Preamble to the Constitution of India
The discussion on Preamble to Constitution of India is again in headlines. The debate on a set of words as sacred as this, reflects an ongoing churning of views and ideas, which is itself an aspect of democracy. The debate came into limelight, after distribution of the preamble as drafted in original constitution of 1950s on the occasion of Republic Day Parade of 2015. The debate came to floor of the house after government decided to take up a two day debate, after the prevailing atmosphere of intolerance in the country (legitimacy of the same is also subject to reader’s discretion).
Ingredients and key words of our preamble can be understood by simple hit of google. I will broaden on the relevant debate.
What is the debate all about?
The debate starting form recent incidences of crimes against minorities and backwards, and government failure to uphold the security of the class, which itself is enshrined in the preamble, when the words, “secular” and “political justice” is read.
Few say that the word “secular” and less relevant word “socialist” was inserted in the preamble through 42nd amendment (which happened at the time of National Emergency).
Though, it should be noted that the amendment was not removed by following Janta government, and they also gave silent approval of the amendment.
B.R. Ambedkar, chose not to write these words in preamble, as he thought it was implicit in the document itself. 42nd amendment just made it explicit.
Though the doubts of possible change of preamble was rejected by PM Modi in his speech on floor of house, the application on ground remains a much discussed topic, especially after “Award Wapsi”.
What has been the stand of Supreme Court?
- Berubari Union Case (1960) – SC said that “ Preamble shows the general purpose behind the several provisions in the Constitution, and is thus a key to minds of makers of it. The preamble is used to clear the doubt in some ambiguous terms elsewhere in the constitution.” Despite the observation, SC opined that it was not a part of Constitution.
- KesavanandaBharati Case (1973) – SC rejected its earlier judgement. It held that the preamble is very much a part of constitution. But it can be amended, without affecting the basic ethos of the original constitution.
Significance of Preamble
Though, not a common component of constitution across the world, Indian constitution drafters decided to include it. Its significance are multiple:
- It embodies the basic philosophy and fundamental values on which constitution is based
- It has been a yardstick in times of conflict, during legislation and court judgements
- It reflects a solemn resolve of all citizens
- It states that the constitution derives its authority from its people
- It states the nature of Indian state: Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic and Republic
- It defines the objectives of the constitution
It is the duty of the government to stand by its duties and ensure that the directives of the preamble are properly implemented and constantly strived for. In the absence of which, only a revolution awaits!