The Directive Principles of State Policy

Some basic Directive Principles of State Policy are enshrined in the country’s constitution. Directive Principles of State Policy is often referred by the abbreviation DPSP. State governments in India must follow these principles while drafting legislation since they represent a comprehensive social, economic, and political plan for a contemporary welfare state.

Basic necessities such as food and clothing should be provided by the state to ensure the well-being of its citizens, according to these beliefs. Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) differ from fundamental rights in that they are not legally enforceable if they are violated. These laws, on the other hand, require the state to apply them.

It is non-justiciable for the courts to enforce the violations of the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP). In any case, as the Constitution states, “In order to govern a country, these principles must be applied, and the state has a responsibility to do so.” Hence, it is the duty of the state to implement them.

Features of Directive Principles of State Policy

While formulating policies and enacting laws, the State should keep in mind these ideals. An instrument of instructions, such as those listed in the Government of India Act of 1935, would be a good analogy for this device. To put it another way, ‘the directive principles’ are “like the instrument of instructions, which were issued by… British Government under the Government of India Act of 1935,” according to Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, a noted Indian independence activist.

The term “Directive Principles” refers to nothing more than a different name for an instruction instrument. Except for that they are directives to both the legislative and executive branches. An economic, social, and political blueprint for an advanced democracy, the Preamble to the Constitution aims to bring the lofty principles of equality and liberty enshrined therein to fruition.

 They represent the absence of a ‘welfare state’ throughout the colonial era, which they embody. They are not legally enforceable by the courts because they are non-justiciable in nature. The Directive Principles aid courts in assessing and determining a law’s constitutional viability, despite the fact that they are not subject to judicial review.

Source of Directive Principles of State Policy

In contrast to the indigenous concept of DPSP, it is not. Although this concept was first introduced in the Spanish Constitution (Article 45), our Constitution’s creators borrowed it from the Irish Constitution. Directive Principles of State Policy are addressed in Part IV of the Indian Constitution.

There are a number of words in the phrase “directive principle of state policy” that need to be understood in order for us to understand the meaning of the phrase. DPSPs are guidelines for the state and should be considered when drafting new legislation, but citizens cannot compel the state to adhere to them.

Directive Principles of State Policy in the Indian Constitution

In Preamble

The Constitution’s Preamble is sometimes referred to as the “key to the Founders’ mind.” In this part, our Constitution’s goals are laid out. DPSP, according to many scholars, is the Constitution’s nucleus. Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSPs) provide forth the state’s standards and reflect the broad goals laid out in the Constitution’s Preamble. “Justice- social, economic, and political” is what DPSPs are aiming to achieve. The preamble’s highest goals, namely justice, liberty, equality, and fraternity, are attained through the establishment of DPSPs. It also symbolizes the idea of a welfare state that India was deprived of during the colonial period.

Directive Principles of State Policy - DPSP
Directive Principles of State Policy – DPSP

Suggested Reading:

Article 36 to Article 51

Citizens’ rights were split into two categories by the framers of the Constitution: those that could be challenged in court and those that could not. Part IV of the Indian Constitution (Articles 36 to 51) contains the non-justiciable portions of Part III .

It is in the best interest of the state that DPSPs be implemented. Because of India’s lack of financial resources, DPSPs were not rendered justiciable. It was also difficult to execute these ideals because of the country’s ineptitude and diversity at the time. Making DPSPs justiciable would have put India in a difficult position at the time the Constitution was being drafted because it was a newly born independent state.

Enforceability of Directive Principles of State Policy

Individuals frequently question if they have a legal right to sue the state or federal government for not adhering to the principles outlined in Part IV. This is a no-brainer of an answer. Article 37 explains why this is the case, stating that: In spite of the fact that the principles put out in this section cannot be enforced by any court, they are vital to the governance of the country and the State’s obligation to adopt these principles when making laws.

These principles cannot be utilized against either the federal or state government because of this Article’s prohibition on enforcing this part in court. Due to the non-justiciability of DPSPs, state and federal governments cannot be held liable for failing to comply with these regulations.

What if the state doesn’t follow the directive principles? Is it possible for the Supreme Court or High Court to issue a writ of mandamus? In legal parlance, “mandamus” means “to order.” Anyone or any authority that the law has mandated has a writ of mandate issued to them. The authority is compelled to carry out its responsibilities by this writ.

There are two common scenarios in which a Writ of Mandamus is issued. When someone files a writ petition, the other is when the Court does it on its own initiative, or “suo moto.” Mandamus cannot be issued to the state when the Directive Principles are violated, according to constitutional principles because the Directive Principle is a tool for citizens to monitor government performance and not available for judges.

Suo moto action, on the other hand, can be taken by the Court if the topic at hand is one of the highest public significance and affects a wide range of people. States have a legal obligation to uphold fundamental rights; on the other hand, moral obligations are imposed on them by the United Nations Declaration of Principles and Guidelines.

A state should strive to attain the broad principles laid out in Article 38 of the Constitution. Laws enforcing several of these Directive Principles have been passed. The scope of Fundamental Rights has been broadened in some DPSPs.

Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Rights

Fundamental rights and DPSPs have long had a rocky relationship, with some arguing that they are mutually exclusive. Because Fundamental Rights and the DPSPs are two sides of the same coin, it’s important to know how they relate to one another.

The government’s power is constrained by Part III, the Fundamental Rights, which prohibits it from passing laws that go against the interests of its citizens. On the other hand, Part IV provides assistance to the government in passing laws that are in the best interests of its citizens. In today’s legal environment, both fundamental rights and state policy directives are of equal importance and cannot be ignored. Many people say that DPSPs are meaningless since they cannot be justified in court, but we must realize that these principles not only serve as a guide, but also establish the broad aims and aspirations for which India aspires.

There is a difference between the DPSPs and the Fundamental Rights. The DPSPs are guidelines for the government to follow in order to achieve particular goals. In the absence of a law to that effect, neither people nor the State can violate anything included in the DPSPs, although violations of an individual’s Fundamental Right are subject to rigorous remedies. Fundamental Rights, on the other hand, can be deemed unconstitutional by the courts.

Case Laws Related to Directive Principles of State Policy

The question of whether or not DPSPs take precedence over fundamental rights has been debated for years. Disputes like this can be adjudicated by a judge.

Madras v. Champakan

A fundamental right is not an absolute right, as the Apex Court said in Madras v. Champakan, but the same is not true of the DPSPs. To put it another way, fundamental rights have a greater status than delegated powers of state.

The principle of harmonic building should be employed when there is a contradiction between a fundamental right and DPSPs, according to the Court in Kerala Education Bill (1957). Nonetheless, if the fundamental right and the DPSPs cannot be reconciled using the principles of interpretation, the former must be respected.

Venkataraman v. State of Madras (1966 AIR 1089)

Whenever there’s a question of clash between DPSPs and Fundamental Rights, the tundamental rights has to be given precedence in as laid down in Venkataraman v. State of Madras (1966 AIR 1089).

I.C. Golaknath v. State of Punjab and Anr

An earlier case, Golaknath v. State of Punjab and Anr, stated that fundamental rights cannot be limited by legislation passed by parliament, and so cannot be interpreted to deny them. In support of the same, the Court further ruled that legislation cannot be found unconstitutional and void only on the basis of a contravention of Article 14, Article 19, or Article 31, if the law is made to give effect to Article 39(b) and Article 39(c), which fall outside the jurisdiction of DPSPs.

The 42nd Amendment to the Constitution enlarged the scope of Article 31C to include all of the Constitution’s directive principles. Previously, Article 31C protected only those legislation that were consistent with Article 39(b) and 39(c) of the Constitution (c).

Keshavnanda Bharati vs. State of Kerala (1973)

Supreme Court of India raised the status of delegated powers over fundamental rights in Keshavnanda Bharati vs. State of Kerala (1973). When it came down to it, the court had to decide whether the directive principles of state policy inherent in Article IV of the Constitution could take precedence over the fundamental rights granted by Part III of the Constitution. Harmonious construction should be adopted because none takes precedence over the other, a judge decided. Both are needed to be in balance because they are complementary.

Unnikrishnan v. State of Andhra Pradesh (1993).

Because fundamental rights and directive principles are not mutually exclusive, they should not be read in isolation, the Supreme Court ruled in Unnikrishnan v. State of Andhra Pradesh (1993). In addition, the Court stated that the Fundamental Rights are the methods by which the objectives listed in Part IV are realized.


The DPSPs don’t need to be made enforceable, based on the arguments presented above and the goal of the Constituent Assembly in adopting non-justiciable rights. It was the Assembly’s worry that the Directives might become outdated that prevented them from enforcing them. Secondly, most of its provisions have been enacted into law, and those that haven’t are of questionable relevance in today’s society.

Even while they may not be admissible in court, they aren’t useless. Their significance has grown exponentially over time. Today, they not only serve as guidelines, but they also act as a check on governments, although one that is exercised not by the Court but by the people themselves.

Today’s political parties have little interest in the well-being of the country. For their own benefit, they engage in contentious politics. They are preoccupied with advancing their own beliefs, which may or may not be shared by the rest of the country. Government performance and arbitrary legislation can both be measured by the DPSPs in this environment.

Because of the awe-inspiring provisions contained in these directives, we should not be deceived. Even though they’re important and help to define us as a welfare state, enforcing them won’t accomplish much.

The majority of them have been made justiciable by other laws, and changing them will lead to widespread abuse by extremists. The Directives are at a good place right now since they are well-balanced. In addition, they should be rendered secular and devoid of morals that they impose on citizens. They must reflect the views of the entire country, not just a small segment of it.


  1. India. (1956). Commentaries on the Constitution of India (2nd ed.). Eastern Book Co.
  2. Hardgrave, R. L., & Markandan, K. C. (1968). Directive Principles in the Indian Constitution. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 88(3), 653.
  3. Karve, D. G. (1955). Public Administration & the Directive Principles of the Constitution. Indian Journal of Public Administration, 1(1), 8–13.
  4. Markandan, K. C. (1987). Directive principles of state policy in the Indian Constitution. ABS Publications.
  5. Paranjape, N. V. (1975). The role of directive principles under the Indian constitution. Central Law Agency.

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