An Interpreter of the Constitution

An Interpreter of the Constitution

The Article ‘Preamble: An Interpreter of the Constitution’ by Rahul Shamota and Aishwarya Sharma is an elaborate study of the succinct approach of the preamble to explain the Constitution’s basic principles at the beginning. The Preamble of Indian Constitution is really praiseworthy as it has not untouched any important aspect of the Constitution, and that makes it a promising and effective step for the citizens of the country.

A Brief Introduction: Preamble

The Preamble is defined as the introductory part of a Statute or Constitution and it provides, in brief, the aim and objectives that are to be achieved by that statute or constitution. Indian constitution also has a preamble to it and The Preamble to the Indian Constitution is not a mere introductory one rather it is a mini-constitution in itself, and the spirit of the constitution is the preamble itself.

The Preamble resembles the objective resolution presented by Shri Jawaharlal Nehru on 13th December 1946 in the first session of the constituent assembly later Preamble to the Constitution of India was accepted on 22nd January 1947, adopted on 26th November 1949 and came into force from 26th January 1950. In the Re Berubari case, AIR 1960 SC 845, the Preamble is said to be the key to opening the minds of makers and aids in the construction and interpretation of the constitution but is not part of the constitution or any source of substantive power.

Later in the Golaknath v. State of Punjab case, (1967 AIR 1643), Justice Subba Rao interpreted that the Preamble in a nutshell, contains the ideals and aspirations of the Indian Constitution. It contains the spirit and essence of the Constitution and is indeed an integral part of the Indian constitution. In the Kesavananda Bharati case, it is held by the Supreme Court that although the preamble is neither a source of legislative power nor a limitation on the same, the Constitution of India is to be read and interpreted in the noble light of the Preamble.

Aims and Objectives of the Key Provisions of the Indian Constitution

The Preamble is termed as the heart of the Indian Constitution in the SR Bommai case, 1994. The aims and objectives of the key provisions of the Indian Constitution seem to be directed towards the objectives provided in the Preamble itself. The opening and closing words of the preamble provide for “We the people of India having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a….”, and “do hereby adopt enact and give to ourself this constitution”, it provides that the source and authority behind the framing of the constitution were the people of India itself and the constituent assembly is merely acting on behalf of the people of India. The Constituent Assembly was even an elected body elected by the people of India to frame the Constitution on their behalf.

The election for the constituent assembly was held in November 1946, and the total strength of the constituent assembly was 389 out of which 292 were elected from 11 presidencies, 93 were nominated from princely states, and 4 from chief commissioners provinces of Delhi, Ajmer-Merwara, Coorg and British Baluchistan. Later after the partition of India and Pakistan, the strength reduced to 299 members as the representatives of areas that formed part of Pakistan after partition ceased to be members of India’s Constituent Assembly.

The Constituent Assembly took 2 years 11 months and 18 days to frame up the Constitution, and the drafting committee, under the chairmanship of Dr B.R. Ambedkar, prepared a draft Constitution of India in 1948, it was circulated widely for feedback and suggestions from the general public also. So it is not that the people’s participation in the making of the Constitution was only up to electing members of the constituent assembly rather, the people were provided with the draft constitution for their feedback and suggestions, and all the suggestions received were scrutinized and discussed by drafting committee and constituent assembly. Even after the framing of the constitution, the source of authority still remains in the people of India itself through adult suffrage.

The Preamble provided for the nature of India as a nation, and it initially provided that the nature of India as a nation will be sovereign, democratic, and republic, and with the 42nd amendment to the Constitution of India, socialist and secular were also added in the same. The nature of India as a nation, as provided by the Preamble, can be traced in the articles of the Indian constitution.


Sovereignty provides that the state will have independent authority and is not subject to control by any other state or external authority. In India, the sovereign powers are exercised by the Parliament which in turn derives this power from the people of India as the people of India have the indispensable right to elect representatives for themselves.


The Preamble provides that India will be a democratic state implying that the representative forming part of the system of government will be elected by the people of India via elections. Apart from the democratic nature of India the preamble also provides for political justice and political justice implies that all the citizens will have the right to vote without any discrimination on any grounds such as caste, sex, religion, place of birth, creed, or status. Political justice also ensures the participation of people in the administration and their legal rights are well protected from the arbitrary abuse of political power by the government. Democratic nature also implies that there will be decentralization of political power.

The democratic nature and political justice are well protected by the constitutional provision. Part XV of the constitution provides for Elections and establishes the Election commission of India (ECI), it is established as an independent and impartial body to conduct elections in India without any interference from any other authority or government organ. For the protection of Fundamental rights and arbitrary exercise of power, the Constitution provides for Judicial Review under Article 13. In the case of Indira Gandhi v. Raj Narain, 1975 AIR 2299, Judicial review is held to be part of the basic structure of the Constitution, similarly, in the case of Kihoto Hollohan v. Zachillhu And Others, 1992 SCR (1) 686, democratic nature of India and, free and fair elections is interpreted to be part of basic structure. Apart from this 73rd and 74th amendments to the constitution of India established Panchayats and Municipalities, respectively, further strengthening the decentralization of power.


Being a republic nation means the head of the state will not be hereditary and be elected by the people of the nation. In India, the head of the state is not directly elected by the people of India instead is elected through indirect elections. On behalf of the people of India, the elected representative of Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies participate in the election of the president. Constitution provides for the procedure of election of the president under Article 54 of the constitution.


The secular nature of the nation means that there will be no religion of the state and the state has to secure the freedom of religion. In the Constitution Articles, 25 to 28 of part III of the Constitution provide for the fundamental right of religion. Secularism in India is based on two principles Sarv Dharma Sambhava indicating that the welfare of all religions is to be protected and Dharma Nirpekshita indicating that there can be no preferential or discriminatory treatment among various religions. And in the case of S.R. Bommai v. Union of India, [1994] 2 SCR 644, secularism is held to be part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution and India was secular from the very beginning of the implementation of the Constitution and it’s not that India becomes secular only when the same is provided in the Preamble.


Socialist means that the government/state has to function for the welfare of the people and all the resources available at the hand of the government to be used for the welfare of the people. The Preamble also provides to secure social justice and social justice implies that everyone in the society is provided with equal opportunity to develop themselves.

Article 15 of the Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth and complete social justice can only be achieved when the deprived sections of the society are included in the mainstream and for the same by xxx amendment state is empowered to make special provision for the backward section, SC and ST and for the same under Article 338A nation commission for ST, under Article 338 National Commission for SC and under Article 338A National Commission for backward classes has been established and under Article 46 power to make special provision for the promotion of SC, ST, or weaker sections has been provided. Article 17 abolishes untouchability, Article 18 abolishes title.

Next, the preamble provides for the purposes that India as a nation has to achieve and it includes Justice, Equality, and Liberty. Justice is social, economic, and political. Social and Political Justice is discussed above regarding economic justice it implies that the people will have equal access to economic resources and opportunity in public employment and for the same Article 16 provides for equality of opportunity in matters of public employment and implements complete economic justice the state is empowered to make special provisions for SC, ST, and other backward classes if they are not duly represented in the public employment also economic justice can only be achieved if there is sufficient protection of the right to education and in the case of Unni Krishnan, J.P. & Ors. v. State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors.,1993 AIR 217, right to education is recognized as part of a fundamental right under Article 21 by the 86th amendment to the Constitution in 2002 under Article 21A right to education is recognized as a fundamental right to provide free and compulsory education to all children between the age of six to fourteen and under Article 45 early childhood care and education for children up to the age of six years has been provided. Under Article 39 equal distribution of economic resources has been provided.

Equality of status and opportunity:

It implies that everyone will have equal status in society as a human being and opportunity for their growth and this can be achieved with social justice and economic justice.

Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship: for the complete development of a person as a human being his liberty has to be protected. A person can only develop his intellectual, moral, and social status only if he has been able to express himself, for the same under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution freedom of speech and expression, and under Article 21 personal liberty has been protected as a fundamental right. Under Articles 25 to 28 liberty of belief, faith and worship is protected as the fundamental right of freedom of religion.


The Preamble also secures fraternity, assuring the dignity of individuals and protecting the unity and integrity of the nation. It assures that India as a nation remains united and there has to be a sense of brotherhood in the whole nation and the dignity of even an individual to be protected. Article 51A(c) provides for the fundamental duty to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India, and Article 51A (e) provides for the fundamental duty to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood. and in the case of Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India, AIR 1978 SC 597, it has been held that the right to life under Article 21 does not mean mere human existence it includes the right to live with human dignity.

Even if the Preamble is said to be providing the aims and objectives to be achieved by the constitution the aims and objectives can be traced in the various articles of the Indian constitution and further strengthened by the judicial interpretation from time to time.

Important Links

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