Define DPSP. What Is The Negative Aspect Of Directive Principles Of State Policy?


Once, a thought exists like a state was concerned mainly to maintain law and order and for the protection of life, liberty and property of the subject. But as society develops, there arose demands like prosperity and well-being of people. Hence it becomes the duty of the state to provide some needs other than fundamental rights.

In  1945 Sapru committee suggested two categories of individual rights; one being justiciable and the other one being non-justiciable rights. The right is known as fundamental rights and the non-justiciable ones as the directive principles of state policy.

Meaning and Definition:

The constitution-makers under part IV of the constitution set out some aims and objectives to be taken up by the states in the governance of the country. This obligation on the state is called the directive principles of state policy (DPSP) which is borrowed from Ireland constitution which had copied from the Spanish constitution. The DPSP lay down certain economic and social policies to be pursued by the various government in India to promote the welfare of the people and achieve economic democracy.

According to the words of Sri G.N. Joshi, Directive Principles of State Policy is “they constitute a very comprehensive political, social and economic program for modern democratic  State”. In the words of Dr B R Ambedkar, “the directive principles are like the instrument of instructions, which were issued to the governor-general and to the Governors of the colonies of India by the British Government under the Government of India act of 1935. What is called Directive Principles is merely another name for the instrument of instructions. The only difference is that they are instructions to the legislature and the executive.”

Article 36 – 51 in the constitution explains directive principles of state policy. The articles can be briefed as follows;

  1. Article 36: defines the state as the same as article 12 unless the context otherwise defines
  2. Article 37:  Application of the principles contained in this part.
  3. Article 38: promote the welfare of the people by securing a social order through justice – social, economic, and political –and to minimize inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities.
  4. Article 39: equal justice and free legal aid.
  5. Article 40: organization of village panchayats
  6. Article 41: the right to work, education, and to public assistance in certain cases.
  7. Article 42: provision for just and human conditions of work and maternity relief.
  8. Article 43: secure a living wage, a decent standard of living and social and cultural opportunities for all workers.
  9. Article 43-A: take steps to ensure the participation of workers in the management of industries.
  10. Article 43-B: Promotion of cooperative societies
  11. Article 44: uniform civil code for the citizens
  12. Article 45: provision for early childhood care and education to children below the age of six years
  13. Article 46: promotion of education and economic interests of SC, ST and other weaker sections.
  14. Article 47: duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health.
  15. Article 48: prohibit the slaughter of cows, calves and other milch and draught cattle and to improve their breeds.
  16.  Article 48-A: Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife
  17. Article 49: protection of monuments and places and objects of national importance.
  18. Article 50: separation of judiciary from the executive in the public services of the state.
  19. Article 51: promotion of international peace and security and maintain just and honorable relations between nations-foster respect for international law and treaty obligations- encourage settlement of international disputes by arbitration.

The main objective of enacting DPSP is to set standards of achievements before the Legislature and the executive, the local and the other authorities, by which their success or failure can be judged.

Thus the features of DPSP can be briefed as follows;

  1. It lays down the ideals that the state should preserve while formulating new policies and laws,
  2. It resembles the ’instrument of instructions’ enumerated in the Government of India act 1935,
  3. It focuses on ensuring high ideals of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity as outlined in the preamble to the constitution,
  4. They point out the concept of the “welfare state” in this colonial era.

Classification of the DPSP:

The constitution however doesn’t formally classify Directive Principles of state policy but on the basis of content and direction, they can be classified into three categories:

  1. Social and economic principles
  2. Gandhian principles
  3. Liberal – intellectual principles.

Socialistic principles based on the ideology of socialism. the Gandhian principles embodied to reconstruct some dreams and ideas of Gandhi and the liberal- intellectual principle focuses on the ideologies of liberalism.

Enforceability of DPSP’S:

Article 37 defines the nature of DPSP  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 no provision of DPSP 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 DPSP makes the state government or the central government immune from any action against them for not following these directives. This is considered as a negative aspect of DPSP.

Negative aspects of DPSP include:

As mentioned above DPSP are non-justiciable in nature and thus they can’t be legally enforceable by the courts for their violation. the other limitation is that it may lead to constitutional conflict between center and state or between centre and the president or between the chief minister and governor. Another aspect is that its conflicts with the fundamental rights, they can be amended to implement the fundamental rights. A law cannot be struck down by courts for violating DPSP.

Although the DPSP have some limitation, the constitution itself considered it is a fundamental part of the constitution as well as for the citizen’s welfare as they impose a moral obligation on the state for implementation of these principles.

Relationship between Fundamental Rights and DPSP:

Part III of the constitution under article 12-35 provides for fundamental rights. The directive principles of state policy provide guidance for interpretation of fundamental rights as also the statutory rights.  In a number of decisions, the supreme court has given many directive principles of state policy, the status of a fundamental right.

In-State of Madras v Champakam Dorairajan, the SC held that a law which violates fundamental rights cannot be justified on the ground that it is made to implement a directive contained in part IV of the constitution. In other words, DPSP cannot override fundamental rights. In case any conflict arises between fundamental rights and DPSP, the fundamental rights prevail.

In Re Kerala Education Bill, the supreme court observed that though the directive principles cannot override the fundamental rights, the court may not entirely ignore the DPSP in determining the scope and ambit of fundamental rights. The court should adopt the principle of harmonious construction and should give effect to both as much as possible.

In Keshavananda Bharati v State of Kerala, the Supreme Court said that fundamental rights and directive principles are meant to supplement one another.

In Unni Krishnan v State of A P, the supreme court held that the fundamental rights and directive principles are supplementary and complementary to each other and the provision in part III should be interpreted having regard to the preamble and Directive Principles of State Policy.

In State of Bombay v Balsara, the validity of the Bombay Prohibition Act which prohibited manufacturing and sale of liquor in the state was challenged as being violative of the fundamental right to engage in any profession or trade. The court gave weight to article 47 which directs the state to bring about prohibition of consumption of intoxicating drink except for medical purposes and held that the restriction imposed by the act was reasonable.

Amendments related to DPSP:

The 42nd Constitutional Amendment 1976, made four changes in DPSPs. Firstly it amended article 39 which obligates the state to ensure a social order for the promotion of the welfare of the people. Moreover, Article 39-A was added which makes the duty of the state to provide for equal justice and free legal aid. Article 48A  was added dealing with the protection and improvement of environments and the inclusion of Water Pollution, Air Pollution, Environment Pollution act and Forests Act.

The 44th Constitutional amendment, 1978 added article 38 clause (2), which directs the state to minimize inequalities in income – to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities for individuals which are also groups of people residing in different areas and in the different time period of vacations.

The 73rd Constitutional amendment, 2002 added article 21-A  in the constitution to provide the right to free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a fundamental right.

97th Constitutional Amendment, 2011 added article 43-B to authorizes the state to promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of the co-operative societies

Implementation of Directives Principles of State Policy:

A large number of laws have been enacted to implement the directives contained in part IV of the constitution.

The Banking  Companies (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Act, 1969 – the Equal Remuneration Act,1976 – the Employees Provident Funds Act,1952 – the Maternity Benefit Act,1961 – the Bonded Labour System Abolition Act,1976 – the Payment of Bonus Act,1965 –the Kerala Land Reforms Act, 1963 etc., are examples of laws enacted for implementing the directives contained in part IV of the constitution.


Thus, Constitution drafters divided the rights of the citizen into two parts that are justiciable and non-justiciable. Part III Fundamental rights were made justiciable and part IV directive principles of state policy were regarded as non-justiciable rights. DPSPs are positive obligations on the state to ensure a  moral basis for a welfare state. They lay down the goals which may be achieved through various means which have to be devised from time to time.

Today, fundamental rights enjoy supremacy over the directive principles. The parliament can amend the fundamental rights for implementing the Directive Principles, as long as the amendment doesn’t affect the basic structure of the constitution.

This Article is Authored by Lesha. Haridas, 5th Semester BBA LLB (Hons) Student at Nehru Academy of law.

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