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Relationship between Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Rights | Law Optional Notes for UPSC PDF Download

Introduction

Part III of the Indian Constitution, spanning from Article 12 to Article 35, contains the Fundamental Rights. These rights draw inspiration from the United States Bill of Rights and are considered justiciable, meaning they can be enforced through the country's ordinary courts. The Fundamental Rights in the Indian Constitution are more extensive and detailed than those in the U.S. Constitution.
On the other hand, Part IV of the Constitution of India, from Article 35 to Article 51, encompasses the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP). The concept of DPSP was borrowed from the Irish Constitution of 1937, which, in turn, took inspiration from the Spanish Constitution. DPSP provides ideals and recommendations for the state to consider when making policies and laws, but unlike Fundamental Rights, they are not justiciable.
Both Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles make up the core philosophy of the Indian Constitution.

Fundamental Rights (Part III)

As mentioned earlier, these justiciable rights are found in Part III of the Indian Constitution (Article 12 to Article 35) and are called "Fundamental" for two significant reasons:

  • They are guaranteed and protected by the Constitution, which is the fundamental law of the land.
  • They are fundamental because they are essential for the overall development of an individual, encompassing material, intellectual, moral, and spiritual aspects.

Initially, there were about seven Fundamental Rights, but after the abolition of the Zamindari Act in 1950, their number reduced to about six, which include:

  • Right to equality (Article 14-18): This guarantees equality before the law and prohibits discrimination based on race, caste, creed, or gender.
  • Right to Freedom (Article 19-22): This includes the right to form associations, peaceful assembly, practice any profession, and carry out trade, occupation, or business. It also includes the significant Right to Life and Liberty (Article 21) and rights related to arrest and detention.
  • Right against Exploitation (Article 23 and 24): These articles prohibit child labor, forced labor, and human trafficking.
  • Right to Freedom of Religion (Article 25-28): This right allows citizens to practice any religion and grants freedom of conscience. It also includes provisions related to taxes for religious purposes.
  • Cultural and Educational Rights (Article 29 and Article 30): These rights protect various languages and cultures in India and safeguard the rights and culture of minorities, including their right to establish and administer educational institutions.
  • Right to seek Constitutional remedies: Article 32 is considered the heart and soul of the Indian Constitution. It empowers individuals to seek remedies when their Fundamental Rights are violated and grants the Supreme Court of India the authority to issue five types of writs.

However, the right to property was removed from the list of Fundamental Rights by the 44th Amendment Act in 1978. Consequently, the Right to Property is now a non-fundamental constitutional right under Article 300-A in Part XII of the Constitution.

Directive Principles of State Policy (Part – IV)

The Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) are outlined in Part IV of the Constitution and serve as constitutional recommendations to the state regarding legislative, administrative, and executive matters. These principles guide the state in considering certain ideals while formulating and enacting laws. Although they are non-justiciable in nature, they play a crucial role in helping the courts determine the constitutionality of a law.
DPSPs are typically categorized into three main groups:

  • Socialistic Principles: For example, Article 38 aims to promote the welfare of the people by establishing a just social, economic, and political order and reducing inequalities in income, status, and opportunities.
  • Gandhian Principles: These principles are based on the vision of Mahatma Gandhi and include Article 40, which calls for the organization of village panchayats with the authority to function as units of self-government.
  • Liberal-Intellectual Principles: Some DPSPs exhibit characteristics of liberalism, such as Article 50, which mandates the separation of the judiciary from the executive in public services.

It's important to note that the Constitution itself does not explicitly classify DPSPs into these three categories, but this classification is based on the content of these principles.

Significance of the Directive Principles

  • Despite criticism from notable figures like K.T. Shah, who compared them to a check that can only be cashed when resources permit, and former Finance Minister T.T. Krishnamachari, who referred to them as a repository of sentiments, DPSPs remain relevant in contemporary times. According to Justice Chagla, the former Chief Justice of India, when fully implemented, these principles have the potential to make India a paradise on earth.
  • DPSPs are seen as complementary to fundamental rights, as they aim to fill the gaps in Part III by providing economic and social rights. They offer stability and continuity in the government's domestic and foreign policies, despite changes in leadership.
  • DPSPs provide citizens with a yardstick to measure the government's performance and offer valuable feedback on areas where it falls short.

Conflict Between Directive Principles and Fundamental Rights

It's important to recognize that despite their apparent distinction, Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) and Fundamental Rights share a common historical origin. Initially, there was no separation between the positive and negative obligations of the state, but the Constituent Assembly later distinguished between them. Both Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles are integral components of the Indian Constitution.
The conflict between DPSPs and Fundamental Rights is not a new issue. While their nature may be similar, points of conflict persist to this day:

  • Justiciability: Fundamental Rights are justiciable, meaning they can be enforced through the courts, while DPSPs are non-justiciable. This difference has raised concerns about the enforceability of DPSPs since the inception of the Constitution and the existence of Parts III and IV.
  • Moral Obligation: Article 37 places a moral obligation on the state to implement the Directive Principles, which has raised questions about potential conflicts with Fundamental Rights.

In early cases, the Supreme Court ruled that Directive Principles could not supersede Fundamental Rights in Part III. However, the Supreme Court clarified its position in the case of State of Madras v. Srimathi Champakam Dorairajan. It held that since Fundamental Rights are enforceable and Directive Principles are not, Fundamental Rights take precedence and DPSPs must be subsidiary to them.
However, the situation changed in 1967 when the Supreme Court, in the case of I.C. Golaknath v. State of Punjab, ruled that Fundamental Rights in Part III are sacrosanct and cannot be amended to implement DPSPs.

Relationship Between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy

  • The relationship between Part III (Fundamental Rights) and Part IV (Directive Principles) has been a subject of discussion, as highlighted by Constitutional Advisor Sir B.N. Rau. He proposed that an individual's rights could be divided into justiciable and non-justiciable rights, with Part III encompassing justiciable rights and Part IV including non-justiciable ones. The judiciary has used Directive Principles to assess the constitutional validity of legislation when they conflict with Fundamental Rights or Part III.
  • In the case of Sajjan Singh v. State of Rajasthan (1964), Justice Madhukar's remarks are relevant. He suggested that although Fundamental Rights in Part III are considered unalterable, their dynamism could be achieved through a proper interpretation in light of Directive Principles. He emphasized the fundamental nature of Part IV in governing the country and the need for harmonious interpretation with Part III. However, the Supreme Court, in the Champakam Dorairajan case, held that Fundamental Rights would be diminished if overridden by Directive Principles.
  • In the case of I.C. Golaknath, Justice Subba Rao of the Supreme Court stressed that Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles together form an integrated scheme flexible enough to adapt to the changing needs of society. Similarly, in Bijoya Cotton Mills v. State of West Bengal, the Supreme Court had a dual perspective:
    • In cases of conflict between an individual's rights and a law aimed at implementing socio-economic policies in line with Directive Principles, preference would be given to the latter.
    • Every act or legislation enacted to fulfill Directive Principles should be construed as professing public interest or as a reasonable restriction on Part III of the Constitution.

Doctrine of Harmonious Construction and relevant case laws

  • The doctrine of Harmonious Construction, as a novel approach to interpretation, was introduced and developed by the Supreme Court in the Quareshi Mohd. v. State of Bihar case. In this case, the court emphasized that the Constitution should be interpreted in a way that ensures harmony between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP). The implementation of DPSP should not infringe upon or diminish the fundamental rights of citizens, and the courts should adopt the principles of harmonious construction to give effect to both Part III and Part IV of the Constitution.
  • In the Re: Kerala Education Bill case of 1958, Chief Justice S.R. Das affirmed the primacy of fundamental rights over directive principles. However, he also noted that in determining the scope and extent of Fundamental Rights relied upon by individuals or entities, the court should not completely disregard the DPSPs in Part IV of the Constitution. Instead, the court should strive for a harmonious construction and attempt to uphold both to the greatest extent possible.
  • Subsequently, the Supreme Court began to assert that there is no inherent conflict between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles; rather, they complement and supplement each other. This standpoint was reiterated by the Supreme Court in the case of Chandra Bhavan Boarding & Lodging V. State of Mysore and has since become a consistent judicial position.
  • In the landmark 1973 case of Kesavananda Bharti V. State of Kerala, Justice K.S. Hedge observed that Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles together constitute the "Conscience of the Constitution." Justices Shelat and Grover added that both Parts III and IV must be balanced and harmonized.
  • In numerous cases, the courts have applied the Doctrine of Harmonious Construction while delivering judgments related to Part III and Part IV of the Constitution. The Supreme Court, in the State of Kerala V. N.M. Thomas case, emphasized that Directive Principles and Fundamental Rights should be interpreted in a harmonious manner, and every effort should be made by the respective courts to resolve any apparent inconsistencies between them.
  • Justice Chandrachud, in the landmark case of Minerva Mills V. Union of India, stated that Fundamental Rights are not an end in themselves but a means to an end specified in the Directive Principles. The judgment also emphasized that the harmony and balance between fundamental rights and directive principles are essential aspects of the Constitution's basic structure.
  • From the above, it is evident that Fundamental Rights in Part III can be viewed as a means to achieve the goals outlined in Part IV, and in various instances, Fundamental Rights are interpreted in light of non-justiciable Directive Principles of State Policy.
  • This interrelation between Part III (Fundamental Rights) and Part IV (Directive Principles of State Policy) was acknowledged by the Legislature in the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002 when the Right to Education, initially a component of Part IV, was elevated to a Fundamental Right under Article 21A of Part III.
  • The Supreme Court, in the case of Olga Tellis, asserted that Directive Principles of State Policy are fundamental to the governance of the country and should be equally fundamental in understanding and interpreting the meaning and content of fundamental rights.
  • Recently, in the 2015 case of Charu Khurana V. Union of India, the Supreme Court emphasized the significance of both Part III and Part IV by stating that Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles are two essential elements that together establish an egalitarian social order.

Conclusion

In summary, it is evident that the judiciary's perspective on the relationship between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy has evolved over time. Initially, in the 1951 case of Srimathi Champakam Dorairajan, the Supreme Court gave supremacy to Fundamental Rights over Directive Principles. However, this view has gradually transformed, and now the harmonious balance between Part III and Part IV has become an essential aspect of the Constitution's basic structure.
Today, it is clear that there are instances where Part III must be interpreted in light of Directive Principles, and the interdependence between the two is growing.
In conclusion, the approach of our judicial system towards Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles has been integrative. The judiciary has consistently employed the principle of Harmonious Construction in its judgments to ensure a balanced and harmonious relationship between these two vital components of our Constitution.

The document Relationship between Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Rights | Law Optional Notes for UPSC is a part of the UPSC Course Law Optional Notes for UPSC.
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