Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP)

Directive principles of state policy (DPSP) have been in vogue since India got independence. Its contravention with the Fundamental Rights (FR) has been the point of contention in the courts. The non-justiciability of DPSPs has always been a moot point in India legal system. DPSPs are the non-justiciable part of the Constitution which suggests that a person cannot enforce them in the Court.

The Concept of DPSP is not an indigenous one. Our Constitution makers borrowed this concept from Irish Constitution (Article 45), it has its genesis in Spanish Constitution. Part IV of the Constitution of India deals with Directive Principles of State Policies. To understand the meaning of the directive principle of state policy, we need to understand the meaning of each word i.e. Directive + principle + state + policy which suggest that these are the principles that direct the state when it makes policies for its people. These DPSPs act as a guideline for the state and are needed to be taken into consideration while coming up with any new law but a citizen cannot compel the state to follow DPSPs.

List of DPSPs under Indian Constitution

Article NumberWhat it says
Article 36Defines State as same as Article 12 unless the context otherwise defines.
Article 37Application of the Principles contained in this part.
Article 38It authorizes the state to secure a social order for the promotion of the welfare of people.
Article 39Certain principles of policies to be followed by the state.
Article 39AEqual justice and free legal aid.
Article 40Organization of village panchayats.
Article 41Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases.
Article 42Provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity leaves.
Article 43Living wage etc. for workers.
Article 43-AParticipation of workers in management of industries.
Article 43-BPromotion of cooperative societies.
Article 44Uniform civil code for the citizens.
Article 45Provision for early childhood care and education to children below the age of six years.
Article 46Promotion of education and economic interests of SC, ST, and other weaker sections.
Article 47Duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health.
Article 48Organization of agriculture and animal husbandry.
Article 48-AProtection and improvement of environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife.
Article 49Protection of monuments and places and objects of national importance.
Article 50Separation of judiciary from the executive.
Article 51Promotion of international peace and security.

DPSPs and Fundamental Rights

The compatibility between Fundamental Rights and DPSPs have always been contentious. The applicability of both the concepts need to be understood because if the Constitution is a coin then Fundamental Rights and DPSPs are two facades of that coin.

On the one hand Part III i.e. Fundamental Rights limit the power of government and restrains the state from making any law which contravenes the interests of its people, on the other hand, Part IV helps the state in making a law which harmonizes the interest of its people. Both Fundamental rights and Directive Principles of State Policy hold equal relevance and significance in the current legal scenario and cannot overlook each other. Many people argue that DPSPs are useless because of its non-justiciability but we need to understand that these are not only the guiding principles but also lay down the broad objectives and ideals that India strives to achieve.


Enforceability of DPSPs

Many times the question arises that whether an individual can sue the state government or the central government for not following the directive principles enumerated in Part IV. The answer to this question is in negative. The reason for the same lies in Article 37 which states that:

The provisions contained in this Part shall not be enforceable by any court, but the principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws.”

Therefore by the virtue of this Article no provision of this part can be made enforceable in the court of law thus these principles cannot be used against the central government or the state government. This non-justiciability of DPSPs make the state government or the central government immune from any action against them for not following these directives.

Another question arises that whether Supreme Court or High Court can issue the writ of mandamus if the state does not follow the directive principles. The literal meaning of mandamus is “to command.” It is a writ which is issued to any person or authority who has been prescribed a duty by the law.This writ compels the authority to do its duty.

The Writ of mandamus is generally issued in two situations. One is when a person files writ petition or when the Court issues it suo moto i.e. own motion. As per Constitutional Principles, a Court is not authorized to issue the writ of mandamus to the state when the Directive Principles are not followed because the Directive Principle is a yardstick in the hand of people to check the performance of government and not available for the courts. But the Court can take suo moto action when the matter is of utmost public importance and affect the large interest of the public.

Fundamental Rights are the legal obligation of the state to respect, whereas the DPSPs is the moral obligation of the state to follow. Article 38 lay down the broad ideals which a state should strive to achieve. Many of these Directive Principles have become enforceable by becoming a law. Some of the DPSPs have widened the scope of Fundamental Rights.


DPSPs and Amendments

For amending the Directive Principles of State Policies, the Constitutional amendment is required. It has to be passed by the special majority of both the houses of the Parliament. Post-independence there have been number of amendments to the constitution and some of them are pertaining to DPSPs.

Beginning with the 42nd Constitutional Amendment 1976, it made four changes in DPSPs. Firstly, it amended Article 39 which obligates the state to secure a social order for the promotion of the welfare of the people. Moreover, it added Article 39-A which makes it the duty of the state to provide for equal justice and free legal aid. By the virtue of this Article, Parliament came up with the law called the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. It also added Article 48A which deals with the protection and improvement of environments. The Water Pollution, Air Pollution, Environmental Pollution Acts, The Forest Act etc demonstrate the application of the principles laid down in Article 48A.

44th Constitutional Amendment, 1978 added Article 38 clause (2) which directs the state to minimize inequalities in income, to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities, not only amongst individuals but also amongst groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations.

73rd Constitutional Amendment, 1992 which brought Panchayats in Part IX of the Constitution had its genesis in Article 40 of the constitution. It deals with the Organization of village Panchayats.

86th Constitutional Amendment, 2002 inserted Article 21-A in the Constitution of India. It provides Right to free and compulsory education of all children in the age group of six to fourteen years as a Fundamental Right. The roots of this amendment are in Article 41 which talks about Right to work, to education and to public assistance in certain cases.

97th Constitutional Amendment 2011 added Article 43-B it authorizes the state to promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of the co-operative societies.


Importance of DPSPs for an Indian citizen

Regardless of the non-justiciable nature of DPSPs, a citizen should be aware of them. As the Article 37 itself   describes these principles as fundamental in the governance of the country. The objective of the DPSPs is to better the social and economic conditions of society so people can live a good life. Knowledge of DPSPs helps a citizen to keep a check on the government.

A citizen can use DPSPs as a measure of the performance of the government and can identify the scope where it lacks. A person should know these provisions because ultimately these principles act as a yardstick to judge the law that governs them. Moreover, it also constrains the power of the state to make a draconian law. Through various judicial pronouncements, it is settled principle now that balancing DPSPs and Fundamental rights is as important as maintaining the sanctity of Fundamental Rights. Non following a directive principle would directly or indirectly affect the Fundamental Right which is considered as one of the most essential parts of the Constitution.


This Article tries to prove that the relevance and significance of DPSPs cannot be overlooked only on the basis of its non-justiciability. Our constitutional drafters did not add these provisions just for the sake of existence, rather they added these principles to facilitate the governance of the country. They added this part to meet the main objectives and the ultimate goal of a country. Moreover, after looking at the above-mentioned information, it would be wrong to say that DPSPs are not implemented. Every policy and law that the state comes up with has to meet the standards of Part IV. Thus, even after being non-justiciable, they hold equal relevance and significance as Fundamental rights or any other provision of the Constitution.



Government is one of the important elements of the state. A state cannot be formed without a government. The government is changeable and it may be of different forms. Different types of government can be seen in different states in the world. In different times the thinkers have classified government in different ways.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *