In this article, we will discuss Preamble of Indian Constitution (Part-3). So, let’s get started.
Preamble of the Constitution
Significance of the Preamble
The Preamble embodies the basic philosophy and fundamental values-political, moral and religious-on which the Constitution is based. It contains the grand and noble vision of the Constituent Assembly, and reflects the dreams and aspirations of the founding fathers of the Constitution. In the words of Sir Alladi Krishnaswami lyer, a member of the Constituent Assembly who played a significant role in making the Constitution, “The Preamble to our Constitution expresses what we had thought or dreamt so long’.
According to K.M Munshi, a member of the Drafting Committee of the Constituent Assembly, the Preamble is the ‘horoscope of our sovereign dermocratic republic’.
Pandit Thakur Das Bhargava, another member of the Constituent Assembly, summed up the importance of the Preamble in the following words: “The Preamble is the most precious part of the Constitution. It is the soul of the Constitution. It is a key to the Constitution. It is a jewel set in the Constitution. It is a proper yardstick with which one can measure the worth of the
Sir Ernest Barker, a distinguished English political scientist, paid a glowing tribute to the political wisdom of the authors of the Preamble. He described the Preamble as the ‘key-note’ to the Constitution. He was so moved by the text of the preamble that he quoted” it at the opening of his popular book, Principles of Social and Political Theory (1951).
M. Hidayatullah, a former Chief Justice of India, observed, ‘Preamble resembles the Declaration of Independence of the United State of America, but is more than a declaration. It is the soul of our Constitution. which lays down the pattern of our political society. It contains a solemn resolve, which nothing but a revolution can alter.
Preamble as part of the Constitution
One of the controversies about the Preamble is as to whether it is a part of the Constitution or not.
In the Berubari Union case (1960), the Supreme Court said that the Preamble shows the general purposes behind the several provisions in the Constitution, and is thus a key to the minds of the makers of the Constitution. Further, where the terms used in any article are ambiguous or capable of more than one meaning, some assistance at interpretation may be taken from the objectives enshrined in the Preamble. Despite this recognition of the significance of the Preamble, the Supreme Court specifically opined that Preamble is not a part of the Constitution.
In the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973), the Supreme Court rejected the earlier opinion and held that Preamble is a part of the Constitution. It observed that the Preamble is of extreme importance and the Constitution should be read and interpreted in the light of the grand and noble vision expressed in the Preamble. In the LIC of India case” (1995) also, the Supreme Court again held that the Preamble is an integral part of the Constitution.
Like any other part of the Constitution, the Preamble was also enacted by the Constituent Assembly; but, after the rest of the Constitution was already enacted. The reason for inserting the Preamble at the end was to ensure that it was in conformity with the Constitution as adopted by the Constituent Assembly. While forwarding the Preamble for votes, the President
of the Constituent Assembly said, “The question is that Preamble stands part of the Constitution’. The motion was then adopted. Hence, the current opinion held by the Supreme Court that the Preamble is a part of the Constitution, is in consonance with the opinion of the founding fathers of the Constitution.
However, two things should be noted:
The Preamble is neither a source of power to legislature nor a prohibition upon the powers of legislature.
It is non-justiciable, that is, its provisions are not enforceable in courts of law.!
Amenability of the Preamble
The question as to whether the Preamble can be amended under Article 368 of the Constitution arose for the first time in the historic Kesavananda Bhurati case (1973). It was urged that the Preamble cannot be amended as it is not a part of the Constitution. The petitioner contended that the amending power in Article 368 cannot be used to destroy or damage the basic elements or the fundamental features of the Constitution, which are enshrined in the Preamble.
The Supreme Court, however, held that the Preamble is a part of the Constitution. The Court stated that the opinion tendered by it in the Berubari Union (1960) in this regard was wrong, and held that the Preamble can be amended, subject to the condition that no amendment is done to the basic features In other words, the Court held that the basic elements or the fundamental features of the Constitution as contained in the Preamble cannot be altered by an amendment under Article 368
The Preamble has been amended only once so far, in 1976, by the 42nd Constitutional
Amendment Act, which has added three new words-Socialist, Secular and Integrity-to the Preamble. This amendment was held to be valid.