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Preamble means the opening part of any book or document that explains the document’s aim and summarises it in few words. The preamble in the constitution plays an essential part in showing the aim of the makers of the constitution. It also tells about the history, how it was created and the central values on which the country should operate.
History of Preamble
The preamble was introduced in the assembly as “objective reasoning” by Jawaharlal Nehru on 13th December 1946. On 22nd January 1947, the preamble came into force. The drafting committee of the assembly thought that the preamble should contain only the main feature that the new country needs, and all the other parts can be explained in detail in the next part of the constitution. The word “Fraternity” was also introduced in the constitution. The words “Secular and Socialist” was introduced in the 42nd amendment, where earlier only the words “Sovereign, Democratic, Republic” was there.
Importance of Preamble
- It gives a summary of the constitution.
- It gives the principle on which the government should operate.
- It credits the people as the source of the constitution, which increases the feeling of brotherhood among the people.
- It promotes equality between people regardless of their caste, colour and sex.
- It mentions that India shall be secular, democratic, republic, socialist and sovereign.
Main features of the preamble
The main words that are highlighted by the preamble are
“WE, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA“
This term tells us about how the constitution was made for the people of India by its citizens. It says that the authority and powers of the government are given to them by the people themselves. The preamble creators said that as every person’s opinion cannot be taken, the preamble was made by the people who represented the whole population. Jawaharlal Nehru stated in a general assembly that the term ‘people’ means that the constitution was created by the people in their aggregate capacity and not be any state.
In the case of Union of India v. Madangoapal, the court said that, as stated in the preamble, the people give the power to the constitution.
It means the ultimate power to govern. This term was adopted from article 5 of the constitution of Ireland. No country can rule or use its influence on another country. There is two types of sovereignty, i.e. internal and external. Internal sovereignty means the bond between the state and the people within its territory. They can make rules to govern the people in that particular territory. External territory means the freedom of the state from the influence of the other state. It also means that one state cannot impose its rule on the other state if it is sovereign. Since becoming sovereign, India is still part of the Commonwealth of Nations.
The term socialist means a social system where the production, distribution is controlled by the whole community and the owner of those means. This term was added to the constitution by the 42nd amendment. The constitution-makers included this word to have such provisions that can make life better for the people, and the community could be bounded together.
This term was challenged in the case of D.S. Nakara v. Union of India. The court held that the term socialism was introduced in the constitution as it will give the idea of socialism to the makers so that they could make laws around that concept and enrich people’s lives.
The basic meaning of secular is someone who is no concerned about religion. The 42nd amendment added this term. It means that the state has to treat every religion with dignity and respect, and there can be no particular religion of the state. This does not mean that the state is against any religion, but there should be no discrimination against a person based on religion.
In St. Xavier College v. State of Gujrat, the court elaborated the meaning of the word secular. The court stated that “secular” does not mean that the state is against the almighty. It means that any person has a right to go to the place of worship of his choice and practice his religion in his way.
Democracy means a system of governance where representatives of people choose to form a government. The people chose the representative by the process of election, and in this way, people can have their indirect say in the government’s decision.
In Mohan Lal v. District Magistrate Rai Bareilly, the court explained in their judgement that democracy is a theory where the country is governed by the people that act as a representative of the whole population. People’s will governs the country, and it also stops the country from descending into dictatorship.
Republic means the representative elected by the people exercise a state where the authority to govern. In a monarchy, the king is the head of the state, and after them, their heir follows this path, and they become head of the state. In a republic system, the people can vote to elect their representative to become the head of the state. The elected head of the state has a fixed tenure; after the completion of the tenure, a new head of the state is selected by-election.
It means when all the people get fair and equal treatment. The state owes a responsibility to eliminate all the inequalities in terms of wealth, caste, religion, sex etc. There are provisions laid down in the constitution which gives the people remedies if they suffer from such discrimination.
This term, in a simple sense, means freedom. It means a person has a right to have individual beliefs, thoughts, and expressions without the state’s intervention. It also means to enjoy all the elements of life necessary to have a good& happy life. It does not mean total freedom, but freedom with some restrictions that are essential for preserving the interest of the people and the nation.
This means that the state should treat every citizen the same in the eyes of the law. The rights available to the people are insignificant if every person cannot enjoy those rights equally.
It means the feeling of belongingness. The feelings that every person belongs to the same land and they are their brothers and sisters. This term was added because India is home to the much-diversified culture where people profess different religions, caste, languages. The constitution-makers thought that the only way India could grow as a nation is if everyone comes together.
The preamble is a significant part of the constitution. It gives the principle on which the country is built. The most crucial case law regarding the validity of the preamble came in the Kesavananda Bharti case, where the court held that preamble is a part of the constitution.