Directive Principles of State Policy:Introduction and Meaning
Unlike Fundamental Rights, the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) are
non-justiciable which means they are not enforceable by the courts for their
violation. However, the Constitution itself declares that ‘these principles are
fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the
state to apply these principles in making laws’. Hence, they impose a moral
obligation on the state authorities for their application.
List of DPSPs under Indian Constitution
Article 36: Defines State as same as Article 12 unless the context otherwise
Article 37: Application of the Principles contained in this part.
Article 38: It authorizes the state to secure a social order for the promotion
of the welfare of people.
Article 39: Certain principles of policies to be followed by the state.
Article 39A: 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
Article 42: Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity
Article 43: Living wage etc. for workers.
Article 43-A: Participation of workers in 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
Article 47: Duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard
of living and to 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
Article 50: Separation of judiciary from the executive.
Article 51: Promotion of international peace and security.
DPSP Under Preamble
The Preamble of the Constitution is called the key to the mind of the drafters
of the Constitution. It lays down the objectives that our Constitution seeks to
achieve. Many scholars believe that DPSPs is the kernel of the Constitution. The
Directive Principles of the State Policy (DPSPs) lay down the guidelines for the
state and are reflections of the overall objectives laid down in the Preamble of
The expression Justice- social, economic, political
is sought to be
achieved through DPSPs. DPSPs are incorporated to attain the ultimate ideals of
preamble i.e. Justice, Liberty, Equality, and fraternity. Moreover, it also
embodies the idea of the welfare state which India was deprived of under
Enforceability of DPSPs
Many times the question arises that whether an individual can sue the state
government or the central government for not following the directive principles
enumerated in Part IV. The answer to this question is in negative.
The reason for the same lies in Article 37 which states that:
The provisions contained in this Part shall not be enforceable by any court,
but the principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the
governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the State to apply these
principles in making laws.
Therefore by the virtue of this Article no provision of this part can be made
enforceable in the court of law thus these principles cannot be used against the
central government or the state government. This non-justiciability of DPSPs
make the state government or the central government immune from any action
against them for not following these directives.
Another question arises that whether the Supreme Court or High Court can issue
the writ of mandamus if the state does not follow the directive principles. The
literal meaning of mandamus is “to command.” It is a writ which is issued to any
person or authority who has been prescribed a duty by the law. This writ compels
the authority to do its duty.
The Writ of mandamus is generally issued in two situations. One is when a person
files writ petition or when the Court issues it suo moto i.e. own motion. As per
Constitutional Principles, a Court is not authorized to issue the writ of
mandamus to the state when the Directive Principles are not followed because the
Directive Principle is a yardstick in the hand of people to check the
performance of government and not available for the courts. But the Court can
take suo moto action when the matter is of utmost public importance and affect
the large interest of the public.
Fundamental Rights are the legal obligation of the state to respect, whereas the
DPSPs is the moral obligation of the state to follow. Article 38 lay down the
broad ideals which a state should strive to achieve. Many of these Directive
Principles have become enforceable by becoming a law. Some of the DPSPs have
widened the scope of Fundamental Rights.
Relationship with Fundamental Rights
A major concern regarding the validity of the DPSPs is their compatibility with
the Fundamental Rights contained in Part III of the Constitution, enforceable
even in the High Courts and the Supreme Court through the manner of writs.
The following are the points of difference between the two:
1. The Fundamental Rights are a limitation on the powers of the
government operating on an individual, whereas, the DPSPs are instructions to
the government for achieving certain ends through their actions.
2. Anything contained in the DPSPs cannot be violated either by the individuals
or the State, as long as there is no law made to that effect, while there are
strict remedies against violation of an individual’s Fundamental Right.
3. A law against the DPSPs cannot be declared as void by the courts, but this is
not the case with Fundamental Rights.
The question that whether Fundamental Rights precedes DPSPs or latter takes
precedence over former has been the subject of debate for years. There are
judicial pronouncements which settle this dispute of Madras vs. Champakan (AIR
1951 SC 226), the Apex Court was of the view that if a law contravenes a
Fundamental right, it would be void but the same is not with the DPSPs. It shows
that Fundamental rights are on a higher pedestal than DPSPs.
C. Golaknath & Ors vs. State Of Punjab & Anr
. (1967 AIR 1643), The Court was
of the view that Fundamental rights cannot be curtailed by the law made by the
parliament. In furtherance of the same the Court also said that if a law is made
to give effect to Article 39(b) and Article 39(c) which come under the purview
of DPSPs and in the process, the law violates Article 14, Article 19 or Article
31, the the law cannot be declared as unconstitutional and void merely on the
ground of said contravention.
Bharati vs the State of Kerala
(1973) 4 SCC 225), The Apex Court placed
DPSPs on the higher pedestal than Fundamental Rights. Ultimately in the case
of Minerva Mills vs. Union of India (AIR 1980 SC 1789), the question before the
court was whether the directive principles of State policy enshrined in Art IV
can have primacy over the fundamental rights conferred by Part III of the
Constitution. The court held that the doctrine of harmonious construction should
be applied because neither of the two has precedence to each other. Both are
complementary therefore they are needed to be balanced.
New Provisions of Directive Principles after Amendment
Four new Directive Principles were added in the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 to
the original list. They are requiring the state:
1. An added clause in Article 39: To secure opportunities for the healthy
development of children
2. An added clause in Article 39 as Article 39A: To promote equal justice and to
provide free legal aid to the poor
3. An added clause in Article 43 as Article 43 A: To take steps to secure the
participation of workers in the management of industries
4. An added clause in Article 48 as Article 48A: To protect and improve the
environment and to safeguard forests and wildlife
DPSP and its Implementation
Although the implementation of the principles laid down in Part IV are not
directly visible yet there are large and excessive of laws and government
policies which reflect the application of the principle of Part IV. In the
Judicial History of India, many laws and legal provisions were created by
judicial reasoning. In such cases, DPSPs played a very vital role and the courts
considered the directive principles very cautiously.
Policies like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA)
get their authority from Article 39(a) which talks about the right to adequate
means of livelihood. Laws such as the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation)
Act 1986 bolster the canons of Article 39(g) which deals with the protection of
Laws about the prohibition of slaughter of cows and bullocks get their sanctity
from Article 48 which deals with the organization of agriculture and husbandry.
Laws such as Workmen Compensation Act, Minimum Wages Act, Industrial Employment
(Standing Orders) Act, The Factories Act, and Maternity Benefit Act depict the
implementation of Article 41, Article 42 and Article 43A.
Importance of DPSPs for an Indian citizen
Regardless of the non-justifiable nature of DPSPs, a citizen should be aware of
them. Article 37 describes these principles as fundamental in the governance of
the country. The objective of the DPSPs is to better the social and economic
conditions of society so people can live a good life. Knowledge of DPSPs helps a
citizen to keep a check on the government.
A citizen can use DPSPs as a measure of the performance of the government and
can identify the scope where it lacks. A person should know these provisions
because ultimately these principles act as a yardstick to judge the law that
governs them. Moreover, it also constrains the power of the state to make a
Through various judicial pronouncements, it is settled principle
now that balancing DPSPs and Fundamental rights is as important as maintaining
the sanctity of Fundamental Rights. Non-following a directive principle would
directly or indirectly affect the Fundamental Right which is considered as one
of the most essential parts of the Constitution.
Keeping in mind the arguments put forth above and the aim of the Constituent
Assembly while creating the non-justiciable rights, it can be concluded that
making the DPSPs enforceable is unnecessary. The Assembly did not want to
enforce the Directives because they feared that they would become out of date
over time. Secondly, most of their provisions have been enforced through
various legislations; those that are not enforceable have debatable relevance in
But merely because they are not justifiable in a court of law, does not render
them useless. Their importance has increased manifold over the years. They serve
not only as guidelines today, but also keep a check on the governments, even
though that check is not the Court’s but the citizens.
The parties that form
governments today are not concerned with the well-being of the nation. They play
divisive politics for their betterment. They are concerned with the furtherance
of their ideologies that the nation may not even share. In this environment, the
DPSPs is a yardstick for the government’s performance and also a check on
We should be not blinded by the glorious provisions contained in these
Directives. They are useful and define us as a welfare state, but enforcing them
will serve no purpose. They have mostly been made justiciable through other
laws, and amending them will give rise to gross misuse by fanatics.
position of the Directives is balanced and desirable. But it is also recommended
that they must be made secular and free of morals that they impose on citizens.
They must incorporate the sentiments held by the nation as a whole and not those
held by only a particular class.