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Decoding Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP)

By Ritansha Lakshmi      Dec 23, 2021      0 Comments
Decoding Directive Principles of State Policy

“Directive principle set forth the humanitarian social precepts that were and are the aims of Indian social revolution.” - Granville Austin



The Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in Part IV of the Indian constitution provides the most captivating and fascinating part of the constitution. As the name implies, it is a guideline for "the state," as defined by Article 12 of the Indian Constitution, to formulate and adhere to the principles established in the DPSP while enacting laws or policies for citizens. 

[1] These principles, which have been specified in Part IV of the Indian Constitution from Articles 36 to 51, are said to be non-justiciable, which implies that they are not executable by Courts of law. [2] However, these principles are underpinned by a well-known Latin expression, 'vox populi,' which means "people's voice" and is crucial in the administration of a democratic country, as well as imposing a duty on the state to follow these principles when enacting    any laws.

[3] The directive principles serve as a model for the legislators, who use them to formulate policies and laws. And provides the government with the way to achieving the constitution's ideals and aspirations, which are enshrined already in the Preamble i.e., "Justice: Social, Economic, and Political; Liberty of thoughts, expression, Equality, and Brotherhood." [4] Therefore, this article attempts to analyse the nature and history of DPSP, as well as explore the judicial evolution of Directive principles of State Policy with respect to the fundamental rights, supported by leading cases.


A Brief History of DPSP

The Constitution of India on 26 January 1950 has resolved to establish a new social order based on social, economic, and political integrity to achieve political freedom from colonisation.

The three basic sources from which the directive principles of state policy have been derived are The Irish constitution, the Government of India Act 1935, and the Sapru report 1945. [5] 


Constitution of Ireland

The Directive Principles of State Policy, which are incorporated in Part IV of the Constitution of India, are inspired and borrowed by the Irish Constitution, [6] which had copied it from the Spanish Constitution. 

[7] The Indian Constitution's drafting committee was largely inspired by the Irish nationalist movement, and the principle of Directive Principles of State Policy was derived from Article 45 of the Irish Constitution, which is Directive principles of social policy. [8]

Government of India Act, 1935

These principles were regarded as "novel features" of the Constitution by the chairman of the Drafting Committee, Dr. BR Ambedkar. [9] According to him "The Directive Principles are like the instrument of instructions, which were delivered to the Governor-General and the Governors of the provinces of India by the British Government under the Government of India Act of 1935," [10] The main distinction is that they are directives to both the legislative and the executive branches. And the government may not be held accountable in a court of law for their actions.

They will, however, have to held accountable in front of the people at election time.” [11] However, the relevance of the DPSP to the proper implementation of fundamental rights is evident in all aspects of Chapter III and Chapter VI of the Constitution as the directive principles are envisioned to set standards for the legislature and the executive.

1945's Sapru Report

The rights were split into two categories in this Sapru: justiciable and non-justiciable rights. Part III of the Constitution of India established justiciable rights as fundamental rights, whereas part IV of the Indian constitution established non-justiciable rights as the DPSP (s). [12] As a result, the directive principles are the guidelines for the government established by the constitution. The Directive Principles, although being non-justiciable in nature, assist courts in assessing and establishing a law's constitutional validity. 

DPSP – Why Non-Justiciable?

Fulfilling the aspiration and ideals of socialism (Articles listed in the socialistic branch are 38, 42, 39, 43, 39A, 43A, 41, and 47), Gandhian (Articles listed in the Gandhian approach are 40, 47, 43, 48, 43B and 46) and Liberal-Intellectual Principles (Articles listed in the liberal branch are 44, 49, 45, 50, 48, 51 and 48A), [13] and to meet its legal obligations, the legislature has come up with various laws and these laws and enactments are the way the government has kept up to the expectations of the framers by impliedly following the same, despite DPSP’s being non- justiciable in themselves. 

As looking closely at these principles, it seems to be very basic in nature which bound the state jurisprudentially and create a moral obligation to provide welfare or other aspects of the socio-economic rights to which the people of India are entitled to. Therefore, keeping in view the overburdened situation of the Indian judiciary and abiding by the federal feature which is the separation of power- not encouraging legalism to an extent of unnecessary involvement of the judiciary in the working of the legislation, thus it is made non- enforceable.

For example, if we take this moral obligation of the state as mentioned under article 41 [14] that directs the state to make effective provisions for securing the right to work of people, to the education of the children, and public assistance in cases of old age, unemployment, sickness, impairment etc. Though the legislation has come up with various welfare schemes, enactments and laws to promote this particular principle but in case if this is made enforceable then in any case of non-performance of this because of any due reasons, the court would burden with petitions claiming this as their matter of right. 

The articles of DPSP talks about everything that is required for the survival, growth, and development of any particular human being, right from the womb to the tomb, it is impossible to make everything enumerated under part IV justiciable. Though there is an inbuilt expectation from the government to provide its citizens with all the basic needs and always work for the welfare of its citizens' such welfare cannot be made
available as a claim by the citizens and it is truly evident to find that the state has performed its work well and these schemes that the government introduced during their tenure result in confirming its victory in the next elections. So not only constitutionally, but politically and morally also the government is bound to follow the principles of DPSP and promote the welfare of the state.

A Judicial Evolution Of DPSP

While the majority of the Fundamental Rights impose negative requirements on the state, the DPSP imposes positive obligations on the state, even if they are not enforceable in a court of law. [15] Initially, the Directive Principles didn't have much legal merit at first and were more comparable to moral obligations. Earlier, the Indian Constitutional Courts adopted a rigid and literal interpretation of Article 37, which expressly states that Directive Principles are not enforceable by any court. Even some of the Supreme Court's previous decisions mirrored this viewpoint.

In the case of State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan, [16] A government order that clashed with Article 29(2), a Fundamental Right, was held invalid, despite the government's claim that it was done following Article 46, a Directive Principle. The court held, "Directive principles of state policy must adhere to and run as a subsidiary to the Chapter of Fundamental Rights”.

The aforesaid viewpoint has also been expressed in a few other cases. This establishes the groundwork for the argument that the directive principles should be regarded seriously, even though they are not legally binding, to achieve the full implementation of fundamental rights.

In the case of Chandra Bhavan Boarding & Lodging V. State of Mysore, [17] it was held that "There is no contradiction between the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles because they are both supplemental and complimentary to one other,". 

Since then, the Supreme Court of India has indicated in several cases that judicial attitudes toward DPSPs and Fundamental Rights are mutually exclusive. As a result, the judiciary's stance toward Directive principles shifted. Rather than discarding them as mere theoretical notions, the courts have come to place a high value on them. This approach is what has led to the development of India's DPSP jurisprudence.

In the case of Minerva Mills ltd v. UOI, [18] a very revolutionary judgment relating to the interrelation between Part III and Part IV of the Indian Constitution was observed. A five-judge Constitution Bench heard the matter. It was held by Y. V. Chandrachud, CJ in this case is that the "The Directive Principles are the aims to which fundamental rights are striving”. Since then, striking a balance between the two has become a judicial strategy, rather than prioritizing one over the other.

In Re: The Kerala Education Bill, ... vs Unknown, 1958, [19] The court held that if disputes arise between Fundamental Rights and DPSPs, the harmony between the two should not be disrupted; nevertheless, if the conflict does not resolve even after applying the doctrines of interpretation, the former should be upheld and given greater importance over the latter, i.e., DPSPs. 

[20] In the Unnikrishnan vs State of Andhra Pradesh [21] case, the court held that “Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles are complementary rather than exclusive”. The Court stated that the Fundamental Rights are the means by which the Part IV objectives can be achieved.
In the recent case of Charu Khurana V. Union of India, [22] The Supreme Court of India has stressed the importance of the existence of Part III and Part IV, stating that "Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles are the two wheels of the  chariot  maintaining  the  egalitarian order of the society."


The Constitution provides Directive Principles that guide the State in the governing of our country as a "welfare state." Article 37 tells that "The provisions shall not be enforced by any court," "but the principles should be the guiding light in formulating of any the laws." The critical analysis shows clearly that propagating the idea that Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles are intrinsically tied. The notion that fundamental rights can be enforced but DPSPs cannot is a viewpoint that can be used to deny people's right to a full realization of their rights and freedoms.

As a result, it is critical that the state's three organs, the Executive, the Legislature, and the Judiciary, take steps to execute the Chapter on DPSP's socio-economic policies. The court's duty should not be restricted to upholding Article 29, which states that the DPSP is not enforceable by the courts of law. The ongoing trend should be to establish judicial precedent guaranteeing that the DPSPs are taken seriously and enforced using fundamental rights. The failure to execute the DPSP will inevitably result in the infringement of fundamental rights. The DPSPs will always be under the shadow of Article 29 unless this truth is appreciated.



[1]  Part IV, Article 36, The constitution of India.

[2]  Part IV, Article 37, The constitution of India.

[3] Mittal, Neeru. "DPSP an Unachievable Task: How did Madhya Pradesh Government Proved it wrong?" History Research Journal 5.6 (2019): 1340-1346.

[4] Preamble, The constitution of India.

[5] Chapter 6, Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy.

[6] Gebeye, Berihun Adugna. "The Potential of Directive Principles of State Policy for the Judicial Enforcement of Socio-Economic Rights."

[7] Tripathi, Suresh Mani. Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles in India. Anchor Academic Publishing, 2016.

[8] Article 45, The constitution of Ireland.

[9] Singh, Dharmendra Kumar. "Galvanisation of the right to development within the shared constitutional space in India." Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law 19.2 (2018): 268-299.

[10] Sahoo, Abhijit, and Tusarkanta Pattanaik. "Making of the Constitution of India: A Critical Analysis." ODISHA REVIEW 7 (2015).

[11]  https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1935/2/pdfs/ukpga_19350002_en.pdf

[12] Sharma, Upasana. "MORE FUNDAMENTAL THAN THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS?" Human Rights in 21st Century: Issues & Emerging Trends (2020): 255.

[13]  Pathak, Puneet. "Social Justice under Indian Constitution." (2016).

[14]  Article 41 of the constitution of India.

[15]  Pandey, Kunika. "Fundamental Rights V. Directive Principles: Minerva Mills Revisited." Directive Principles: Minerva Mills Revisited (August 26, 2011) (2011).

[16]  State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan, 1951 SCR 525

[17] Chandra Bhavan Boarding & Lodging, Bangalore v. State of Mysore, (1969) 3 SCC 84

[18]  Minerva Mills Ltd. v. Union of India, (1980) 3 SCC 625

[19]  1959 1 SCR 995

[20]  ibid

[21]  Unni Krishnan, J.P. v. State of A.P., (1993) 1 SCC 645

[22]  Charu Khurana v. Union of India, (2015) 1 SCC 192


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