Preamble to the Indian Constitution - meaning & significance

Preamble to the Indian Constitution - meaning & significance

Posted In: Constitutional Law

Posted By: abhishek.ag2000

Tags: preamble, people of india, secular, democratic, justice, liberty, equality, fraternity


Preamble to the Indian Constitution - meaning & significance



The Preamble is often regarded as the Indian Constitution’s spirit and backbone. It makes little sense to interpret the Constitution without first reading the Preamble. It is the Preamble that provides a concise overview of why the Constitution was drafted. The Preamble may be split into three sections:

  • According to the first chapter, the citizens of India solemnly resolved India into a “Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic.” Every term in the Preamble has been carefully selected and structured so that when read, the Preamble paints a perfect image of India’s attitude toward its people.


  • The second section states that all should have independence, freedom, and fairness and uphold peace and dignity.


  • The final portion is declaratory, through which the citizens of India adopt, pass, and grant themselves this Constitution by their constituent assembly.


What is the meaning behind the Preamble?

The Preamble serves as an introduction to the laws or the Constitution. A preamble is a declaration made by the legislature to introduce a law, and it is valuable in reading some of the rules.

The Preamble’s primary aim is to clarify the definition of such terms and recite specific details that must be defined. A preamble may be used for several purposes, including restricting the meaning of a particular phrase, describing details, or adding definitions.


What is the scope of the Preamble?

The Preamble plays a crucial part in determining the country’s fate post-independence. The Preamble has provided a concise overview of the Constitution’s drafters, allowing the constituent assembly to prepare and draft the document.

The only doubt regarding the Preamble’s meaning is whether it is used in the Indian Constitution or not. This issue will be addressed later in this post. The Preamble’s key aim, though, is to explain the concept underlying the Constitution, i.e., what is its root, and what are its ultimate aims and objectives.

The Preamble does not give anyone any authority, but it does provide the basis on which the Indian Constitution is founded, such as:

  • “Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic” can be the country’s slogan.
  • The government should be chosen by the citizens, by the people, and for the sake of the people.


  • The citizens of India should be given actual sovereign authority.


  • Justice, Liberty, and Equality should be given to the citizens.

Essentially, all of the provisions/Articles of the Constitution were written with all of these concerns in mind to not infringe on popular sovereignty.


What is the history behind the Preamble?

Shri. B.N. Rau wrote the original Preamble, which was subsequently proposed in the constituent assembly. The Preamble’s original form only contains the terms “Sovereign, Democratic, and Republic,” although the 42nd Amendment also incorporated the words “Secular and Socialist.” The Preamble was limited to describing the basic features of the Constitution and country; thus, concerns over whether the Preamble is a component of the Constitution or not have been posed.


What are the contents of the Preamble?


  • “We, the people of India.” The expression “We the people” means that all inhabitants of India are involved. It establishes that the sovereign authorities are Indian people. It shows that the citizens have granted the government all of the control it has. The resident is the one that elects the council. The phrase “We the Citizens of India” indicates that the Constitution’s writers are the people.


The real issue is when and how each resident voted for the Constitution. The public/citizens do not vote directly, so it is difficult for millions of people to participate in the constitution-making process. The Constitution was drafted in the interest of the citizens by members of the people. In the case of Union of India v. Madan Gopal. The court related to the phrase “We the people of India,” noting that “the brief of our constitution, namely the preamble, derives the power, namely citizens of India.”


  • Sovereignty: The word “sovereignty” refers to the total and supreme authority. Actual or nominal power may be used. The definition of sovereignty is founded on Article 5 of Ireland’s Constitution. Sovereignty implies that India is the dominant force globally, and no other country can control or infer supremacy over it. The citizens of India are the country’s sovereign authority, and they delegate it to their elected representatives.


  • On January 26, 1950, India became an independent country of equivalent recognition to the rest of the international community, and it has elected to remain a part of the Commonwealth of Nations.
  • Socialist: The 42nd Amendment applied the word “socialist” to the Constitution. In general, the term “socialist” applies to a political-economic structure. The word was introduced in the Preamble mostly to offer equality of opportunities and a decent existence for the citizens and provide a brief to the framers so that they could write the Constitution with the socialist idea in mind. In D.S. Nakara v. Union of India, the court claimed that the primary purpose for using the word socialism was to educate the drafters to add clauses in the Constitution that guarantee people have a better life and, in particular, protection from the cradle to the grave.


  • Secular: The 42nd Amendment also inserted the word “secular” in 1976, and the term secular implies that India does not have a state religion and recognizes all religions with proper regard. Individuals have the right to select their faith. It does not indicate that India is an aesthetic state or anti-religion; rather, millions of diverse faiths live in India. As a secular state, India acknowledges their religion but does not intervene with its practice.


In the case of St. Xavier’s College v. the State of Gujarat, the Supreme Court discussed the idea of secularism. It did not imply anti-religion, but rather that the state will honor all religions and will not intervene with their beliefs, including the fact that it does not practice any religion.


  • Democratic: The expression democracy is taken from the Greek words “Demo” and “Kratos,” which mean “citizens” and “authority,” respectively. The term “democracy” refers to the rule by the citizens. It is a system of government in which individuals elect their members and engage in government operations in an indirect manner.


Direct or indirect democracy is also feasible. In a direct democracy, everybody has the right to vote not just for the government but also for the Constitution to be amended. People have the freedom to vote and choose their leaders in an indirect democracy, and those representatives serve the voters in the government. In the case of Mohan Lal v. District Magistrate, Rai Bareilly, the court described democracy as a democratic concept in which the citizens engage in the administration directly or by their members.


  • Republic: The idea of a republic refers to the citizens of the state wielding absolute authority, which they delegate to their representative by choosing him as the state’s leader. It differs significantly from the principle of monarchy, in which the sovereign, queen, and their offspring become the head of the state, i.e., hereditary rule. In contrast, in the definition of a republic, the state is led by a head of state chosen by the citizens. In India, the President is the head of state, and the citizens choose him by voting. Every person has the right to vote. He is selected for five years.


  • Justice: The principle of justice was introduced into the Preamble to ensure democratic, social, and economic justice for its people. In general, the word justice refers to the protection of citizens against all kinds of inequality, such as income, opportunity, ethnicity, faith, and economic interests, such as fair employment and reimbursement for their labor. In the case of Air India Statutory Corporation v. United Labour Union, the Supreme Court stated that the goal of justice is to protect citizens’ democratic, social, and economic interests and provide them with opportunities and a decent standard of living.


  • Liberty: Liberty is associated with freedom. The word liberty was included to ensure people’s independence of conscience, speech, and religion, among other things. It is critical to give citizens freedom for their personal development and prevent the state from interfering with their freedom.


  • Equality: The principle of equality ensures that every person of the nation is equal, and the state would strive to ensure that everybody is treated equally under the law. Any citizen should have fair opportunities for employment and rank, with no discrimination based on faith, ethnicity, caste, sex, or other factors. A nation needs to treat its citizens fairly to promote their prosperity and bring out the best in them.


  • Fraternity: Fraternity is a term that refers to the spirit of brotherhood. The idea of the fraternity was created to make citizens feel as if all people from the same soil, the same motherland, are their brothers and sisters and are on an equal footing. Since India is a diverse nation in terms of faith, ethnicity, and caste, it is critical to foster a sense of brotherhood among all citizens.




The Preamble serves as an introduction to the laws or the Constitution. A preamble is a statement created by the government to introduce a law, and it helps to interpret some of the statutes. The Preamble plays a crucial part in determining the country’s fate.

The only doubt regarding the Preamble’s meaning is whether it is contained in the Constitution or not. However, in the case of Kesavananda Bharti vs. State of Kerala, a thirteen-judge constitutional bench held that the Preamble is a component of the Constitution. The Preamble does not award anybody any authority. However, it establishes the framework for the Constitution, such as the nation being “Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic, Republic,” the government being “elected by the people, by the people, and of the people,” the true sovereign power being vested in the people of India, and the people receiving Justice, Liberty, and Equality.”

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