IAS Gyan


Preamble to Indian Constitution- The Source of a Public Force

20th October, 2020 Miscellaneous

The preamble to Indian Constitution- The Source of a Public Force


The Constitution of India begins with a Preamble. It contains the ideals, objectives and basic principles of the Constitution. The salient features of the Constitution have evolved directly and indirectly from these objectives which flow from the Preamble. It spells out the basic philosophy contained in the body of the Indian Constitution.

Reading through the Preamble, one can see the purpose that it serves, namely, the declaration of

(1) the source of the constitution

(2) a statement of its objectives

(3) the date of its adoption.

The Preamble, in brief, explains the objectives of the Constitution in two ways:

  • About the structure of the governance
  • About the ideals to be achieved in independent India.

It is because of this, the Preamble is considered to be the key to the Constitution.

Significance of Preamble

Besides serving as an introduction to the Constitution, it serves many other purposes like :

  • To present the principles of the Constitution.
  • To indicate the source from which the document derives its authority and meaning.
  • It reflects the hopes and aspirations of the people.


The objectives, which are laid down in the Preamble, are:
1. Description of Indian State as Sovereign, Socialist, Secular, Democratic Republic. (Socialist, Secular added by 42nd Amendment, 1976).
2. Provision to all the citizens of India i.e.,
                a) Justice social, economic and political.
                b) Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship.
                c) Equality of status and opportunity.
                d) Fraternity assuring dignity of the individual and unity and integrity of the nation.

Historical Background

Although it appears at the very beginning of our Constitution, it didn't come into existence in the same order. Rather, it was the last piece of Drafting adopted by the Constituent Assembly at the end of the first reading of the Constitution.


The preamble to the Indian Constitution is a very important part of the Constitution itself. However, the most discussed about topic remains

"Whether it is an Integral Part of the Constitution ?" and "Whether it can be amended like any other part of the Indian Constitution ?"

Whether Preamble is a Part of Constitution

It has been highly a matter of arguments and discussions in past whether Preamble should be treated as a part of the constitution or not. The basic question beneath the debate is, whether or not a citizen of a nation to which he is subject to can challenge in the court of law if in case his rights have been infringed which were mentioned in the Preamble. 

To have an answer to this question, we need to take into account the interpretation of the Supreme Court in two important cases.

  • Beruberi Case: Supreme Court held that the Preamble is not a part of the Constitution. It is only "a key to open the mind of the makers" which may show the general purposes for which they made the several provisions in the Constitution, but nevertheless, the preamble is not a part of the Constitution, therefore "it has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power.
  • Kesavananda Bharati case: In this case, The Supreme Court overturned its earlier decision and held that the Preamble is a part of the Constitution and can be amended under Article 368 of the Constitution.A. Preamble to the Constitution of India is a part of Constitution
    B. Preamble is not a source of power nor a source of limitation
    C. Preamble has a significant role to play in the interpretation of statutes, also in the interpretation of provisions of the Constitution.
    D. The basic elements in the preamble cannot be amended under Article 368.

  • LIC of India case: Again, the Supreme Court held that the Preamble is a part of the Constitution.

Whether Preamble is Amendable?

Kesavanada Bharati v. the State of Kerala

The majority held that since the Preamble is the part of the Constitution it can be amended but subject to this condition that the “basic feature” in the Preamble cannot be amended. The Preamble declares that the people of India resolved to constitute their country into the Sovereign Democratic Republic.

An amending power cannot be interpreted so as to confer power on the Parliament to take away any of these fundamental characteristics of policy.

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A Preamble indicates only the general purposes for which the people ordained and established the Constitution. It cannot be regarded and has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the Government or any of its departments.

A Preamble provides significant help in the interpretation of the Constitution when words actually are ambiguous. Under such circumstances it is the key to open the minds of the makers of the Act. But if the language of the Article is sufficiently clear, it is not to be interpreted in the light of the Preamble in preference to the obvious meaning thereof.

The objectives in the Preamble are just a part of the basic structure of the Constitution and nothing more than that. So, Preamble cannot be amended so as to destroy the objectives, but also cannot be used as a law to judge people on.

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