The article is written by Nikhil Thakur from Manav Rachna University. In this article, the author aims at explaining the various nuances of Article 39 of the Indian Constitution, 1950.


The Directive Principles of the State Policy (DPSP) has been enumerated under Part IV of the Indian Constitution from Articles 36 to 51. The drafters/ framers of the Indian Constitution have taken this concept of the Directive Principle of the State Policy (DPSP) from the Irish Constitution, 1937 which has further borrowed the said concept from the Spanish Constitution.

As rightly said by Dr. B.R Ambedkar, these Directive Principles of the State Policy (DPSP) form the novel feature of the Indian Constitution. The Fundamental Rights along with the Directive Principles are the heart and soul of the Indian Constitution.

Classification of the Directive Principles of the State Policy (DPSP) 

The Indian Constitution does not explicitly mention any classification of the Directive Principles of the State Policy (DPSP). However, on the basis of the content of the various Articles, they can be classified under three major categories, that are:

  1. Socialistic Principles, (Article 38, 39, 39A, 41, 42, 43, 43A and 47)
  2. Gandhian Principles and (Article 40, 43, 43B, 46, 47, 48)
  3. Liberal-intellectual Principles. (Article 44, 45, 48, 48A, 49, 50, 51)

Article 39 of the Indian Constitution

Article 39 of the Indian Constitution, specifically deals with the provisions or principles of policy that shall be undertaken by the state. Article 39 contains six sub-clauses, that are:

  1. That all the citizens irrespective of their sex whether men or women shall equally have the right to adequate means of livelihood. [Article 39(a) of the Indian Constitution]
  2. That the resources and the ownership of those resources and materials shall be distributed in such a way that it fulfils the common goal. [Article 39(b) of the Indian Constitution]
  3. That the economic system shall be executed in such a way that the concentration of wealth and means of production shall not result in a common detriment. [Article 39(c) of the Indian Constitution]
  4. That equal pay for equal work shall be promoted. [Article 39(d) of the Indian Constitution]
  5. That the health and strength of workers irrespective of whether men, women or children shall not be abused or manipulated. Further, economic necessity/condition shall not be the reason for entering such avocation that is unsuitable for specific age or strength. [Article 39(e) of the Indian Constitution]
  6. That appropriate opportunities shall be given to children that would help them in building in a healthy manner, and in the condition of freedom and dignity. Further, childhood and youth shall be protected from any kind of exploitation and against moral and material abandonment. [Article 39(f) of the Indian Constitution]

Article 39(f) of the Indian Constitution,1950 was substituted through the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976 to expand the scope of the said article. Previously, Article 39(f) stated that “childhood and youth are protected or guarded against exploitation or manipulation and against moral and material abandonment.”

The sole purpose of this Article is to ensure that the people or the citizens of India are provided with adequate means of livelihood, fair distribution of wealth, equal pay for equal work, protection of children and labour. The responsibility of ensuring all this is upon the state.

The essence of Article 39 has been enumerated under sub-clauses (b) and (c). Article 39(b) and (c) deals with ensuring a welfare society and the promotion of an egalitarian society. In Kesavananda Bharati v. The State of Kerala (1973) the Supreme Court of India stated that in the process of development in any field like social, economic, and political, then such development shall not be in contravention to the individual’s right to dignity. Hence, here the Supreme Court observed that even the framers of the Indian Constitution were of the opinion that to not have such a society where the individuals have not ensured any sort of dignity.

In a landmark Supreme Court judgement of the State of Bihar v. Kameshwar Singh AIR (1952) the Hon’ble Court explicitly held that any legislation that aims at doing away with the concentration of wealth/land in the hands of a few and promotes an egalitarian approach would be beneficial for the society as a whole and this would encourage an inclusive development that would further the cause as enumerated under the Article 39(b) and (c) of the Indian Constitution.

The Hon’ble Court under the Assam Sillimanite Ltd. v. Union of India (1992) explained what is “material resources of the community” that has been mentioned under Article 39(b) of the Indian Constitution. The Court said, the above-mentioned term means and includes all those things that are apt of creating wealth for the community as a whole.

In the above-mentioned case, the Supreme Court held that any Act, legislation, etc. which aims at expanding the production and supply of the refractories in order to meet the crucial demand of the iron and steel industry is well protected under Article 39(b) of the Indian Constitution.

Moreover, the “material resources of the community” subsume not only those resources which are already vested in the hands of the state rather also those which are in the hands of private individuals as laid down in the case of Sanjeev Coke Mfg. Co. v. Bharat Coking Coal Ltd. (1982) and again reiterated in Tinsukhia Electric Supply Co. Ltd. v. State of Assam (1989)

In the case of T.N v. L. Abu Kavur Bai (1983) and Jilubhai Nanbhai Khachar v. State of Gujarat (1994) it was held that material resources include movable as well as immovable resources like land, building, etc. besides natural and physical resources. Nationalisation of private enterprises or undertakings and services by the states is eligible to be covered within the scope of material resources; this approach was observed in the case of Assam Sillimanite Ltd. v. Union of India (1992).    

Article 39(d) of the Indian Constitution aims at ensuring equal pay among men and women for the same work. The Delhi High Court relied on Article 39(d) while dealing with the case of Randhir Singh v. Union of India (1982), Jeet Singh v. MCD (1986) and Delhi Veterinary Assn. v. Union of India (1984). The Hon’ble Court invalidated the disparities of pay scales of drivers in the Delhi Police Force, the Delhi Administration and the Central Government.

In Jaipal v. State of Haryana (1988), the Hon’ble Court again relied on Article 39(d) of the Indian Constitution and deplored the discrepancies of pay scale among permanent and temporary employees or workers including regular or casual workers as long as they are performing similar work. 

Through Supreme Court Employees’ Welfare Assn. v. Union of India (1989) and Harbans Lal v. State of Himachal Pradesh (1989), the Supreme Court gave the ruling that Article 39(d) is supported via Article 14 and 16 of the Indian Constitution and all those reasonable classifications mentioned under these two Articles shall not be made applicable in case of Article 39(d). Hence, employees employed under various other establishments and institutions cannot claim equality in the pay scale as a right as observed in the case of Assam Sillimanite Ltd. V. Union of India (1992). Furthermore, The Hon’ble Court under the State of Himachal Pradesh v. P.D Attri (1999) stated that the employees/workers from another state cannot claim equality of payment in that state where such person happens to be or is employed

Under V. Markendeya v. the State of Andhra Pradesh (1989) and Mewa Ram Kanojia v. All India Institute of Medical Science (1989), the Court explicitly held that pay scale is subjected to the educational qualifications of the employee.

If any housing facility is provided to one establishment and not to the other, in that case, the court cannot issue a writ of Mandamus concerning the allotment of houses to low-income employees in that establishment because the other establishment is providing the same. Moreover, the court cannot force such establishments to allot houses on grounds of social welfare as held in Jagdish Prasad v. MCD (1993).

Legislations concerning Article 39

Since the independence, various legislation concerning employees and their protection have been enacted that aims at avoiding and curbing evil practises like exploitation:

  1. The Minimum Wages Act, 1948
  2. The Code on Wages, 2020
  3. The Contract Labour Regulation and Abolition Act 1970
  4. The Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act, 1986 
  5. The Bonded Labour System Abolition Act, 1976
  6. The Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957
  7. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
  8. The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976

Government schemes adopted for the welfare of society

Article 39 aims at ensuring a welfare society. Hence, over the years, various schemes and policies have been adopted by the government for ensuring inclusivity, welfare society, etc., some of them are:  

  1. Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maan-Dhan Yojana

The abovementioned Yojana aims at providing social security to employees who are engaged as street vendors, agriculture-related aspects, construction workers, rickshaws, auto wheelers, rag pickers, etc. the aim is to promote inclusivity in the society.

  1. Pradhan Mantri Rozgar Protsahan Yojana

The Yojana aims at encouraging employment in society for the unskilled and semi-skilled workers by providing incentives to the employers. 

  1. Aam Aami Bima Yojana

It is a  social security scheme that aims at providing insurance cover to all those workers who fall under rural landless households.

  1. Atal Beemit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana

The Yojana furnishes monetary support to all those employees who for any reason have got unemployed.

  1. Central Sector Scheme For Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourer, 2016

This central scheme aims at identifying and rehabilitating the bonded labour under which the central government would provide monetary assistance.

  1. Gatidhara Scheme for Self-Employment

This is a state-specific scheme launched in the State of West Bengal. This scheme aims at providing employment to all those youths who have got unemployed.

  1. Grant in Aid Scheme to NGOs for Welfare of Women Labour

This scheme aims at educating women about their rights. The scheme will furnish funds in favour of all those NGOs, institutions and organisations that are established for the welfare of women.

  1. Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana

The scheme will provide socio-economic security to Below Poverty Line (BPL) workers. 

  1. Revised Integrated Housing Scheme

This is an integrated housing scheme that aids workers working in mines like iron, mica, limestone, etc. with housing facilities. The only condition for availing of this scheme is that the beneficiary must not be having any pucca house already.

  1. Garib Kalyan Rozgar Yojana

This scheme was an outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic under which the government aims at promoting employment opportunities to all those migrant workers who have got displaced and further providing them the funds to re-establish their ventures.

  1. Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Antodaya Yojana

The purpose of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Antodaya Yojana (DAY) is to skill and train people residing in rural as well as urban areas. The chief purpose of the scheme is to expand and generate more and more employment and further provide funds to people so that they can set up their ventures.


Article 39 of the Indian Constitution make sure that the state while or before framing the policies, regulations, etc. shall put due consideration on ensuring adequate means of livelihood to every person irrespective of the fact that such person is a male or female, equal pay for equal work shall be promoted that aims at curbing the stereotype behaviour of the society towards the women, the employees shall be protected or safeguarded from any kind of exploitation, due consideration shall be made on the health of children and further ensuring enough opportunity to the youths for their development.

The only loophole that can be mentioned here is the non-inclusivity of other genders within the scope of Article 39 of the Indian Constitution as it includes only males and females.  


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