Citizenship and Related Issues

Explained: Preamble to the Constitution of India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Preamble

Mains level : Preamble: It features, significance and amendments

In the nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, many have held up the Preamble as reflective of the essence of the Constitution of India for Secularism.

Preamble

  • The Preamble to the Constitution of India 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.
  • It was adopted on 26 November 1949 by the Constituent Assembly and came into effect on 26 January 1950, celebrated as the Republic day in India.

Resolution and discussion

  • The Preamble is based on the Objective Resolution moved by Jawaharlal Nehru in the Constituent Assembly on December 13, 1946.
  • The Resolution was adopted on January 22, 1947.
  • On October 17, 1949, the Constituent Assembly presided by Rajendra Prasad took up the Preamble for discussion.

The heart and soul

  • In the Berubari Case (1960) Supreme Court held the view that Preamble cannot be a part of the constitution but later in Kesavananda Bharati Case (1973), the Supreme Court gave a comprehensive verdict.
  • It said that Preamble is part of the Constitution and is subject to the amending power of the parliament as are any other provisions of the Constitution, provided the basic structure of the Constitution is not destroyed.
  • It has been clarified by the Supreme Court that being a part of the Constitution, the Preamble can be subjected to Constitutional Amendments exercised under article 368, however, the basic structure cannot be altered.
  • Therefore it is considered as the heart and soul of the Constitution.

Amendments

  • The original Preamble, adopted by the Constituent Assembly in 1949, declared India a “Sovereign Democratic Republic”.
  • By the 42nd Amendment of 1976, enacted during the Emergency, the words “Socialist” and “Secular” were inserted; the Preamble now reads “Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic”.
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