Directive Principles of State Policy & the Relation to Fundamental Rights

The Indian Constitution is a vital source of the working of the country. The Constitution not only sets the bone-structure of the various departments of the country but also breathes life into them. The Preamble to the Constitution showcases the values, principles, and objectives the Constituent Assembly had in mind as the essence of the country, to which the Indian Constitution is the extension.


The Drafting Committee took inspiration from various constitutions of various countries for the draft of the Constitution of India, one of them being Ireland. The Directive Principles of Social Policy are a part of the Constitution of Ireland; under Article 45 of the Ireland Constitution, around ten points have been mentioned as “general guidance of the Oireachtas”. The framers of the Indian Constitution provided the document with the ‘Directive Principles of State Policy’, with fifteen solid points, of similar nature as the Irish Directive Principles of Social Policy[1]. As it is, the Directive Principles of Social Policy of the Ireland Constitution have also inspired the Nepal Constitution with their replicated but the translated version of the same as the “Directive Principles”.

The Directive Principles of State Policy are enshrined under Part IV of the Indian Constitution, starting from Article 36, which defines the meaning of State under the part, to Article 51, which promotes international peace and security. Article 37 of the Indian Constitution establishes the nature of these Directive Principles. Like the Directive Principles of Social Policy, the Directive Principles of State Policy cannot be enforced by any order of any court under the territory of India. Even though these points of the Constitution are not enforceable by the courts of law, they still hold an important place as they are the fundamental points for the lawmakers to take cognizance when making law and governing the country. The fact that these points are to influence the lawmakers and the government when making laws and governing, respectively, are enough to infer that these points pertain to many vast components of the Indian society. These points pertain to the welfare of the people of India and to secure social order. Article 38 states that “the State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people of India by securing and protecting, as much as possible, the social order which includes social, economical and political justice.”[2] The Preamble of the Constitution strives to promote three kinds of justice- social, economic, and political. These three justices in the Indian system can be very well achieved following the Directive Principles of State Policy. Article 38 further states “The State shall, in particular, strive to minimize the inequalities in income, and endeavor to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities, and opportunities, not only amongst individuals but also amongst groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations.”

Directive Principles enumerated in the Constitution include:

  •       Equal justice and free legal aid under Article 39A.
  •       Right to work, education, and public assistance in certain cases under Article 41.
  •       Uniform Civil Code for the citizens under Article 44.
  •       Provision for early childhood care and education to children below the age of six years under Article 45.
  •     Promotion of educational and economic interests of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and other weaker sections under Article 46.
  •       Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife under Article 48A.
  •       Protection of monuments and places and objects of national importance under Article 49.


The Directive Principles of State Policy, in Indian Constitution, are preceded by the Fundamental Rights under Part III. Fundamental Rights are arguably one of the celebrated components of the Indian Constitution. Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution are inspired by the Bill of Rights, United States of America. Same as the Directive Principles of State Policy, the nature of the fundamental rights are similar to the American originator; however, the rights are designed to fit the scenario of India and its people. Indians, during the British raj, had suffered a plethora of fundamental wrongs; the Constituent Assembly was conscious of the fact, hence set-up an advisory committee of five members, headed by Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. B.R. Ambedkar in the meetings of the Constituent Assembly had elaborated on the importance of the fundamental rights and their etymology. Ambedkar, as the chairman of the Drafting Committing, had established their nature when he stated that on the infringement of these rights, any citizen can move to the courts, these rights are of utmost importance, no law made for the country should be contrast in nature or essences of the fundamental rights of India. Articles 12 to 35 are the fundamental rights, article 13 being the provision that makes any law, within the Indian Territory void which contradicts the rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution. The article also states that the Indian legislature shall not make any law which contrasts or contradicts, in any way, the rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution. By law, the article means any ordinance, order, notification, regulation, and similar documents along the line.  All of the Fundamental Rights are the rights of the citizens of India in the Indian Territory while many of these fundamental rights are also promised to any person in the Indian Territory, e.g.: the right to life, enshrined under Article 21 is a fundamental right available to anyone in the Indian Territory, irrespective of their nationality. Fundamental Rights are not absolute in nature; reasonable restrictions are applicable to them. These rights are enforceable with the help of the Indian Judiciary. There are various writs to check the working and implementation of these rights. These writs are writ of Habeas Corpus, writ of Mandamus, writ of Certiorari, writ of Prohibition, writ of Quo-Warranto.

The below mentioned are some of the fundamental rights the Constitution of India promises as in the Indian Territory:

  •       Articles 15-18 promise the right to equality.
  •       Articles 19-22 promise the right to freedom.
  •       Articles 23-24 promise right against exploitation.
  •       Articles 25-28 promise the right to freedom of religion.
  •       Articles 29-30 promise cultural and educational rights.



Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy can well be separated by a line. One of the major differences between the two is their applicability. Any person entitled to the fundamental rights can successfully approach the court against the State to enforce their rights. However, there is no such provision of any citizen of India to reach the courts if they feel that the State is not adhering to the principles prescribed in the Directive Principles of State Policy. Another broad difference between the two concepts is their reach. Fundamental Rights are promised to at least each citizen of the country while Directive Principles focus on the society as a whole given to their establishment as the directions for making policies. Fundamental Rights are the rights provided to the people of India while Directive Principles are directions provided to the State to focus on certain areas of our social construction that need state-sponsored help. The Constitution establishes that any law against the fundamental rights would be void. No such claim can be made for not following Directive Principle of State Policy by the State.


Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Rights might be of different natures but the head of the Drafting Committee, Dr. B R Ambedkar stated 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”.[3] Fundamental Rights are for the people of India who make the society that the Directive Principles of State Policy direct to empower. It is not wise to categorise these two in two completely different genres. Fundamental Rights empower the citizens and the State to form different policies with direction provided under Directive Principles of State Policy for the citizens of the country to uplift them. Directive Principles of State Policy also provide a look into the ideal society the drafters of the Constitution dreamt of, where everyone can exercise the guaranteed rights freely. The right to education which is a directive principle under article 41 is also a fundamental right. Every child under the age of 14 has the right to free education under the article 21-A. This is a prime example of fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy overlapping or fundamental rights taking a note from the directive principles provided under the Indian Constitution. In the case of Golaknath v. State of Punjab[4], the Supreme Court of India stated that the Indian legislature shall not curtail the fundamental rights of the Indian citizens, the dynamic relationship of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy was also discussed. The court stated that the relationship between these two is dynamic enough that they may intermingle and mesh together in the future. 


It is thus concluded that though Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Rights have a different nature when the question is of their applicability, yet they are connected in their essence of doing good for the people of India as mentioned in the Preamble of the Constitution. Fundamental Rights provides power to the people while Directive Principles of State Policy gently guides the State to provide for their people. 


[1]   The Constitution of Ireland,1937.

[2]   The Constitution of India,1950.

[3] .

[4]  1967 SCR (2) 762.


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