Relationship between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy, DPSP

Relationship between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy           


Constitution is the supreme Law of land in India. No one is above the law. The preamble, the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles constitute the most important features of our Constitution. The Directive Principals of the State Policy is enshrined in Part IV and the Fundamental Rights has been guaranteed in Part III of the Constitution of India. Though Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles appear as district entities in the Constitution, but with the passage of time, it has been drawn that no distinction takes place between the positive and negative obligations of the states.

Fundamental Rights

Fundamental rights are known as “basic rights” as without which a human being cannot survive in dignified manner in a civilized society. They are also known as negative rights or individual rights as it imposes negative obligations on the state so that it does not encroach on individual liberty. These rights are justifiable in nature so one can go to Courts if one’s right was violated or infringed.

Fundamental rights are enshrined in Part III of Indian Constitution from Article 12-35. Initially there are seven fundamental rights but after the abolition of Zamidari Act, Right to Property was repealed. Six Fundamental rights are as follows:

i) Right to equality (Article 14-18)
(ii) Right to freedom (Article 19-22)
(iii) Right to freedom of religion (Article 23-24)
(iv) Right against exploitation (Article 25-28)
(v) Cultural and educational rights (Article 29-30)
(vi) Rights to constitutional remedies (Article 31-32)

Directive Principles of State Policy

Part-IV of the constitution deals with the Directive Principles of State Policy. They are considered as positive rights as they impose positive obligations on the state. They are non-justifiable in nature yet they are important to provide guidelines to Legislature to formulate a policy. DPSP helps the State to attain its Socio-economical goals. DPSP are borrowed from Section -45 of the Irish Constitution of Ireland.

Article 36-51 of the Indian Constitution entails DPSP. Some of them are of current topics of debate in the Parliament.
Some the DPSP are as follows:
(i)Right to work
(ii) Uniform Civil Code
(iii) Right to education
(iv) Maternity benefit

Difference between Fundamental Rights and DPSP:

  • Fundamental rights aim to establish political democracy in India whereas DPSP refers to socio-economic policies of the country.
  • Directive principles are in the nature of instruments of instructions to the government to do positive. They are not justifiable or enforceable in courts. On the other hand, the fundamental rights are enforceable in the courts under Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution and hence are justifiable and are considered as negative rights.
  • Fundamental rights are facilities given by the state to the people, whereas DPSP are directions given by the constitution to the state.
  • Fundamental Rights promote the welfare of individuals and hence are individualistic whereas Directive Principle Of State Policy promote the welfare of the community hence they are socialistic in nature.
  • Fundamental Rights do not require any legislation for their implementation and are automatically enforced whereas DPSPs require legislation for implementation.

These are some differences which are evident yet there is no inherent conflict seen between them.

The first case in the Supreme Court pertaining to the conflict between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles was State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan1. In this case the Madras Communal Government order which regulated admission to colleges on the basis of an ordinary ratio was challenged by petitioner as violating Articles 15 (1) and 29 (2). The Supreme Court invalidated the order which provided for communal reservation of seats for admission into a State educational institution, even though it was inspired by Article 46. According to the court, since Fundamental Rights are justifiable and enforceable rights, the directive Principles are not. The laws to implement Directive Principles could not take away Fundamental Rights. The Directive Principles should run subsidiary and conform to the Fundamental Rights.

In Ajaib Singh v. State of Punjab2, Court laid emphasis on supremacy of Fundamental Rights and held that Article 51 cannot empower Parliament to make a law which can deprive a citizen of India of the Fundamental Rights conferred on him.                                                                                                   

Relation between Fundamental Rights and DPSP: 

Instead of having certain distinctions, Constitution Framers always talked about the coherence between Fundamental Rights and DPSP.

Dr. B.N. Rau, who was the chief sponsorer of these principles and who anticipated this conflict, felt that harmonious construction and compromise on the part of Judiciary would in future resolve this conflict.

Dr B.R. Ambedkar was also of same view as Dr. Rau suggested and said that “It is the intention of the Assembly that in future both the Legislature and the Executive should not merely pay lip service to these principles enacted in this part but they should be made the basis of the Legislation and Executive action that may be taken hereafter in the matter of governance of the Country”.

Justice P.N. Bhagwati defines inter relation between Fundamental Rights and DPSP as “It is not possible to fit Fundamental Rights and DPSP in two different and strictly defined categories”.
We can safely presumed from the above observations given by Constitution Framers that Fundamental Rights and DPSP are interrelated to each other. Now we will discuss the judicial interpretation on the relation between Fundamental Rights and DPSP through certain leading case laws.

In State of Bihar v.Kameshwar Singh3, the Apex Court relied on Article 39(b) and held that certain Zamidari Abolition Laws had been passed for a Public purpose within the meaning of Article 13(2). Directive Principles were not merely the policy of any particular party but were intended to be principles fixed by the Constitution for directing the State Policy.
In Mohd Hanif Quereshi v. State of Bihar4, petitioner argued that he was prevented from doing his occupation which is butchering of animals which include cow also and said that it lead to violation of Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. Then Supreme court rely on Article 48 of Indian constitution and held that preventing cows from butchering does lead to the violation of petitioner’s right and observed two important things ;

(a) the State should take note of the Directive Principles in determining the scope of Fundamental Rights
(b) adopting the doctrine of harmonious construction.
Court should give effect to both the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles.                     

Principle of harmonious construction:

In Kerala Education Bill, 19575 the Apex court while affirming the primacy of fundamental rights over the directive principles, it held that Court may not entirely ignore these Directive Principles of State Policy laid down in Part IV of the Constitution but should adopt the principle of harmonious construction and should give effect to both as much as possible. The Supreme Court began to assert that there is “no conflict on the whole” between the fundamental rights and the directive principles.

Harmonious construction can be defined as provision of Fundamental rights and DPSP should be read harmoniously or hand in hand. If any conflict occurs then court can refer to any particular law or interpret any law so as to give effect to both as far as possible.
Integrated scheme
In the landmark case of Golakhnath v. State of Punjab6, Apex court called this inter relation, an integrated scheme which was elastic enough to change with the passage of time or with the change in society. This view of Supreme Court created a great sensation in the country.
In the case of Keshavanand Bharti v. State of Kerala7 which was heard by largest ever Constitution Bench of 13 Judges showed a great concern for DPSP. Justice Chandrachud said that “DPSP should not be permitted to become,’ a mere rope of sand’.” If the State fails to create conditions in which the Fundamental freedoms could be enjoyed by all, the freedom of few will be at the mercy of many and then all freedoms will vanish”.
Court held with the majority that the fundamental rights and directive principles constitute the “conscience of the constitution” there is no antithesis between the fundamental rights and directive principles and one supplements the other.
In Pathumma v. State of Kerala8, the Supreme Court has emphasized that the purpose of the directive principles is to fix certain socio-economic goals for immediate attainment by bringing about a non-violent social revolution.

In the case of R. Coelho v. state of T.N.9 SC said that it is the responsibility of the government to adopt a middle path between individual liberty (Fundamental Rights) and public good (Directive Principles).
In Minerva Mills v. Union of India10 case, Supreme Court observed that Fundamental rights are not end in themselves but are the means to an end. End is specific in Directive Principles. Indian Constitution is based on bedrock of balance between the two. To give absolute primacy to one over another is to disturb the harmony of Constitution. The harmony and balance between tem is an essential feature of basic structure of Constitution.

In Unni Krishnan v State of Andhra Pradesh,11 Supreme court followed the same principle of Keshavanand Bharti case and held that Fundamental Rights and DPSP are supplementary and complementary to each other and provisions of Part III should be read under the light of Preamble and Directive Principles.
In State of Tamil Nadu v. L. Abu Kavur Bai12, it was held that DPSP are not enforceable in Courts but it should be attempt of the Court to harmonize both of them and collision should be avoided as far as possible.
In Gujarat Agricultural University v. Robhod Labhu Prachar13, Supreme Court implied Article 38 which deals to promote social order by welfare of the people and held that Government who is a guardian of people should eliminate inequalities in a status, and make endeavors to give maximum posts even at the first stage of absorption.         

Also Read: Rights and Liabilities of a Trade Union under TU Act 1926                                                                                                               


Relation between Fundamental Rights and DPSP is cohesive in nature now and is an essential part of basic Structure of Indian constitution. Both are complementary and supplementary to each other. State should follow the guidelines enumerated in DPSP to protect Fundamental rights else they will have to face adverse consequences in next elections. Thus, the Directive Principles no longer remain merely a moral obligation of the Government.                                                                                                                                         


 Shodhganga
1- 1951 AIR 226, 1951 SCR 525
2- AIR 1952, Punjab 309
3- 1952 1 SCR 889
4- [1950] S.C.R. 869 at 891-892
5- 1959 1 SCR 995
6- : 1967 AIR 1643, 1967 SCR (2) 762
7- W.P. (C) 135 OF 1970
8- 1978 AIR 771, 1978 SCR (2) 537
9- [(1999) 7 SCC 580]
10- ‎AIR 1980 SC 1789
11- 1993 AIR 2178, 1993 SCR (1) 594
12- 1984 AIR 326
13-AIR 2001 SC 70

Edited by Ankita Roy