Directive Principles of State Policy

The Directive Principles of State Policy in India have the objective of establishing favorable social and economic conditions that enable citizens to lead a quality life and promote social and economic democracy through a welfare state. 

They are encompassed in Articles 36-51 of Part IV of the Indian Constitution. It’s important to note that these Directive Principles of State Policy are non-justiciable, meaning they cannot be enforced through the courts.

Source: These principles were inspired by the Constitution of Ireland, which, in turn, drew its influence from the Spanish Constitution.

Significance of Directive Principles of State Policy:

  • Philosophical Groundwork for Welfare System:

      • The DPSP lays the philosophical groundwork for a welfare system, making it the state’s obligation to ensure social welfare through appropriate legislation.
  • Guiding Government Policies:

      • Directive Principles serve as a guiding framework for the government in formulating policies and laws that promote fairness and welfare within the state.
  • Moral Standards and Code for the State:

      • These principles are rooted in moral standards, providing a moral code for the State. Despite their non-enforceable nature, their significance lies in the essential role of moral principles in the development of a cohesive and progressive society.
  • Safeguarding Social and Economic Components of Democracy:

    • Directive Principles offer valuable directives for the state to safeguard the social and economic aspects of democracy.
    • They complement Fundamental Rights, which protect political rights and other individual freedoms, creating a comprehensive framework for the well-being of citizens.

Directive Principles of State Policy in India can be classified into three categories:

  • Socialistic Principles:

    • Aim to provide socio-economic justice and establish a welfare state.
    • Based on socialist ideals, they seek to reduce inequalities in income, status, facilities, and opportunities.
    • Articles guiding these principles include: Article 38, Article 39, Article 41, Article 42, Article 43, and Article 43A.
    • Article 38: The State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting a social order by ensuring social, economic and political justice and by minimising inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities
    • Articles 39: The State shall in particular, direct its policies towards securing:
  • Right to an adequate means of livelihood to all the citizens.
  • The ownership and control of material resources shall be organised in a manner to serve the common good.
  • The State shall avoid concentration of wealth in a few hands.
  • Equal pay for equal work for both men and women.
  • The protection of the strength and health of the workers.
  • Childhood and youth shall not be exploited.
  • Article 41: To secure the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disability.
  • Article 42: The State shall make provisions for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief.
  • Article 43: The State shall endeavour to secure to all workers a living wage and a decent standard of life.
  • Article 43A: The State shall take steps to secure the participation of workers in the management of industries.
  • Article 47: To raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living of people and to improve public health.

Gandhian Principles:

    • Reflect the program of reconstruction proposed by Mahatma Gandhi during the national movement.
    • Articles inspired by Gandhian ideology include: Article 43, Article 46, Article 47, Article 43B, and Article 48.
  • Article 40: The State shall take steps to organise village panchayats as units of Self Government
  • Article 43: The State shall endeavour to promote cottage industries on an individual or cooperative basis in rural areas.
  • Article 43B: To promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of cooperative societies.
  • Article 46: The State shall promote educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people particularly that of the Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and other weaker sections.
  • Article 47: The State shall take steps to improve public health and prohibit consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs that are injurious to health.
  • Article 48: To prohibit the slaughter of cows, calves and other milch and draught cattle and to improve their breeds.

Liberal-Intellectual Principles:

    • Embody the ideology of liberalism.
    • Articles associated with these principles include: Article 44, Article 45, Article 48A, Article 49, Article 50, and Article 51.
  • Article 44: The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizen a Uniform Civil Code through the territory of India.
  • Article 45: To provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years.
  • Article 48: To organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines.
  • Article 48A: To protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.
  • Article 49: The State shall protect every monument or place of artistic or historic interest.
  • Article 50: The State shall take steps to separate judiciary from the executive in the public services of the State.
  • Article 51: It declares that to establish international peace and security the State shall endeavour to:
  • Maintain just and honourable relations with the nations.
  • Foster respect for international law and treaty obligations.
  • Encourage settlement of international disputes by arbitration.

Differences between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP):

  • Scope and Protection:

      • Unlike Fundamental Rights (FRs), DPSP have a broader and limitless scope as they operate at a macro level, guiding the State’s policies and actions.
      • DPSP safeguard the rights of citizens indirectly by outlining the ideals that the State should pursue while formulating policies and making laws.
  • Nature and Purpose:

      • DPSP encompass the principles and guidelines that the State should strive to achieve for the welfare of its citizens.
      • In contrast, Fundamental Rights are negative or prohibitive in nature, as they impose limitations on the State’s authority and actions to prevent infringement upon individual rights.
  • Enforceability:

      • DPSP is non-justiciable, meaning they are not enforceable by law, and citizens cannot approach the courts directly to seek their implementation.
      • On the other hand, Fundamental Rights are justiciable, allowing citizens to seek legal remedies if these rights are violated by the State or any other entity.
  • Complementary Nature:

      • DPSP and Fundamental Rights complement each other, working together to create a balanced and harmonious framework for governance.
      • While Fundamental Rights protect individual liberties, DPSP guide the State in ensuring the overall welfare and socio-economic development of the society.
  • Subordination:

    • DPSP are not subordinate to Fundamental Rights; they exist as separate provisions in the Indian Constitution, serving distinct purposes.
    • Both Fundamental Rights and DPSP are integral components of the Constitution, serving different but equally important objectives in the governance of the country.

Amendments in Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP)

  • 42nd Constitutional Amendment, 1976:

      • Introduced changes to Part IV of the Constitution by adding new directives.
      • Article 39A: Provided for free legal aid to the poor.
      • Article 43A: Ensured participation of workers in the management of industries.
      • Article 48A: Mandated the protection and improvement of the environment.
      • Also, eliminated the Right to Property from the list of Fundamental Rights.
  • 44th Constitutional Amendment, 1978:

      • Inserted Section-2 to Article 38, emphasizing that the State should strive to minimize economic inequalities in income and eliminate inequalities in status, facilities, and opportunities not just among individuals but also among groups.
  • 86th Amendment Act of 2002:

    • Changed the subject-matter of Article 45, making elementary education a fundamental right under Article 21A.

Conflicts Between Fundamental Rights and DPSP: Associated Cases

  • Champakam Dorairajan v the State of Madras (1951)

      • The Supreme Court ruled that in case of any conflict between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles, Fundamental Rights would prevail.
      • Directive Principles have to conform to and run as subsidiary to Fundamental Rights.
      • Fundamental Rights could be amended by the Parliament through constitutional amendment acts.
  • Golaknath v the State of Punjab (1967)

      • The Supreme Court declared that Fundamental Rights could not be amended by the Parliament, even for the implementation of Directive Principles.
      • This verdict contradicted its own judgment in the ‘Shankari Parsad case.’
  • Kesavananda Bharati v the State of Kerala (1973)

      • The Supreme Court overruled its Golak Nath (1967) verdict and declared that Parliament can amend any part of the Constitution, but it cannot alter its “Basic Structure.”
      • As a result, the Right to Property (Article 31) was eliminated from the list of Fundamental Rights.
  • Minerva Mills v the Union of India (1980)

    • The Supreme Court reiterated that Parliament can amend any part of the Constitution but cannot change the “Basic Structure” of the Constitution.

Implementation of DPSP

  • Minimum Wages Act of 1948: empowers the government to fix minimum wages for employees engaged in various occupations.
  • Equal Remuneration Act of 1976: provides for equal pay for equal work for both men and women.
  • 73rd and 74th Amendments: to the constitution, (1991 & 1992 respectively) Panchayati Raj has been given constitutional status with more powers.
  • National Legal Services: Legal aid at the expense of the State has been made compulsory in all cases pertaining to criminal law if the accused is too poor to engage a lawyer.

The Directive Principles of State Policy aim to create favorable social and economic conditions that enable citizens to lead a contented life. Additionally, their objective is to foster a welfare state that promotes social and economic democracy.

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