The directive principles of state policy contained in part iv of the
constitution set out the aims and objectives to be taken up by the states in the
governance of the country. This novel feature of the constitution is borrowed
from the Irish constitution which had copied it from Spanish constitution.
The idea of welfare state envisaged by our constitution can only be achieved if
the states endeavour to implement them with a high sense of moral duty.
At one time it was thought that the state was mainly concerned with the
maintenance of law and order and the protection of life, liberty and property of
the subject. Such a restrictive role of the state is no longer a valid concept.
Today we are living in an era of a welfare state which has to promote the
prosperity and well-being of the people. The directive principles lay down
certain economic and social policies to be pursued by the various government in
India; they impose certain obligation on the state to take positive action in
certain directions in order to promote the welfare of the people and achieve
Classification of the directives
The Directives may be classified into the following groups:
- Social Economic Charter
- Social Security Charter
- Community Welfare Charter
Principles of Policy to be followed by the State for securing economic
Article 39 specifically requires the State to direct its policy towards
securing the following principles:
- Equal right of men and women to adequate means of livelihood.
- Distribution of ownership and control of the material resources of the
community to the common good.
- To ensure that the economic system should not result in concentration of
wealth and means of production to the common detriment.
- Equal pay for equal work for both men and women.
- To protect health and strength of workers and tender age of children and
to ensure that they are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations
unsuited to their age or strength.
- That children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a
healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood
and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material
Clause (f) was modified by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976 with a
view to emphasise the constructive role of the State with regard to children.
The changes made by the amendment does not change the content and the spirit of
unamended clause (f). The object intended to be achieved by the amendment could
have been fulfilled even under the unamended clause (f) of Art. 39.
The underlying objectives of the Directive Principles can better be understood
from the speech of Dr.s Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly. He said:
"...Our Constitution lays down what is called parliamentary democracy. By
Parliamentary democracy we mean .'one man, one vote'. We also mean that every
Government shall be on the anvil, both in its daily affairs and also at the end
of a certain period when the voters and the electorate will be given an
opportunity to assess the work done by the Government.
The reason why we have
established in the Constitution a political democracy is because we do not want
to instal by any means whatsoever a perpetual dictatorship of any particular
body of people. While we have established political democracy, it is also the
desire that we should lay down as our ideal economic democracy.
We do not want
merely to lay down a mechanism to enable people to come and capture power. The
Constitution also wishes to lay down an ideal before those who would be forming
the Government. That idea is economic democracy, whereby, so far as, I am
concerned, I understand to mean one man, one vote.
The question is, have we got
any fixed idea as to how we should bring about economic democracy?
various ways in which people believe that economic democracy can be brought
about; there are those who believe in individualism as the best form of economic
democracy ; there are those who believe in having a socialistic state as the
best form of economic democracy ; there are those who believe in the communistic
idea as the most perfect form of economic democracy.
Now, having regard to the fact that there are various ways by which economic
democracy may be brought about, we have deliberately introduced in the language
that we have used, in the directive principles, something which is not fixed or
rigid. We have left enough room for people of different ways of thinking, with
regard to the reaching of the idea of economic democracy, to strike in their own
way, to persuade the electorates that it is the best way of reaching economic
democracy, the fullest opportunity to act in the way in which they want to act.
It is no use giving a fixed, rigid form to something which is not rigid, which
is fundamentally changing and must, having regard to the circumstances and at
times keep on changing. It is, therefore, no use saying that the directive
principles have no value. In my judgment, the
directive principles have a great value, for they lay down that our ideal is
economic democracy. Because we did not want merely a parliamentary form of
Government to be instituted through the various mechanism provided in the
Constitution, without any direction as to what our economic ideal or as to what
our social order ought to be, we deliberately included the Directive Principles
in our Constitution.
I think if the friends who arc agitated over this question bear in mind what I
have said just now that our object in framing this Constitution is really
twofold (1) to lay down the form of political democracy and, (2) to lay down
that our ideal is economic democracy and also to prescribe that every Government
whatsoever is in power, shall strive to bring about economic democracy."
Thus, it is clear that the main object in enacting the directive principles
appears to have been to set standards of achievements before the Legislature and
the Executive, the local and other authorities, by which their success or
failure can be judged. It was also hoped that those failing to implement the
directives might receive a rude awakening at the polls. It should, however, be
noted that the directive principles do not impose any particular brand or
pattern of economic or social order. They lay down the goals which may be
achieved through various means which have to be devised from time to time.
Directives based on Socialist Principles:
- 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,
- Articles 39:
The State shall in particular, direct its policies towards
- 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.
Directives based on Gandhian Principles:
- 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 STs and other weaker
- 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.
Directives based on Liberal-Intellectual Principles
- Article 44:
The State shall endeavour to secure for the citizen a UCC 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
- 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
- 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.
Directive principles of state policies are not enforceable unless there is a law
particularly about them.
- What is the procedure to convert a DPSP from non-enforceable to enforceable?
- Is there any time or specified period given to make all necessary laws to
enforce every DPSP or is it just left upon the wish of the government?
Government is not bound to make law for all DPSP, unless it becomes necessary
for the well-being of the nation. It depends upon on government which DPSP they
want to get enforced.
Legal Existing Situation
There are 20 directive principles mentioned in the constitution of India. Out of
those 20 couple of principles are enforced in India as for them specific laws
have been made for example Rights to Education Act 2009.
Kerala Education bill
The court said that any conflict between fundamentals rights and DPSPs, even
after the application of doctrine of interpretation, then the former should be
upheld and given more importance over the DPSPs.
Madras vs Champakan
If any law is in contravention to the provisions mentioned under Part III of the
Indian Constitution, it would be held void, but this is not applicable in case
of DPSPs. This shows that Fundamental rights are on a higher pedestal than DPSPs
as far as this case is concerned.
Golakanth vs State of Punjab
The Court held that the Parliament cannot curtail the Fundamental rights in
making any law or policy for the country. It also mentioned that if a law has
been made to give effect to Article 39 (b) and Article 39 (c) of Part IV of the
Constitution and in doing so if Article 14, Article 19, or Article 31 gets
violated, then it cannot be declared as void merely on the ground of such
Keshavnanda Bharti vs state of Kerala
The Apex Court placed DPSPs on a higher position than Fundamental Rights.
After that, in the case of Minvera Mills, the Court while deciding the case held
that the harmony between the two should be maintained because neither of the two
has any precedence over each other. Both are complementary to each other, and
they should be balanced anyhow for the proper functioning of the State.
Unnikrishna vs State of Andhra Pradesh
The Court was of the view that Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles are
not exclusive but complementary to each other. The Court said that the
Fundamental Rights are the ways through which the goals given in Part IV can be
Scope and Objectives:
- To have a better understanding about the concept of DPSPs.
- To know the extent of enforceability of DPSPs.
As we now know that DPSPs are not enforceable. Article 37 of the Indian
Constitution States about the application of the Directive Principles.
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.
Guided by the Directives the Central and the State Governments have tried to the
best of their resources to implement a large number or Directives. The
government has fixed minimum wages for our workers, modernised our labour laws
and improved the conditions of labour. Panchayats have been established in the
remotest villages of our country.
They have been vested with the powers of civil administration, such as, medical
relief, maintenance of village roads, streets, tanks and welts, provisions for
primary education, sanitation and the like. They also exercise some judicial
For the promotion of cottage industries, the Government has established several
boards, viz. All India Khadi and Village Industries Board, Small Scale
Industries Board, Silk Board, All India Handicrafts Board, AU India Handloom
Board, etc. Many States have passed laws for compulsory education. Slaughter of
cows and calves in some of the States have been prohibited.
A large number of laws have been enacted to implement the directives contained
in Article 40.
The objectives laid down in Art. 40 have now been fulfilled by enacting the
constitution 73rd and 74th amendment acts, 1992 known as the panchayat raj and
nagarpalika constitution amendment act, 1992. These amendments provide
constitution sanction to democracy at the grass root level.
In 1971, Fourteen major banks of the country were nationalised. Privy purses and
privileges of the princes were abolished. The privileges of I. C. S. Officers
were taken away. The Constitution was amended by the 25th Amendment Act, 1971,
so as to enable the Government to implement more speedily socio-economic
reforms. This Amendment added a new article: Article 31-C to Article 31 of the
Constitution. The new Article provides that no law which is intended to give
effect to the principles contained in Articles 39-B and 39-C, shall be deemed to
be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with, or takes away or
abridges any of the rights conferred by Articles 14, 19 or 31 of the
Constitution. The validity of the 25th Amendment Act had been upheld by the
Supreme Court in the Fundamental Rights case.
Instead of becoming a stumbling block the judiciary has now taken itself the
responsibility of implementing the directive principles. In its recent
judgements the court has declared many directives as fundamental rights and have
enforced them. Equal pay for equal work, Protection of children from
exploitation, Abolition of child labour in hazardous works, Free and compulsory
education of children below the age of 14 years (under Arts. 39, 41 45 and 47),
Protection of working women from sexual harassment, Free legal aid to poor,
speedy trial of undertrial prisoners, (Art. 39-A), Right to work and medical
assistance to workers (Art. 41) and Protection of ecology and Environmental
Pollution (Art. 48-A).
As we know the enforceability clause of DPSPs, but it's nowhere mentioned in the
Part IV of the constitution that until what date, time, or period the principles
should be implemented in the form law by the government.
Although many law have been implemented as fundamental rights now that were once
directive principles only, yet there are many principles still pending to be
implemented. But question is when?
The government is the body which makes law regarding to any matter in the nation
when it feels it right to be introduced. Same goes for DPSPs. They can only be
implemented in the form of law only when the government feels it necessary and
reasonable to do so.
If a ruling party that becomes government for some like 5 years and mentioned
some principles to be accomplished in that term of five years but unfortunately
is unable to implement those then no person can file a suit against the
government for not fulfilling its promise as DPSPs are not enforceable in the
court of law. But if certain principles become important to be implemented and
somehow also it is violating the fundamental rights of a citizen, then it may
become highly important to make laws regarding those principles on the order of
It seems like it depends on moreover on the wish of the government to whether
they want or not to implement those type laws.
The government is not always at fault. Due to the high population of the
country, it becomes way hard which is nearly impossible to achieve to provide
the facilities and livelihood mentioned in the Part IV of the constitution. It
is very hard to fulfil every individual's wish with respect to Part IV due to
high number of people and limited capacity of government and resources.
Thus, it is on the government to decide to when to implement the principles and
pass necessary laws about it which can be months, few years or more.
Conclusion & Suggestion
We all now after this research work knows about what DPSP is and what is its
significance in the constitution. The DPSPs can be converted into a fundamental
right by the procedure of creating, enacting, and implementing any law. We also
discovered about the deadline of implementing each DPSP and that is no deadline.
There is no such deadline to implement the Directive Principles of State
Policies. The only suggestion we can give is that to work harder and think more
efficiently about the Part IV and about more of its implementations in near
future to accomplish the goal of welfare state.
- 13th Edition, V.N. Shukla, Constitution Of India 407 (Eastern Book
- 48th Edition, Dr. J.N. Pandey, The Constitutional Law Of India 409
(Central Law Agency 2011)
- Drishtiias, https://www.drishtiias.com
- Blog.Pleaders, https://www.blog.pleaders.in
- Knowindia, https://www.knowindia.india.gov.in
- Legal Service India. https://www.legalserviceindia.com
- Dristiias, http://www,drishtiias.com
- MEA, https://www.mea.gov.in