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Landmark Cases on Preamble of Indian Constitution

America was the first country that adopted Preamble for their written constitution. After many countries including India followed this practice. The preamble of the Indian Constitution is based on the objective Resolution, drafted and moved by Jawaharlal Nehru on 13th December 1946 and passed by the constituent Assembly.

The preamble refers to the introduction or preface of the Constitution. It contains the summary of Constitution. According to N.A. Palkhiwala “Preamble is an identity card of Constitution and it is an introduction to the statue. The preamble has been called the soul of Constitution by Thakurdas Bhargav.” According to  K.M. Munshi the Preamble has been called the political horoscope of Indian Constitution.

Landmark Cases on PREAMBLE

1. Re: Berubari Union Case (AIR1960 SC 845; decided on 14th March 1960)

It was decided by a bench of seven judges. In this case, the Supreme Court said that the Preamble is not a part of the Constitution and because of this, Preamble has no substantive power.

2. Golaknath v State of Punjab ( AIR 1967; decided on 27th Feb 1967)

It was decided by bench of eleven judges. In this case, the Golaknath family owned 500 acres of Land. But the Land Tenure Act allowed them to keep only a little portion of that 500 acres of land, rest shall be taken by the government. In this case, the land tenure act was challenged. It was argued that Citizens have a fundamental right to property under Article 19 of the Constitution.

3. Kesavananda Bharti v State of Kerala ( AIR 1973 SC 1461)

It was decided by Bench of thirteen judges (the largest Constitution bench).
This case too discussed about restricting government’s interference in citizen’s Right to property. During 1971-72 ,some Constitutional amendment took place as a result of which two Kerala Act on Land reform is added in the 9th Schedule. Those amendments were challenged in this case.

Court said three important things in this case :

a) SC said that Parliament can amend the whole Constitution including fundamental rights.
b) But the basic structure of Constitution cannot be amended.
c) Basic structure was defined & specified in this case. E.g. Judicial Review.

4. Indira Nehru Gandhi V Raj Narain (AIR 1975)

Before this case, Allahabad High Court invalidated Indira Gandhi election because of corrupt practices. The judgment of Allahabad Hight Court was being challenged in Supreme Court. As this case was being heard, the Parliament passed 39th Amendment Act and inserted Article 329A.
Article 329A says that in matters related to elections, Judicial Review cannot be done.

Article 329A was challenged in this case. By calculating all these things, SC said that the basic structure of Indian Constitution is Democracy which means free and fair election. To continue this basic structure, Rule of law and Judicial Review are essential.

So, while striking down Article 329A, SC said that Rule of law, Democracy and Judicial Review are part of the basic structure and no amendment can be done to them.

5. Minerva Mills v Union of India (AIR 1980 SC 1789; decided on 31st July 1980)

With the help of Preamble, a relationship was established between Fundamental rights and Directive Principles of State Policy.
SC said that there is no case of superiority between part 3 or part 4. Both are complimentary to each other.
In this case, the controversial 42nd Amendment was strikes down by the SC and it was held that Judicial Review is a part of basic structure and cannot be amended.

Conclusion

The Preamble is a key to interpretation of the Constitution. It is a brief introductory statement to Indian constitution. It will not be wrong to say that Preamble is a basic part of our Indian Constitution.

This article is written by Prachi Gupta, law graduate in 2019. Now She is preparing for Judicial Service Examination.

Also Read – Legislature, Executive and Judiciary- three pillars of Indian Democracy

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