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Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSPs)

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 defines.
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 cases.
Article 42: Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity leaves.
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 weaker sections.
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 importance.
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 Constitution.

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 colonial rule.

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.

Judicial Pronouncements
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.

In I. 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.

In Keshavnanda 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 children.

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 draconian law.

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 today’s world.

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 arbitrary legislation.

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.

The current 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.

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