Relationship between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy


To live a peaceful and dignified life, the basic rights and needs should be provided to each and every citizen of a country. The basic idea of the democratic country should be to preserve indispensable condition of free society. The basic values cherished by the people can only be succeeded when some essentials like – liberty, equality, freedom etc is attained by the individual in the society with existence of public order in the society which is guaranteed by the fundamental rights under the Indian constitution. The governance of the country by the government with aims and objectives together with the law and order, with protection of life, liberty and property is also the main concern.

The era of welfare state, has to promote the prosperity and well-being of the people. The Constitution of India under the head of directive principles of state policies has imposed certain obligations on the state to take positive actions in order to promote the welfare of the people and fulfill economic democracy. But there is a lot of confusion regarding the difference of nature & justifiability between the two categories which we will discuss by explaining the relationship between them. First, we will discuss the meaning of both fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy.

What are Fundamental rights? 

The fundamental rights are a very distinguished feature of a democratic country which are incorporated is part III of the Indian constitution. The state cannot make a law which prohibits any of the rights of the citizens, otherwise it may be declared unconstitutional by the courts. But only declaring the fundamental rights doesn’t means that they are in enforcement. Our constitution has conferred the apex court with the power to grants remedies if there is any violation of rights in the nature of Habeas corpus, Mandamus, prohibition, quo Warranto and certiorari provided under Article 32 to 35. But these rights are not absolute because they are subject to some limitations. These rights are essential to rights and liberties of the peoples against the control of power of the government, executive and legislative. The object behind the introduction of these rights is to establish rule of law and the government of law.

Classified under the following six groups:

  • Right to equality (articles 14-19)
  • Right to freedom (article19-22)
  • Right against exploitation (23-24)
  • Right to freedom of religion (25-28)
  • Cultural and educational rights (29-30)
  • Right to constitutional remedies (32-35)

 What are Directive principles of state policy?

The directive principles of state policy contained in part 1V of the constitution set out the aims and objectives to taken up by the state in the governance of the country. It has been borrowed from the Irish constitution. Besides providing protection of life, liberty, freedom and other rights, the constitution of India is also envisaged with directive principles of state policy which lay down certain economic, political and social policies to be pursued by the various governments in India. Example – Directive principle in Article 38 of the constitution which provides that the state shall, in particular, strive to minimize inequalities in income and endeavor to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities.

Relation between fundamental rights and directives principles of state policy

  1. The basic difference between them is that fundamental rights are justiciable and directive principles of state policy is non-justiciable.

According to Article 32, fundamental rights are enforceable by the courts and the courts are bound to declare as void any law that is inconsistent with the fundamental rights. The directive principles are not so enforceable by the courts nor can the courts declare as void any law which is otherwise valid on the ground that it contravenes any of the directives. According to Article 37, the directives principle though they are fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the state to apply these principles in making laws.

Re Kerala education bill [1]

In this case, the Supreme Court observed that though the directive principles cannot override the fundamental rights, and in determining the scope and ambit of fundamental rights the court may not entirely ignore the directive principles but should adopt the principles of ‘harmonious construction’ so that there is no conflict between them and should attempt to give effect to both as much as possible by which harmony can be maintained between them.

  1. There is a legal sanction behind abridging fundamental rights. The person has the right to move Supreme Court and high court also for getting his fundamental rights protected. The Supreme Court has the power to issue writs under Article 32 and Supreme Court have given the same power to issue writs under Article 226. On the other hand, to criticize directive principles is meaningless. There is a moral and political sanction behind them. There may not be legal force behind them, but the vigilant public opinion is the real force behind an institution which stands for the benefit for the individual. If government doesn’t pursues a policy in accordance with the constitution then people will not tolerate it and they oust them in the next elections.
  2. Fundamental rights and directive principles are not opposite to each other. As described by Granville Austin they are the conscience of our constitution and in the case of :-

Kesvananda Bharati v. State of Kerala [2]

The Supreme Court observed that, fundamental rights and directive principles aims at bringing about a social revolution and establishment of a Welfare state and they can be interpreted and applied together. They are supplementary and complementary to each other. DPSP prescribed the goal to be attained and fundamental rights lay down the means by which the goals is to be achieved.   

  1. The scope of the fundamental rights is limited. They promote individual welfare and the scope of directive principles is limitless and promote the welfare of the entire community.
  2. Article 19 permits the imposition of reasonable restrictions on the fundamental rights which promotes any objective embodied in the directive principles usually considered reasonable by courts of law.

State of Bombay v. Balsara [3]

In this case, the Supreme Court gave importance to Article 47 which directs the state to bring about prohibition of consumption of intoxicating drink except for medical purpose – to support its decision that the restriction imposed by the Bombay prohibition Act was a reasonable restriction on the right to engage in any profession or carry on any trade.

  1. Likewise, there are more important cases where there is a conflict between them FR and DPSP.

In the case of Champakam dorairajan case (1952) [4], it was held that fundamental rights are superior over DPSP. But later, parliament amended and modified various fundamental rights which were in conflict with DPSP.

In the case of Golak Nath v. State of Punjab (1967) [5], the Supreme Court held that fundamental rights cannot be abridged, weaken or taken away and in response the parliament brings in 25th amendment Act which inserted A31-C in part III.

In Minerva mills v. Union of India (1980) [6], the Supreme Court struck down Article 31-C as unconstitutional and void on the ground that it destroys the basic features of the constitution and it was inconsistent or abridged any of the rights conferred by article 14 or 19 of the constitution. A 31-C would only be protected if it is made to implement the directives in A 39 (B) and (C) and not in any other DPSP.

Instances where Directive Principles given status of Fundamental Rights:-

There are numerous cases where Supreme Court has given many DPSP, the status of         fundamental rights. Like in the case of UnniKrishnan v. state of A.P [7], the directive principle contained in Article 45 has been raised to the status of a fundamental rights. It has been held that children from the age of 6 to 14 years have fundamental right to free and compulsory education.

Similarly, in M.H. Hoskot v. State of Maharashtra [8], ‘legal aid’ and ‘speedy trial’ become fundamental rights under Article 21 available to all prisoners.

In Randhir Singh v. Union of India [9], ‘equal pay for equal work’ has been held to be a fundamental right.


In spite of the of harmonious relationship between fundamental rights and directive principles still there is a lot more left which need to be achieved. Discrimination and disparity still exist in the society, standard of living of the people is yet to be raised. The efforts of the union and the state government is very important in implementation of the aim and objectives to stand directives principle at par with fundamental rights.




[1] AIR 1957 SC 956

[2] AIR 1973 SC 1461

[3] AIR 1951 SC 318 at p. 329

[4] AIR 1951 SC 228

[5] 1967 AIR 1643

[6] AIR 1980 SC 1789

[7] (1993) 1 SCC 645

[8] AIR 1978 SC 1548

[9] AIR 1982 SC 879

Author: Raman Saxena,
Delhi metropolitan education affiliated to GGSIPU (2nd year/law student)

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