Directive Principles of State Policy

The framers of our Constitution borrowed this idea from the Irish Constitution of 1937, it was copied from the Spanish Constitution. Directive Principles of State Policy enumerated in Part IV of the Constitution from Articles 36 to 51.

What are the Features of Directive Principles?
  • It denotes the ideals “the State should keep in mind while formulating policies and enacting laws”. It includes legislative and executive organs of the central and state governments, all local authorities, and all other public authorities in the country. According to Article 36 term ‘State’ in Part IV has the same meaning as in Part III dealing with Fundamental Rights.
  • It is called ‘Instrument of Instructions’ as enumerated in the Government of India Act of 1935. (According to B R Ambedkar )
  • The Directive Principles constitute a very comprehensive Economic, Social, and Political program for a modern democratic State. It aims at realizing the high ideals of justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity as outlined in the Preamble to the Constitution.
  • The Directive Principles are non-justiciable in nature, so these are not legally enforceable by the courts for their violation. Therefore, the government (Central, state, and local) cannot be compelled to implement it.  Article 37 says 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.
  • As it is non-justiciable in nature so helps courts in examining and determining the constitutional validity of a law. The Supreme Court has ruled many 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 Directive Principles

The Constitution is not consisting of any classification of Directive Principles.  However, they can be classified into three broad categories on the basis of their content and direction, Viz. Socialistic, Gandhian, and Liberal Intellectual.

Classification of Directive Principles

Socialistic Principles

They show the ideology of socialism, find the framework of a democratic socialist state, aim at providing social and economic justice, and set the path towards the welfare state. Articles- 38, 39, 39A,41,42,43,43A,47 deals with it.

  • Article 38– To promote the welfare of the people by securing a social order permeated by justice—social, economic, and political—and to minimize inequalities in income, status, facilities, and opportunities.
  • Article 39– (a) the right to adequate means of livelihood for all citizens; (b)
    the equitable distribution of material resources of the community for the common good; (c) prevention of concentration of wealth and means of production; (d) equal pay for equal work for men and women; (e) preservation of the health and strength of workers and children against forcible abuse; and (f) opportunities for the healthy development of children.
  • Article 39(A)- To promote equal justice and to provide free legal aid to the poor.
  • Article 41– the right to work, education, and public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness, and disablement
  • Article 42-provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief
  • Article 43-living wage, decent standard of living, and social and cultural
    opportunities for all workers
  • Article 43(A)-To 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

These are based on Gandhian ideology. To fulfill the dreams of Gandhi some ideas included in Directive Principles:

  • Article 40– To organize village panchayats and endow them with necessary powers and authority to enable them to function as units of self-government
  • Article 43– for promoting cottage industries on an individual or co-operation basis in rural areas
  • Article 43(B)– for promoting voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control, and professional management of co-operative societies
  • Article 46– for promotion of 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 47– for the prohibition of the consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health
  • Article 48– for prohibiting the slaughter of cows, calves, and other milch and draught cattle and to improve their breeds
Liberal–Intellectual Principles

These principles in this category represent the ideology of liberalism. They are directing the state:

  • Article 44– for security for all citizens a uniform civil code throughout the country
  • Article 45– for providing early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years
  • Article 48– To organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines
  • Article 48(A)– for protection and improvement of the environment and to safeguard forests and wildlife
  • Article 49– To protect monuments, places, and objects of artistic or historic interest that are declared to be of national importance
  • Article 50– for separation of the judiciary from the executive in the public services of the State
  • Article 51– To promote international peace and security and maintain just and
    honorable relations between nations; to foster respect for international law and treaty obligations, and to encourage settlement of international disputes by arbitration
Some important facts
  1. The 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 added four new Directive Principles in the original list these are-Article 39, Article 39(A), Article 43 (A), Article 48 (A)
  2. The 44th Amendment Act of 1978 added one Directive Principle, that requires the State to minimize inequalities in income, status, facilities, and opportunities -Article 38.
  3. The 86th Amendment Act of 2002  has changed the subjects of Article 45 and included elementary education as a fundamental right under Article 21 A.
  4. The 97th Amendment Act of 2011 added a new Directive Principle relating to cooperative societies. It is related to promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control, and professional management of co-operative societies -Article 43(B).

In the Champakam Dorairajan case (1951), the Supreme Court ruled that in case of any conflict between the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles, the Fundamental rights would prevail.

Parliament madefirstAmendment Act (1951), the Fourth Amendment Act(1955), and the Seventeenth Amendment Act (1964) to implement some of the Directives.

in the Golaknath case 1967, the Court held that the Fundamental Rights cannot be amended for implementation of the Directive Principles.

In the Minerva Mills case (1980), the Supreme Court also held that ‘the Indian constitution founded on the bedrock of the balance between the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles

Therefore, the present position is that the Fundamental Rights enjoy supremacy over the Directive Principles.

Articles Related to Directive Principles of State Policy 
Article Related subject
36 Definition of state
37 Application of the principles contained in this part
38 State to secure a social order for the promotion of the welfare of the people
39 Certain principles of policy to be followed by the State
39A Equal justice and free legal aid
40 Organization of village panchayats
41 Right to work, to education, and to public assistance in certain cases
42 Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief
43 Living wage, etc., for workers
43A Participation of workers in management of industries
43B Promotion of co-operative societies
44. Uniform civil code for the citizens
45 Provision for early childhood care and education to children below the age of six years
46 Promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and other weaker sections
47 Duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health
48. Organization of agriculture and animal husbandry
48A Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife
49 Protection of monuments and places and objects of national Importance
50 Separation of judiciary from the executive
51 Promotion of international peace and security


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