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The preamble to the Constitution is the lodestar and guides those who find themselves in a grey area while dealing with its provisions[1].

Preamble as defined in the Oxford Dictionary means preliminary statement in speech or writing, an introductory paragraph, section or clause. In law, it is sort of introduction to the statute and many a times very helpful to understand the policy and legislative intent. The Preamble of the Constitution sets out the main objectives which the legislature is intended to achieve.

The Preamble of our Constitution declares:

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;


Question: Which of the following liberties the Preamble of the constitution does not guarantee? The liberty of

  1. a) thought b) belief c) practice of religion d) worship

Ideals & Aspiration Contained In Constitution

Ideals are values which have been established by the Constitution while Aspirations are those values which are to be achieved through it. Ideals in Preamble are Sovereignty, Socialism, Secularism, Democracy and Republican Character. Aspirations in Preamble are Justice, Liberty & Fraternity.

42nd Amendment and Preamble

The amendment to the Preamble in 1976 inserted 3 new words:- Secular, Socialist and Integrity. These concepts was already envisaged in the Constitution but was made to spell out things clearly.

  1. The words ‘socialist’ and ‘secular’ were incorporated in our Constitution by
  2. a) 42nd Amendment of the Constitution
  3. b) 44th Amendment of the Constitution
  4. c) 46th Amendment of the Constitution
  5. d) 17th Amendment of the Constitution


Supreme Court and Preamble 

Whether Preamble is a Part of Constitution?

This question was dealt by Supreme Court in 2 cases i.e. In Re Berubari Union[2] and Kesavananda Bharti v. State of Kerala[3].

In case of In Re Berurai, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that :

it may be correct to describe the preamble as a key to the mind of the Constitution-makers, it forms no part of the Constitution and cannot be regarded as the source of any substantive power which the body of the Constitution alone can confer on the Government, expressly or by implication. This is equally true of prohibitions and limitations.

This view was overruled in the case of Kesavananda Bharti Case and the Court held that:

  1. that the Preamble to the Constitution of India is a part of Constitution.
  2. that the Preamble is not a source of power nor a source of limitations.
  3. the Preamble has a significant role to play in the interpretation of statues, also in the interpretation of provisions of the Constitution.


  1. Interpretative value of Preamble was discussed in:
  2. a) In re Berubari Union b) Union of India v. Azadi Bachao Andolan c) Satate of Gujarat v. Shanti Lal Mangaldas d) None of the above
  3. 2. In which case the Supreme Court held that Preamble is not the part of Constitution?

a)A.K. Gopalan Case

b)In re, Berubari Case

  1. c) Minerva Mills Case
  2. d) A.K. Antony Case


Preamble and Basic Structure

Sikri, C.J. in the case of Kesavananda Bharti held that every provision of the constitution can be amended provided it does not alter the basic structure of the Constitution. This rule applies to the Preamble too.

  1. Which one of the following is correct:-
  2. a) Preamble is part of the constitution and can be amended under Art. 368
  3. b) Preamble is not the part of the constitution and cannot be amended.
  4. c) Preamble is part of the Constitution and can be amended only if no change in the basic structure is made.
  5. d) Preamble can be amended by Parliament simply by an objective resolution.

Views of Supreme Court on words in Preamble


In Excel Wear v. UOI[4], the Apex Court observe that, “the courts to lean more and more in favour of nationalisation and State ownership of an industry after the addition of the word `Socialist’  in the Preamble of the Constitution.”

Further in D.S. Nakara v. UOI[5], the Supreme Court has held that, “The principal aim of a socialist State is to eliminate inequality in income and status and standards of life. The basic framework of socialism is to provide a decent standard of life to the working people and especially provide security from cradle to grave. This amongst others on economic side envisaged economic equality and equitable distribution of income. This is a blend of Marxism and Gandhism leaning heavily towards Gandhian socialism.”


In The Ahmedabad St. Xavier College v. State of Gujarat[6], the Hon’ble Supreme Court discussed at length regarding impartment of Secular Education to children.

Adding to this, Supreme Court in the year 1994 held in the case of S.R. Bommai v. UOI[7] that Secularism is the basic feature of the Constitution.

[1] Steel Authority Of India Ltd. v National Union Water Front, (2001) 7 SCC 1

[2] In Re Berubari Union, AIR 1960 SC 845

[3] Kesavananda Bharti v. State of Kerala, (1973) 4 SCC 225

[4] Excel Wear v. UOI, AIR 1979 SC 25

[5]D.S. Nakara v. UOI AIR 1983 SC 130

[6] St. Xavier College v. State of Gujarat AIR 1974 SC 1389

[7] S.R. Bommai v. UOI, (1994) 3 SCC 1

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