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What is a Mini Constitution?

The 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 is one of the most prominent amendments to the Indian Constitution. It was enacted by the Indian National Congress headed by Indira Gandhi during the time of Emergency. Later, Due to the massive number of amendments this act has been added to the Indian Constitution, it is also called ‘Mini-Constitution’. The subject matter of the ‘forty second Amendment Act’ also known as The Constitution Act, 1976.

How the Drafting of Preamble/Mini-Constitution Took Place

On 26.11.1949 the Preamble or mini-constitution was finalized and it was given to the people for their acknowledgment. Earlier, in the mini-constitution, there were a total of ‘81 words’ added in the 42nd amendment, and later, ‘4 more words’ were added in this amendment. i.e, Secular, Socialist, Integrity, and. After adding these words in the mini-constitution there was a total of ‘85 words’ now.

The preamble was drafted and finalized after the entire constitution was drafted. That shows that the preamble is a summary of the constitution. And it also shows the significance of various terms used in the preamble. Constitution was finalized in the 3rd reading of the constituent assembly it was the main body of the drafting committee headed by Dr. Rajendra Prasad and B.R Ambedkar –chairman.

Moreover, the fact that constituent assembly passes the constitution hence, the people of India accepted the constitution. This clearly shows that people have the approval of the people even though the constituent body was not an elective body yet, the people of India gave their approval to the constitution and granted the sanctity to the constitution.

The objective of the Mini Constitution

The ultimate aim of the makers of the mini-constitution was to have summarised the whole constitution in one page that makes it easy and understandable to the reader to interpret the entire/whole constitution just by reading the mere first page i.e, the mini-constitution or preamble. The constitution-makers gave the preamble or mini-constitution, ‘the place of pride’. It embodies in a solemn form all the ideals and the aspirations through which the country had struggle through the British regime.

The mini-constitution is the key to open the minds of the makers but, it does not mean that the preamble can override the express provisions of the constitution.

The Preamble 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 opportunity; and to promote among them all
FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;
IN OUR CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY this 26th day of November 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION[i]

The Landmark Judgments

  1. In berunai’s case (1960 SC )

9 judge bench.

The judgment was delivered by, P Gajendragadkar j.

Court held that the preamble is not a part of the constitution. However, it is a key to open the minds of the framers and it reveals the intention of the constitution. The preamble in itself is neither a soul of any powers nor a source of any restrictions. A preamble is an important tool for the interpretation of the constitution.

  1. In the case of, Keshvananda Bharti V. State of Kerala (1973 SC)

          13 judge bench, a constitutional bench.

The judgment was delivered by, Sikri, S.M. (CJ).

The ratio was 7:6.

Court held that the preamble of the constitution cannot be seen in the same sense as the preamble to a normal statute. The preamble is certainly a part of the constitution but, it is not an operative part i.e., not a provision of the constitution. Rather, it is a salient tool for the interpretation of the constitution. The preamble is not the source of the basic structure rather, said to be the manifestation of the basic structure.

Can the Preamble Be Amended?

In the case of Minerva Mills V. Union of India (1980 SC)

5 Judge Bench

The judgment was delivered by, Y.V Chandrachud (Cj)

Court held that any positive amendment can be surely be made. The edifice of the constitution has been built upon the concepts crystallized in the preamble. The 42nd amendment acts upon the vitality of the philosophy of the constitution. It makes explicit what was already implicit in the constitution. The preamble is the reflection and manifestation of the constitution. If something is present in the constitution you can always amend it to make it explicit in the constitution.

Ultimately, it was held that the preamble can be amended by the procedure contains in Article 368.

Conclusion

The various terms used in the preamble or mini-constitution are not to be seen in isolation rather, each of them respectively gives their notions to one another. Each term is a noun in itself and all other terms act as an adjective to the noun. Each notion qualifies to each other and cannot be seen in insolation. Hence, the notion overlaps each other so, the ultimate goal of all these notions is to promote ‘fraternity’ that can be attained that would assure ‘the dignity of the individual or a group and integrity of the Nation’.

[i] https://secure.mygov.in/read-the-preamble-india/

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Written by Simran Gill

Simran Gill is a final year law student from G.G.S.I.P.U, New Delhi. She is very enthusiastic about research work and writing articles and blogs on topics related to the law field. As it has developed her communication skills and other skills too, that would help her to reach the desired role in persuading her dreams. She has volunteered at NGO, legal research center, and has a keen interest in the field of criminal law, international law. 

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