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Directive Principles of State Policy in India

The Part IV of the Constitution of India contains the clauses to provide States with the guidelines for the proper governance of the country, which are called Directive Principles of State Policies. The constitutional framers have described DPSP as the Novel Feature of the Indian Constitution.

It is well-known fact that the Indian constitution is a blend of different nation's constitution, this novel feature of DPSP had been adopted from the Irish Constitution in 1937. Article 36-51 on our constitutions covers the directive principles of state policies, which are further bifurcated into social, economic, community, political, administrative & environmental welfare.

The main objective of these guidelines is to provide a direction to the Union and the state while formulating welfare policies and laws. Dr. Ambedkar in his speech during the Constituent Assembly has underlined the Directive Principle's objective as making India a welfare State. It can be clearly understood that these are framed for accessing the success and failure of central and state government steps towards accomplishing the main objective.

Historical Background
In 1941, a group of determined and ambitious people from different fields except members from top political parties of that time, i.e., the Indian National Congress, Muslim League, and communist parties, came forward and formed a committee which was named Sapru Committee.

This committee published a report in 1945, which was popularly called the Sapru Committee Report.� In this report, the fundamental rights were divided into two types, first justifiable and non-justifiable. Justifiable Rights were the one we call Fundamental Rights, which is in Part III of the constitution. Non-justifiable Rights is now we call as Directive Principles of State Policies that are in Part IV of the Indian Constitution. [1]

Legal Enforceability of DPSPs

These principles do not have a legal effect, and they are non-enforceable by the court of law, unlike Fundamental Rights; it's more of moral rights than legal. Even after its non-enforceability, it's the duty of the state and Union have to adhere to the guidelines while framing any laws and policies.

Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles

As been already discussed that DPSPs are non-justifiable and FRs are Justifiable, even then for an extended period of time, the conflict between the two was a topic of interpretation. From time to time Fundamental Rights and DPSPs have been subject to numerous litigations in the Supreme Court. Finally, after the Minerva Mills v. Union of India case, Supreme Court held that there is no conflict between the Fundamental Rights and the DPSP as both are complimentary of each other. There was no compelling reason to forfeit one for the other. If there is a contention, it ought to stay away from quite far.

Classification of Directive Principles of State Polices:

  1. Socialistic Principles:
    Article 38, 39, 39A, 41, 42, 43, 43A, 47 of the constitution covers these directive principles intending to establish a welfare state by providing social and economic justice.
  2. Gandhian Principles:
    Article 40, 43, 43B, 46, 47, 48 of the Indian Constitution covers these principles, with the aim to reconstruct and fulfill Gandhi's dream during the national movement such as the establishment of panchayats, promotion of cottage industry, development of a weaker section of society, and many more.
  3. Liberal-Intellectual Principles:
    Article 44, 45, 48, 49, 50 & 51 deal with liberal intellectual principles, to bring into effects laws and policies in which the ideology of liberalism is reflected. Some of these are establishing the Uniform Civil Code, childhood care and education, protection of heritage &, etc.

DPSPs Provisions under Indian Constitution

  • Article 36: Defines State.
  • Article 37: Application of the Principles contained in this part.
  • Article 38: It authorizes the state to secure a social order to promote the welfare of people.
  • Article 39: Certain principles of policies to be followed by the state.
  • Article 39 (A): Equal justice and free legal aid
  • Article 40: Organization of village panchayats.
  • Article 41: Right to work, to education, and to public assistance in certain cases.
  • Article 42: Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity leaves.
  • Article 43: Living wage etc. for workers.
  • Article 43 (A): Participation of workers in the management of industries.
  • Article 43 (B): Promotion of cooperative societies
  • Article 44: Uniform civil code for the citizens.
  • Article 45: Provision for early childhood care and education to children below the age of six years.
  • Article 46: Promotion of education and economic interests of SC, ST, and other weaker sections.
  • Article 47: Duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition, and the standard of living and, improve public health.
  • Article 48: Organization of agriculture and animal husbandry.
  • Article 48-A: Protection and, improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife.
  • Article 49: Protection of monuments and places and objects of national importance.
  • Article 50: Separation of judiciary from the executive.
  • Article 51: Promotion of international peace and security.[2]

Sporadic Reforms in Directive Principle of State Polices
If we don't change, we don't grow. If we don't grow, we aren't really living� by Gail Sheehy. The amendment is considered as machinery to bring reforms with the changing need in the constitution. From time to time the directive principle of state policies has been gone with the reforms to accomplish the main objective of it. The Directive Principles of State Policy are subject to amendments through Article 368 only.

These are as follows:
  1. 7th Constitutional Amendment, 1956: under this amendment Article 49 was modified and it was made an obligation upon the state to protect every monument or place of artistic or historic interest.
  2. 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976: This amendment is considered as one of the most important amendments in the history of the Indian Constitution, due to which it is regarded as a mini-constitution.

    It has brought a massive reform in the DPSP by introducing four new Directive Principles, which are as follows:
    • Article 39, that the children must be given the means to develop in a healthy environment with dignity and the proper step to be taken toward protecting them from being exploited.
    • Article 39(A), under this the provision for free legal aids to the poor were brought into its ambit to secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice. Later, the right to get Legal assistance and Speedy trial was held to the Fundamental Right under Article 21 of the Constitution.[3]
    • Article 43(A), to secure the participation of workers in the management of undertakings, establishments or, other organizations engaged in industries.
    • Article 48(A), to ensure the protection and improvement of forests and wildlife in India.
  3. 44th Constitutional Amendment, 1978: This amendment was generally brought to reverse the new clauses, added by the 42nd amendment. But the major shift that was seen in the DPSP was the addition of the new provision, Article 38(2), which aims to minimize the inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities.
  4. 77th Constitutional Amendment, 1995: Although this amendment doesn't make any change in the directive principles, even then this is very important because by putting stress upon Article 46, Constitution's Seventy-Seventh Amendment was enacted, inserting clause (4A) after clause 4 of Article 16 of the Constitution of India. To provide the benefit of the promotion in service to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.
  5. 86th Constitutional Amendment, 2002: It has substituted a new article for article 45, which encourages states to undertake steps to provide early childhood care and education for all the children under the age of six years. Together with it Article 21 A was also inserted in the constitution which made elementary education compulsory for the children been the age group of 6 to 14 years. Later 'Right to Education' up to the age of 14 years was held to be a Fundamental right under Article 21.[4]
  6. 97th Constitutional Amendment, 2012: This amendment promoted voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control, and professional management of cooperative societies, by inserting a new article, Article 43B.[5]
Parliamentary reforms for the implementation of DPSP
  1. Industrial Relations Code, 2020:
    This was the replacement of the Trade union act, 1926. This act mainly focuses upon the welfare of the labors in the industries and the disputes arising therein.
  2. The Code on Social Security, 2020:
    This was recently passed by the parliament after the recommendation that has been made by the National Commission on Labor. The main focus of the government is to provide the unskilled labour class under the ambit of the benefits like life insurance, health insurance, and many other types of similar schemes.
  3. Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017:
    This is an amended act of the previous Maternity Benefit Act of 1961, which was formed keeping in mind Article 42 of DPSP. After the amendment, the women were entitled to receive 'full paid absence from work'.
  4. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MGNREGA):
    The whole act is upon two objectives, Right to work and Social Security. When the act came into effect it was named National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005, which was later renamed as MGNREGA.
  5. The Consumer Protection Act of 1986:
    It was an action brought with an idea to protect and safeguard the buyer's interest, from unfair practices which was done for the sake of some monetary benefits. The act was framed with an objective to protect the consumer's rights through laws and the formation of different organizations.
  6. The Minimum Wages Act of 1948:
    This parliament act was brought in to lay down a fixed standard of wages to skilled and unskilled labor, to reduce the workforce from being exploited.
  7. The Factories Act, 1948:
    Ministry of Labour & employment, brought this act for the welfare of the workers by providing amenities to protect the health, safety in a workspace, and a good working environment.
  8. Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989:
    SCs and STs are the designated group of the population of our country, which is always been considered as a depressed class, so our constitution through many provisions, have tried to eliminate this gap by providing a unique opportunity to them for their development. The Part IV, Article 46 reflects a similar guideline, and passed to prohibit discrimination and crime against this group.
  9. Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986: The act was brought with an aim to eliminate the Child Labour of children below the age of 14 years in any organization. Child between the age group of 14-18 years is allowed to work in organizations except hazardous places. It was amended in the year 2016.
  10. The Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Declaration of National Importance) Act, 1951
  11. The Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993
  12. Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
  13. Integrated Tribal Development Programme
  14. Integrated Rural Development Programme
  15. Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, 2018;
  16. Jal Jeevan Mission, 2016;
  17. The Saubhagya Scheme or Pradhan Mantri Sahaj Bijli Har Ghar Yojana, 2017.[6]

Landmark Cases
  1. Seema v. Ashwani Kumar[7]: It was the first step toward a Uniform civil code which has been given under Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, as in this landmark case Supreme Court held that irrespective of religion, every marriage needs to be registered. It was a significant step for not only bring uniformity but also safeguarding women's interest in society. There were several other benefits in the row after having a common civil code.

    These are as follows:
    • Prevent child marriage,
    • Prevent bigamy and polygamy;
    • Maintenance rights can be easily exercise;
    • Helpful to women for Custody of the Child;
    • Many more.
  2. State of AP v. G. Sreenivasa Rao[8]: In this case it was held that paying a junior in the same cadre is not illegal and is not violative of article 14, 16 & 39 D. It was also said that the equal pay for the equal work could not be put in a straitjacket.
  3. Arjun Gopal v. Union of India[9]: In this case, the issue related to article 48(A) of the constitution was discussed. It was held that as National Capital Region (NCR) is already facing a high risk of air pollution and thus using the firecrackers will be very hazardous to the environment and it's the duty of both the government as well as the people under Article 51 A to ensure the healthy environment.
  4. Unnikrishnan vs. State of Andhra Pradesh[10]: There was a conflict between the Part III and Part IV of the Constitution of India regarding the supremacy between the two. In this landmark case, Supreme Court held that there no question of supremacy arises as both are supreme in their respective aspect. As the Fundamental rights and DPSP are both non-exclusive to each other. The Court also said that the Fundamental Rights are the means through which the goals enumerated in Part IV are achieved.
  5. M.C. Mehta v/s State of Tamil Nadu [11]: This was a landmark judgment for protecting the right of children below the age of 14 years. In this, the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court issued certain directions to the government to abolish the evil practice of Child Labor and to safeguard the Fundamental Right under Article 24 of the constitution.

Some of the directions that was given by the court was:
  • To set up Child Labor Rehabilitation Welfare Fund (CRWF);
  • To liable the employer even after the discharge of the child from work;
  • Guidelines related to the collection of the fund for CRWF;
  • To file an affidavit within a month before the court, by the Secretary of Ministry of Labour.
  • And many more.


It is a non-debatable point that the development of a Nation and the welfare of its people go hand in hand. Through this article, we can know the significance of DPSPs. Even after it being a non-enforceable provision it serves a great relevance to the country and its people.

The center, as well as the state, has to adhere to the standard given in Part IV of the constitution while framing any laws and policies. It should also be noted that DPSPs do not force any particular pattern for accomplishing their objectives; it can be achieved through various means which have to be devised from time to time.

  1. Published: March 10, 2013,
  2. The Constitution of India,
  3. M.H. Hoskot v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1978 SC 1548
  4. Unni Krishnan v, State of A.P, (1993) 1SCC 645
  5. Constitutional Law of India, by Dr. J.N. Pandey (56th edn.)
  7. AIR 2006 SC 1158
  8. (1989) 2 SCC 290
  9. AIR 2017 SC 173
  10. 1993 SCC (1) 645
  11. AIR 1997 SC 699

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