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Directive Principles of State Policy and its Enforceability


The development of the Country lies in the hands of the Government. The Government forms certain policies with an aim to develop the nation. The Directive Principles of State Policy (hereinafter referred to as DPSP) are akin to guidelines for the government to develop policies. For a long time, it is believed in India that rulers and masters are responsible for the welfare of society. The Directive Principles constitute a social, economic, and political system for a democratic and welfare State. These principles emphasize that the State shall strive to promote people’s welfare by providing them with basic necessities such as food, clothing and housing. In contrast to Fundamental Rights, the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) is of non-binding in nature, which means that if they are violated, they are not enforceable by any Court.

Compatibility with Fundamental Rights:

The Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy owe to a common origin, and they are like two sides of the same coin as they are enumerated in the Part III and Part IV of the Constitution, but they appear to be distinct parts. The political democracy is ensured by Fundamental Rights while the economic and social rights are ensured by the directive principles. The main objective of Directive Principles of State Policy is described in Article 37 as provisions fundamental in the governance of the country and their aims to better the socio and economic conditions of the society. With the help of State Legislative system, DPSP aims to put an end to all kinds of oppression and create and sustain economic equality within the Indian Political System. Thus, DPSP is called as principles of governance in the Constitution. There are several differences between the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy, the major difference is that the Directive Principles stated under Article 36 to Article 51 cannot be violated by an individual person or the State because they are not enforceable but if Fundamental Rights are being violated, they can seek the Court for remedy by invoking Article 226 and Article 32 of the Constitution of India. Any legislation that contradicts with the Fundamental Rights can be considered by the Courts as ultra vires or unconstitutional, whereas in the case of DPSP, it is not enforced by Courts of Law, and any act of the State or any law which is in conflict with it cannot be declared as void as it is an ‘instruments of instruction’ that it is up to the State to decide whether it can be applied or not. Since the day of implementation of the Constitution, the Fundamental Rights becomes operational, and they are guaranteed and enforceable under the Constitution. On the other hand, the Directive Principles of State Policy are yet to reach that state because they are not enforceable. The Fundamental Rights cannot be contravened by the state through legislative laws or actions, but there is no limitation or restriction in the case of DPSPs as they always direct to do something for the benefit of the State people[1].

DPSP conflict with Fundamental Rights:

The directive principles set out different tenets of a welfare State. The conflict arises when the State has to implement a directive principle and the same breaches citizens’ Fundamental Rights. The conflict with Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Rights can also be seen as a conflict between an individual and the State. While Parliament has often tried to assert the supremacy of the DPSP over Fundamental Rights, the Supreme Court has upheld Fundamental Rights as enshrined in the Constitution by issuing appropriate judgments.

The Fundamental Rights are sacrosanct that cannot be supplanted but supplemented by the Directive Principles of State Policy. In the State of Madras vs. Smt. Champakam Dorairajan[2], it was held that according to Article 16(2) of the Constitution, no citizen of this country can be discriminated on the basis of religion, caste, race, sex, place of birth etc. for employment in any office under the State[3]. It was pointed out that according to Article 46 of the Constitution, it is obligatory for the State to make certain provisions related to the backward community to save them from social exploitation, so the special care should to taken by the State and it is the responsibility of the State to get admission to colleges and institutions[4]. The Article 46 lays down in the Directive Principles of State Policy in Part IV of the Constitution, though the provisions are not enforceable in any Court, the principles laid down in DPSP are nevertheless fundamental for the governance in the Country. Due to the reservation policy of the Government, which is followed in Educational Institutions under the State, the upper caste students were not able to obtain seats in the Government College and Government jobs despite securing higher marks. Because of this, the Fundamental Rights of an individual have been violated under Article 16 (2) of the Constitution. The Court invalidates the order passed by the State educational institution which was provided for communal reservation of seats, which means that reservation of seats was based on the community of students, even though it was inspired by Article 46. The Supreme Court ruled that DPSP was not enforceable and the laws implemented in light of the DPSP should not take away the Fundamental Rights. It was ruled that when there arises a conflict with Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles always former would prevail.

The right to acquire and hold property is a constitutional right as per the 42nd amendment. Although it was not the case when the judgment was delivered in Golaknath vs. State of Punjab[5], The 11 bench Judge of the Supreme Court was formed. The ratio of the judgment was 6:5; the majority said that Parliament has no right to amend the Fundamental Rights of the Constitution to implement Directive Principles of State Policy. The Fundamental Rights should be kept beyond the reach of Parliament. Consequently, to save democracy from Parliamentary autocratic actions, the majority held that Parliament could not amend the Fundamental Rights enshrined in Part III of the Indian Constitution. The majority stated that Fundamental Rights are the same as natural rights, so these rights are important to the development of citizens and the growth of the Nation. Kesavananda Bharati vs Union of India 1973[6] overruled the above case. The Court held that the Parliament could amend the Constitution including Fundamental Rights, but the Parliament could not change the Constitution’s basic structure.

In the 42nd Amendment, the Parliament further broadened the scope of the Fundamental Rights.  In the case of Minerva Mills vs. Union of India[7], that section 4 of 42nd Amendment of Constitution Act was struck down by the Supreme Court because this amendment deprived the fundamental rights of their sovereignty and made them subordinate to the Directive Principles of State Policy and this altered the Constitution’s basic structure. The Supreme Court held that the Constitution exists on the basis of Part III and Part IV. Giving absolute primacy to one over another would disturb the Constitutional harmony, and it is necessary to create the balance between the two Achieving the goals enshrined in Part-IV of the constitution by contravening Part-III of the constitution would result in razing down the basic structure of the constitution. Thus, section 4 of the 42nd amendment, which gave priority to the Directive Principles over Fundamental Rights pursuant to Articles 14, 19, 31 was held as void and unconstitutional by the majority of Judges.

Enforceability of DPSP:

According to Article 37 of the Constitution[8], the Directive Principles cannot be made justiciable or enforceable under any Court of Law, however, they are equally important for two reasons—firstly, laws may become obsolete over a period of time and secondly, they are principles of governance which need implementation by the government voluntarily.  There is still no clear answer as to whether or not the DPSPs should be made enforceable. As certain principles change over time making DPSP enforceable will make the system still more rigid because all the provisions in the DPSPs are implemented by means of numerous other laws and policies. If they are made enforceable, this may lead to violations of these values. It was supported by the Court that a harmonious construction between DPSP and Fundamental Rights should be made and this can be achieved without enforcing the DPSP[9].


“However good a Constitution may be, if those who are implementing it are not good, it will prove to be bad. However, bad a Constitution may be, if those implementing it are good, it will prove to be good” – DR B. R. Ambedkar.

As per his words, the Constitution should be implemented considering the changing times, and it should benefit society. Directive Principles are useful for the welfare State, but to enforce them does not serve any purpose. The present position of the DPSP is balanced and desirable. Parliament can, therefore, amend the Fundamental Rights for the Implementation of the DPSP keeping in mind the basic structure of the constitution

Case Laws:

[1] Mudit goswami, Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP): Whether Justifiable or not, LEGAL SERVICE INDIA,

[2] AIR 1951 SC 226

[3] Indian Kanoon, Article 16(2) in The Constitution of India 1949,

[4] Indian Kanoon, Article 46 in The Constitution of India 1949,

[5] 1967 AIR 1643, 1967 SCR (2) 762

[6] (1973) 4 SCC 225: AIR 1973 SC 1461

[7] AIR 1980 SC 1789

[8] Indian Kanoon, Article 37 in The Constitution of India 1949,

[9] Neerja Gurbani, Scope of Enforcement of DPSPs, ACADEMIKE

Shobika Kannan 



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