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Directive Principles of State Policy

The Sapru Committee in 1945 suggested two categories of individual rights. One being justiciable and the other being non-justiciable rights. The justiciable rights, as we know, are the Fundamental rights, whereas the non-justiciable ones are the Directive Principles of State Policy.

Articles 36-51 under Part-IV of the Indian Constitution deal with Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP). They are borrowed from the Constitution of Ireland. They are also referred to as ‘instruments of instruction’ the government must use them as guiding principles for policy formulation. They are fundamental in the governance of the country.

Classification of DPSP

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 and opportunities

  • Articles 39: The State shall, in particular, direct its policies towards securing:

    • 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 the 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 Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and other weaker sections.

  • Article 47: The State shall take steps to improve public health and prohibit the 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 Uniform Civil Code 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 scientific lines.

    • 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 interest.

  • Article 50: The State shall take steps to separate the 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.

The conflict between Fundamental Rights and DPSP:

The dispute between FR and DPSP is principally motivated by one's justiciability and the other's lack of it. The Supreme Court's precedent-setting jurisprudence has taken the following forms:

In the Champakam Dorairajan case, Fundamental Rights would overrule DPSP in the event of a conflict. However, the legislature may change the FR to incorporate the DPSP.

Golaknath case: FR is intrinsically sacred and cannot be altered even in order to implement the DPSP.

Keshavanda Bharati case: Article 31C, which grants blanket protection to legislation implementing the DPSP, was declared null and unconstitutional.

Minerva Mills is a case in point. The Constitution is predicated on a foundation of balance between FR and DPSP. It ruled for harmonious construction.

At the moment, the FR enjoys supremacy over the DPSP. This is not to say, however, that DPSP cannot be accomplished.

It is imperative to realise that there isn’t any tug of war, the goal is to achieve prosperity of the state and it's the responsibility of the policy framers to move ahead in the direction with pragmatism without according primacy to one provider over another.


The Constitution's primary goal is to establish political democracy. For a prosperous democracy political democracy alone is inefficient. Hence its sustaining forces must be carefully built up. The simultaneous existence of a socioeconomic democracy is the most effective force that will sustain a political democracy. Where there is no socioeconomic democracy, political democracy will quickly degrade. 

If fundamental rights ensure political democracy in India, the Directive Principles ensure the emergence of soci-economic democracy to support the former. As a result, the Directive Principles of State Policy are most important guarantee of genuine democracy. In light of these considerations, it would be imprudent to regard these directives as a mere political manifesto devoid of legal sanction, or to characterise them as vague and indefinite, or to dismiss them as a mere moral homily.

The Directive Principles are very significant since they include the State's affirmative commitments to its citizens.  They are revolutionary in nature and have yet to be accomplished constitutionally. Herein lays the real value of embodying these principles as an integral part of the Constitution.  

The Directive Principles of State Policy ensure that the Indian Constitution avoids the two extremes of a proletarian dictatorship that kills individual liberty and a capitalist oligarchy that jeopardises the economic security of the majority.

It promotes the idea of a welfare state.


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