Directive Principles of State Policy

The Directive Principles of State Policy is contained in Part IV of the Constitution (Articles 36-51). The aim of the Directive Principles was to set up certain social and economic goals before the law makers to bring about social change in the country in direction of greater social and economic equality.

Directive Principles of State Policy:

The Directive Principles of State Policy are contained in Part IV of the Constitution (Articles 36-51). The Directives are unenforceable rights i.e., if the state fails to fulfill any obligations, one cannot go to the court. Sanctions behind the directive principles are political, are based on sound constitutional and moral obligations.

Article 37 of the constitution lays down that it shall be the duty of State to apply these directives in making laws. Article 355 and 365 of the constitution can be applied for enforcing implementation of directive principles.

Classification of Directive Principles:

(a) Social and Economic Charter:

(i) Social order based on justice- Article 38(1) provides that the state shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting a social order in which justice – social, economic and political- shall inform all the institutions of national life.

(ii) Economic justice- Article 39 specifically requires the state to direct its policy towards securing equal right of men and women to adequate means of livelihood, equal pay for equal work for both men and women, to protect health of workers and children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and are protected against exploitation and moral and material abandonment.

Article 38 and 39 embody the principle of distributive justice which connotes the removal of economic inequalities rectifying the injustice resulting from transactions between unequals in society.

(b) Social Security Charter:

(i) Participation of workers in Management of Industries (Article 43 A); Right to Work, education and public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness, and disablement(Article 41); Just and human conditions of Work(Article 42);living Wage for workers(Article 43);free and compulsory education for children until they complete the age of 14 years(Article 45). However, after the 86th constitutional amendment Act 2002, Article 45 reads: “The State shall endeavor to provide early childhood care and education to children below the age of 6 years”; duty to raise the standard of living and improvement of health (Article 47) including, in particular, the prohibition of liquor; Promotion of education and economic interests of weaker sections (Article 46); equal justice and free legal aid to economically backward classes (Article 39 A).

(c) Community Welfare Charter:

(i) Uniform civil code: Article 44, while the state has tried to reform and codify the personal laws of Hindus (which is also applicable to Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists), no attempt has been made to bring Muslims, Christians and Parsis under the purview of a Common Civil Code.

(ii) Organization of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry: Article 48.

(iii) Protection and Improvement of Forest and Wildlife: Article 48A.

(iv) Protection of Monuments of historic interest and national importance: Article 49.

(v) Separation of Judiciary from Executive: Article 50.

(vi) Promotion of international peace and security: Article 51. Pursuant to the direction enshrined in Article 51, Parliament passed the protection of human rights act, 1993 which provides for the setting of National Human rights Commission and Human rights Courts to meet the growing concern for human rights in the country and abroad.

(vii) Organization of Village Panchayats: Article 40. The object of this provision is to introduce democracy at the grass root level

Supreme Court decisions related to Directive Principles are as follows:

The Supreme Court consistently held that on the whole there is no inherent conflict between the fundamental rights and Directive Principles. They are supplementary to each other. They together constitute an integrated scheme, and therefore, as far as possible they should be interpreted harmoniously.

• In, State of Madras Vs. Champakam Dorairajan, Supreme Court held that, the DPSP cannot override the Fundamental Rights.

• In Re Kerala education bill, the court observed that though the DPSP cannot override the FR, nevertheless in determining the scope and ambit of Rights the court may not entirely ignore the Directives but should adopt the principles of Harmonious construction and should attempt to give effect to both as much as possible.

• 25th Amendment, 1971 considerably enhanced the importance of directives Article 31C, added by it, provided that a Law for implementing Directives contained in Article 39 B and C could not be struck down on the ground that it contravened rights conferred by Articles 14 and 19.

• 42nd Amendment 1976 widened the scope of Article of 31C so as to cover all DPSP. Thus, it gave precedence to all the Directives over the Fundamental Rights- Articles 14 and 19.

• In Keshavananda Bharti vs. UOI, the Supreme Court observed that the Fundamental Rights and DPSP are meant to supplement one another. It can well be said that the directive prescribed the goal to be attained and fundamental rights lay down the means by which that goal to be achieved.

• In Minerva Mills vs. UOI, the court struck down Article 31 C, as amended by 42nd Amendment as unconstitutional on the ground that it destroys the “basic features” of the constitution. The majority observed that the constitution is founded on the bedrock of the balance between Part III and IV. To give absolute primacy to one over the other is to disturb the harmony of the constitution which is essential feature of the basic structure.

• In State of TN vs. Abu Kavur Bai, a five judge bench held that although the DPSPs are not enforceable yet the court should make a real attempt at harmonizing and reconciling the Directives and the Rights and any collision between the two should be avoided as far as possible.

• In Unna Krishnan vs. State of Andhra Pradesh, the court has reiterated the same principle that the FRs and DPSP are supplementary and complementary to each other and the provisions in Part III should be interpreted having regard to the Preamble and Directive principles.

In order to achieve a balanced economic development and to raise living standard of masses, implementation of specific directives brought good progress in land reforms, village panchayats, promotion of cottage industries, welfare of SC/ST, compulsory education, wages for workers, labor laws and in the Hindu marriage act.

Therefore, Directive principles of State Policy operated as instruments of instructions to the government, contained positive commands to the State in order to promote and establish a social and a welfare state in India.


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