What is the importance of Directive Principles of State Policy – Article 36-51?

Directive Principles of State Policy

Directive principles of state policy are enshrined in Part IV of the Indian constitution from articles 36-51. It has been borrowed from the Irish Constitution of 1937. Dr B R Ambedkar has described these principles as ‘novel features’ of the Indian Constitution. The constitution does not describe the classification, but directive principles of state policy is classified into three parts:

3.6.1 Socialistic Principles  

  • Promoting welfare of the people by securing a social order charged by social, economic and political justice, and to minimize inequalities in income, status, facilities, and opportunities (Article 38).
  • To secure (Article 39):

i) right to adequate means of livelihood for all citizens.

ii) equitable distribution of material resources of the community for the common good.

iii) prevention of the concentration of wealth and the means of production.

iv) equal pay for equal work for men and women.

v) preservation of the health and strength of workers and children against forcible abuse.

vi) opportunities for healthy development of children.

  • Promotion of equal justice and providing free legal aid to the poor (Article 39 A).
  • Securing the right to work, education and public assistance in case of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement (Article 41).
  • Making provisions for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief (Article 42).
  • Securing a living wage, decent standard of life, and social and cultural opportunities for all workers (Article 43).
  • Taking steps to secure the participation of workers in the management of industries (Article 43 A).
  • Raising the level of nutrition and standard of living of people and improving public health (Article 47).

3.6.2 Gandhian Principles

  • Organizing village panchayats and endowing them with powers so that they can function as units of self-government (Article 40).
  • Promotion of cottage industries on co-operation or individual basis in rural areas (Article 43).
  • Promoting voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of co-operative societies (Article 43 B).
  • Promotion of economic and educational interests of SCs, STs, and other weaker sections of the society, and protecting them from social injustice and exploitation (Article 46).
  • Prohibition on the consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs that are injurious to health (Article 47).
  • Prohibition on the slaughter of cows, calves and other milch and draught cattle, and improving their breeds (Article 48).

3.6.3 Liberal- Intellectual Principles

  • Securing for every citizen, a uniform civil code throughout the country (Article 44).
  • Providing early childhood care and education for every child, until they complete six years of age (Article 45).
  • Organizing agricultural and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines (Article 48).
  • Protecting and improving the environment and safeguarding forests and wild life (Article 48 A).
  • Protecting monuments, places and objects of artistic or historic interest which are of national importance (Article 49).
  • Separation of judiciary from executive in public services of the state (Article 50).
  • Promoting international peace and security and maintaining just and honourable relations between nations; fostering respect for international law and treaty obligations, and encouraging settlement of international disputes by arbitration (Article 51).

3.6.4 New Directive Principles added through Amendments:

  1. 42nd Amendment Act of 1976:
  • Article 39 – securing opportunities for healthy development of children.
  • Article 39 A – promoting equal justice and providing free legal aid to the poor.
  • Article 43 A – securing participation of the workers in management of industries.
  • Article 48 A – protecting and improving the environment and safeguarding forests and wildlife.

2. 44th Amendment Act of 1978:

  • Article 38 – state to minimize inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities.

3. 86th Amendment Act of 2002:

  • Article 21 A – changed subject matter of Article 45, and added elementary education as a fundamental right under Article 21 A. It requires the state to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete six years of age.

4. 97th Amendment Act of 2011:

  • Article 43 B – state to promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of co-operative societies.

3.6.5 Conflict between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles

  1. Golaknath case (1967)
  • The Supreme Court ruled that the Fundamental Rights cannot be amended for the implementation of Directive Principles of State Policy.
  • Parliament enacted 24th and 25th Amendment Acts, that gave Parliament the power to amend or take away any Fundamental Right by passing the Constitutional Amendment Acts.

2. Kesavananda Bharti case (1973) – Supreme Court held that judicial review is a basic feature of the constitution, and hence cannot be taken away.

Fundamental RightsDirective Principles
Prohibit the state from doing certain things.Require the state to do certain things.
These are justiciable.These are non-justiciable.
Political democracy is established through these rights.Social and Economic democracy is established through these rights.
They have legal sanctions.They have moral and political sanctions.
They are individualistic.They are socialistic.
They are automatically enforced.They are not automatically enforced.
Courts can declare a law violative of any of the Fundamental Rights as unconstitutional and invalid.Courts cannot declare a law violative of any of the directive principles as unconstitutional and invalid.

Related sources: Right to Freedom of Religion, Bhoodan Movement

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