Paragraphs on the Preamble of India!
Every democratic Constitution has a philosophy and a vision that forms its basis. The philosophical base of the Indian Constitution has been laid down in the Preamble attached to the Constitution.
On December 13, 1946, a resolution called the Objectives Resolution was moved by J.L. Nehru and was unanimously adopted by the Assembly on January 22, 1947. The resolution was the basis of the Preamble that declared India as a Sovereign Republic with all its power and authority derived from the people of India.
Social, economic and political justice was to be guaranteed and secured for all the people of India, along with the equality of status and opportunity and equality before the law, freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith, worship, vocation, and association and action. Adequate safeguards were provided in addition, to the minorities and the people of the backward classes.
The integrity of the territory of the Republic and its sovereign rights on land, sea and air, are to be maintained according to justice and the law of civilised nations. India having attained its rightful and honored place in the world war expected to make its full and willing contribution to the promotion of world peace and the welfare of mankind.
Embodiment of the Philosophy of the Constitution: The Preamble:
The Preamble is a sort of preface or introduction to an act of a Parliament or a Constitution. Mr. N.A. Palkhiwala has significantly described it as an ‘Identity Card of the Constitution’. It has been also described as the ‘Key to the Constitution.’
The ideals embodied in the Objectives Resolution are faithfully reflected in the Preamble to the Constitution which as amended by the 42nd amendment Act, 1976 summarises the aims and objectives of the Constitution 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;
IN our Constituent Assembly this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do Hereby
Adopt, Enact and Give to Ourselves this Constitution.
Significance of the Words in the Preamble:
The Preamble to the Indian Constitution sets the Constitution in a highly moral perspective and embodies not only the spirit with which the Constitution was drafted but also the ideals, that the people of India, as represented in the Constituent Assembly, wanted their country to realise—the ideals of justice, equality, liberty and fraternity.’
The words have been chosen judiciously and embody a value that cannot be measured merely in terms of formal legal expressions.
The significance of these words has been discussed below:
The Preamble begins with the words, ‘We, the people of India’. This signifies that the Constitution of India, unlike the preceding Government of India Acts, is not a gift of the British Parliament.
It has been ordained by the people of India through their representatives assembled in a sovereign Constituent Assembly which was competent enough to determine the political future of the country in the manner it liked.
The words—’We, the people of India adopt, enact and give to ourselves this Constitution’— thus declare the ultimate sovereignty of the people of India. In the famous case ‘Gopalan vs. State of Madras’, Justice Patanjali observed, “There can be no doubt that the people of India in exercise of their sovereign will, as expressed in the Preamble, adopted the democratic idea which assures to the citizen, the dignity of the individual……, reserved to themselves certain fundamental rights ”
The Preamble declares, therefore, in unequivocal terms that the sources of all authority under the Constitution are the people of India and that there is no subordination to any external authority.
While Pakistan remained a British Dominion until 1956, India ceased to be a Dominion and declared itself a ‘Sovereign’, since the making of the Constitution in 1949. The sources of all authority under the constitution are the people of India and there is no subordination to any external authority.
What was hitherto implicit in the Constitution has now been made explicit by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1976 by incorporating two terms ‘Socialist’ and ‘Secular’ and adding the phrase ‘integrity of the nation’ along with in the Preamble.
Since the Bolshevik Revolution (1917) the idea of socialism was catching the imagination of the Indians. Within the Congress, its strongest advocate was Jawahar Lal Nehru, who, however did not approve of the authoritarian trend of the Soviet Polity. Gandhiji did not approve of the socialist doctrine of class conflict but worked for social and economic justice.
In January, 1964 at Bhubaneswar, the Congress had passed a resolution at the suggestion of Jawaharlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India. Since then, the Congress party had set its goal as the establishment of socialism in India.
The meaning of ‘Socialism’ in Indian context can be expressed as stated by Mrs. Gandhi, “We have always said that we have our own brand of socialism. We will nationalise the sectors where we feel the necessity. Just nationalism is not our type of socialism”,
The word ‘Secularism’ has been added to the Preamble of the Constitution by the 42nd amendment in 1976 and retained by the 44th amendment.
Likewise, the concept of secularism has now been clearly spelt out in the Preamble as to give constitutional sanctity to a long cherished value of our national life. By enshrining it in the Preamble, we have merely inscribed our fundamental law into an accepted fact.
Secularism in our country does not mean anti-ecclesiasticism. It only signifies that we have equal respect for all religions. Respect for religion does not depend upon the number of the people that follow the religion.
All religious communities in this country, however small their strength may be, have the status, equal prestige and support from the State, irrespective of our freedom, and liberty of faith and worship. The State protects every religion equally, but the State cannot use a religion as a basis of discrimination.
The picture of a ‘Democratic Republic’ which the Preamble envisages is democratic not only from the political but also from the social standpoint. In other words, it envisages not only a democratic form of government but also a democratic society, infused with the spirit of ‘justice, liberty, equality and fraternity’.
As a form of government, the democracy envisaged is, of course, a representative democracy and there are no provisions for direct control by the people, such as ‘referendum’ or ‘initiative’.
The people of India are to exercise their sovereignty through a Parliament at the Centre and a Legislature in each State, which is to be elected on the basis of adult franchise and to which the real Executive, namely, the Council of Ministers, shall be responsible.
Though there shall be an elected President at the head of the Union and a Governor nominated by the President at the head of each State, neither of them can exercise any political function without the advice of the Council of Ministers which is collectively responsible to the people’s representatives in their respective Legislatures. The Constitution ensures equality for all the citizens in the matter of choosing their representatives, who are to run the governmental machinery.
Along with sovereignty in the hands of people, the Preamble states that India shall be a Republic. It implies that the head of the Indian State shall neither be a hereditary heir nor a dictator. She/he shall be elected by the people directly or indirectly for a limited period and will have to face his/her electorate after the expiry of that period.
Accordingly, the President of the Indian Republic is-elected for a period of 5 years by the elected representatives of the State legislatures and the Parliament. Since the President is neither a hereditary heir nor a dictator (she can also be removed from the office by impeachment, if it is found that she/he is not discharging his/her obligations in accordance with the rules provided in the Constitution.
The essence of justice is the attainment of the common good as distinguished from the good of individuals or even of the majority of them. Our Constitution professes to secure for all its citizens, justice.
Justice as used in the Preamble has three distinct forms — social, economic and political. Social justice is the sine qua non for a welfare state. It implies that the discrimination on the basis of birth, caste, race, sex or religion should be ceased, like that on the basis of untouchability.
In a backward country like ours, it is also required that the State must make concerted efforts to improve the downtrodden and weaker sections of the society.
Economic justice is virtually a corollary to the social justice. It means non-discrimination on the basis of economic values. In positive terms, it implies adequate payment for equal work to all.
It further demands that the state of national economy should be reshaped in such a way that its benefits are equitably and justly available to the common man. Thus, the very concept of economic justice involves the idea of a socialistic pattern of the society. The idea of our Constitution is, therefore, the establishment of a welfare state.
As Nehru said, the first task of this Assembly “is to free India through a new Constitution, to feed the starving people, to clothe the naked masses and to give every Indian, fullest opportunity to his capacity….”
Political justice ensures free and fair participation of the people in the political process. As such, political justice involves universal adult franchise and no distinction on the basis of religion, sex, caste, colour and the like with records to the matters of recruitment for public services.
The most outstanding feature of political justice may be discovered in the fact that our Constitution shows no commitment to a particular variety of political order. It establishes, what is vaguely called, a liberal democratic order.
“Our Constitution”, Dr. Ambedkar said, “is merely a mechanism for the purpose of regulating the work of various organs of the State; it is not a mechanism whereby particular members of particular parties are installed in office.
What should be the policy of the State how the society should be organised in its social and economic sides are matters which must be decided by the people themselves according to time and circumstances.”
Democracy, in any sense, cannot be established unless certain minimal rights, which are essential for a free and civilised existence, are assured to every member of the community. The Preamble mentions these essential individual rights as freedom of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, and these are guaranteed to the citizens by the Constitution against all the authorities of the State by Part III of the Constitution.
Providing the guarantee of certain rights to each individual would be meaningless unless all inequality is banished from the social structure, each individual is assured of equality of status and opportunity for the development of the best in him/her and the means for the enforcement of the rights are guaranteed to him/her. This object is secured in the body of the Constitution, by declaring illegal, all discrimination by the State between citizens, simply on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth (Art. 15); by throwing open ‘public places’ to all citizens [Art. 15 (2)]; by abolishing untouchability (Art. 17); by abolishing titles of honour (Art. 18); by offering equality of opportunity in matters relating to employment under the State (Art. 16); and by guaranteeing equality before the law and equal protection of the laws as justiciable rights (Art. 14).
In addition to the provisions to ensure civic equality, the Constitution seeks to achieve political equality by providing for universal adult franchise (Art. 326) and by reiterating that no person shall be either excluded from the general electoral rolls or allowed to be included in any of them.
The last ideal is fraternity ensuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation. It seems to have incorporated Art. 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 that says. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. The ideal of Fraternity has two salient parts—unity and integrity of the nation, and the dignity of the individual. Both are not only integral. Rather, the latter depends upon the former.
The phrase ‘dignity of the individual’ signifies that the Constitution, as K.M. Munshi said, is an instrument not only to ensure material betterment and maintain a democratic set-up, but to recognise that the personality of every individual is sacred too.
The Preamble, serving as an introduction to the Constitution, is a part of it, and cannot be set aside unless it comes in direct conflict with a clear and unambiguous enacted part, but it is not one of its operative provisions. By itself, a Preamble does not either restrict or expand any law of the Constitution.
It is only when there is some lack of clarity about a particular clause of the Constitution the Preamble is referred to, in order to find out the philosophical basis of the makers of the Constitution about a certain issue. Whenever an ambiguity is found in the main part of the constitution, the preamble is a reliable source to rest-upon, for judicial and legal interpretation.