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Directive Principle of State Policy

Study Material > Polity
  • The Directive Principles of State Policy are enumerated in Part IV of the Constitution from Articles 36 to 51.
  • The framers of the Constitution borrowed this idea from the Irish Constitution of 1937, which had copied it from the Spanish Constitution.
  • Dr B R Ambedkar described these principles as ‘novel features’ of the Indian Constitution.
  • The Directive Principles along with the Fundamental Rights contain the philosophy of the Constitution and is the soul of the Constitution.
  • Granville Austin has described the Directive Principles and the Fundamental Rights as the ‘Conscience of the Constitution’.

FEATURES OF THE DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES

  • The phrase ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’ denotes the ideals that the State should keep in mind while formulating policies and enacting laws.
  • According to Article 36, the term ‘State’ in Part IV has the same meaning as in Part III dealing with Fundamental Rights.
  • The Directive Principles resemble the ‘Instrument of Instructions’ enumerated in the Government of India Act of 1935.
  • The Directive Principles constitute a very comprehensive economic, social and political programme for a modern democratic State. They aim at realising the high ideals of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity as outlined in the Preamble to the Constitution.
  • They embody the concept of a ‘welfare state’ and not that of a ‘police state’, they seek to establish economic and social democracy in the country.
  • The Directive Principles are non-justiciable in nature, that is, they are not legally enforceable by the courts for their violation. Therefore, the government (Central, state and local) cannot be compelled to implement them.
  • The Directive Principles, though non-justiciable in nature, help the courts in examining and determining the constitutional validity of a law. The Supreme Court has ruled many a times that in determining the constitutionality of any law, if a court finds that the law in question seeks to give effect to a Directive Principle, it may consider such law to be ‘reasonable’ in relation to Article 14 (equality before law) or Article 19 (six freedoms) and thus save such law from unconstitutionality.

CLASSIFICATION OF THE DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES

  • The Constitution does not contain any classification of Directive Principles. However, on the basis of their content and direction, they can be classified into three broad categories, viz, socialistic, Gandhian and liberal–intellectual.
  • Socialistic Principles: These principles reflect the ideology of socialism. They lay down the framework of a democratic socialist state, aim at providing social and economic justice, and set the path towards welfare state.
  • They direct the state:
    1. To promote the welfare of the people by securing a social order permeated by justice— social, economic and political—and to minimise inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities4 (Article 38).
    2. To secure
      1. the right to adequate means of livelihood for all citizens;
      2. the equitable distribution of material resources of the community for the common good;
      3. prevention of concentration of wealth and means of production;
      4. equal pay for equal work for men and women;
      5. preservation of the health and strength of workers and children against forcible abuse; and
      6. opportunities for healthy development of children (Article 39).
    3. To promote equal justice and to provide free legal aid to the poor (Article 39 A).
    4. To secure the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement (Article 41).
    5. To make provision for just and humane conditions for work and maternity relief (Article 42).
    6. To secure a living wage, a decent standard of life and social and cultural opportunities for all workers (Article 43).
    7. To take steps to secure the participation of workers in the management of industries (Article 43 A).
    8. To raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living of people and to improve public health (Article 47).

Gandhian Principles

  • These principles are based on Gandhian ideology. They represent the programme of reconstruction enunciated by Gandhi during the national movement.
  • In order to fulfil the dreams of Gandhi, some of his ideas were included as Directive Principles. They require the State:
    1. To organise village panchayats and endow them with necessary powers and authority to enable them to function as units of self-government (Article 40).
    2. To promote cottage industries on an individual or co-operation basis in rural areas (Article 43).
    3. To promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of co-operative societies8a (Article 43B).
    4. To promote the educational and economic interests of SCs, STs, and other weaker sections of the society and to protect them from social injustice and exploitation (Article 46).
    5. To prohibit the consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health (Article 47).
    6. To prohibit the slaughter of cows, calves and other milch and draught cattle and to improve their breeds (Article 48).

Liberal–Intellectual Principles

  • The principles included in this category represent the ideology of liberalism. They direct the state:
    1. To secure for all citizens a uniform civil code throughout the country (Article 44).
    2. To provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years9 (Article 45).
    3. To organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines (Article 48).
    4. To protect and improve the environment and to safeguard forests and wild life10 (Article 48 A).
    5. To protect monuments, places and objects of artistic or historic interest which are declared to be of national importance (Article 49).
    6. To separate the judiciary from the executive in the public services of the State (Article 50).
    7. To promote international peace and security and maintain just and honourable relations between nations; to foster respect for international law and treaty obligations, and to encourage settlement of international disputes by arbitration (Article 51).

NEW DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES

  • The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 added four new Directive Principles to the original list. They require the State:
    1. To secure opportunities for healthy development of children (Article 39).
    2. To promote equal justice and to provide free legal aid to the poor (Article 39 A).
    3. To take steps to secure the participation of workers in the management of industries (Article 43 A).
    4. To protect and improve the environment and to safeguard forests and wild life (Article 48 A).
  • The 44th Amendment Act of 1978 added one more Directive Principle, which requires the State to minimise inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities (Article 38).
  • Again, the 86th Amendment Act of 2002 changed the subject-matter of Article 45 and made elementary education a fundamental right under Article 21 A.
  • The amended directive requires the State to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years.
  • The 97th Amendment Act of 2011 added a new Directive Principle relating to co-operative societies. It requires the state to promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of co-operative societies (Article 43B).

CONFLICT BETWEEN FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES

  • The justiciability of Fundamental Rights and non-justiciability of Directive Principles on the one hand and the moral obligation of State to implement Directive Principles (Article 37) on the other hand have led to a conflict between the two since the commencement of the Constitution.
  • In the Champakam Dorairajan case20 (1951), the Supreme Court ruled that in case of any conflict between the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles, the former would prevail. It declared that the Directive Principles have to conform to and run as subsidiary to the Fundamental Rights. But, it also held that the Fundamental Rights could be amended by the Parliament by enacting constitutional amendments acts.
  • As a result, the Parliament made the First Amendment Act (1951), the Fourth Amendment Act (1955) and the Seventeenth Amendment Act (1964) to implement some of the Directives.
  • The above situation underwent a major change in 1967 following the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Golaknath case (1967).In that case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Parliament cannot take away or abridge any of the Fundamental Rights, which are ‘sacrosanct’ in nature. In other words, the Court held that the Fundamental Rights cannot be amended for the implementation of the Directive Principles.
  • The Parliament reacted to the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Golaknath Case (1967) by enacting the 24th Amendment Act (1971) and the 25th Amendment Act (1971). The 24th Amendment Act declared that the Parliament has the power to abridge or take away any of the Fundamental Rights by enacting Constitutional Amendment Acts.
  • The 25th Amendment Act inserted a new Article 31C which contained the following provisions:
    1. No law which seeks to implement the socialistic Directive Principles specified in Article 39 (b) and (c) shall be void on the ground of contravention of the Fundamental Rights conferred by Article 14 (equality before law and equal protection of laws), Article 19 (protection of six rights in respect of speech, assembly, movement, etc) or Article 31 (right to property).
  • Difference Between Fundamental Rights and DPSPs
    1. The Fundamental Rights provide the foundation of political democracy in India whereas the Directives spell out the character of social and economic democracy in India.
    2. Fundamental rights are in the form of negative obligations of the State i.e., injunctions against the actions of the State. The Directive Principles are, on the contrary, positive obligations of the State towards the citizen.
  • Relation Between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles
    1. Supreme court in various cases has evolved a 'Doctrine of Theory of Harmonization'. It has further stated that both the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles are in fact supplementary to each other and together constitute an integrated scheme.
    2. It has also held that where this is not possible, the Fundamental Rights shall prevail over the Directive Principles. The present position is that only Article 39(b) and Article 39 (c) can be given precedence over Articles 14, 19 and not all the Directive Principles.

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