Directive Principles Of State Policy (DPSP) Under The Indian Constitution


Since India achieved independence, the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) have been in high fashion. The bone of disagreement in the litigation has always been its violation of Human Rights (FR). A moot point in India’s judicial process is always the non-justifiability of DPSPs. The anti-justiciable aspect of the Constitution is DPSPs, which means that an individual in the Court will not impose them.

Enforceability of DPSPs

The question also arises how a person can sue the government of the state or the central government for not implementing the principles of the directive mentioned in Part IV. The response to this question is in the contrary. The same explanation lies in Article 37, which states:

“The laws embodied in this part may not be legally binding by any court, but the rules set down in this Part shall therefore be central to the system of government of the country and shall be the responsibility of the State to manage their rules in order to make new rules and regulations.”

Consequently, no clause of that part could be made obligatory in the court of law by virtue of this Article, so that these concepts couldn’t be used it against the national government or the government of the state. This anti-justifiability of DPSPs prohibits the government of the state or the national government from taking disciplinary steps against them when these guidelines are not followed.

A further question remains about whether the apex Court or the High Court can if the State does not obey the principles of the Directive, issue a writ of mandamus. “To order” is the literal sense of mandamus. This is a writ that is given to any individual or entity whose been assigned responsibility by statute. The entity doing its duty is compelled by this writ.

In two circumstances, the Writ of Mandamus is usually issued. One is when an individual files a writ petition or when SuoMoto is issued by the Court, i.e. own motion.

In accordance with the Constitutional Requirements, if the Directive Principles are not enforced, the Court isn’t really empowered to share a mandamus to the State since this Directive Principle is a measure in the hands of individuals to verify the participation of the government and is not applicable to the courts. But where the issue is of greatest public concern and affects the general public’s keen interest, the Court may take Suo Moto action.

Fundamental rights are the state’s legal duty to honor, while the DPSPs are indeed the state’s moral obligation to obey. Article 38 defines the basic tenets that a government should strive to achieve. By being a statute, many of those Directive Concepts have now become binding. The framework of Fundamental Rights was expanded by many of the DPSPs.

DPSPs and Fundamental Rights

The continuity between Fundamental Rights and DPSPs has always been problematic. It is important to consider the applicability of both definitions, so if the Constitution is a coin, then Fundamental Rights and DPSPs are two facades of that coin.

Part III, on the one hand, i.e. On the other hand, Part IV allows the state to establish a law that blends the interests of its citizens, limiting the strength of the government and preventing the state from creating any law that contravenes the interests of its people. In the present legal situation, both fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy have equal importance and meaning and thus cannot disregard each other. Many people argue that because of their non-justifiability, DPSPs are pointless, but we necessary to recognize that these aren’t just the core principles, as well as the general goals and values that India is trying to fulfill.

Judicial Cases

The issue of if DPSPs are preceded by fundamental rights or whether the latter take priority over the past has been the topic of debate for generations. Judicial decisions exist that address this conflict.

The Supreme Court was of the view in Madras vs. Champakan[1], that if a law violates a constitutional right, it would be invalid, but the DPSPs will not be the same. This illustrates that basic rights are on a bigger level than DPSPs.

The Court claimed in the Kerala Education Bill[2], that the concept of harmonious construction should be enforced in the event of a dispute between Fundamental Rights and DPSPs. But even after the interpretation doctrines have been applied, there is a discrepancy between constitutional law and DPSPs, so the latter must be enforced.

The Court gave preference to Fundamental Rights over DPSPs in Venkataraman v. State of Madras[3].

In I. C. Golaknath& Ors v. State of Punjab & Anr[4], the court observed that the law of the Parliament cannot limit fundamental rights. In the same way, the Court also stated that, where legislation is enforced to pay heed to Article 39(b) and Article 39(c) which fall within the competence of the DPSPs and, in the process, infringes Article 14, Article 19 or Article 31, the law could not be found unconstitutional and invalid on the basis of the fact of that rule.

The 42nd Amendment to the Constitution broadened the reach of Article 31C to include all the principles of the directive enshrined in the constitution. Due to the change, only those laws which had given effect to the Directive Principles of State Policy referred to in Article 39(b) and 39(c) were saved by Article 31C.

In Keshavnanda Bharati vs. Kerala State[5],  DPSPs are placed on the higher pedestal of the Supreme Court than Fundamental Rights. Lastly, in the case of Minerva Mills v. Union of India (AIR 1980 SC 1789) the problem until the court was that whether concepts of State policy promulgated in Article IV of the Directive could take precedence over the fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution under Section III. The court found that since none of the two has priority over each other, the doctrine of harmonious construction should be applied. They are both complementary, so they’ll have to be managed.

In Unnikrishnan vs. State of Andhra Pradesh[6], the Court held that the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles are not mutually exclusive, so they must not be read in the context of exclusion. The Court further claimed that fundamental rights are the means whereby the objectives set out in Part IV are accomplished.

Amendments and DPSPs

A Constitutional amendment is necessary in order to change the Directive Principles of State Policies. The special majority of the two Houses of Parliament must pass it. There have been several changes to the constitution post-independence, and several of them refer to DPSPs.

It made four amendments to Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSPs) starting with the 42nd Constitutional Amendment in 1976. In the first place, it amended Article 39, which obliges the state to maintain social order in order to promote the welfare of the people. In addition, Article 39-A was introduced, making it the responsibility of the State to ensure fair treatment and legal aid. Parliament went ahead with the legislation called the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987, pursuant to this report. It also introduced Article 48A, which deals with environmental conservation and improvement. The implementation of the principles set out in Article 48A is illustrated by Water Pollution, Air Pollution, Environmental Pollution Actions, The Forest Act etc.

Article 38 clauses (2) was added to the 44th Constitutional Amendment in 1978, that orders the Government to reduce income inequality, to eradicate inequalities in rank, resources and facilities, among most individuals, as well as among groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in various professions.

The 73rd Constitutional Amendment, 1992, passed in Article 40 of the Constitution by the Panchayats in Section IX of the Constitution, had its genesis. It works with the Village Panchayats Organization.

Article 21-A of the 86th Constitutional Amendment, 2002, was incorporated into the Constitution of India. It gives the ability to free and compulsory education as a constitutional right for all children in the age group of six to fourteen. The origins of this amendment lie in Article 41, which, in some situations, deals with the right to employment, education and public welfare.

Article 43-B of 2011, 97th Constitutional Amendment authorizes the State to encourage voluntary development, independent operation, public representation and professionally managed dairy cooperatives.

DPSP and its Implementation

Even though enforcement of the rules laid out in Part IV is not directly evident, there is still a multitude of laws and regulatory policies that represent the implementation of the Part IV concept. Several laws and legal provisions were developed by legal doctrine in the Judicial History of India. Directive Principles of State Policy played a critical role in such situations, and the courts took the values of the Directive very closely into account.

Policies such as the National Rural Jobs Guarantee Act of Mahatma Gandhi (MGNREGA) are approved by Article 39(a), which addresses the right to adequate livelihoods. Laws including the Child Labour Act 1986 (Prohibition and Regulation) enforce the provisions of Article 39(g) relating to the welfare of children.

Article 48, which deals with the organization of agriculture and husbandry, provides for the sanctity of the laws concerning the prohibition of the killing of cows and bulls. The application of Article 41, Article 42 and Article 43A is reflected by laws such as the Workmen Compensation Act, the Minimum Wages Act, the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Act, the Factories Act and the Maternity Benefit Act.

Government programs, such as the Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP), the Integrated Tribal Development Program (ITDP) and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, etc., represent the key objectives set out in Article 47, which are to increase living standards and improve human health.

In the end, all of the other laws and regulations aim to accomplish the aims and values set out in Article 38, i.e., the establishment of a benefits system.

Importance of DPSPs for an Indian citizen

An individual should be conscious of them, irrespective of the non-justiciable existence of DPSPs. That is because Article 37 itself defines these values as central to the country’s governance. The DPSPs’ mission is to improve society’s economic and social conditions so that people can live a decent life. Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSPs) awareness allows a person to keep a close watch on the administration.

An individual could use DPSPs as an indicator of the government’s success and can recognize the reach it lacks. These principles should be known to an individual although, essentially, these rules serve as a measure to evaluate the law that regulates them.

In addition, it also limits the state’s authority to make a punitive rule. It has become an established law through different court decisions that maintaining DPSPs and Fundamental Rights is as vital as upholding the sacredness of Fundamental Rights. Failure to comply with the concept of the Directive would have a direct or indirect effect on a constitutional right which is considered to become one of the most basic components of the Constitution.

Disadvantages of Directive Principles of State Policy

The following reasons for the criticism of the Directive Principles of State Policy are mentioned as a point of debate:

  1. It doesn’t have legal effect
  2. It is structured illogically,
  3. It’s indeed Conservative in nature
  4. The constitutional dispute can occur between the center and the state


This article attempts to show that the validity and value of DPSPs cannot be dismissed solely on the basis of their non-justifiability. These provisions were not introduced by our constitutional drafters merely for the sake of life, but these principles were added to promote the country’s governance. To fulfill the key goals and the main objective of a nation, they added this part.

Moreover, it would be wrong to claim that the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSPs) are not enforced after looking at the above-mentioned results. The requirements of Part IV have to be followed by any policy and legislation that the state comes up with. Therefore, they hold similar weight and meaning as human rights or any other clause of the Constitution, even after being non-justiciable.

[1] Madras vs. Champakan (AIR 1951 SC 226).

[2] Kerala Education Bill (1957) (1959 1 SCR 995).

[3] Venkataraman v. State of Madras (1966 AIR 1089).

[4] I. C. Golaknath & Ors v. State of Punjab & Anr, (1967 AIR 1643).

[5] Keshavnanda Bharati vs. Kerala State (1973) 4 SCC 225).

[6] Unnikrishnan vs. State of Andhra Pradesh (1993 SCC (1) 645).

This Article is Authored by Ashraf Fathima, 2nd Year B.A LL.B Student at Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad 

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