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Explained: DPSP | Directive Principles of State Policy

The author has explained the meaning of Directive Principles of State Policy, often termed as DPSP.

Introduction

The Constitution of India provided certain guidelines for the State to follow to protect its citizens. It mentions the responsibility of the State to its citizens and that is called as Directive Principles of State Policy (Hereinafter “DPSP”). Part IV of the Constitution constitutes the DPSP. The aim of this part is to guarantee social, economic, and political justice. This DPSP shall help in achieving the Welfare State.

DPSP and the Constitution

Part IV of the Constitution consists of 15 DPSP. This begins from Article 36 to Article 51 of the Constitution. The Government of India before framing any laws or policies shall keep these articles in mind. This part of the Constitution consists of the obligations that a State must carry on.

The Preamble of the Constitution explicitly states that it shall secure justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity to all of its citizens. The only way to achieve this aim of the Constitution is through DPSP. That is why some scholars consider DPSP as the kernel of the Constitution. Further, it is a well-known fact that India aims to adopt the ideal of the welfare state. DPSP is the means to achieve the same.

Fundamental Rights, DPSP, and Fundamental Duties

The Constitution of India not only imposes obligations on the State but also provides rights and duties for its citizens. And such rights and duties are known as Fundamental rights and fundamental duties. The former is enshrined in Part III of the Constitution and the latter is in Part IV A of the Constitution. The relationship between these three can be explained through judicial precedents.

  1. It has to be noted that when the actions of the legislative and executive violate the Fundamental Rights of the Constitution, then the same action shall be declared void. For example, when the legislature passes a law and it violates Article 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution, then it shall be declared unconstitutional. However, an exception to this rule was affirmed in I.C. Golak Nath & Ors. v. State of Punjab & Anr.. The Court held that if the law framed is in line with the DPSP and it violates the above-mentioned articles, then the same law will and shall not be declared unconstitutional only based on those grounds.
  2. Golak Nath’s case was overruled in the case of Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala & Anr. In this case, the court held that fundamental rights and DPSP are meant to supplement one another.
  3. In State of Kerala v. N. M. Thomas, the court held that Constitution should be read in harmony with the DPSP.
  4. In the case of Javed v. State of Haryana, the Supreme Court held that Fundamental rights should be read along with the Chapter on Directive Principles of State Policy and the Fundamental Duties.
  5. In Ashok Kumar Thakur v. UOI, the court held that Fundamental Rights represent civil and political rights and DPSP’s represent social and economic rights. And DPSP’s are not subordinate even though they are non-justiciable by the Judicial process.
  6. In N.K. Bajpai v. Union of India, the court advised examining the constitutional aspects of fundamental rights, DPSP, and fundamental duties while interpreting any provisions.

There are various other cases in India that mention the relationship between fundamental rights, DPSP, and fundamental duties. All of these cases emphasize the fact that neither of the supreme to each other but complementary.

Enforceability of DPSP

The enforceability of DPSP is a major question in citizen’s minds. The answer to that is no. DPSP is not enforceable as it is a moral obligation upon the State and not a legal obligation.  The State is not legally liable if they don’t follow DPSP. The same goes for fundamental duties. However, fundamental rights are enforceable.

Article 37 of the Constitution explicitly states that Part IV of the Constitution shall not be enforceable by any court of law. However, it is important to note that even though the DPSP is not justiciable by the court, it is justiciable by itself. This was reiterated in the case of Air India Statutory Corporation v. United Labour Union & Ors.

Conclusion

In conclusion, DPSP is considered to be fundamental in the governance of the country. Dr. Ambedkar referred to these principles as the novel features of the Constitution because of their non-enforceability. It is important to note that DPSP being non-enforceable does not make it useless as it provides guidelines to achieve the concept of welfare.

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