The Indian Constitution starts with the Preamble, which acts an introduction, preface to the Constitution. It contains the essence of the constitution. American Constitution was the first to begin with a Preamble. Preamble to the Indian Constitution is based on the ‘Objectives Resolution’, drafted and moved by Pandit Nehru.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 CA, and reflects the dreams and aspirations of the founding fathers of the Constitution.
It reveals 4 aspects:
*Source of authority of the Constitution: that the Constitution derives its authority from the people of India.
*Nature of Indian State: It declares India to be of a sovereign, socialist, secular democratic and republican polity.
*Objectives of the Constitution: It specifies justice, liberty, equality and fraternity as the objectives.
* Date of adoption of the Constitution: It stipulates November 26, 1949 as the date.
“We, THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to all its citizens:
JUSTICE, Social, Economic and Political;
LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;
EQUALITY of status and of opportunity and to promote among them all;
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION”.
Sovereign: implies that India is neither a dependency nor a dominion of any other nation, but an independent state.
Socialist: Added by 42nd Amendment 1976. Though it had a socialist content in the form of DPSPs. (1955 Avadi- Congress session adopted a resolution to establish a ‘socialist pattern of society’). Indian Socialism is a blend of Gandhism and Marxism Democratic Socialism with a ‘mixed economy’.
Secular: Added by 42nd Amendment 1976. Indian Constitution embodies the positive concept of secularism ie, all religions in our have the same status and support from the state.
Democratic: based on the doctrine of popular sovereignty. We follow indirect democracy or representative democracy- with a Parliamentary system. The term ‘democracy’ in the Preamble embraces not just political but also social and economic democracy.
Republic: Democratic polity is of 2 types: Monarchy with a hereditary head of state, Republic with an elected head of state with a fixed tenure. Signifies, (a) vesting of sovereignty in the people and not a single person, (b) absence of any privileged class.
Justice: social, economic and political, secured through FRs and DPSPs. Taken from Russian Revolution. Social= equal treatment of all citizens w/o any social discrimination.
Economic= non-discrimination + eliminating economic inequalities.
Political= equal political rights, equal access to political positions and equal voice in the government.
A combination of Social + Economic justice denotes ‘Distributive Justice’.
Liberty: means absence of restraints + providing opportunities for development of individual personalities. Ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity- taken from French Revolution.
Equality: means absence of special privileges. Preamble secures equality of status and opportunity. It embraces civic, political and economic dimensions.
Fraternity: means a sense of brotherhood- through a single citizenship, fundamental duty (Art 51-A) to promote spirit of brotherhood.
ISSUES ON PREAMBLE:
*Is it a part of the Constitution?
In the Berubari Union case (1960), Supreme Court specifically opined that Preamble is not a part of the Constitution. In the Kesavananda Bharati case (1973), the SC rejected the earlier opinion and held that Preamble is a part of the Constitution. In the LIC of India case (1995) also, the SC reiterated its stand. Note: Preamble is non-justiciable and not a source of power.
*Amendability under Art 368: arose for the first time in the Kesavananda Bharati (1973) case. It was urged that the Preamble cannot be amended as it is not a part of the Constitution. Then the SC held that the Preamble is a part of the Constitution and can be amended, subject to the condition that no amendment is done to the ‘basic features’
Philosophy and Features:
*Social Justice: When we say that the Indian Constitution is liberal, we do not mean that it is liberal only in the classical western sense- which always privileges rights of the individuals over demands of social justice and community values.Indian liberalism was always linked to social justice. The best example of this is the provision for reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the Constitution. The makers of the Constitution believed that the mere granting of the right to equality was not enough to overcome age-old injustices suffered by these groups or to give real meaning to their right to vote.
*Respect for diversity and minority rights: This was not easy in our country, first because communities do not always have a relationship of equality; they tend to have hierarchical relationships. Second, when these communities do see each other as equals, they also tend to become rivals. It would have been very easy to resolve this problem by not recognising communities at all, as most western liberal constitutions do. What makes us different is that we have more openly acknowledged the value of communities.
*Secularism: western conception, of secularism means mutual exclusion of state and religion in order to protect values such as individual freedom and citizenship rights of individuals. Conditions in India were different and to respond to the challenge they posed, our model departed in two ways: (a) rights of religious groups apart from individuals’ equality, (b) State’s power of intervention, to dissolve negative customs and promote values like freedom and equality. Core features:
*Constitution reinforces and reinvents forms of liberal individualism, where community values are often indifferent or hostile to individual autonomy.
*Upholds the principle of social justice without compromising on individual liberties.
* Constitution upholds its commitment to group rights, indicating we were more than willing to face the challenges of what more than four decades later has come to be known as multiculturalism.
Apart from these: unique Federal system, Individual freedom, Universal Franchise, synthesis of Parliamentary sovereignty and Judicial Supremacy, etc.