Certain general aspects of Directive Principles of State Policy laid down in the Constitution are discussed in this Part 4, including their comparison and conflict with the fundamental rights (also freely subscribe to our YouTube Education channel with about 100 free videos on UPSC IAS and other competitive examinations):
Distinction between fundamental rights and directive principles
|S. No.||Fundamental Rights||Directive Principles|
|1||These are justiciable and can be legally enforced by the courts in case of their violation.||Non-justiciable and cannot be legally enforced by the courts in case of violation.|
|2||Have legal sanction.||Have only moral and political sanction.|
|3||Generally negative in character, since they prohibit State from certain things.||Positive in character, since they require the State to do certain things.|
|4||Promote welfare of individuals, hence are of personal or individualist character.||Promote welfare of the community or society, hence are of collective in nature.|
|5||Mainly aimed at establishing political democracy.||Mainly aimed at establishing social and economic democracy.|
|6||No legislation required to enforce them; they are automatically enforced.||State has to make law(s) to implement them. They are not automatically enforced.|
|7||Law violating them will be declared invalid and unconstitutional by courts.||Law violating them will not be declared invalid and unconstitutional. However, if a law seeks to implement them, the court may give effect to it.|
Conflict between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles
- What happens if there is a conflict between a fundamental right and a directive principle?
- In the beginning, the Supreme Court approach was that a directive principle cannot override a fundamental right. Also that, in case of a conflict, the fundamental right would prevail over the directive principle. [State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan, AIR 1951 SC 226 (7-judges)]
- Over a period of time, judicial opinion changed. It was later felt that instead of completely ignoring the directive principles, the courts should adopt principle of a harmonious construction and give effect to both, if possible. [see: In Re Kerala Education Bill, AIR 1958 SC 956.]
- Article 31-C was inserted by the Constitution (25th Amendment) Act, 1971, which mainly laid down following two things (in effect):
- No law giving effect to the policy of the State towards securing the principles specified in clause (b) or clause (c) of Article 39 shall be deemed to be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with, or takes away or abridges any of the rights conferred by Article 14 or Article 19, and
- no law containing a declaration that it is for giving effect to such policy shall be called in question in any court on the ground that it does not give effect to such policy.
- However, while the first part of Article 31-C was held to be valid in the case of Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, (1973) 4 SCC 225, the second part of Article 31-C, as above, was held to be invalid by a majority decision in that case.
- Later, the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976, extended the scope of the first part of Article 31C by including within its protection any law to implement any of the Directive Principles and not merely those specified in Article 39 (b) and (c).
- Thus, the 42nd Amendment gave primacy to the Directive Principles over the Fundamental Rights conferred by Articles 14 and 19.
- But, in case of Minerva Mills Ltd. v. Union of India, (1980) 3 SCC 625, the Supreme Court declared such extension as unconstitutional.
- Thus, it appears that the Directive Principles were once again made subordinate to the Fundamental Rights.
- But, a law implementing the directive principles specified in clause (b) or clause (c) of Article 39 shall be valid even if it is inconsistent with, or takes away or abridges any of the rights conferred by Article 14 or Article 19.
- In the Minerva Mills case, it was also held the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles together are like two wheels of a chariot, one no less than the other. To give absolute primacy to one over the other is to disturb the harmony of the Constitution. This harmony and balance between the two is an essential feature of the basic structure of the Constitution. The goals set out by the Directive Principles have to be achieved without the abrogation of the means provided by the Fundamental Rights.
- Thus, generally speaking, the Fundamental Rights enjoy supremacy over the Directive Principles. However, the Directive Principles can still be implemented. A law implementing directive principles is generally construed in such a manner as to have a harmonious construction of the directive principles with the fundamental rights. However, such a law should not take away or abridge the fundamental right in a way to damage or destroy the basic structure of the Constitution.
- In particular, a law implementing the directive principles specified in clause (b) or clause (c) of Article 39 shall be valid even if it is inconsistent with, or takes away or abridges any of the rights conferred by Articles 14 or 19.
Implementation of Directive Principles – in practice
A large number of laws have been passed by the Parliament as well as by State Legislatures to implement various directive principles:
- Several land reforms laws for: (a) abolition of intermediaries like zamindars, jagirdars, etc; (b) tenancy reforms like security of tenure, fair rents, etc.; (c) imposition of ceilings on land holdings; (d) distribution of surplus land among the landless labourers; etc.
- Minimum Wages Act
- Payment of Wages Act
- Payment of Bonus Act
- Contract Labour Regulation and Abolition Act
- Bonded Labour System Abolition Act
- Trade Unions Act
- Factories Act
- Mines Act
- Industrial Disputes Act
- Workmen’s Compensation Act
- Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act
- Maternity Benefit Act
- Equal Remuneration Act
- Protection of Civil Rights Act
- Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act
- Legal Services Authorities Act
- Wildlife (Protection) Act
- Forest Conservation Act
- Constitution (73rd Amendment) Act, 1992, to introduce Panchayati Raj system.
- Criminal Procedure Code, 1973.
- Ancient and Historical Monument and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act
- Laws to prohibit slaughter of cows, calves, and bullocks enacted in many states.
- Laws made for nationalisation of life insurance, general insurance, 14 leading commercial banks, textile companies, coal mines, etc.
- Abolition of Privy Purses
Various Schemes / Plans / Bodies established for implementing directive principles:
- Khadi and Village Industries Board,
- Khadi and Village Industries Commission,
- Small-Scale Industries Board,
- National Small Industries Corporation,
- Handloom Board,
- Handicrafts Board,
- Coir Board,
- Silk Board.
- Community Development Programme
- Hill Area Development Programme
- Drought-Prone Area Programme
- Integrated Rural Development Programme
- Jawahar Rozgar Yojana
- Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana
- Sampoorna Grameena Rozgar Yojana
- National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NAREGA or MNAREGA)
- Central and State Pollution Control Boards
- National Forest Policy.
- Primary health centres and hospitals throughout the country.
- Special programmes to eradicate diseases like malaria, TB, leprosy, AIDS, cancer, etc.
- Old age pension schemes in some states.
- Schemes to provide medicines at free or concessional rates
- Mid-day meal schemes in most states.
- A large number of other schemes, projects, bodies in various states and at the Centre level.
Watch the YouTube video with full explanation:
This YouTube video is Part 4 of the video series on Directive Principles of State Policy laid down in the Constitution of India. Certain general aspects of Directive Principles are discussed in this Part 4, including their comparison and conflict with the fundamental rights.
This video is useful for the aspirants of the UPSC Civil Services Examination (for IAS, IPS, IFS, and Group-A Central Services) for the General Studies, Paper 2, for Indian Polity. This lecture is also useful for those appearing for Judicial Service Examinations in India, as also for law students, and also for aspirants of other competitive examinations.
This video has been prepared by Dr. Ashok Dhamija, a former IPS.
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