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Author: Anushka Bagri, II year of B.A.,LL.B from Banasthali vidyapith.

The term preamble refers to the introduction or preface. With respect to the constitution, it is the introduction of constitution or summary of the constitution. The American Constitution was the first such constitution in the world which has adopted the terminology called preamble.

In words of N.A. Palkhivala, an eminent jurist preamble is an identity card of the constitution. The preamble to the Indian Constitution is based on the Objective Resolution drafted and moved by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and adopted by Constituent Assembly.

The preamble to the Constitution of India is a brief introductory statement that sets out the guiding purpose, principles and philosophy of the constitution. Preamble gives an idea about the following:

(1) The Source of the Constitution: - The Preamble states that the constitution derives its authority from the people of India

(2) Nature of Indian State: - It declares India to be of a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic, and republican polity.

(3) Objectives of the Constitution: - It specifies justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity as the objectives.

(4) Date of adoption of the Constitution: - It stipulates November 26, 1949, as the date of adoption.


There are certain key words in the preamble of Indian Constitution such as Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic, Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity.

  • SOVEREIGN: - This word sovereign basically means supreme. It implies that India has its own independent authority and it is not a dominion of any other external power. In the country, the legislature has the power to make laws. There is no authority above it, and it is free to conduct its own affairs (both internal and external). Becoming a member of Commonwealth of Nations or United Nation Organization doesn’t affect the sovereignty of India.

  • SOCIALIST: This term was added by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976. It means the achievement of socialist ends through democratic means. It holds faith in a mixed economy where both private and public sectors co-exist side by side. This indicates that Indian brand of socialism is a democratic socialism.

But before the addition of this word in Preamble the constitution already had a socialist content in the form of certain Directive Principles of State Policies.

In case of Excel Wear v/s Union of India, Supreme Court held that the addition of word “socialist” in preamble might enable the courts to lean more in favor of nationalism and State ownership of an industry.

  • SECULAR: - This term was added by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1976. It means that all the religions in India get equal respect, protection and support from the state. Before the addition of this word also, the constitution consists of such provisions (Articles 25 to 28) which indicate that India is a Secular state or the makers of the constitution wanted India to be a Secular State.

In S. R. Bommai v/s Union of India case, the Supreme Court has held that “secularism” is the basic feature of the Indian Constitution.

  • DEMOCRATIC: - This term implies that the Constitution of India has an established form of Constitution which gets its authority from the will of the people expressed in an election. This term indicates the nature of government India has i.e., India is a Democratic State.

  • REPUBLIC: - A democratic nation can be divided into two categories i.e., monarchy and republic. In a monarchy, the head of state is usually a king or a queen. And in republic, the head of the state is always an elected head by direct or indirect elections for a fixed term. India is a republic nation which means that its head is not a hereditary one but an elected i.e., President is the head of Indian State and he is an indirectly elected body.

  • JUSTICE: - It is necessary to maintain order in society that is promised through various provisions of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy provided by the Constitution of India. It comprises three elements, which is social, economic, and political.

  1. Social Justice – Social justice means that the Constitution wants to create a society without discrimination on any grounds like caste, creed, gender, religion, etc.

  2. Economic Justice – Economic Justice means no discrimination can be caused by people on the basis of their wealth, income, and economic status. Every person must be paid equally for an equal position and all people must get opportunities to earn for their living.

  3. Political Justice – Political Justice means all the people have an equal, free and fair right without any discrimination to participate in political opportunities.

  • EQUALITY: The term ‘Equality’ means no section of society has any special privileges and all the people have given equal opportunities for everything without any discriminations. Everyone is equal before the law.

  • LIBERTY: The term ‘Liberty’ means freedom for the people to choose their way of life, have political views and behavior in society. Liberty does not mean freedom to do anything, a person can do anything but, in the limit, set by the law.

  • FRATERNITY: The term ‘Fraternity’ means a feeling of brotherhood and an emotional attachment with the country and all the people. Fraternity helps to promote dignity and unity in the nation.


  • In reBerubari Case, the Supreme Court held that Preamble is a key to open the mind of the makers, and shows general purpose for which they made the several provisions in the Constitution.

  • According to Sir Alladi Krishnaswami Iyer, “Preamble to our constitution expresses what we had thought or dreamt so long”.


The preamble being part of the Constitution is discussed several times in the Supreme Court. It can be understood by reading the following two cases. In Berubari’s case the Supreme Court held that the Preamble was not a part of the Constitution and therefore it could not be regarded as a source of any substantive powers. In Kesavananda Bharati’s Case, Supreme Court overruled its earlier judgement and held that Preamble is the Part of the Constitution.


As in case of Kesavananda Bharati it was held that preamble is integral part of constitution. Then as a part of the Constitution, preamble can be amended under Article 368 of the Constitution, but the preamble contains the basic elements or the fundamental features of the constitution. These basic elements or features cannot be destroyed or damaged by amendments. As of now, the preamble is only amended once through the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976.


As from all the above points it can be concluded that preamble is the integral part of Indian Constitution. And it can be amended as any other part of constitution but its basic features cannot be destroyed. Also, preamble states objectives of the constitution makers as well as it is a key to open the minds of constitutional makers. And lastly it states the basic nature of Indian Constitution.


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