Directive Principles: Guiding Principles For Future Governance

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Directive Principles of State Policy are the general guiding instructions for the legislature as well as the government of India. These are the set of duties of the government and serves an ideal situation in an ideal state. These principles although, not enforceable in the court of law, acts as providing direction to the state for enacting the future legislations.

These are incorporated in Part IV of the Constitution of India, 1950 and were adopted from Irish Constitution. These principles are covered from Article 36 to 51.

Categorization On The Basis Of Their Nature

On the basis of their nature and ideas, these principles can be broadly classified into 3 categories :

Socialist Principles

The articles covered within these principles aims to achieve the idea of social welfare state such as adequate means of livelihood, equal pay for equal work, etc. The end objective is to protect and promote the economic and social well being of the people.

The provisions encompassed within this category includes Article 38, 29,39-A, 41,42,43-A, etc. Some of the legislation enacted to achieve these principles are Land Ceiling Act., 1976  to ensure fair and equitable distribution of wealth among individuals, in the light of Article 38 and 39, Bank Nationalisation. Another such legislation is Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 in accordance to Article 42 of The Constitution of India.

Gandhian Principles

Gandhian principles are the proposed ideas, visions and mindset of the great freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi. These principles basically focus on his attitude and outlook while he was leading National Movement.

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These principles includes Article 40,43,43-B, 46 and 48. Various legislation introduced to fulfil such principles are Minimum Wages Act,1948 in accordance to Article 43, ban on cow slaughter, etc.

These principles lays emphasis mainly on Reconstruction of Gandhi’s vision such as strong village panchayat, promotion of cottage industries, etc.

Liberal Principles

These principles deals with the promotion of ideology of Liberalism. According to this ideology, the main emphasis is on the freedom of individuals within the nation and ensuring equality before law.

Set of provision within the framework of these principles includes Article 44, 45,48-A, 49,50 and 51.

To promote the idea of liberalism, multiple provisions such as Uniform Civil Code for the people within the nation, separation of judiciary from executive, promotion of international peace and security, etc are incorporated as the part and parcel of DPSP’s.

Protection of environment is also considered as a way of promoting the idea of liberalism and in the light of such ideas, various legislations such as Water Pollution Act, 1974 , The Indian Forest Act, 1927 are enacted.

Judicial Activism In Part IV Of The Constitution

 The judiciary had acted promptly to ensure that the objective behind the incorporation of this part is duly achieved. Various judgments had been passed by the judicial pillar to give a shape and brought a change in the timeworn directive principles.

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Earlier in the case of  State of Madras V. Champakam Dorairajan[i], the apex court held that if any law contravenes the DPSP are not unconstitutional but the same is not applicable in the case of violation of  Fundamental Rights.

The tussle between the two parts of the Constitution continued in various number of judgments[ii] along with multiple amendments, but finally in the case of Minerva Mills V. Union of India[iii], the Supreme court ruled, by applying the doctrine of harmonious construction, that these two parts are complementary to each other and are having same value in the fundamental governance.

In the case of Unni Krishnan, J.P. & Ors. V. State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors[iv], the court recognized the significance of The Right to Education as was placed in Article 41 as DPSP. The court held this right as part and parcel of Article 21 and introduced Article 21-A i.e. Right to Education, to ensure mandatory education to the children of age of 6 to 14 years.

Then in the case of Sarla Mudgal V. Union Of India & Ors[v], the judiciary pointed out the importance of the directive principle Of Uniform Civil Code. And again in the case of Pannalal Bansilal Patil V. State of Andhra Pradesh[vi] , court was of the view that the enactment of Uniform Civil Code may be counter productive to the unity of the nation.

The judiciary in the remarkable judgment of K.T. Plantation Pvt. Ltd. V State of Karnataka[vii], held that DPSP lay down the fundamental principles for the governance of the country and through these principles, the state shall strive to ensure equitable distribution of wealth and material resources so as to sub-serve the common good.


The court had adopted literal, liberal and dynamic approach in the interpreting and implementing the directive principles. Various constituent assembly members discussed and debated for the formulation of this part so as to ensure the concept of welfare state. The court in the case of Charu Khurana V. Union of India[viii], have regarded Directive Principles as the soul of the Constitution as India is a welfare state.

At the time of Independence, the nation was not having the economic capacity to guarantee wide range of rights, so the Constitution drafters, drafted this part to include those rights, which couldn’t be provided at that time, but with the economic development of the nation, could be guaranteed to the citizens. The legislative as well as judicial branch of the state through amendments and case laws, is trying to achieve this goal of our forefathers.

(Author: Muskan Krishnani, pursuing B.B.A,. LLB (Second Year) from Amity University, Chhattisgarh.)

[i] State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan (AIR 1951 SC 226)

[ii]  I. C. Golaknath & Ors vs. State Of Punjab & Anr. (1967 AIR 1643) and Keshavnanda Bharati vs the State of Kerala (1973) 4 SCC 225

[iii] Minerva Mills V. Union of India (AIR 1980 SC 1789)

[iv] Unni Krishnan, J.P. & Ors. V. State of Andhra Pradesh & Ors. 1993 SCC (1) 645

[v] Sarla Mudgal V. Union Of India & Ors 1995 SCC (3) 635

[vi] Pannalal Bansilal Patil V. State of Andhra Pradesh AIR 1996 SC 1023

[vii] K.T. Plantation Pvt. Ltd. V State of Karnataka (2011) 9 SCC 1

[viii] Charu Khurana V. Union of India  AIR 2015 SC 839