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Directive Principles of State Policy - An Overview (Legal GK)

Directive Principles of State Policy

1. Introduction


The Directive Principles are an amalgam of diverse subjects embracing the life of the nation and include principles which are general statements of social policy, principles of administrative policy, socio-economic rights and a statement of the international policy of the country.

The sanction behind the Directives is, of course, political and not juridical. Though these Directives are not cognizable by the court and, if the Government of the day fails to carry out these objectives, no court can make the Government implement them, yet, these principles have been declared to be “fundamental in the governance of the country”.

2. Object of the Directive Principles of State Policy


The purpose of the Directive Principles is to fix certain social and economic goals for immediate attainment by bring about a non-violent social revolution.

1. Welfare State: The Constitution envisages the establishment of a “Welfare State” at the federal level as well as the State level. In a Welfare State, the primary duty of the Government is to secure the welfare of the people.

2. Social Revolution: The Directive Principles of State Policy set forth the humanitarian socialist precepts that were the aims of the Indian social revolution, i.e., to work for an egalitarian society, where there is no concentration of wealth, where there is plenty, where there is equal opportunity for all, to education, to work, to livelihood and where there is social justice.

3. Emphasizes the ideals of Preamble: The Directive Principles emphasizes, in amplification of the Preamble, the goal of the Indian polity is not laissez faire, but a Welfare State, where the State has a positive duty to ensure to its citizens social and economic justice and dignity of the individual.

3. Overview of Part IV of the Constitution


Part IV contains nineteen articles, from arts. 36 to 51. They could be broadly divided under four heads, namely, 1) Social Policy Directives, 2) Principles of Administrative Policy, 3) Socio-Economic Rights, and 4) Principles of International Policy of the country.

1. Social Policy Directives: The concept of “Social Justice” which the Constitution of India engrafted consists of diverse principles essential for the orderly growth and development of personality of every citizen.

1. Promotion of Social Order: The object of every government under Art. 38 is to secure and protect effectively a social order in which justice, social, economic and political-is provided to the people in the national life. This Article, read with Art. 41, which calls for right to work, education and public assistance for weaker sections, makes it a duty of the State to grant pension to retired Government servants as well as their dependents.

2. Better Industrial Relations: Art. 43A to better the industrial relations particularly relating to workers.

3. Right to free and compulsory education: Art. 21A was inserted by Constitution (Eighty-sixth) Amendment Act, 2002 to bring free and compulsory education as part of fundamental rights. InUnnikrishnan v. State of A. P., Supreme Court explicitly declared that Art. 45 has to be implemented by the Government. In 2005, Right to Education Bill was tabled in the parliament which was finally passed in 2009 as Right to Education Act, 2009.

4. Uniform Civil Code: Also provision [Art. 44] for Uniform Civil Code to harmonize social relations is also enshrined within Part IV.

§ In the famous cases Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum and Sarla Mudgal v. Union of India, Supreme Court lamented the failure of Government to fulfill the obligation imposed by Art. 44. However, in the case Lily Thomas v. Union of India, Supreme Court clarified that its lamenting did not amount to issuing the directive to the government to pass a Uniform Civil Code.

5. Right to Health: The right to health and raising the levels of nutrition has its beginning with Art. 47. During Constituent Assembly Debates, many members with Gandhian vision wanted to bring prohibition throughout India and it was at their insistence this article also places special emphasis on prohibition of liquor throughout India.


2. Principles of Administrative Policy: To foster the involvement of individuals throughout the nation in the processes of democratic government and to gather the villagers’ participation Art. 40 calling for village panchayats was inserted. Art. 50 on the other hand provides for complete separation of judiciary from executive.

Ø The ideas so evolved, culminated in the passing of the Constitution 73rd and 74th Amendment Acts, 1992, which inserted Parts IX and IXA in the Constitution. While Part IX relates to thePanchayats bringing “panchayati raj”; Part IXA relates to the Muncipalities.


3. Socio-Economic Rights: Directive Principles of State Policy were to build society on socialist pattern in the words of Pandit Nehru himself.

Ø Arts. 41-43A and Art. 48 specifically target the working sections of the nation and provide for the betterment of the workers and their living conditions.

Ø In the case Hanif Quareshi v. State of Bihar, Court held that the prohibition of slaughter of any of the species of cattle mentioned and held that such a prohibition is not an unreasonable restriction on right of individual to carry trade of his choice.


4. Principles of International Policy: Art. 51 clearly directs the state to maintain international peace and security, foster amicable solution of disputes and maintain just and honorable relations between nations.

4. Overview of Articles of Part IV


1. Art. 36: Provides the definition of the word “state”.

2. Art. 37: Non-justiciability of any provision contained in this part of the Constitution.

3. Art. 38: Mandates the state to strive for the social welfare of the people.

4. Art. 39: Lists the principles to be followed by the state while carrying out its policy, notably, to provide adequate means of livelihood to people, distribution of resources and prevention of concentration of wealth in few hands.

5. Art. 39A: Secures equal justice and free legal aid for the people.

6. Art. 40: Provides for organization of Village Panchayats.

7. Art. 41: Provides work, education and public assistance to unemployed, sick and old age.

8. Art. 42: Provides for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief.

9. Art. 43: Provides for decent standard of life for all workers.

10. Art. 43A: Directs to provide participation of workers in management of industries.

11. Art. 44: Mandates a Uniform Civil Code for whole of the country.

12. Art. 45: Provides for free and compulsory education.

13. Art. 46: Directs to work for benefit for backward communities.

14. Art. 47: Mandates to raise the level of nutrition.

15. Art. 48: Directs to improve animal husbandry and agriculture.

16. Art. 48A: Provides for improvement for environment.

17. Art. 49: Provides for care of monuments.

18. Art. 50: Separation of Judiciary and Executive.

19. Art. 51: Lays down principles of International policy.

5. Twenty Fifth Amendment


Article 31C: Art. 31C was inserted by the Constitution (25th Amendment) Act, 1971, with the object of getting over the difficulties placed in the way of giving effect to the Directive Principles in Part IV, by judicial decisions. The first of the two parts of Art. 31C was similar to Art. 31A to give protection of a law from challenge under Arts. 14, 19 to a give effect to the Directive Principles in Art. 39(b)-(c).

Rationale of Article 31C: This article was inserted to make possible the nationalization or the taking under public management and control, of all means of production, key industries, mines, minerals, public supplies, utilities and services.

Unconstitutionality of second part: The second part, which has been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court sought to oust the jurisdiction of the court to find out whether a law sought to be protected under Art. 31C really gives effect to the principles in Art. 39(b)-(c).

6. Suggestion by “National Commission to Review the working of the Constitution”


National Commission setup for reviewing the Constitution suggesting improvement in working of Constitutional mechanism stated that the State should derive appropriate mechanism for realization of Directive Principles. In view of the Commission, there must be a body of high status which first reviews the state of the level of implementation of the Directive Principles and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and in particular, 1) the right to work, 2) the right to health, 3) the right to food, clothing and shelter, 4) right to education upto and beyond the 14th year, 5) the right to culture.

7. Fundamental Duties


Origin of Fundamental Duties Art. 51A lists out the Fundamental Duties for every citizen of India. In the original Constitution of India of 1949, there was no provision relating to Fundamental Duties. Single article Part IVA has been added by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act 1976, in accordance with the recommendation of the Swaran Singh Committee. It brings our Constitution in line with the Art.29(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Constitutions of Japan, China, USSR.

Fundamental Duties Today: A good number of Fundamental Duties are enforceable today even without their being specifically incorporated in the Constitution. In this category fall the items to abide by the Constitution, respect to National Flag and National Anthem (through The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950), to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so and safeguard public property.

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Comment by raj singh on March 15, 2010 at 1:31am
to FIZZER:
it is THE NOVEL feature of constitution.
the growing acceptance of the walfare state concept haw paved the way for DPSP..DPSP in COI is unique blend of Communism western liberism and gandhism in it. AS this move any country towards perfection which itself is practically unachieveable but one can strive for it , thats why it given in our COI so that we can movve towards the bright future with common goals
Comment by Hersh Sewak on March 6, 2010 at 12:42am
Is Directive Principles of State Policy “Law”? That is a very interesting question posed by Fizzer. However, it is more a question of philosophy. Though I must agree with Ramanuj that it is also a political and economic "priority list".

As for the philosophical debate, there are two schools of thought, as there is with anything which is worth thinking. One of them accords them the position of law however, there have been legal luminaries which have contested this position.

The point that they are not justiciable, does not derogate them from the position of law. As is seen from above case laws, which have been significantly decreased so as to present an easier understanding, that Supreme Court relies heavily on them.

Below are the two sides of the argument, I hope it clarifies your doubts.

i. Not a “Law”: According to H M Seervai, Directive Principles are not law at all, much less part of Supreme Law. It is said, “Paradoxically, Part IV of our Constitution (Directive Principles) is in our Constitution, but is not of it in the sense in which Parts I to II and V to XXI are parts of our Constitution. This is because Part IV of our Constitution is the only Part the violation of which by a law does not render it pro tanto void”.

ii. Position of the Courts: However, the Court has held that Directive Principles are wide enough to include their interpretation and, therefore, in interpreting laws the courts must have regard to the directive principles. The court has not shut its eyes to the Constitutional Scheme and the rights of numerous against the few who are before court. The Directive Principles of State Policy have been reconciled the rights available to the citizens under Part III of the Constitution and the obligation of the State to one and all and not a particular group of citizens.
Comment by Fizzer on March 5, 2010 at 11:27pm
Be that as it may, I will of course be excused for failing to congratulate the original poster for this well-researched article.
Comment by Ramanuj Mukherjee on March 5, 2010 at 10:42pm
thats correct. it shows that our country believes that UCC is a desirable thing and the nation recognizes it. it is also used as the focal point of demand for UCC by those who want it. for example, the only reason the supreme court could request the central govt to implement UCC was because DPSPs mention it.
Comment by Ikshaku Bezbaroa on March 5, 2010 at 10:28pm
and i think many of these clauses were intended to be implemented right?? ..but due to opposition the J,nehru govt. put them as unenforceable directive principles..prime example, .-> the uniform civil code.
Comment by Ramanuj Mukherjee on March 5, 2010 at 10:19pm
the constitution is not only a legal document but a political manifesto/agenda as well. it sets the aims of governance. DPSP are those targets which should be given effect to by the legislatures when they can manage.

these principles are often used to determine what other enforceable parts mean when there is an ambiguity or doubt.
Comment by Fizzer on March 5, 2010 at 8:28pm
Well, can you explain why we have such a nonsense thing as 'Directive Principles of State Policy'?

If it ain't gotta be implemented, it ain't the law. Then, why have it?

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