The Directive Principles Of State Policy are fundamental in the governance of the country. They are given in Part IV of the Constitution of India in Articles 37 to 51. The Directive Principles are the directions made by the framers of the Constitution to the State to achieve social, political, and economic justice and reforms. It shall be the duty of the State to apply Directive Principles while making the law. As they are not enforceable in any Court of law they confer no legal rights and create no legal remedies. Our constitution makers took the idea of Directive Principles from the Irish Constitution which had for the first time mentioned Directive Principles in a clear manner distinguishing it from Fundamental Rights.
DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY:
The main object of enacting the Directive Principles was to set standards of achievements before the Legislature and the Executive, the local and other authorities, by which their success or failure can be judged.
Directive Principles are as follows-
- State to secure a social order for promoting the welfare of the people of India: Article 38 of the Constitution under the Directive Principles provides that the State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by safeguarding social order by which social, economic, and political justice could be achieved.
The State shall also strive to minimize inequalities in income, status, facilities, and opportunities for all people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations.
- Certain principles of policy to be followed by the State: Article 39 of the Constitution provides that the State shall direct its policy towards securing adequate means of livelihood for all the citizens both men and women equally. The ownership and control of the material resources of the community shall be distributed to protect the common good. The Economic system of the State shall be carried out in a way that it does not result in a concentration of wealth and means of production. Further, the State shall ensure equal pay for equal work for both men and women. Moreover, the health and strength of all kinds of workers both men and women, and the tender age of children should not be exploited or abused. The State should take care that the citizens of the country shall not be forced by economic necessity to revert to avocations not suitable to their age or strength. The State shall also ensure that the children have opportunities and facilities for developing healthily in free and dignified conditions. The youth of the State shall be protected against exploitation and moral and material abandonment.
- Equal justice and free legal aid-: Article 39 A of the Constitution provides that the State shall carry out the legal system in a manner that promotes justice based on equal opportunity and shall provide free legal aid to poor and needy to ensure them the right to get justice is not affected by economic or any other disability. To achieve this object the State has set up some legal aid clinics and similar programs.
The honorable Supreme Court has observed that it is a constitutional right of every accused person to engage a lawyer who because of poverty or indigence cannot afford legal services. The State has to provide a lawyer to such an accused person as a constitutional mandate. If free legal services are not provided to the accused by the State the trial of the accused is against Article 21 of the Constitution.
- Organization of Village Panchayat: Article 40 of the Constitution provides that the State shall take steps to organize Village Panchayat and endow them with necessary powers and authority to enable them to function as units of Self-Government.
- Right to work, right to education, and right to public assistance– Artice 41 of the Constitution provides that the State shall within the limits of its economic capacity and development, make effective provisions for securing the right to work, right to education, and right to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness, disablement, etc.
- Provisions for just and human conditions of work and maternity relief: Article 42 of the Constitution provides that the State shall endeavor to provide just and humane working conditions for every individual and provide maternity leave and relief from the job to every woman who expects a child or gives birth to a child.
- A living wage, etc for workers: Article 43 of the Constitution provides that the State shall endeavor to secure all agricultural, industrial, or other workers a living wage rate, good conditions of work ensuring a decent standard of life. Further, the State shall endeavor to promote cottage industries in rural areas.
- Participation of workers in the management of industries- Article 43 A of the Constitution provides that the State shall take steps to ensure that the workers participate in the management of industries, undertakings, establishments, or other organizations engaged in any industry.
- Manage cooperative societies– Article 43 B provides that the State shall endeavor to promote the voluntary forming of cooperative societies. Further, the State shall also promote exercising democratic control and professionally managing these societies.
- Uniform Civil Code– Article 44 of the Constitution provides that the State shall endeavor to secure the Uniform Civil Code for all the citizens throughout the territory of India. The Unfirm Civil Code helps national integration by removing disparate loyalties to the laws which have conflicting ideologies.
Various systems of personal law prevail in India. Generally, the Hindus are governed by Hindu law, based on ancient Sanskrit texts. Likewise, Muslims are governed by Mohammedan law which is based on the Quran. Moreover, there are separate matrimonial laws for Parsis and Christians. As India is a Secular State, this Directive Principle seeks to replace the various systems of personal law with the Unfirm Civil Code.
- Provision for early childhood care and education: Article 45 of the Constitution provides that the State shall endeavor to provide children with care and education till they complete their age of 6 years.
Article 45 asked the State to provide free and compulsory education for all children residing in India under the age of 14 years. After the 86th Amendment Act, 2002, the right to education for all children between the age of 6 years and 14 years has been made a Fundamental Right.
Today, early childhood care and education below the age of 6 years is a Directive Principle, whereas free and compulsory education for all children between the ages of 6 and 14 years is a Fundamental Right.
- Promotion of education and economic interests of Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and other weaker section of Society: Article 46 of the Constitution provides that the State shall promote education and economic interests of weaker sections of people especially the Schedule caste and Schedule Tribe, and shall protect them from exploitation and all forms of social injustice.
- Duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and improve public health by prohibiting intoxicating substances- Article 47 of the Constitution provides that it is the primary duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition, public health, and standard of living of its people. The State shall endeavor to prohibit the consumption of liquor, intoxication drinks, and drugs which are injurious to health. Some states have enacted Prohibition Acts in implementing this Directive Principle.
- Organization of agriculture and animal husbandry– Article 48 of the Constitution provides that the State shall endeavor to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines. The State shall also try to preserve the breeds and prohibit the slaughter of cows and calves and other milch and draught cattle.
- Protection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife- Article 48 A of the Constitution provides that the State shall along with the forest department authorities endeavor to protect the environment and safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country from extinction.
- Protection of monuments and places and objects of national importance: Article 49 of the Constitution provides that the State shall protect every monument or place or object of artistic or historic interest that is declared to be of national importance from spoilage, destruction, removal, disfigurement, disposal or export, etc.
In pursuance of this Directive Principle, the Parliament has enacted the Ancient and Historical Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act, 1951.
- Separation of Judiciary from the Executive- Article 50 of the Constitution provides that the State shall take steps to separate the Judiciary from the Executive in the public services of the State. The Constitution itself contains stringent provisions that provide for an independent judiciary that is free from Executive control. Likewise, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 contains several provisions for achieving this ideal of separation of the judiciary from the Executive.
- Promotion of international peace and security– Article 51 of the Constitution provides that the State shall endeavor to promote international peace and security, maintain just and honorable relations between the nations, foster respect for the international law and treaty, encourage settlement of international disputes through arbitration.
CONTROVERSY BETWEEN FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES:
The Supreme Court has held that whenever there is a conflict between the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles, the Fundamental Rights shall prevail. While implementing the Directive Principles the State shall take care that the Fundamental Rights are not violated. The Supreme Court held that that first attempt must be made to harmonize the two in case of any conflict and it is only in cases of irredeemable conflict than the Fundamental Rights shall prevail. The conflict between the two must be avoided as far as possible and there is a need to give a harmonious interpretation to the Directive Principles.
UTILITY OF DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES:
The Directive Principles have often been criticized. The critics have pointed out that these Directives Principles are neither properly classified nor logically set out. It is said that most of the promises given in the Directive Principles are vague and represent ideals without being categorical on vital issues.
Although such criticism has some merit, nevertheless, it is to be noted that these directives lay down the ideal of the welfare Stated, and if properly and judiciously implemented it will lead India towards its goal. The Governments may come and go, but these directives will go on forever. They are like constitutional conventions that prevail in England and shall always remain at the forefront in the governance of the country.
Although the Directive Principles are not justiciable, the judiciary has nonetheless respected these principles when interpreting the laws passed by the Legislature. Often, the constitutional validity of the Statutes has been decided on the strength of the Directive Principles.
Indis has gone a long way in implementing most of the Directives contained in Part IV of the Constitution. Statutes on land reforms, nationalization of banks and Insurance Companies, a portion of cottage industries, and village panchayats are concrete examples of the implementation of the Directive Principles. Further, the enactment of codifying legislation in uncodified Hindu Law is reflected in the Hindu Marriage Act and the Hindu Succession Act. So also, the passing of the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1969, and later of the Competition Act were direct attempts at achieving the goals enshrined in Article 39.
However, a lot yet remains to be done. We still don’t have a Uniform Civil Code for all Indians; nor is there free and compulsory education for all children under the age of 14 years of age. Thus, India is slowly, arching ahead towards its goat of a welfare State.