preamble called unimportant in the history of India.
- Dr. J.N. Pandey, Constitutional Law of India, 55th Edition 2018
- I.C. Golak Nath vs. State of Punjab, AIR 1967 SC 1643
- Re. Berubari Union and Exchange of Enclaves,
AIR 1960 SC 845
- In Sajjan Singh Vs. State of Rajasthan, AIR 1955 SC 845
- Keshavananda Bharti Sripadagalvaru Vs. State of Kerala, AIR 1973 SC 1461
- In Randhir Singh Vs. Union of India, AIR 1982 SC 879 : (1982) 1 SCC 618
 AIR 1967 SC 1643
 AIR 1955 SC 845
 AIR 1973 SC 1461
 AIR 1982 SC 879 : (1982) 1 SCC 618