Objectives of the preamble

– Chandra Shekher Mishra

In addition to the source of authority of the Indian Constitution (from now on- the Constitution) and the nature of the Indian State, both of which have already been dealt with by this author in his previous articles, the preamble of the Constitution also acquaints us with the objectives and socio-economic goals that are to be imbibed by the Indian State. These objectives are meant to secure all Indian citizens:

 Justice, social, economic, and political;

 Liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith, and worship;

 Equality of status and opportunity;

 to promote amongst them all Fraternity, assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation.

This description by Justice Iyer is so legendary and wealthy that it makes this author question what more could be added after mentioning it. As per Krishna Iyer J., this is simply a translation of freedom to its creative fullness; after all, Injustice, Inequality, and Indignity can help only unfree men. But still.

Justice- social, economic, and political- is the sole objective expressly enshrined in the Constitution under Article 38. As regards meaning, it will be dealt with in a separate piece since it is perhaps the most open-ended value concept this author has ever encountered. Yet quoting the Romans would neatly serve the purpose:

Justice is the constant and perpetual will to render each his due.


The central consideration behind justice dispensation is attaining the collective good instead of the individual good. Justice is naturally dovetailed with freedom– where there is injustice, and men are unfree. Krishna Iyer J. also warns the people about mareecha justice that only leads to exploitative freedom or freedom with quotation marks. Mareecha justice is camouflaged injustice. A hypothetical example would most likely simplify this description. Suppose the King permits the lion to move freely in his jungle alongside the deer. Very soon, there will be no deer left. The King might think he is supposedly administering justice, but it only attains individual well for the lion and not the collective good for the rest of the animals. The justice administered here is mareecha justice, which gives freedom only to the lion for exploiting others. And this exploitative freedom given to the lion would be unfree to the rest in the jungle. Quoting Anatole France would, again, neatly serve the purpose:

So long as society is founded on injustice, the function of the laws will be to defend and sustain injustice.


And so, he suggests that justice is how the established injustices must be sanctioned. Greats have cried for centuries that a system built on the foundation of injustice is bound to crumble. And there are many manifestations as one looks through the history books.

Krishna Iyer J. visualized social justice as a great concept that assures every member of society a fair deal. Hegde J. defined the same as the total of Directive principles (Part-IV). Justice Gajendragadkar’s vision of social justice blended social justice and economic justice, which seeks to reduce income inequality and afford all citizens equal opportunity and economic activities. His concept of social justice, when read with Justice Hari Swaroop’s concept of economic justice, can be understood to mean alleviation of poverty, adequate livelihood, and guarantee of a living wage to ensure a decent living standard. Hari Swarup J. suggested that economic justice was intended to uplift backward classes and give them more or less the same standards as other citizens. As per Gandhi Ji, economic justice will ensure that no one in this nation suffers from want of food & clothing.

Liberty, equality, and Fraternity are the watchwords of the French Revolution. Liberty includes the liberty of thoughts, expressions, beliefs, faith, and worship. These are ensured by Articles 19(1)(a) and 25. The said watchword needs no emphasis since Justice Krishna Iyer suggested that the internal Yoga of Liberty and Justice is essential to swaraj. Robert G. Ingersoll points out that a government founded upon anything except liberty and justice cannot stand. Equality includes equality of status and opportunity. As regards meaning, it is nothing but a standardization. This is what Article 14 means when it guarantees the people equality before the law and equal protection of the law. Article 16 of the Constitution guarantees the citizen’s equality of opportunity, Articles 15, 17, 18, 23, and all the other cognate provisions guarantee equality of status. Justice cannot sustain and increase in a system where there is inequality. Aristotle has a point: “to be just is equal; to be unjust is to be unequal.” The mentioned provisions also promote Fraternity, which means viewing society as a brotherhood. Dr. Ambedkar kept ‘fraternity’ in the highest regard as he suggested, during the Constituent Assembly debates, that without Fraternity, liberty, and equality are no better than coats of paint. Going by the idea of Ronald Dworkin, assurance of the individual’s dignity signifies that an individual shall be free to decide, for themselves, the notion of a good life and thus live their life accordingly. The provisions above and numerous rights granted to the prisoners and undertrials under Article 21 assure the individual’s dignity. Article 21 is, indeed, an expressed realization of the said assurance. Similarly, the arrangement of non-sectarian citizenship, accommodation of interest of cultural, linguistic, and religious minorities under Articles 29 and 30, and unique, transitional, and temporary provisions under Part XXI of the Constitution, etc., Strengthen the unity and integrity of the nation. One saying of Granville Austin that this author considers imperative to mention is that the connotation of the terms unity and integrity, as viewed by the founding fathers of the Constitution, is different altogether from how it is considered.

The kernel of all these objectives is freedom, as pointed out by Justice Krishna Iyer. Trimming justice, liberty, equality, and Fraternity would mean trimming space. It would mean the men would be unfree and silenced by the few having exploitative freedom. It would mean that the lion-like proprietaries will always hunt the deer-like proletariats. It would suggest that the rule of men would eclipse the rule of law.

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