The article is written by Shubham Choudhary, 2nd Year law student of the West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences. The author had discussed the Directive Principles of State Policy with its characteristics, importance and criticisms and how these can be classified under different heads.

Introduction

The Directive Principles of State Policy are embedded in Part IV of the Indian Constitution starting from Articles 36 to Article 51. The idea of Directive Principles of State Policy is borrowed from the Irish Constitution of 1937 which interestingly has borrowed itself from Spanish Constitution. Granville Austin combinedly defines Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy as “Conscience of the Constitution”. B.R. Ambedkar defines them as ‘novel features’ of the Constitution as although ideas are being borrowed but the deriving force for the Constitution is novel in its own sense. The Directive Principles of State Policy, when combined with Fundamental Rights, inscribe the philosophy of the Constitution and are the Soul of the Constitution.

Several Features of Directive Principles of State Policy.

  1. The Phrase ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’ denotes the ideals to be considered while forming the policies and statutes for governance. These are like guidelines or recommendations or instructions for forming the laws and legislatures. These need to be kept in mind by all the authorities under the meaning of ‘State’ defined in Fundamental Rights.
  2. The Directive Principles of State Policy are similar to the concept of ‘Instrument of Instructions’ contained in the Government of India Act of 1935 which were recommendations for Governor-General and other Governors of the colonies by the British Government. The only difference is that they are for legislatures and are recommended by the Constituent Assembly.
  3. These are comprehensive guidelines for Socio-Economic and political guidelines for the idealistic democratic State which was not possible at the time of Independence but seek to achieve high ideals of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity on which pillars of Indian Democracy stands. The concept of welfare state needs to be achieved in contrast to the police state as it was under British.
  4. These principles are non-justiciable in nature, means these cannot be legally enforced in a court of law against government. However, Article 37 of the Constitution itself says that these are fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the state to apply these principles in making laws.
  5. Although these a non- justiciable in nature, they immensely help the court in determining the constitutional validity of the law. The Supreme Court many a time seeks to enforce Directive Principles till justice is done.

Classification of the Directive Principles of State Policy

The constitution doesn’t differentiate between types of Directive Principles of State Policy but for better understanding of the terms, these can be classified into three broad categories namely, Socialistic, Gandhian and Liberal-intellectual.

Socialist Principles

Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, are now on equal footing in the eyes of the law but there were huge inequalities in the society, to curb these social Hierarchical problems, the Constituent assembly wants to achieve Socialist State and for this they included the following Articles of the Constitution that reflects the ideology of Socialism.

  • Article 38: The promotion of the welfare of people by effectively maintaining social order in all institution of the nation. It will be the duty of the state to minimise the inequalities and will strive to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunity to an individual.
  • Article 39: The state will follow certain principles in order to ensure the following:
    • Men and women are treated equally and both have the right to adequate means of livelihood.
    • To serve the community the ownership and control will be distributed in the best interest of society and to subserve the common interest of common good.
    • The economic system will not be the result of the concentration of wealth and means of production would never be a detriment to the common good of the people.
    • Both men and women will be paid equal for an equal amount of work.
    • The mental and physical health of workers is of prime interest, children are not to be forced due to economic necessity and citizens are not to be forced to work unsuited to their age and health.
    • Opportunities and facilities are to be given to children for the development of children in an all-round manner, freedom and dignity of children need to respected and need to be protected against exploitation.
  • Article 39A: It will the duty of the state to secure equal justice and to provide equal access to justice, a system of free legal aid for economically backward class people, so justice is denied to none
  • Article 41: The state within its economic capacity develops a system for the right to work, to education and provisions in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disability.
  • Article 42: It is the duty of the state to ensure just and humane conditions in the workplace and provisions for maternity relief.
  • Article 43: State will ensure a living age to industrial, agriculture workers and ensure decent workplace to work and to promote cottage industries on an individual or co-operative basis in rural areas.
  • Article 47: The state shall work in raising the level of nutrition and standard of living of its people and to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living of people and to improve public health.

These Articles are embedded keeping in mind to achieve the Socialist nature of Society in mind. However, only a few of them are achieved and the Government is still struggling to make them a reality.

Gandhian Principles

As the name suggests these Principles are based on the ideology of Gandhi. In order to fulfil the dreams of Gandhi and to achieve Gandhian State, these articles were included in the constitution. These are the following articles.

  1. Article 40: The steps will be taken by the states to organize village panchayats and there will be decentralisation of power and authority, in order to form self-government.
  2. Article 43: State will ensure a living wage to industrial, agriculture workers and ensure a decent workplace to work and to promote cottage industries on an individual or co-operative basis in rural areas.
  3. Article 43B: To promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of co-operative societies.
  4. Article 46: to prevent Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes from exploitation and injustice, the educational and economic interests of them shall be promoted.
  5. Article 47: The state shall work in raising the level of nutrition and standard of living of its people  To raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living of people and to improve public health.
  6. Article 48: Organization of agriculture and animal husbandry on the basis of scientific lines and steps in preserving and improving the breeds, prohibiting the slaughter of cows, calves and other milch and draught cattle.

Liberal-Intellectual Principles

The liberalism ideology stands for the freedom and autonomy of an individual. These principles are included keeping in mind the ideology of Liberalism. These are:

  1. Article 44: To secure for all citizens a uniform civil code throughout the country across all religions and every section of the society.
  2. Article 45: To provide elementary education until the age of fourteen years which has now become a fundamental right under Article 21A.
  3. Article 48: Organization of agriculture and animal husbandry on the basis of scientific lines and steps in preserving and improving the breeds, prohibiting the slaughter of cows, calves and other milch and draught cattle.
  4. Article 48 A: It is the duty of the state to protect and conserve the environment and forest and wildlife of the country.
  5. Article 49: it is the obligation of the state to protect every monument or place or object of artistic or historic interest declared under law as a monument of national importance.
  6. Article 50: To separate the judiciary from the executive in the public services of the State.
  7. Article 51: To promote international peace and security and maintain just and honourable relations between nations; to foster respect for international law and treaty obligations, and to encourage settlement of international disputes by arbitration.
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New Directive Principles

The best feature of our constitution that it is a living being and keeps on evolving. Changes have taken place in directive principles and major changes were by the 42nd Amendment Act of 1976 which added four new principles for the first time. These were:

  1. Article 39: Additional clause was added to secure opportunities for the healthy development of children and to respect the dignity and freedom of children.
  2. Article 39 A: It will the duty of the state to secure equal justice and to provide equal access to justice, a system of free legal aid for economically backward class people, so justice is denied to none.
  3. Article 43 A: Steps taken to ensure that participation of workers in the management of undertakings, establishments, or any other organization of the industry.
  4. Article 48 A: To protect and improve the environment and to safeguard forests and wildlife.

The 44th Amendment Act of 1978 added one more Directive Principle, which requires the State to minimise inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities which was inserted in Article 38.

It is not that only new Directive Principles are added but these Directive principles are promoted in the category of fundamental rights, it happened by 86th Amendment Act of 2002 which made elementary education a fundamental right under Article 21A.

Again in 2011 with the help of 97th Amendment added Directive Principles related to Co-operative Societies under Article 43B.

Importance of Directive Principles of State Policy

The Constitution itself under Article 37 declares that these are fundamental in the Governance of the country. Dr B.R. Ambedkar embarked that Directive Principles have great value because they lay down the goals of Indian Polity is ‘economic democracy’ as distinguished from ‘political democracy’.

Dr B.R. Ambedkar had pointed out that the Directives have great value because they lay down that the goal of Indian polity is ‘economic democracy’ as distinguished from ‘political democracy’.

Further, Granville Austin opined that the Directive Principles are ‘aimed at furthering the goals of the social revolution or to foster this revolution by establishing the conditions necessary for its achievement’. Sir B N Rau, the constitutional advisor to the Constituent Assembly, stated that the Directive Principles are intended as ‘moral precepts for the authorities of the state. They have at least an educative value.’ Some of the importance can be highlighted as:

  1. They are useful in following policies of the government in the matter of foreign and domestic matter. These can be used as a raw structure for forming the policies.
  2. They are the torch bearer for both Legislators and Judges, as for Legislatures they provide guidelines for forming the law and for judges they help in deciding the constitutional validity of the laws enacted.
  3. They are the soul of the Constitution because they represent the ideology behind the Constituent Assembly for forming the Constitution.
  4. They fill the gap between fundamental rights and social and economic rights of the citizens. They provide the way for legislatures to fill the gap.
  5. These are supplementary to the fundamental rights and are the target of the Legislature to achieve.
  6. They can be helpful in testing the performance of the government and can be seen as how far the government has worked in the Directive Principles of State Policy.
  7. They help the government informing their electoral manifesto and to reflect upon their ideology in comparison with Directive Principles.

Criticism of Directive Principles of State Policy

The Directive Principles have been severely criticized several times. Some of the major criticisms are concluded as follows.

  1. No Legal Force: one of the prominent criticisms of Directive Principles is that they are non-justifiable in nature. K.T. Shah compared these with “a cheque on a bank, payable only when the resources of the bank permit”. In the words on Nasiruddin, these principles are ‘no better than new year’s resolutions, which are broken on the second of January’. However, the legislators have created laws to implement these Directive Principles but no action is being taken against the Uniform Civil Code which has been long-standing demand.
  2. Illogically Arranged: In one of the opinions, the criticism is that these are illogically arranged and are not based on any consistent philosophy or logic. In the words of N Srinivasan, ‘the directives are neither properly classified nor logically arranged. The declaration mixes up relatively unimportant issues with the most vital economic and social questions. It combines rather incongruously the modern with the old and provisions suggested by the reason and science with provision purely on sentiment and prejudice’.
  3. Conservative: Sir Ivor Jennings criticizes them as the Directives are based on the British political philosophy of the 19th Century. He remarked ‘The ghosts of Sydney Webb and Beatrice Webb stalks through the pages of the text. Part IV of the constitution expresses Fabian Socialism without socialism’. These are based on old age philosophy of state which doesn’t represent 20th Century ideology.

Conclusion

It is indeed a fact that Directive Principles play a major role in the development of the laws and how these have taken place in the last few decades. Though the idea of directive Principle is conservative in nature, it has a huge impact in policy formation of the country. It is the test for the government in framing the laws and it fails if it goes in contrast with the Directive Principles. Further, it helps the court to decide the validity of the enacted laws. There is a scope of betterment by classifying the Articles in a more scientific manner. Articles could have been arranged according to the importance and need of the nation. These play ancillary with the fundamental rights but their roles cannot be ignored by virtue that these are non-enforceable. They have time and again helped the government and court with the litmus test to decide the constitutional validity of the law.

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