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 of 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 twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do HEREBY ADOPT, ENACT AND GIVE TO OURSELVES THIS CONSTITUTION
Jawaharlal Nehru introduced the Objectives Resolution which laid down the fundamental principles of the constitution-making process in the Constituent Assembly on 13th December 1946. The Assembly extensively debated the Resolution between 16th and 19th. On 21st December 1946, the Assembly decided to postpone discussions and took up the Resolution once again on 21st January 1947. During these deliberations, it discussed various aspects of the Objectives Resolution and the political context that surrounded it; these included: the absence of the Muslim League and princely states, federalism, minority rights and socio-economic rights.
Defending ‘Republic’ in the Resolution, Nehru went on to say that if India aspired to be an independent and a sovereign nation, it must inevitably be a ‘Republic’. There was no possibility of an external monarchy or local monarchies. Mr. Shri Krishna Sinha supporting Nehru argued for a decentralized Republic wherein the sovereignty of the nation was with people.
Dr.Jayakar through his amendment argued for postponing sessions until such time the Muslim League and the Princely States joined the Constituent Assembly. He noted that the decision of India becoming a ‘Republic’ was intimately connected to Muslim League and the Princely States.
Frank Anthony supporting Jayakar’s amendment argued that Nehru’s position was riddled with inconsistencies. He noted that on one hand, Nehru claimed that the inclusion of the word ‘Republic’ would indicate a form of governance which was the opposite of a monarchy but on the other hand he advocated for the people in Princely states to choose any form of government including a monarchical head.
Dr.Ambedkar expressed his disappointment with Nehru’s draft arguing that it failed to mandate a socialistic economy which was indispensable to realize social, economic and political justice. He, in fact, voiced support for Jayakar’s amendment of postponing the Assembly’s sessions.
The President of the Assembly signaled to the members that the time had come to vote on the Resolution and hoped that members would vote in favour of it. He read out the Resolution, first in English, then in Hindi; Shri Mohanlal Saksena read out the Urdu translation.
Members of the Assembly then voted in favour of the Resolution and adopted it with all members standing.
The Drafting Committee reworked on the Objectives Resolution as a result of June 3rd, 1947 Plan (Partition of India and Pakistan). The Committee discussed the Preamble in February 1948 and made the following modifications: omission of autonomy and residuary power to territories, ‘Independent, Sovereign Republic’ was replaced with ‘Sovereign Democratic Republic’, ‘Fraternity’ was included.
Constituent Assembly Debate Stage:
The Constituent Assembly discussed and adopted the Preamble on 17th October 1949. Several members proposed amendments.
Maulana Hasrat Mohani sought India to be ‘Union of Indian Socialistic Republics’ on the lines of USSR. The Assembly Members objected to this and argued that if this amendment were allowed it would go against the entire constitutional scheme.
H.V. Kamath moved an amendment and argued for the inclusion of ‘In the name of God’ in the Preamble. He refused to withdraw his amendment and pressed for the Assembly to vote. M. Thirumala Rao noted that it was unfortunate to put ‘God’ on a vote in the Assembly. Thanu Pillai contended that inclusion of ‘God’ in the Preamble would amount to ‘compulsion of faith’ and violate the fundamental right to freedom of faith. Rohini Kumar Choudhary sought to change Kamath's amendment to ‘In the name of Goddess’.
Shibban Lal Saksena moved an amendment which invoked God and Mahatma Gandhi in the Preamble. Brajeshwar Prasad objected to the association of Gandhi with the ‘rotten Constitution’ which is based on cases of US Supreme Court and Government of India Act 1935 and not reflective of Gandhian values. Shibban Lal Saksena withdrew the amendment.
Decision of the Assembly:
The amendments moved by the members were negatived. In one of the rare occasions, the Assembly voted on H.V. Kamath’s amendment by a show of hands. The Assembly was divided with 41 voting in favour and 68 voting against it.
The Assembly adopted the Preamble as presented by the Drafting Committee.