The Preamble of the Indian Constitution

The Preamble to any document is an introduction to a speech or piece of writing. And when a preamble relates to the important document like the constitution, its value is doubled. The Preamble to an Indian Constitution defines its objectives, date of adoption, and other important details. The following article discusses Preamble, sources, types of government, and landmark cases on the Preamble in independent India.


The constitution of India is not just a book for Indian people but a support system that ensures that nothing evil happens to the people. The sanctity of the Constitution can be understood by a simple example. Unlike other countries, where the elected members take oath in the name of God, the elected members in India take the oath of the constitution. Such is the stature of the constitution of India.

There is no doubt that the bulkiest constitution of the world is a masterpiece. The Indian Constitution is also the lengthiest constitution of any sovereign country in the world. In its current form, the constitution consists of a Preamble, 22 Parts further divided into 448 Articles, 12 Schedules, 5 Appendices, and 115 amendments.

For any document, the Preamble is one of the most important features.Similar is the case with the Constitution. The Preamble to the Constitution of India was written by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru who later served as the first Prime Minister of India.

The Preamble to the Constitution is a brief introductory statement that sets out guidelines, which guide the people of the nation, and to present the principles of the Constitution, and to indicate the source from which the document derives its authority, and meaning. The hopes and aspirations of the people are described in it. The preamble can be referred to as the preface which highlights the entire Constitution. The Constituent Assembly adopted the Preamble on 26th November, 1949 which eventually came into effect on 26th January 1950.

The Preamble reads as follows:

“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;

What does the Preamble Indicate?

The Preamble of the Indian Constitution indicates the following major four components:

  1. The Preamble depicts that the Constitution is supreme. The source of authority rests with the people of the country i.e the people of India.
  2. Originally, in its true form, the Preamble describes the Republic of India as a Sovereign, Democratic Republic. But after the 42nd Amendment, the term Secular and Socialist were also incorporated in the Preamble.
  3. The Preamble also indicates the objectives of the Constitution i. e its objective to secure Justice, Liberty, and Equality to all citizens and promote fraternity, unity and integrity of India.
  4. Also, the date on which the Preamble was adopted is mentioned (26th November 1949).

Similarly, the Preamble can be divided into four parts:

Sources of the Indian Constitution

The Preamble right in the beginning states “We the people of India.” This states that sovereignty lies in the people of the country. The will of the people is of utmost importance. The source of the Constitution of the Republic of India is the people residing in the country and not the states.

Types & Pattern of Government

The second part of the preamble indicates the nature of the government. It declares India as Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic and Republic.

Sovereign nature depicts that India is a free country and has its own independent authority. It is not a dependent state or a dominion state which is controlled by any external power. It also states that India has the power to make its own laws and regulations.

The term “Socialist” was not present in the Preamble which was originally adopted. It was only after the 42nd amendment in 1976 that the term Socialist was added in the Preamble. Socialist nature indicates that the people of India hold faith in a mixed economy where both private and public sectors co-exist creating a condition in which knowledge progresses, science discovers, innovation occurs, enterprise thrives and ultimately people advance.

Similarly, the term “Secular” was not originally present in the Preamble and was added after the 42nd amendment in 1976. The term Secular signifies that India respects all religions. It is also aimed at protecting and supporting the religions present in the world. Later on, in the constitution, the Right to freedom of religion is declared as a fundamental right in Part III of the constitution.

Democratic nature indicates that the constitution has established a form of government that gets its authority from the will of the people expressed in an election. The Preamble resolves India to be a democratic country. That means the supreme power lies with the people. In the Preamble, the term democracy is used for political, economic and social democracy. The responsible representative government, universal adult franchise, one vote one value, an independent judiciary, etc. are the features of Indian democracy.[1]

            In a Republican country, the chief of the nation is elected by the people of the country, either directly or indirectly. In India, the President is the head of the country and is elected indirectly by the elected members of the legislative.

            Besides the above, the constitution also mentions Justice, Liberty, Fraternity, and Equality as the pillars of the country.

            Thus the Preamble to the Constitution of free India remains a beautifully worded prologue. It contains the basic ideas, objectives, and philosophical postulates the Constitution of India stands for. They provide justifications for constitutional provisions.[2]

Landmark Cases

  • Berubari Union Case (AIR1960 SC 845; decided on 14th March 1960)
    It was decided by a bench of seven judges. The question before the Supreme Court was whether the Preamble is a part of the Constitution and is it enforceable. In this case, the Supreme Court said that the Preamble is not a part of the Constitution. And that the Preamble has no substantive power.
  • Golaknath v State of Punjab ( AIR 1967; decided on 27th Feb 1967)

It was decided by a bench of eleven judges. In this case, the Golaknath family owned 500 acres of Land. But the Land Tenure Act allowed them to keep only a little portion of that 500 acres of land, rest shall be taken by the government. In this case, the land tenure Act was challenged. It was argued that Citizens have a fundamental right to property under Article 19 of the Constitution.

  • Kesavananda Bharti v State of Kerala ( AIR 1973 SC 1461

This case is considered a high-mark in the history of the Indian judiciary. This matter was decided by the largest constitutional bench (13 Judges) in the history of India. This case also considered the power of the government as to what limit the government can interfere in a citizen’s Right to Property. In 1971-72, a constitutional amendment took place which resulted in two Land Reforms in the State of Kerala added in the 9th Schedule. This was challenged in the Supreme Court of India.

The view of the Apex Court

The Supreme Court was of the view that, the Parliament, if it wishes can amend the whole constitution including the Fundamental Rights but it has no power and cannot amend the basic structure of the constitution. The basic structure of the constitution was also described in this case.

  • Indira Nehru Gandhi V Raj Narain (AIR 1975)

On 24th April 1971, Raj Narain challenged the election of Smt. Indira Gandhi from the Rae Bareilly constituency accusing her of using corrupt practices to win the election. Again in the Allahabad High Court, he challenged the election of Indira Gandhi to the position of the Prime Minister. This was the first time in the History of independent India that an election to the post of Prime Minister was challenged.

The Hon’ble Allahabad High Court on 12th June 1975 declared Indira Gandhi’s election as null and void. Justice Jagmohan Sinha found Indira Gandhi guilty under section 123 (7) of the Representative of People’s Act, 1951. As a result, Indira Gandhi was barred from contesting elections for the next six years. The impact of the decision was such that it led to the first and only National Emergency of independent India.

As this case was being heard, the Parliament passed the 39th Amendment Act inserting Article 329A which stated that  in matters related to elections, Judicial Review cannot be done.


The Preamble to the Indian Constitution showcases the spirit and characteristics of the makers of the Constitution of India. Though not enforceable, the Preamble is the key to an understanding of the Constitution. The Preamble of the Constitution also describes the basic structure of the Indian Constitution and also is a brief introduction of the Constitution of India.


Q1. What is the true meaning of “Secular”?

All religions are equal in the eyes of the government.

Q2. What is the meaning of “social equality” in the Indian Constitution?

 Equal opportunities for all sections of the societies.

Q3. Who among the following said that the preamble of the Indian Constitution is “The Keynote of the Constitution”?

Ernest Barker.

Q4. The language of Preamble” of the Indian Constitution is taken from which constitution?


Q5. Which statement is not correct in the case of “Sovereign India”?

(A) India is not dependent on any country

(B) India is not a colony of any other country

(C) India can give any part of its country to any other country

(D) India is obliged to obey the UN in its internal affairs

  • Ans. D



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