Role of DPSP in Governance

Part IV of the Indian Constitution has taken the DPSP from the Irish Constitution. The DPSP’s purpose is to create a “Welfare State.” In other words, the DPSP inclusion is motivated by the objective of strengthening state social and economic democracy, not political democracy. These are some important principles, guidelines or recommendations for the government to follow when creating and implementing the laws and regulations of the country. According to Dr B R Ambedkar, these principles constitute “new elements” of the Constitution. The DPSP is a guidance for the State and should be taken into account in the development of new policies or legislation. Since the DPSP cannot be justified, however, no one may force the State to consider or implement anything mentioned within.

Part 4 of the Indian Constitution contains all of the Directive Principles of State Policy, covering articles 36 to 51. The Directive Principles of State Policy have been prevalent since India’s independence. His infringement of Fundamental Rights (FR) was a source of legal debate. The non-justiciability of DPSPs has always been a source of controversy in India’s legal system. DPSPs are non-justiciable constitutional provisions that mean they cannot be enforced in court.

DPSPs: Its scope, significance and enforceability

The Constituent Assembly appointed to draught the Indian Constitution did not enforce the DPSP. But the failure to implement the principles does not mean that they are irrelevant. Certain reasons favour its enforceability, and some oppose the enforceability of DPSP. Those who are in favour of the implementation of the Principles claim that DPSPs’ enforceability will monitor the government and unite India. For example, the Uniform Civil Code referred to in Article 44 of the Indian Constitution, which seeks uniform provisions of civil law for all people of the country irrespective of caste, belief, religion or conviction.

People against the implementation of DPSPs believe that these principles do not have to be implemented separately, as many laws already apply indirectly to the provisions referred to in DPSP. Article 40 of the Constitution on Panchayati Raj, for example, was adopted through a Constitutional amendment and it is extremely apparent that in the country now there are several panchayats. Another criticism against DPSP is that it imposes morality and ideals on the country’s residents. It should not be clubbed with law, since it is crucial to understand that law and morality unite different concepts.

If we impose the reverse, the expansion and development of society will generally be hampered. It mentions the protection of women in the country, the conservation of the environment, rural growth and development, the decentralisation of power, the uniform civil code, etc. which are seen as vital in the formation of the legislation of a ‘welfare state.’ Although not fair, they give the government with a set of guidelines on how it works in the country. Directive Principles are not legally applicable, but they are supported by vox populi (the voice of the people), which is in reality the true sanctions under each law. It provides the philosophical basis for a welfare system. These principles make the State responsible for securing it by means of welfare legislation.

More of moral principles are their nature. It constitutes a moral code for the state, but it does not diminish its importance, as moral principles are highly important and the lack of them could hinder the progress of a society. A state is governed by its people, and the government is founded and administered by them, so it is vital that we have a set of legislation in that country. It is important. The Directive Principles serve as a guide for the government that helps them develop policies and regulations to secure State justice and welfare.

They are like a source of continuity in the governance of the country because governments change following frequent elections in a democratic society and every new government has different policies and legislation. It is very crucial that such rules are included since it assures that all governments comply with the DPSP principles in the formulation of their legislation. The Directive Principles might be regarded constructive state guidelines that help secure democratic social and economic features. DPSP is an addition to Fundamental Liberties, offering political rights and other freedoms. Both of them are nothing without each other as one offers social, economic and other political rights.

Directive Principles of State Policy enable individuals to measure the value and functioning of a government. A government that does not take these principles into account can be rejected by the people in favour of a government that takes appropriate consideration to ensuring these guidelines. The Directive Principles are a nation’s manifesto. These reflect the ideas and opinions that the draughtsmen had throughout the preparation of the constitution. These reflect the concept behind the constitution and so offer the courts with useful information in interpreting existing constitutional provisions and in drafting better laws and policies.

The Directive Principles appear not to be extremely inflexible and thus permits the State to interpret and apply these principles in accordance with the current situation. The inclusion in Part IV of the Directive Principles of State Policy has therefore proved quite advantageous to the country. The Directive offers strong foundations for the welfare state. The implementation of the Directive Principles helped to meet the criteria of a democratic system. It supplemented the Fundamental Rights of the people and built a State characterized by these four pillars – Justice, Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity

DPSPs and Fundamental rights: What kind of relationship they have?

DPSP’s conformity with Parts III of the Constitution, which may be enforced even by the high courts and the Supreme Court in writing, is a key concern for the legitimacy of the DPSPs. The following are the points of difference between the two:

  1. The Fundamental Rights are a limitation on the powers of the government operating on an individual, whereas, the DPSPs are instructions to the government for achieving certain ends through their actions.
  2. Anything contained in the DPSPs cannot be violated either by the individuals or the State, as long as there is no law made to that effect, while there are strict remedies against violation of an individual’s Fundamental Right.[1]
  3. A law against the DPSPs cannot be declared as void by the courts, but this is not the case with Fundamental Rights.[2]

When a priority question is handled, there is often a dispute. Each judicial judgement has changed opinions. In the case of the State of Madras v. Champakan[3] the Supreme Court stated in 1951 that while any law infringing Fundamental Rights is illegal, it is not true that a law that is otherwise legitim infringes DPSPs. Fundamental rights should therefore take precedence over DPSPs. However, the 1971 Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act reversed this view. Article 31C was extended to include the protection of any law passed in the application of the DPSP against being deemed unconstitutional because it violated Articles 14 and 19. A similar position was adopted in the Keshavnanda Bharti v. State of Kerala[4] by putting DPSPs ahead of Fundamental Rights. However, the extension of Article 31C was rejected in Minerva Mills v. Union of India[5] and it was found that these aspects had to be delicately balanced and complementary.

The debate encompassing enforceability of DPSPs

For the aforesaid reasons, the Constituent Assembly did not enforce the DPSPs. Although they were not legally enforceable, they are nevertheless beneficial. But would they be more achievable if the motivations they wanted to reach were enforced? Do these provisions even match the contemporary ideals of society?

One of the most persuasive arguments in favour of enforcing the Directives is that their legitimacy will restrict the dictatorial trends of the governing regimes. Moreover, the majority of the DPSP clauses are commitments made by competing parties during the electoral process. As we all know, these pledges are seldom followed. However, if these DPSPs can be brought before the courts, the government is held accountable to the people. These guidelines will also affect their actions. For example, Article 44 has a provision about the implementation of the Uniform Civil Code. The aim of this section is to provide all people, irrespective of religion or other opinions, with consistent civil law (akin to present criminal law). If implemented, it can play a crucial role in uniting India and wiping out divisive policies.[6]

It is also maintained, however, that enforcement of the Directives is useless because there are already a variety of laws and regulations in place to implement these DPSPs. For example, the Constitution was revised in 1992 to add the Panchayati Raj provisions (Article 40). Currently, there are 2,27,698 gramme panchayats, 5906 mid-levels and 474 panchayats in the country. Many other initiatives, such as the IRDP, the Integrated Tribal Development Program (ITDP) and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna, are in place to improve living standards (Article 47). Article 39(a) of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) (supply of appropriate means of livelihood). Legislation such as the Child Labour Act 1986 has been implemented to address the exploitation of children (Article 39(g)). The fact that the administrations have been working towards the construction of a welfare state and implemented most of the directives through enforceable law is not critical.

Another issue to the implementation of the DPSP is that its provisions are not very secular. Although it requests that a uniform civil code be adopted, it also advises the state to ban the killing of cows, which is a Hindu cause. “Article 48 reflects the predominance of Hindu sentiment in the Constituent Assembly,” Austin Granville states in Article 48 of this section. The Constituent Assembly dominated this feeling, but it has little influence in the national mentality. In Maharashtra and Haryana, beef (cow’s meat) has just been forbidden. The country reacted with anger to this Act, which is understood as an endeavour to make India a Hindu nation. According to DPSPs, similar reactions will occur when a state-wide ban on cow slaughter is enforced.

The Principles of the Directive also try to impose morals on persons which obviously go beyond the limits of the legislation. A section in the Guidelines calls for a ban on alcohol. Although this clause was never applied nationally, it looks to be an attempt to impose certain morality on the people. As the American ban shows, this may be awful for the country. Thus, Allen was right when he said that, “A little too much law, and you turn a moderate drinker into a dipsomaniac, an agnostic into a blaspheme, the enlightened employer into a grad grind, and a flirt into a dipsomaniac.”

DPSP and its implementation

Although the execution of the principles given down in Part IV is not readily obvious, the application of the concepts of the Part IV is reflected in a large number of legislation and government programmes. In India’s judicial history, judicial reasoning has established various laws and legal regulations. In such circumstances, the DPSPs played an extremely important role and the courts took the directive’s principles very carefully into account.

Policies like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) get their authority from Article 39(a) which talks about the right to adequate means of livelihood. Laws such as the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 bolster the canons of Article 39(g) which deals with the protection of children.

Laws concerning the prohibition of slaughtering cows and bullocks are derived from Article 48 on the organisation, husbandry and agriculture. The provisions of Articles 41, Article 42 and Article 43A are laid forth by laws such as the Compensation Act, the Minimum Wage Act, the Industrial Employment Act (Standing Orders). The main objectives listed in Article 47 which address the issue of boosting living standards and improving health are reflected within government policies such as the Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP), the Integrated Tribal Development Program (ITDP) and Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. All these laws and policies are ultimately designed to achieve the purposes and principles laid down in Article 38, namely the establishment of a welfare state.

In-depth analysis of DPSPs as a governance principle

It would be difficult to prevent a constitution drafted in the mid-20th century, having a chapter on the principles of Directive, like as that contained in the Indian Constitution. The basic objective of the Constitution is to achieve democratic democracy. This is insufficient, however. The sustaining elements of democratic democracy must be appropriately built up. The existence of economic democracy at the same time is the most potent force to promote political democracy. In the absence of economic democracy, political democracy will swiftly become a dictatorship.[7]

If the fundamental rights of India guarantee political democracy, the Directive Principles will ensure that the first is supported by an economic democracy. As a consequence, India’s principal guarantee of genuine democracy became the Directive Principles of State Policy. In light of this, it would be a lack of judgement to reject these guidelines as a simple political manifesto with no legal sanctions or to characterise them as ambiguous, imprecise and unhelpful, or to reject them as a mere moral homily. Such criticism has no substance or impact anymore, as has been demonstrated over and over the last five decades. If K.T. Shah were still alive today, it would be necessary, in the Constituent Assembly, that he would reassess his view that these principles “are like a check payable on the bank when it can, only when resources of the bank allow it.”

Another allegedly major critique of the Directive Principles is whether a number of policy principles stemming from the experience of England or Western Europe in the 19th century are worthy of being included in the present Constitution and considered fit for the Indians in the mid-20th.

It is hard to predict whether they would be adequate for the 21st century when the Constitution is expected to remain in force. It is possible that by then they will be obsolete. Who can say what the specific character of the possibilities of an atomic or hydrogen age? It has the ability to convert the entire economic structure of India into a nation of plenty, where all material demands of human beings are supplied instantaneously and completely. In this circumstance, the Principles of the Directive appear not only outmoded, but even reactionary. In several spheres of economic activity, India, however, had to achieve a standard similar to that which existed in Western Europe even in the 19th century in the 20th century.

Moreover, the term “foreign borrowing” is not totally true. Many provisions in this chapter, as highlighted elsewhere, prove the originality of the Constitution and symbolise the brilliance of the Indian people. The Principles of the Directive can be suitably modified or removed if they become obsolete. The procedure for amending these provisions is simple. However, by making such adjustments, India would have received huge benefits from the principles of the directive, economic democracy will have deep roots in Indian soil and its objective will have been fulfilled in the present manner as contained in these principles. These principles would also have formed an integral part of Indian culture. It is therefore apparent that these ideas have immense educational value.

They will instil in the minds and thoughts of future generations of young Indians the essential ideals of a stable political order and a prosperous economic system. The main focus of a constitution is the current one. If the present is built on stable foundations, the future will look after itself. Consequently, in respect to certain elements of a constitutional instrument it is not required to take into account the distant future.[8] The Directive Principles are important because they comprise the positive duties of the State towards its citizens. No one can say that these responsibilities are modest or the social structure of India would remain essentially intact, even though they are fulfilled. Actually, they are revolutionary in nature and yet have to be constitutionally realised. Here lies the true importance of enshrining these ideas in the Constitution.

The State Principles Directive ensures that India’s Constitution avoids the two extremes of a proletariat dictatorship that kills personal freedom and a capitalist oligarchy that jeopardises economic security for the majority. These guidelines are so national goals and consciences and whoever winning the election cannot ignore them. “The provisions of Part IV of the Constitution cannot be lightly ignored by any Ministry responsible to the public,” says Alladi Krishnaswamy Ayyar.[9] It is utilised as a guide by the Union Parliament and the state legislatures. The courts employ them to uphold their decisions. These provisions have long been a guideline for government institutions. “We are encouraged to critically analyse the achievements of the current government in implementing these programmes. Panchayats are being constructed in the most remote villages of our country.

They are returned to their previous splendour. Some industries have been nationalised and companies have been founded. The state is doing so in the name of avoiding concentration of wealth, as shown by the greater taxes on higher incomes, the recovery of deliberately hidden taxes and audacious attempts to drag Dalmias into the law.[10] Building an impoverished house in the capital to remove a huge impediment to the good name of Indian democracy, is an important step towards adequate livelihoods. As a consequence of the increase of state-owned companies, industries and public companies, more people find work. The Employees State Insurance Act and the Workmen’s Compensation Act are two key legislation that support workers in age, incapacity, or unfair poverty.

The cottage sector is being strengthened. Minimum wage acts have been implemented to enhance a range of workers’ working circumstances. Efforts to make elementary education available to children under 14 years of age are under way. Scheduled caste scholarships, remission of school tuition, and age and price constraints for those seeking jobs through the Public Service Commission all provide effective means of helping the impoverished Hindu classes. The organisation of agriculture is based on scientific concepts. Attempts are being made to improve the cow breed. Some countries have made slaughtering cows and calves illegal.

The Ancient Monuments Acts are measures to execute Article 49 directives. Judiciaries in different states, such as Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Punjab, Kerala, Madras, Mysore and Maharashtra are distinct from the executive. The efforts of our Prime Minister to pursue international ideals of peace and security cannot be underestimated. The move, “Panch Sheel” represents a big first step. Pt. Nehru was recognised as the spiritual West cultural envoy from East to Material. Even pseudo-democrats in the United States and the UK and Muslims in the Arab East lift him to a peak of pride. Much remains to be done. There continues to be political and economic and social inequality. The standard of living of the people is yet to be improved. Unemployment continues to be a problem. Socialism still needs to be implemented. However, in front of all this, it is acceptable to conclude that efforts by the Government to achieve these goals are both respectable and important.

However, the implementation of these Principles presents a number of obstacles. One problem is that states are not able to implement the Directives with the budgetary resources. Each Directive entails a substantial financial expense that the country cannot pay. Another difficulty is that the country has so many problems that the directives are not on the priority list.[11] The general public did not speak out strongly against or at least pay less attention to the Directives. However, the manner it is implemented is a major difficulty when it comes to the execution of a Directive that is directly or indirectly related to a religious community. When a direction on the unified civil code was proposed by the Supreme Court, religious leaders caused a racket.


These clauses were not only introduced by our Constitutional drafters for the sake of their existence, but instead they were added to facilitate the government of the country. They have introduced this portion to achieve a country’s core aims and ultimate goals. It would also be inaccurate, after looking at the preceding material, to say that DPSPs are not implemented. Every policy and regulation the State has to comply with Part IV requirements. Even if they are not legally binding, they have the same relevance and importance as basic rights or any other section of the Constitution.

The importance of DPSPs cannot be underestimated simply because in any court of law it is not enforceable. These principles have been added to facilitate the country’s government and smooth running. It has been added to meet a country’s main goals and ultimate goal, i.e. to work for the good of its people. There are some crucial acts in the information referred to above, therefore we cannot argue that DPSPs are not implemented and are irrelevant. It is like a structure for the government and should only work and design new legislation that revolves around that structure to ensure the well-being of the people. All state policies and laws must comply with the requirements referred to in Part IV of the Constitution. Even if they are non-justiciable, they are therefore implemented in some essential acts and hold equal weight as fundamental rights mentioned in Part III of the Indian Constitution.

[1] Durga Das Basu, Introduction to the Constitution of India, 163 (22nd ed., 2015).

[2] Narender Kumar, Constitutional Law of India, 480 (8th ed., 2014).

[3] (1951) SCR 523 (531)

[4] AIR 1973 SC 1461

[5] AIR 1980 SC 1789

[6] AGGARWALA,OM PRAKASH, Fundamental Rights and Constitutional Remedies (3 Vols.)

[7] BAKSHI, P.M., The Constitution of India (1999) University Publishing Co. New Delhi

[8] WHITE, SIR FREDERICK, India: A Federation? Being a Survey of the Principal Federal Constitutions of the World, with Special Reference to the Relations of the Central to the Governments in India

[9] AIYER, ALLADI KRISHNASWAMI and AIYANGA,N.R., (1928) Government of India Act, 1935 with a AIYER,SIVASWAMY, Indian Constitutional Problems ARCHIBOLD,W.A.J., Outline of Indian Constitutional History (1926)

[10] MARKANDAN,K.C., (1966) Directive Principles in the Indian Constitution

[11] BASU, DURGA DAS, Cases on the constitution of India (2 Vols)

Author: Divya Sharma from NLU, Jodhpur.

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