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An overview on directive principle under Labour and Industrial Law

The Directive Principles of State Policy of India (DPSP) are the guidelines or principles given to the federal institutes governing the state of India, to be kept in citation while framing laws and policies. These provisions, contained in Part IV (Article 36–51) of the Constitution of India, are not enforceable by any court, but the principles laid down there in are not considered in the governance of the country, making it the duty of the State[1] to apply these principles in making laws to establish a just society in the country.

The principles have been inspired by the Directive Principles given in the Constitution of Ireland which are related to social justice, economic welfare, foreign policy, and legal and administrative matters.

Directive Principles are classified under the following categories economic and socialistic, political and administrative, justice and legal, environmental, protection of monuments, peace and security.

While debating on DPSP in the Constituent Assembly, Dr. Ambedkar stated on 19 November 1948 as given below high lighting that the DPSP shall be the basis of future governance of the country:
It is the intention of this Assembly that in future both the legislature and the executive should not merely pay lip service to these principles enacted in this part, but that they should be made the basis of all executive and legislative action that may be taken hereafter in the matter of the governance of the country.

Directive Principles of State Policy aim to create social and economic conditions under which the citizens can lead a good life. They also aim to establish social and economic democracy through a welfare state. Though the Directive Principles are non-justiciable rights of the people but fundamental in the governance of the country, it shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws per Article 37. Besides, all executive agencies of union and states should also be guided by these principles. Even the judiciary has to keep them in mind in deciding cases.

Per Article 37, state and union governments, as duty, shall make further detailed policies and laws for implementation considering DPSPs as fundamental policy. In contrary to Article 37, many policies have been implemented by state and union governments which go against the DPSPs such as using intoxicating drinks as source of major tax revenue instead of implementing prohibition for better health of people, separation of judiciary from executive, uniform civil code for the citizen, etc. When the union government feels that a DPSP is no longer useful to the nation, it shall be deleted from Constitution by bringing a constitutional amendment to remove ambiguity in policy making / direction. Judiciary can repeal any policy/law devised by the government which is diametrically opposite to any DPSP.

An existing policy in line with DPSP can not be reversed, however it can be expanded further in line with DPSP. The policy changes applicable under DPSP shall not be reversible unless the applicable DPSP is deleted by constitutional amendment (ex. prohibition implemented once in a state can not be repealed later as long as it is part of DPSP).

The directive principles ensure that the State[1] shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing a social order in which social, economic and political justice is animated/informed in all institutions of life per Article 38 (1). Dr. Ambedkar clarified as given below in the Constituent Assembly debates on Article 38 highlighting its inevitable implementation.

...The word strive which occurs in the Draft Constitution, in judgement, is very important. We have used it because our intention is even when there are circumstances which prevent the Government, or which stand in the way of the Government giving effect to these Directive Principles, they shall, even under hard and unpropitious circumstances, always strive in the fulfillment of these Directives. That is why we have used the word strive. Otherwise, it would be open for any Government to say that the circumstances are so bad, that the finances are so inadequate that we cannot even make an effort in the direction in which the Constitution asks us to go.

Also, the State shall strive to minimize the inequalities in income and endeavour to eliminate economic inequality as well as inequalities in status and opportunities, not only among individuals, but also among groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations per Article 38 (2). The State shall aim for securing right to an adequate means of livelihood for all citizens, both men and women as well as equal pay for equal work for both men and women.

The State should work to prevent concentration of wealth and means of production in a few hands, and try to ensure that ownership and control of the material resources is distributed to best serve the common good. Child abuse and exploitation of workers should be prevented. Children should be allowed to develop in a healthy manner and should be protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment per Article 39.

The State shall provide free legal aid to ensure that equal opportunities for securing justice is ensured to all, and is not denied by reason of economic or other disabilities per Article 39A. The State shall also work for organisation of village panchayats and help enable them to function as units of self-government per Article 40. The State shall endeavour to provide the right to work, to education and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, within the limits of economic capacity per Article 41 as well as provide for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief per Article 42.

The State should also ensure living wage and proper working conditions for workers, with full enjoyment of leisure and social and cultural activities. Also, the promotion of cottage industries in rural areas is one of the obligations of the State per Article 43 The State shall take steps to promote their participation in management of industrial undertakings per Article 43A.

Also, the State shall endeavour to secure a uniform civil code for all citizens per Article 44 and provide free and compulsory education to all children till they attain the age of 14 years per Article 45. This directive regarding education of children was added by the 86th Amendment Act, 2002. It should work for the economic and educational upliftment of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and other weaker sections of the society per Article 46.

The directive principles commit the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health, particularly by prohibiting intoxicating drinks and drugs injurious to health except for medicinal purposes per Article 47. It should also organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines by improving breeds and prohibiting slaughter of cows, calves, other milch and draught cattle per Article 48. It should protect and improve the environment and safeguard the forests and wild life of the country per Article 48A. This directive, regarding protection of forests and wildlife was added by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976.

Protection of monuments, places and objects of historic and artistic interest and national importance against destruction and damage per Article 49 and separation of judiciary from executive in public services per Article 50 are also the obligations of the State as laid down in the directive principles. Finally Article 51 ensure that the State shall strive for the promotion and maintenance of international peace and security, just and honourable relations between nations, respect for international law and treaty obligations, as well as settlement of international disputes by arbitration.

There is no need of any constitutional amendment and simple legislation by the Parliament is adequate to implement the Directive Principles as applicable laws per Article 245 as they are already enshrined in the constitution. The State has made few efforts till now to implement the Directive Principles.

The Programme of Universalisation of Elementary Education and the five-year plans has been accorded the highest priority in order to provide free education to all children up to the age of 14 years.The 86th constitutional amendment of 2002 inserted a new article, Article 21-A, into the Constitution, that seeks to provide free and compulsory education to all children aged 6 to 14 years. Welfare schemes for the weaker sections are being implemented both by the Central and State governments. These include programmes such as boys' and girls' hostels for scheduled castes' or scheduled tribes' students. The year 1990–1991 was declared as the Year of Social Justice in the memory of B.R. Ambedkar.

The government provides free textbooks to students belonging to scheduled castes or scheduled tribes pursuing medicine and engineering courses. During 2002–2003, a sum of Rs.47.7 million was released for this purpose. In order that scheduled castes and scheduled tribes are protected from atrocities, the Government enacted the Prevention of Atrocities Act, which provided severe punishments for such atrocities.

Several Land Reform Acts were enacted to provide ownership rights to poor farmers.

Up to September 2001, more than 20,000,000 acres (80,000 km²) of land had been distributed to scheduled castes, scheduled tribes and the landless poor. The thrust of banking policy in India has been to improve banking facilities in the rural areas.

The Minimum Wages Act of 1948 empowers government to fix minimum wages for employees engaged in various employments. The Consumer Protection Act of 1986 provides for the better protection of consumers. The act is intended to provide simple, speedy and inexpensive redressal to the consumers' grievances, award relief and compensation wherever appropriate to the consumer.[citation needed]

The Equal Remuneration Act of 1976, provides for equal pay for equal work for both men and women. The Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana was launched in 2001 to attain the objective of gainful employment for the rural poor. The programme was implemented through the Panchayati Raj institutions.

Panchayati Raj now covers almost all states and Union territories.[21] One-third of the total number of seats have been reserved for women in Panchayats at every level; in the case of Bihar, half the seats have been reserved for women. Legal aid at the expense of the State has been made compulsory in all cases pertaining to criminal law, if the accused is too poor to engage a lawyer. Judiciary has been separated from the executive in all the states and Union territories except Jammu and Kashmir and Nagaland.

India's Foreign Policy has also to some degree been influenced by the DPSPs. India, in the past has condemned all acts of aggression and has also supported the United Nations' peace-keeping activities. By 2004, the Indian Army had participated in 37 UN peace-keeping operations. India played a key role in the passing of a UN resolution in 2003, which envisaged better co-operation between the Security Council and the troop-contributing countries. India has also been in favour of nuclear disarmament.

Per Article 38 (1), prompt rendering of the justice by courts is part of animating judiciary. Rendering prompt justice is the foremost purpose of the constitution as enshrined in the Preamble to the constitution also, However the judiciary is failing dismally in this respect by causing inordinate delay considering time of rendering justice in a case arbitrarily is its constitutional liberty.

Changes in Directive Principles require a Constitutional amendment which has to be passed by a special majority of both houses of the Parliament. This means that an amendment requires the approval of two-thirds of the members present and voting and by the absolute majority of the house – whether the Lok Sabha or Rajya Sabha.

#  Article 31-C, amended by the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 seeking to upgrade the DPSPs. If laws are made to give effect to any of the Directive Principles overriding Fundamental Rights, they shall not be invalid on the grounds that they take away the Fundamental Rights. In Minerva Mills v. Union of India case, Supreme Court ruled that 42ndAmendment Act to the Article 31C is not valid and ultra vires.
#  Articles 38 (2), was added by the Forty-fourth Amendment Act, 1978 of the Constitution
#  Articles 39A, which directs the state to secure Equal justice and free legal aid, was added by the Forty-second Amendment Act, 1976 of the Constitution
#  Articles 43A, which directs the state to secure Participation of workers in management of industries, was added by the Forty-second Amendment Act, 1976 of the Constitution
#  Articles 43B,which directs the state to strive for Promotion of co-operative societies, was added by the Ninety-Seventh Amendment of the Constitution of India[27]
#  Article 45, which ensures Provision for free and compulsory education for children, was added by the 86th Amendment Act, 2002.[9]
#  Article 48A, which ensures Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wild life, was added by the Forty-second Amendment Act, 1976
#  Articles 49, was modified by the Seventh Amendment Act, 1956 of the Constitution

Labour Laws and Constitution of India

The Constitution of India is the touchstone for any Act passed in our country. The Constitution of India is the largest written constitution of the world. Each and every act which was in force before the enactment of our constitution were either amended or nullified after its enforcement. Our constitution plays an important part in the changes and growth in labour laws in India. The Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in Part III and Part IV mentions working class related benchmark laws.

Labour laws in Fundamental Rights

Part III of the Constitution of India is the benchmark for labor laws in India. Also, Part III (Article 12 to 35) of the Constitution covers the fundamental rights of its citizens which includes Equality before the law, Religion, Sex, caste, place of birth, the abolition of untouchability, freedom of speech and expression and prohibition of employment of children in factories.

Article 14

Equality before the law which is interpreted in labor laws as “Equal pay for Equal work”. It does not mean that article 14 is absolute. There are a few exceptions in it regarding labor laws such as physical ability, unskilled and skilled labors shall receive payment according to their merit.

In the case of Randhir Singh vs Union of India, the Supreme Court said that Even though the principle of Equal pay for Equal work is not defined in the Constitution of India, it is a goal which is to be achieved through Article 14,16 and 39 (c) of the Constitution of India.

Article 19 (1) (C)

Constitution guarantees citizens to form a union or association. The Trade Union Act, 1926 works through this Article of the Constitution. It allows workers to form trade unions.
Trade Unions provide the power to raise voice against atrocities done to the workers. Unionization brings power to the laborers. Trade Unions discuss various labor-related problems with the employers, they conduct strikes, etc.

Article 23

Constitution prohibits forced labor. When the Britishers ruled over India, forced labor was prevalent all over India. They were made to work against their will and weren’t paid according to their work. The Government at that time were infamous for forced labor and the landlords were also involved in forced labor.
In current times, forced or bonded labor is an offense which is punishable under the law. The Bonded Labor (Abolition) Act, 1976 prohibits all kinds of bonded labor and is declared illegal.

Article 24

Constitution prohibits all forms of child labor. Nobody can employ a child under the age of 14 to work. Child labor was a massive problem of our country in the earlier times and it still is happening but at a lower scale. The penalization of article 24 is severe.

Relevancy of Part IV (Article 36 – 51) on Labor Laws

Part IV of the Constitution of India, which is also known as the “Directive Principles of State Policy” aims to work toward the welfare of its citizens. DPSP cannot be enforced in the court of law, but it provides a guideline to the legislature for making labor laws in India.

Article 39 (a)

> The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing; That the citizens, men and women equally, have the right to an adequate means of livelihood. It means that every citizen of the country has the right to earn a livelihood without getting discriminated on the basis of their sex.

Article 39(d)

Constitution says that The State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing; that there is equal pay for equal work for both men and women. Wages will not be determined on the basis of sex rather it will be according to the amount of work done by the worker.

Article 41

Constitution provides “ Right to Work” which means that every citizen of the country has the right to work and the state with the best of its abilities will secure the right to work and education.

Article 42

Provides for the upliftment of the working conditions for workers. It talks about creating a suitable and Humane workplace. This article also talks about maternity relief, i.e leave provided to women when they are pregnant.

Article 43

Talks about the “living wage” for its citizens. Living wage not only includes the “bare necessities of life” but also the social and cultural upliftment of the person. It also includes education and insurances for a person.

The State shall constantly try to create opportunities in the fields of Agriculture and Industries with special reference to cottage industries.

Constitution of India is the base for all laws in our country. The labor laws are also made according to the constitution and any violation of constitutional laws result in the abolition of that particular law. The Directive Principles of the State policy play a major role in the making of new labor laws in India.

Written by: Navnit Kumari, K.R Mangalam University, Sohna

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