Directive principles of state policy – Constitution of India

Directive principles of state policy – Constitution of India


Directive Principles represent a very comprehensive economic, social and political programme for a modern and welfare state. Directive Principles of State Policy (Hereinafter referred to as DPSP) are the directions by Constitution of India to State for promoting welfare of people by providing them basic facilities like shelter, food and clothing.

Unlike Fundamental Rights the DPSP are non-binding in nature which means they are not enforceable by the Courts. Part 4 of Indian Constitution, from Article 36 to Article 51 deals with DPSD.

Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) are incorporated in the Constitution to attain the ultimate ideals of Preamble. Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) are not enforceable by any court but the principles laid down in the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) are considered in the governance of the state, making it duty of the state to apple these principles in making laws which is expressly mentioned in Article 37.

They are borrowed from the Constitution of Ireland (Article 45), which had borrowed it from the Constitution of Spain. The ideas to the principles can be traced back to revolutionary France, which proclaimed ‘Declaration of Rights of Man and of the Citizen’. Indian who were fighting from the British rule were particularly influenced by the independence of Ireland from British rule and the development of Irish Constitution. All these principles should not only guide legislative and executive agencies but even judiciary has to keep them in mind while deciding a case.

To get an overview of Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) lets see the contentions given by Dr BR Ambedkar in Constituent Assembly while debating on DPSP on 19 November 1948 – “It is the intention of this Assembly that in future both the legislature and the executive should not merely pay lip service to these principles enacted in this part, but that they should be made the basis of all executive and legislative action that may be taken hereafter in the matter of the governance of the country.” Dr BR Ambedkar described these principles as the ‘Novel Features’ of Constitution.

In this Article further we will discuss features and classifications which will include certain information about the Articles in particular.

Features of Directive principles of state policy (DPSP)

  • The Directive Principle Constitute a highly extensive social economical and political programme for a modern democratic state.
  • Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) are close similar to the ‘Instrument of Instructions’ enumerated in the governance if Indian Act 1935. Dr BR Ambedkar said in the Assembly that – ‘the Directive Principles are like the instrument of instructions, which were issued to the Governor-General and to the Governors of the colonies of India by the British Government under the Government of India Act of 1935. What is called Directive Principles is merely another name for the instrument of instructions. The only difference is that they are instructions to the legislature and the executive’.
  • Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) signifies an ideal that state should keep in mind while making and enacting law.
  • They are Non-justiciable in nature, if a directive is not obeyed or implemented by the state, its obedience and implementation cannot be secured through judicial proceedings.

Classification of the Directive Principles of State Policy

Indian Constitution not expressly and originally classified Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP), but on the basis of their direction and content, they can be classified in three types. Further in these classifications, we will also be putting light on Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) and their relations with the Fundamental Rights in particular.

Socialist Principle

These principles reflect the ideology of socialism. Socialism is a political and economic where mean of productions such as money and other forms of capital are owned by the state or public. Its aim is to provide social and economic justice to all the citizens of the state. Articles which follow socialist principle are Article 39, 39(A), 41, 42, 43 and 47.

Article 38

Article 38 talks about social economic and political justice. Article 38(2) was added by the Constitution (44th Amendment) Act, 1978[1], which talks about group equality. Article 38(2) recognizes that there are grave income and status inequalities which needs to be minimised.

Article 39

This Article specifically requires the state to ensure for its people adequate means of livelihood, fair distribution of wealth, equal pay for equal work and protection of children and labour.

Article 39A

This Article talks about equal justice and free legal aid. This article is often being associated with Article 21 to cast a duty on state to provide free legal aid. In pursuance of this article Parliament has passed the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.

Article 41

This article talks about Right to work, to education and to pubic assistance. The state is directed by the people within the limits of its economic capacity the development of employment, education and public assistance in given cases which includes old age, sickness, unemployment etc.

Article 42

This Article talks about just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief. Laws such as The Workmen Compensation Act, The Employees Insurance Act, The Maternity Relief Act implement this provision.

Article 43

This Article talks about living wage and decent standard of life and fair wage to them. In Bijay Cotton Mills vs State of Ajmer[2], it has been held by the court that fixation of minimum wages of labourers by the legislature is in the interest of general public and is, therefore not violative of Article 19(1)g which gives freedom of trade to all citizens which also includes employers.

Article 47

This Article puts an obligation on state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health. Further the state is required to take steps to bring about prohibition of the consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs except for medicinal purposes. In State of Bombay vs FN Balsara[3], it was held that the restriction of possession, use or consumption of liquor, imposed by state government is not unreasonable restrictions on the exercise of Fundamental Right guaranteed under article 19(1). This article expressly gives an exception which is of Medicinal Purposes.

Gandhian Principle

These principles reflect the Gandhian ideology. They reflects the programme of reconstruction enunciated by Gandhi during National Movement. Some of Gandhi’s ideas were included in Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) under Article 40, 43, 43B, 46, 47, 48.

Article 40

This Article guides states for the organisation of Village and Panchayats. The Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act,1992 [4]introducing the panchayats in Part IX, Article 243-O is a major step in the direction of implementing this Directive Principle. Initially the Constitution did not define “Village” anywhere. Later it defines it in Article 243-G for the purpose of Part IX.

Article 43

We have talked about  Article 43 under Socialist principle.

Article 43B

This Article guide state to promote formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of co-operative societies. This Article was inserted by 97th Amendment Act in 2011[5].

Article 46

The Article guide state to promote educational and economic interests of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe and other weaker section. In State of Madras vs Champakam Dorairajan[6], order of allotting seats to different communities in medical and engineering college was declared void as it violates the Fundamental Right given under Article 29(2) of Indian Constitution. The argument of the government was the object of the order was to promote backward classes in furtherance of the Directive Principle in Article 46 and therefore could not be violative of Fundamental Rights. This argument was rejected by the court, establishing the supremacy of Fundamental Rights over Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP).

Article 47

We have dealt with Article 47 under Socialist principle.

Article 48

This Article guides state to promote organisation of agriculture and animal husbandry and in particular take steps for preserving and improving the breeds and prohibiting the slaughter of cows, calves, milch and draught cattle.

In a country where 70% of the population is depending on agriculture. Breeding and taking care of animals like cows would not only increase economy but will also bring villages into Indian economy. This Article is based on Gandhian principle as he believed that India’s soul lies in villages.

Liberal Intellectual Principles

This category of Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) is based on liberalism which can be understood as a political and social philosophy that promotes individual rights, civil liberties, democracy and free enterprises. Article which based on this principle are Article 44, 45, 48, 48A, 49, 50, 51.

Article 44

This Article requires state to take steps for establishing a Uniform Civil Code through the territory of India. There were 2 major objections put forwards in the constituent assembly regarding Uniform Civil Code. Firstly, it would infringe Fundamental Right of Freedom of Religion provided under Article 25. Secondly, it would be tyranny to the minorities. Second objection is subjective so we will not look into that. First Objection is Misconceived. Directive Principle in  Article 44, in no way infringe the Fundamental Rights guaranteed by Article 25 because Clause 2 of Article 25 expressly makes an exception for secular activities by State.

Article 45

This Article is guiding state to provide early childhood care and education below the age of 6 years. Originally the age in the Article 45 was 14 years. In 1993, court read Article 45 into Article 21 and in effect converted it into a Fundamental Right by Constitution (86th Amendment) Act, 2002[7] and the same amendment changed the original Article to present form.

Article 48

We have dealt Article 48 under Gandhian Principle.

Article 48A

This Article requires state to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and various other laws providing for the protection of environment, forest and wildlife are among the steps taken under this Article.

Article 49

This Article place state under the duty to protect every monument, object or place of artistic or historic interest. There are certain acts which are based on the principle of Article 49, one among them is the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904. Which is intended to preserve ancient monuments.

Article 50

This Article is guiding the states to take steps in regards to separation of Judiciary from the Executive in public services of the state. Article 50 provided in the constitution for separate judicial services free from executive control. Article 50 is intended to ensure the Independence of Judiciary even at the level of Supreme Court.

Article 51

This Article is guiding state for the promotion of International peace and security. Article 51 is relied upon to sign many International peace treaties like the declaration of Human Rights. Court has held that by the virtue of this article India becomes party to International Instruments particularly peace treaties.


[2] 1955 AIR 33, 1955 SCR (1) 752

[3] 1951 AIR 318, 1951 SCR 682



[6] 1951 AIR 226, 1951 SCR 525


Author: sarthbodhi wankhade,
Symbiosis Law School and 5th Year (BA LLB)

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