Preamble: Definition and Meaning

The 'Preamble' of the Indian Constitution is a simple opening phrase that spells forth the instrument's guiding aim and values, as well as indicating the source from which the document draws its power, i.e., the people. The Constituent Assembly of India enacted it on November 26, 1949, and it went into force on January 26, 1950.

What is a Preamble?

A preamble is an initial statement in a document that defines the philosophy and goal of the text. The Constitution expresses the purpose of its founders, the history of its construction, and the nation's essential ideals and ideas. The following things are briefly discussed in the preamble:

  • Source of the Constitution

  • Nature of the Indian State

  • Statement of its objectives

  • The date it was adopted

Purpose of the Preamble

It includes:

  • It declares that the Constitution was established, accepted, and handed over to the people of India.

  • It encapsulates the fundamental ideas and clauses that underpin the Constitution.

  • It proclaims India to be a sovereign nation, free to make her own decisions and carry them out for her citizens and territory on the internal and external levels.

  • It describes India as a socialist, secular, democratic, and republican country.

  • It lists its goals as ensuring justice, liberty, and equality for all people, as well as supporting brotherhood in order to safeguard the nation's unity and integrity.

Principles Enshrined by the Preamble

Following are the major principles:

  • Sovereign: The term "Sovereign" signifies that India is dominant domestically and free outside. India has its own authority and is not a protectorate of any other external force in the formulation of its foreign and domestic policies. India's governmental power rules supreme over all persons and all associations inside its borders.

  • Socialist: The 42nd Amendment, 1976, inserted the phrase "socialist" into the preamble. It is now considered a key part of the preamble. The term "socialism" is not defined in the constitution. It stresses India's commitment to ensuring social, economic, and political justice for all of its citizens.

  • Secular: Secular refers to the absence of a governmental religion or official religion. The government does not support or promote any religion. The province does not discriminate on the basis of religion. The purpose of the insertion was to clearly state the lofty ideals and be a source of compulsive pressure, and vested interests have been working to further their own self-interests at the expense of the common good. The state considers religion to be a personal matter, as well as the right to believe or not believe in a religion.

  • Democratic: Democracy, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, is "government of the people, by the people, and for the people." The Indian people have the ability to pick a government of their choosing and rule the country through their elected representatives. The Constitution assures that the government is formed and exists at the will of the people of India by allowing them to participate in the establishment of the government at regular intervals based on the concept of universal adult franchise.

  • Republic: The Republic of India is declared in the Preamble. The head of state is an elected official, either directly or indirectly. Any state office, from the highest to the lowest, is accessible to every Indian resident. On the basis of merit, any citizen can hold any position. Thus, the state's leadership is neither hereditary, as in England, nor based on military might, as in authoritarian governments.

Status of the Preamble

  • The Supreme Court has debated the preamble's inclusion in the Constitution on numerous occasions. It is easy to understand if you read the two situations below.

    Berubari Case: This case concerned the execution of the Indo-Pakistan Agreement regarding the Berubari Union and the exchange of enclaves, which was decided for consideration by the bench of eight judges. It was used as a reference under Article 143(1) of the Constitution. In the Berubari case, the Court argued that, while the Preamble "is the key to opening the framers' minds," it cannot be considered a part of the Constitution.As a result, it is unlawful in a court of law.

  • Kesavananda Bharati Case: In this case, a bench of 13 judges was put together for the first time to hear a writ petition. The court ruled that the Constitution's preamble would henceforth be deemed part of the document.

    The Preamble is neither the highest power nor the source of any prohibition, but it does play an essential role in the explanation of legislation and constitutional provisions. As a result, the preamble forms part of the Constitution's opening section.

  • Again, in 1995, the Supreme Court ruled in Union of Government v. LIC of India that the Preamble is a component of the Constitution. However, it is not enforceable in a court of law.

Amendment of the Preamble

Till date, the Indian Constitution's preamble has only been amended once, on December 18, 1976. During the Emergency in India, the Indira Gandhi government introduced the 42nd Amendment, under which several changes can be seen. One such change was the amendment of the preamble. Through this amendment, the terms "socialist" and "secular" were introduced between the words "sovereign" and "democratic," and the words "unity of the nation" were changed to "unity and integrity of the nation."


It is not wrong to say that the Preamble is an essential part of the Constitution since it conveys the spirit and ideology of the document. It denotes the fundamental framework of the Constitution. Parliament can alter it using its amending powers under Article 368. It has only been revised once, in the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976. The Preamble to a Constitution includes the underlying ideals and philosophy upon which the Constitution is founded, as well as the purposes and objectives that the founding fathers of the Constitution want the country to strive for. The Preamble's framers considered the circumstances at the time it was written. Although it is a permanent document, it was designed to apply to scenarios and conditions that may happen in the future. As a result, courts in India cannot issue orders compelling the government to execute the concepts in the Preamble.


Q1. How many words are in the Preamble of the Indian Constitution?

Ans. The Indian Constitution's Preamble contains 73 words. The Indian Constitution's 73-word Preamble describes the ideas that must drive Indian democracy. Together with the Directive Principles of State Policy, it sets the stage for the country to realise the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

Q2. What are the first words in the Preamble to the Constitution of India?

Ans. The preamble begins, "We the people of India... ", clearly identifying the source of the constitution's power.It highlights the people's sovereignty and the reality that all powers of government come from the people. The Constitution is based on the authority of the people of India. The preamble assumes that the constitution was written by the people of India. Thus, the words "we, the people of India," state unequivocally that the Constitution has been chosen, enacted, and delivered to the people of India.

Q3. Is the Preamble the basic structure of the Constitution?

Ans. The preamble is included in the Constitution. The preamble describes the fundamental framework of the Constitution. In a court of law, the preamble is neither enforceable nor justified. This means that courts in India cannot issue orders compelling the government to execute the ideals in the Preamble. The preamble can be changed, and it has only been changed once, by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1976.

Q4. Why is preamble important?

Ans. It describes the aspirations of the Constitution. It gives the Constitution purpose and direction. It also establishes broad goals and socioeconomic benchmarks that must be met through constitutional mechanisms.

Q5. What is the features of preamble?

Ans. The elements of the Preamble include identifying the authority from which the Constitution derives its authority, reiterating the nation's commitment to securing justice, liberty, and equality, establishing the Constitution's purposes, and mentioning the region to which the Constitution shall apply.