Directive Principles of State Policy under the Indian Constitution

This Article elaborates the concept of Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSPs), its purpose and function, provisions under Indian constitution followed by recent amendments and elaborated judicial pronouncement and how these principles are been implemented in the system to facilitate and maintain public health. These principles are encompassed on the Central and State government of India, to be kept in mind while framing laws and policies. Moreover, article provides the difference between fundamental rights and DPSPs and the aim of the directive principles to establish welfare state to foster socio-economic justice and establish democratic socialism in the country.


The Directive Principles of State Policy contained in Part IV of the Indian Constitution is borrowed from Ireland which had been imitated from the Spanish Constitution. The principles embodied under Part IV of the Indian Constitution set the aims and responsibilities for the State to be taken up for the governance of the country. The core idea is to maintain the welfare state in the society that can be achieved if the states endeavor to implement them with a high sense of moral duty. The chapter IV of the Constitution covers Articles from 36 to 51 and the key to drive directive principles is found in Article 37 which runs as ‘DPSPs are not enforceable in courts but, it is the duty of the state to apply these directive principles in making law and to maintain public interest. These principles are positive in nature and increase the power and functions of the State. The major judicial pronouncements on Directive Principles, fall into three periods; i) Champakam Dorai Rajan Case, ii) Chandra Bhawan’s Case, iii) Minerva Mills Case.

Purpose of DPSPs

DPSPs are the guidelines framed for the central and state government of India for making laws and policies. These principles are deemed fundamental in the governance of the country since it represents the aspiration of Indian people. The basic aim of the Directive principles is to establish a welfare state where economic and social democracy can be maintained and flourished. These principles are been developed to achieve socialistic state and socio-economic justice. It constitutes the mirror of public opinion and measures the performance of government. 

Directive Principles under Indian Constitution

The philosophy of DPSP is been influenced by conglomeration of Gandhian, Socialist, Scientific and International Philosophy.

 1. Socialist Principles

Article 38- It authorizes the state to secure a social order for the promotion of the welfare of people which will secure social, economic and political justices in the society.

Article 39(a)- It states that State shall try to formulate its policy as to secure adequate means of livelihood for all its citizens.

Article 39(b) – The ownership of material resources should be controlled so as to subserve the common good.

Article 39(c) – The economy of the state will be administered so that wealth may not be concentrated in few hands and means of production may not be used against the public interest.

Article 39A- The State should provide equal justice and free legal aid services to needy people and protect their rights.

Article 41- The State shall provide right to work, right to education and general assistance in the event of unemployment, old age, disease, disaster and other disabilities[i].

Article 42- It endeavor the provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity leaves.

Article 43- The state must ensure adequate wages, good life and rest to the laborers and also enable socio-cultural facilities.

Article 43 A- The state shall consider the participation of workers in management of industries.[ii]

Article 43 B- It facilitates the promotion of cooperative societies.

2. Liberal Principles

Article 44- The state shall endeavor to implement uniform civil code for all the people.

Article 45- It entrust the provision for early childhood care and free and compulsory education to children until they complete the age of fourteen years.

Article 47- It is the duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health and facilitate the basic necessities. 

Article 48- It strives to organize agriculture and husbandry on modern and scientific lines.  Also, endeavor to improve and maintain the breed of the animals.

Article 48 A- It states the protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife.

Article 49- State shall be responsible for protection of monuments and places and objects of national importance.

Article 50- The provision for separation of judiciary from the executive in case of public service and decision.

3. Gandhian Principles

Article 40- State shall strive for the organization of village Panchayats which act as an self government unit.

Article 43- The state shall strive to maintain cottage industry in rural area both, on individual and cooperative basis (Article 43 B).

Article 46- It endeavors the protection of educational and economic interest of SCs, STs and other weaker sections and protect them from social injustice and exploitation.

Article 47- It is the duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health.[iii]

Article 48- State shall ban slaughtering of cows, claves and other milch cattle.

4. International Principles

Article 51(a)- The state will strive to promote international peace and security with rest of the world.[iv]

Article 51(b)-  The state shall strive to maintain just and honorable relation among various states in the world.

Article 51 (c)- The state will endeavor to promote respect for International treaties, agreements and law with one another; and encourage settlement of international  disputes by arbitration.

DPSPs and Fundamental Rights

Fundamental rights are enshrined under Part III of the Indian Constitution which regulates the right of the citizens[v]. These rights are marked from Articles 12 to 35 of the constitution and are considered essential for the development of the personality of every individual and to preserve human dignity. It limits the power of government and restrains the state from making any law which contravenes the interest of its people, considered as heart and soul of constitution. On the other hand, Directive principles are the set of responsibilities for the government to maintain law and order and frame policies[vi]. These principles are the positive obligation on the state. DPSPs are not enforceable in the court of law i.e., it’s added as a non-justiciable part in Part IV of the constitution. Both fundamental rights and DPSPs are distinctive in nature and holds equal significance in the mechanism of law and policy and for the protection of its citizen.


Judicial Pronouncements

The question whether the Directive principles covered under Part IV of the Constitution has an overriding effect on Fundamental Rights given under Part III of the Constitution. This debatable question was argued in various landmark cases and was revolutionary answered in the Case of Minerva Mills. Following are the judicial pronouncements to decide the overriding effect and its dispute concerning.

State of Madras v. Champakam Dorai Rajan[vii], the Apex Court observed that if a law contravenes a Fundamental Rights, it would be void but the same is not with the DPSPs. It shows that laws made in implementing Fundamental Rights has an overriding effect over DPSPs and carries higher pedestal.

In Re Kerala Education Bill 1957[viii], court observed that, though Directive Principles cannot override the Fundamental rights, but in determining the scope and ambit of Fundamental rights the court may not entirely ignore the directive principles of state policy but should adopt the principle of harmonious construction and should attempt to give in effect to both as much as possible as it is safeguard and protect the interest of public[ix]

In I.C. Golaknath & Ors v. state of Punjab & Anr,[x] court held that if a law is made to give to Article 39 which comes under DPSPs and in the process the law violates Articles 14, 19 and 31 under Part III, it cannot be declared as unconstitutional and void merely on the ground of said contravention.

The 42nd Constitutional Amendment has widened the scope of Article 31C to include all the directive principles in Part IV, on the ground that such total exclusive of judicial review may offend the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution. This has been made to implement the directive in Article 39 (b) and (c). 

In Keshavnanda Bharati v. State of Kerala,[xi]the court placed Directive Principles on the higher position the Fundamental Rights, but later overturned the decision in the Minerva Mil case, and held that the doctrine of harmonious construction must be applied because both are supplementary to each other and they are needed to be balanced.

In Unnikrishnan v. State of Andhra Pradesh[xii], court held that the provisions of Part III and IV are complementary and supplementary to each other and that fundamental rights are means to achieve the goal indicated in part IV. Moreover, the fundamental rights must be contracted in the light of the directive principles.

DPSPs and Amendments

Article 368 of the Indian constitution provides the procedure for the amendment of Articles enshrined under the Constitution except the basic structure domain. The Directive Principles requires constitutional amendment passed by special majority i.e., 2/3rd from both the houses of Parliament. Following are the various amendments pertaining to DPSPs.[xiii]

  • First, the 42nd Constitutional amendment 1976, which made four changes in DPSPs, i) Article 39 which obligates state to secure social order for the promotion of the welfare of the state, ii) Addition of Article 39 A which makes duty of the state to provide equal justice and free legal aid service, by virtue of this amendment Parliament enacted the law called Legal services Authorities Act, 1987, iii) Inclusion of Article 48A which deals with the protection and improvement of environment. The amendment leads to the introduction of The Water Pollution, Air Pollution, Environmental Pollution Acts, and The Forest Act etc.
  • 44th Constitutional Amendment, 1978 added Article 38 (2) which direct state to minimize or eliminate inequalities in income, facilities, opportunities and status.[xiv]
  • 73rd Constitutional Amendment, 1992 which had introduced Panchayats in Part IX of the Constitution and its genesis in Article 40 of the constitution enshrined under Gandhian Principle
  • 86th Constitutional Amendment, 2002 inserted Article 21A which provided the provision for free and compulsory of all children in the age of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right. The roots of this amendment are in Article 41 which talks about Right to work, to education and public assistance and also Article 45.
  • 97th Constitutional Amendment, 2011 added up Article 43B which authorizes the state to promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of cooperative societies.

DPSPS and its application 

The implementation of Directive Principles has indirect effect in the formation of various policies. The scrutiny of legislator to maintain the effectiveness of Directive Principles is been shadowed under the following regulations and enactments.

Policies like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee (MGNREGA) get its effect from Article 39(a) which talks about the right to adequate means of livelihood.

Government Policies such as Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP), Integrated Tribal Development Program (ITDP) and Prathan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana, Swachh Bharat, Atal Pension scheme etc, are the reflection of the principles embodied under Article 47 which deals with raising standard of living and maintain public health.

Laws such as the Child labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 connotes with the Article 39(g) deals with the protection of children.

Legislations like Minimum Wages Act, Maternity Benefit Act, Equal Remuneration Act, RTE etc are been drawn from Articles 41,42, 43 and 45.


The importance of DPSPs is nurtured in many courses, a citizen must be aware of such principles to measure the performance of government and identify the lacunae’s indeed. The aim of directive principles is to maintain socio-economic condition and develop healthy economy by implementing polices framed in accordance with these principles. DPSPs enable an Indian citizen to keep check and balance on the performance of government and have update on the programmes, acts, boards framed under the principles. State performs very important role to maintain and handle all the responsibility framed under Part IV and implement the real spirit of law. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. In which part of the Constitution DPSPs are mentioned?

 Part IV of the Indian Constitution.

Q2. The DPSPs have been taken from which constitution?

Ireland, the Spanish Constitution

Q3. Does DPSPs and Fundamental Rights are same?

No, DPSPs are the principles or guidelines for the central and state government, to be kept in mind while framing laws and policies and these are not enforceable in the court of law. Whereas, Fundamental Rights enshrined under Part III of the Indian Constitution, provides the rights to citizen to be protected and give power to issue writs in case such fundamental rights are been infringement by the state.

Q4. How many articles are been covered under DPSPs?

The Articles are from 36 to 51 enshrined under Part IV of the Indian Constitution to maintain the welfare state.

Q5. Does Fundamental Rights have overriding effect on DPSPS?

Provisions of Part III and IV are complementary and supplementary to each other and that fundamental rights are means to achieve the goal indicated in part IV. Moreover, the fundamental rights must be contracted in the light of the directive principles.


[1] Constitutional Provision, Ministry of Human Resource Development (Jul 25, 2020, 3PM),

[1] Workers Participation in Management, Shodhganga (Jul 25, 2020, 4PM),

[1] Ms. IpsaPROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS THROUGH RULE OF LAW, Indian Legal Solution (Jul 25, 2020, 4PM)

[1] Salient Features Of Constitution Of India, scribd (Jul 25,2020, 4PM),

[1]Krishnendra Joshi, Fundamental Rights in the Constitution of India, ipleaders (Jul 25,2020, 6PM),

[1] Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles, Lawteacher (Jul 25,2020, 6PM),

[1] State of Madras v. Champakam Dorai Rajan, AIR 1951 SC 226.

[1] Re Kerala Education Bill 1957, 1959 1 SCR 995.

[1]Hemant Pratap Singh,  Directive Principles of State Policy, Jagranjosg (Jul 25, 2020, 7PM),

[1] I.C. Golaknath & Ors v. state of Punjab & Anr, AIR 1967 SC 1643.

[1] Keshavnanda Bharati v. State of Kerala, AIR 1973 SC 225.

[1] Unnikrishnan v. State of Andhra Pradesh, 1993 SCC 1 645.

[1] Debate on the Procedure of Amendment, Drishti (Jul 25, 2020, 8PM),

[1] Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP): Amendment, Sanctions, and Criticism (Jul 25, 2020, 8PM),

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