Article 31B
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This article has been written by Sujai Shukla.


The Fundamental Rights are enshrined in Part III of the Constitution starting from Article 12 to Article 35 and it is believed that the framers of the Constitution in this regard have rightly derived their inspiration from the Constitution of the United States i.e. Bill of Rights. The rights thereby enshrined in Part III of the Constitution encompasses in itself an elongated and comprehensive list of Justiciable Fundamental Rights that can be enforced by the ordinary courts of the country. These Fundamental Rights contained in Part III of our Constitution are much more extensive and elaborative than any other country of the world even more elaborative from where it has been borrowed (USA). 

On the other hand of this article, we will explore that the Directive Principles of State Policy or the (herein referred to as DPSP) are encompassed in Part IV of the Constitution of India from Article 35-51. It is evident at this very stage, that the makers of the Constitution of India in respect to Part IV have derived and borrowed the idea and the concept of having the Directive Principles from Section 45 of the Irish Constitution of 1937 which in turn have copied it from the Spanish Constitution. These Directive Principles of the State Policy or “Novel Features” as termed by Dr. B.R. Ambedkar symbolizes and directs the state (As defined in Article 12 of the Constitution) with ideals and recommendations that should be kept in mind while framing policies and enacting laws. But unlike the former stands unjustifiable in nature. 

Both the Directive Principles along the Fundamental Rights comprise the philosophy of the Constitution.

Now, we will discuss in this part of the article the Part III and Part IV of the Constitution much more elaboratively: 

Fundamental Rights (Part – III)  

As discussed earlier in this article, These Justiciable Rights are enshrined in Part III of the Constitution of India (Article 12 to Article 35) and are called and named “Fundamental” because of two significant reasons:

  • Firstly, these rights are guaranteed and protected by the Constitution of the Country which is the fundamental law of the land.
  • Secondly, they become fundamental in the sense that they are most essential for the all-round material, intellectual, moral, and spiritual development of an Individual.

Initially and Originally there were about seven fundamental rights but after the abolition of Zamindari Act 1950, there number reduced to about six which are as follows:

  1. Right to equality (Article 14-18) which entails in itself that everyone stands equal before the law and equal treatment should be given to everyone thereby implying a complete prohibition of discrimination founded on the grounds of race, caste, creed, or gender. 
  2. Right to Freedom (Article 19-22): Each individual has the right to freedom to form an association, to peacefully assemble, to practice any profession, and carry on any trade, occupation, or business.  Contains one of the most significant right i.e. Right to Life and Liberty (Article 21). protection and rights to an accused in respect to arrest and detention for conviction of any offense under the penal code of the country.
  3. Right against Exploitation (Article 23 and 24): This Article entails in themselves important and rights such as the prohibition of Child Labor or Forced Labor and Human trafficking. 
  4. Right to Freedom of Religion (Article 25- Article 28): This specific right in the Constitution is of utmost importance in a country like India where there is a huge diversity of religion, this right provides the citizens with the freedom to follow and practice any religion and most importantly grants freedom of conscience to an Individual. The rights under this head also specifically provide a clause concerning paying taxes for religious purposes.
  5. Cultural and Educational Rights (Article 29 and Article 30): These rights entailed in Part III provides protection to different languages and varieties of culture present in India and additionally protects the rights and culture of minorities, right to minorities to establish and administer educational Institution, etc.  
  6. Right to seek Constitutional remedies: Article 32 as described by Dr. Ambedkar the heart and soul of the Indian constitution, these remedies are available to any individual whose fundamental right gest violated, and these rights enshrined in the Constitution empowers the Supreme Court of India to issue 5 types of writs.

However, the right to property was deleted from the aforementioned list of Fundamental Rights by the 44th Amendment Act, 1978, and thereby this amendment made the Right to property as a Non-Fundamental Constitutional Right under Article 300-A in Part XII of the Constitution.

Directive Principles of State Policy (Part – IV)

The Directive Principle of State Policy or DPSP as enumerated in Part IV of the Constitution as discussed formerly in this article are the constitutional directives or recommendations to the State as far as the cases of Legislative, administrative and executive matters to keep in mind the ideals therein mentioned while formulating and enacting laws. The significance of these directives becomes evident from the fact that these Directive Principles at numerous instances help the court of law though having non-justiciable in nature, to determine the constitutional validity of a law. These Directives are often classified into three broad categories:

  • Socialistic PrinciplesFor e.g. Article 38, to promote the welfare of the people by securing a social order permeated by justice – social, economic and political and thereby to minimize any types of inequalities be it income, status and opportunities. 
  • Gandhian Principles – These principles characterize the programme for reconstruction as enunciated by the father of the Nation – Mahatma Gandhi during the national movement and struggle. For e.g. – Article 40 to organize village panchayats and endow them with necessary powers and authority to enable them function as units of self – government.
  • Liberal–Intellectual Principles– These DPSPs entail in themselves some characteristics of the ideology of liberalism. For e.g. – Article 50 which further imposes an obligation upon the state to separate judiciary from the executive in the public services of the State.

The classification of the Directive Principles as above stated in this article is not expressly present or made by the Constitution but however on the basis of its content the same has been classified into the three broad categories. 

Significance of the Directive Principles

These Directive Principles despite having been criticized by eminent economists like K.T. Shah as “ a cheque on bank, payable only when resources of the bank permit so” for having no legal sanction and being illogically arranged, and even by former Finance minister T.T. Krishnamachari ( 1956-1958 ) as “ a veritable dustbin of sentiments” these Directive Principles in the contemporary times cannot be construed as irrelevant accompaniment. As stated by Justice Chagla, the former Chief Justice of India these principles if implemented well and fully carried out, can make our country indeed heaven on earth. The Directive Principles are auxiliary and can even be considered as subsidiary to the fundamental rights as they are aimed and intended to fill in the vacuum present in Part III by providing economic and social rights. They simplify and provide a kind of stability and permanency in domestic and foreign strategies of the government or despite the changes that occur from the disposition.

DPSPs provide the citizens of the country a quantitative scale to measure the performance of the government and provide them with effective feedback on where it lacks.

Conflict between Directive Principles and Fundamental Rights

It becomes pertinent to note at this point even though, both the Directive Principles of State Policy and the Fundamental Rights appear as constitutionally distinct but when we trace back their historical origin, we find that both had originated from a common origin. There was no distinction between positive and negative obligations of the state but it was the constituent assembly that separated them. We find both the above mentioned Fundamental Right and Directive Principle as intimate and interlacing part of the Indian Constitution.

The conflict between the DPSPs and Fundamental Rights seems not to be a novice situation. The character though may be similar but points of conflicts even today in the contemporary times rests at the following points:

  • Justiciability of the Fundamental Rights and the Non- Justiciable character of the DPSP.
  • Moral Obligation and duty casted upon the state to implement the Directive Principles as per Article 37 has also raised a serious point of contravention since the inception of the Constitution and Part III and Part IV.

In numerous early cases, the Supreme Court ruled out that the Directive Principles could not supersede a Fundamental Right present in Part III of the Constitution. However, the position of the same became clear when the Supreme Court took a view in the case of State of Madras V.  Srimathi Champakam Dorairajan. In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that since Fundamental Rights are enforceable and Directive Principles are not, so the Fundamental Rights would prevail over the later and have to run as subsidiary to the Fundamental Rights. 

However, the situation subsequently changed in 1967 by the Supreme Court itself in the case of I.C. Golaknath V. State of Punjab whereby the Supreme Court held that the Fundamental Rights present in Part III of the Constitution are sacrosanct and thereby cannot be amended for implementation of the Directive Principles of State Policy.

Relationship between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy.

The Relationship between Part III and Part IV is the one that is not a novice one and was discussed by the Constitutional Advisor Sir B.N. Rau who advocated the idea that the right of an individual on the basis of their nature can be divided into: 

  • Justiciable Rights 
  • Non-justiciable Rights 

The list of Justiciable Rights was engulfed in Part–III while the non-justiciable one became the member of Part–IV of the Constitution. At times and again these Directive Principles are used by the Judiciary to determine the constitutional validity of any legislation when they are found to be in conflict with the Fundamental Rights or Part–III of the Constitution.  

The first case we are going to discuss in this light is of Sajjan Singh V. State of Rajasthan of 1964 where the Obiter Dicta laid down by Justice Madhukar becomes apposite, even the fundamental rights enshrined in Part III were taken as unalterable, the much-needed dynamism may be according to him achieved by a proper interpretation of the Fundamental Rights in light of the Directive Principles. Further, he observed that the Part IV is fundamental in the governance of the country and the provision relating to Part III must be interpreted harmoniously with these principles”. As discussed above in the case of Champakam Dorairajan (Supra) it was held by the Supreme Court that the Fundamental Rights would be reduced to a “Mere rope of sand” if they were to be override or superseded by the Directive Principles of State Policy. 

Also, as we discussed earlier in this article while deliberating on the case of I.C. Golaknath (Supra), Hon’ble Justice Subba Rao of the Apex Court accentuated that the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy together form an integrated scheme which is elastic enough to respond to the changing needs of the society. On a similar note in Bijoya Cotton Mills V. State of West Bengal, the supreme court has two folded view regarding the same:

  • In a case of conflict between the rights of an Individual and a law that particularly aims at the implementation of socio-economic policies in furtherance of the Directive Principles, the weight would be accorded to the latter.
  • Every Act or Legislation enacted in fulfilment of the Directive Principles should be construed as the one professing in the public interest or as a reasonable restriction to Part III of the Constitution. 

Doctrine of Harmonious Construction and relevant case laws

The doctrine of Harmonious construction as a new technique of interpretation was inducted and innovated by the Supreme Court in the case of Quareshi Mohd. v. State of Bihar where the court stated that the Constitution has to be construed harmoniously, the Directive Principles must be implemented in such a way that it does not take away or encroach upon the fundamental rights of citizens. The courts should adopt the principles of harmonious construction and attempt to give effect to both Part III and Part IV of the Constitution.

In Re: Kerala Education Bill case of 1958, Chief Justice S.R. Das held while affirming the primacy of fundamental rights over the directive principles “nevertheless, in determining the scope and ambit of Fundamental Rights relied upon by or on behalf of any person or body, the court may not entirely ignore the DPSPs laid down in Part IV of the Constitution but should adopt the principle of harmonious construction and should attempt to give to both as far as possible”. 

The Supreme Court then began to proclaim that there exists no conflict between the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles both stand supplementary and complementary to each other. The above stand was taken by the Apex Court in the case of Chandra Bhavan Boarding & Lodging V. State of Mysore. Since then, the Supreme Court of India in the plethora of cases started to reiterate the point that the judicial attitude towards both DPSPs and Fundamental Rights is co-equal.   

In 1973, in the landmark case of Kesavananda Bharti V. State of Kerela Justice K.S. Hedge duly observed that the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles constitute the “Conscience of the Constitution.” While Justice Shelat and Grover observed that both these Parts (III and IV) have to be balanced and harmonized.

At various instances and in catena of cases the courts have utilized the above-mentioned Doctrine of Harmonious Constructions while pronouncing judgments relating to Part III and Part IV of the Constitution. On a similar note, the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of State of Kerala V. N.M. Thomas held that both the Directive Principles and the Fundamental Rights should be construed in harmony with each other and every effort should be made by respective courts to resolve any apparent inconsistency that exists between them. 

Justice Chandrachud in the landmark case of Minerva Mills V. Union of India observed “Fundamental Rights are not an end in themselves but are means to an end”, the aforesaid end is specified in the directive principles. In the (Paras 56 and 57) of the same judgment, it was also duly held that “harmony and balance between the fundamental rights and directive principles is an essential feature of the basic structure of the Constitution”.  

From the above one can pellucidly infer that the Fundamental Rights enshrined in Part III can be considered to be the means to achieve several goals that are thereby enshrined in Part IV and even at various instances the Fundamental Rights is interpreted in light of non-justiciable Directive Principles of State Policy. 

The same becomes pertinent when we look in the case of Bandhu Mukti Morcha case where the bench headed by Justice P.N. Bhagwati in page 163 of the same Judgment has expressly mentioned: “The Right to live human dignity, free from exploitation enshrined under Article 21 derives its life and breath from the Directive Principles of State Policy and particularly clauses (e) and (f) of Article 39 and Article 41 and 42 ”.

The inextricable and entangles relation between the Part III (Fundamental Rights) and Part IV (Directive Principles of State Policy) that was even recognized by the Legislature in the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002, where Right to Education earlier and originally the element of Part IV of the Constitution was raised to the Fundamental Right enshrined under Article 21A of Part III of the Constitution. 

“These Directive Principles of State Policy are fundamental in the governance of the country they must be therefore regarded as equally fundamental to understanding and interpretation of the meaning and content of fundamental rights” – The aforesaid view was taken by the Supreme Court in the case of Olga Tellis.

Recently, in the case of Charu Khurana V. Union of India of 2015, the Supreme Court of India again highlighted the importance of their existence (Part III and Part IV) by observing that “Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles are the two wheels of the chariot establishing the egalitarian social order.  


In an overview, it becomes apparent or ostensible to note that the view of the judiciary regarding the relationship between the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy is the one that is subjected and have undergone gradual transformations from the case of 1951 of Srimathi Champakam Dorairajan where the Supreme Court accorded supremacy to the Fundamental Rights over the Directive Principles to making the harmony and balance between the two ( Part III and Part IV) an essential feature of the basic structure of the Constitution. 

Today, we can manifestly observe that Part III at times have to necessarily be interpreted in the light of the Directive Principles and the co-dependence and liaison between the two are increasing day by day. 

Conclusively, it can be clearly inferred from the judgments as mentioned above that the approach of our judicial system towards the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles have been an integrative one and time and again, the judiciary in its judgment has employed the principle of Harmonious Construction.

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