Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy as enumerated in part III and part IV respectively of the Constitution are the two sides of the same coin. One without the other is incomplete and unfulfilled. The fundamental rights ensure political democracy while the directive principles ensure economic and social democracy.
The objective of the fundamental rights is to provide congenial environment for the fullest development of the personality of the Indian citizens. For the fulfillment of this objective the individual has been given a good number of freedoms. The objective of Directive Principles of State Policy is to provide the individual with socioeconomic and political justice.
The first major difference between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principle is that while the former are justiciable, the latter are non-justiciable. Article 32 gives to the people the right to constitutional remedies which guarantees the legal protection of these rights. People can move to the Supreme Court and high courts for the implementation of the fundamental rights. On the other hand directive principles are not enforceable.
Article 37 specifically mentions that provisions contained in this part (Part IV Directive Principles) shall not be enforceable by any court. Directive principles neither contain neither legal nor constitutional sanction nor provide for any method by which their non-implementation or violation can be got redressed by the people.
2. Nature of Instructions:
A vital difference between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy is that while the former are of negative and the latter are of positive nature. Fundamental rights impose a number of limitations either on the citizens or on the state. They prohibit the state from doing something e.g. Article 15 states, “The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them,” Article 21 lays down that “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty.” On the other hand Directive Principles are positive instructions to the state to attain or to do certain things e.g. to organise village panchayats, to check the concentration of wealth and resources, to introduce prohibition, to protect historical monuments to promote international peace etc.
3. Democratic System:
Fundamental Rights lay down the foundation of political democracy whereas the Directive principles lay down the foundation of economic democracy. The freedom of speech and expression, the freedom to form associations or unions, freedom to assemble peacefully etc. all provide for the operationalisation of a democratic system and are the essential political pillars of a democratic system. On other hand, the Directive Principles aim at the establishment of the socio-economic democratic system in India. Their aim is to put an end to all sorts of exploitation and to establish and maintain economic equality in the Indian Political System through appropriate legislation by the state.
4. Legal Superiority:
Fundamental rights are judicially supreme over the Directive Principles of State Policy. Fundamental Rights are enforceable. These have been given a priority of mention in the constitution. Directive Principles are non-enforceable principles which have been incorporated in the Constitution after the fundamental rights. These features are a source of legal superiority of the latter over the former.
In the event of a conflict between Part III and Part IV, the Supreme Court has always upheld the legal supremacy of the fundamental rights. In the case of the State of Madras, Vs. Champakam Dorairajan the Supreme Court held, “The directive principles of the state policy which were expressly made unenforceable by a court cannot over-ride the provisions of Part III which . . . . are made enforceable by appropriate writs, orders or directions under Article 32. The directive principles have to conform to and run subsidiary to the chapter on fundamental rights.”
In 1980, the Supreme Court while delivering judgement in the Minerva Mills case made it quite clear that the producedence or supremacy given to the Directive Principles over the fundamental rights according to the Forty Second constitutional amendments was wrong. The courts have accepted viewpoint that the directive principles are subsidiary and not supreme over the fundamental rights.
Fundamental Rights have been achieved whereas Directive Principles are yet to be achieved. With the inauguration of the Constitution, part III containing the fundamental rights of the people become operative and people got these constitutionally guaranteed and enforceable rights since the day of the implementation of the constitution. On the other hand, the directive principles of state policy are yet to be attained. Some laws have been enacted to implement some of these principles but most these are yet to be secured by the state.
There is legal force behind Fundamental Rights whereas Directive Principles have the force public opinion. The constitution clearly vests the fundamental rights in a constitutional and legal basis and makes these provisions enforceable by the courts. These are binding on the state. Their violation is an offence. On other hand, Directive Principles have been denied a legal basis by the constitution. But the Directive Principles enjoy widespread support of public opinion. The State finds it essential to work for the implementation of these principles under the pressure of public opinion.
7. For State and Citizen:
Fundamental Rights are for citizen whereas Directive Principles are for state. The fundamental rights are given to the people of India so that they may be able to develop their personalities whereas Directive Principles are the directives for the state which would keep in view while formulating national policies. They guide the state in the formulation of national policy.
Due to difference in the nature of fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy there has been tension in the mutual relationship between Part III and Part IV of the constitution. Fundamental rights as enshrined in Part III of the constitution the civil political dimension of Indian democracy. These stands constitutionally granted and guaranteed. The directive principles as enshrined in Part IV of the constitution constitute the socio-economic dimension of the Indian democracy which the state is to achieve through appropriate legislation.
No one as such can question the attempts of the state to implement the directive principles. However, the existence of some conflict between some of the fundamental rights and directive principles, at times, makes the attempts controversial. In the past, the Right to Equality, the Right to freedom and the Right to property as contained in Articles 14, 18, 19, 22 and 31 respectively often got involved in a controversy with several laws which were enacted by the state for implementing the Directive principles contained in articles 39 (b) and 39 (c) and others.
Before the deletion of the Right to Property [Art 19(1) and 31] from Part III i.e. before the enactment of 44th Amendment Act, there remained present a continuous conflict between it and the Directive Principles mentioned under Article 39. Article 19 (1) (g) guarantees the freedom to practice any profession or carry on any profession, trade or business but Article 47 calls upon the State to introduce prohibition and to ban cow slaughter. Fundamental Rights do not include the right to work, education and public assistance but Article 41 of Part IV calls upon the State to make effective provisions for securing these.
Article 15 (1) prohibits discrimination. So is the case of Articles 29 (2) which holds that ‘No citizen shall be denied admission to an educational institution … on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any to them”. These Articles often make the implementation of the Directive Principles under Article 46 difficult which all upon the State to take special care for protecting the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people. This feature has been a source of conflict between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles.
Indian Constitution on the one hand declares that the Directive Principles of State Policy are not justiciable but on the other hand observes that these will be fundamental in the governance of the country. It makes a responsibility of the State to implement the Directive Principles through appropriate legislation. In doing so, government often finds itself limited by existence of constitutionally guarded and legally sanctioned fundamental right of the people.
Because of these two major reasons, there has been present the problem of relationship between the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy. There exists a discernible difference between the perceptions of the Parliament and the Supreme Court over the issue of the relationship between these two vitally important parts of the Constitution.
The Parliament, while recognising the importance of Fundamental Rights, has all along been guided by the view that it was the responsibility of the State to implement the Directive Principles. Without implementing these Principles, the socio-economic dimension of India democracy is bound to remain incomplete and without it the State cannot achieve the objectives set-forth by the Constitution.
The Directive Principles of State Policy represent the will of the founding fathers, the demands of the public opinion and the imperative necessity of a democratic policy committed to secure the socialist goals through effective legislation. The attainment of Directive Principles is a sacred duty of the State. For discharging this responsibility the State can, if need be, amend the rights contained in the chapter of Fundamental Rights.
The Parliament has always asserted its right to amend every part of the Constitution in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 368. It has upheld the view that Fundamental Rights can be amended if need be, for implementing the Directive Principles. In Golak Math Case, the Supreme Court gave the judgment that the Parliament cannot amend the chapter of Fundamental Rights, but the Parliament changed the judgment of Supreme Court by passing the 24th Amendment, 1971.
By this amendment, the Parliament reasserted that Fundamental Rights are amenable and that Parliament had the power to amend every part of the Constitution in accordance with Article 368. Similarly through the 25th Amendment 1972, the Parliament gave a serious blow to the right to property and in this matter limited the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Article 31(c) was inserted which held that laws made by the Parliament and the State legislatures for implementing the Directive Principles contained in Article 39(b) and (c) could not be held void on the ground that these violated the Fundamental Rights mentioned in Articles 14, 19 and 31.
With the 42nd Constitutional Amendment 1976, the scope of Article 31 (c) was enlarged and provision was made that all the Directive Principles shall have primacy over the fundamental rights given under Articles 14, 19 and 31 and the laws passed with a view to enforce them shall not be declared void by any court on the ground that they are inconsistent with the fundamental rights given under Article 14, 19 and 31. In this way the Directive Principles secured precedence over the fundamental rights.
Under the 44th Constitutional Amendment, all the Directive Principles continued to enjoy primacy over fundamental rights given under Articles 14, 19 and 31. By this Amendment, the Right to Property was excluded from the list of fundamental rights and Articles 19(1) (f) and Article 31 connected with this right were deleted.
In the Minerva Mills vs. Indian Union case on May 3, 1980, the Supreme Court in one of its historic judgment once again gave precedence to Fundamental Rights over Directive Principles. The Supreme Court declared unconstitutional the section 4 of the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Acts, 1976 (which gave primary to Directive Principles over Fundamental Rights) on the ground that it was ultra-virus to the basic structure of the Constitution.
Under section 4, the scope of Article 31 (c) was enlarged and all the Directive Principles were given precedence over fundamental rights given under Articles 14, 19 and 31 of the Constitution with this verdict of the Supreme Court, the old position of the 42nd Constitutional Amendment 1976 was restored. Now the government will be able to make and enforce laws only on the directive principles given under Articles 39 (b) and 39 (c). If for other reasons the government deprives citizens of their fundamental rights, it can be challenged in the court.
Despite these developments, Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy are not inimical to each other but are complementary and supplementary to each other. Expressing his views about the relations of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy, the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, Justice Chandrachud has once said “Constitution aim at bringing about synthesis between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy by giving to the former the place of pride and to the letter a place of performance. Together, not individually, they form the care of the Constitution together, not individually; they constitute its true conscience.” Under Article 143 of the Constitution in the Kerala Education Bill 1958, the Supreme Court, while using its advisory jurisdiction expressed the view that although Directive Principles are subsidiary to Fundamental Rights, even then, “In determining the scope and ambit of Fundamental Right relied on by or on behalf of any person or body, the court may not entirely ignore these Directive Principles but should adopt the principle of harmonious construction.”
A deep study of the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy reveals that their aims is to establish in India a true democracy based on economic, social and political justice. There is no question of opposition between the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles.
Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy are supplementary to each other. Article 19 of the Indian Constitution gives a right to adopt any profession, trade of business and Article 41 of the Indian Constitution concerned with the Directive Principles of State Policy, direct the State to strive to give work to each individual. Similarly, Article 29 (2) concerned with the Fundamental Rights provides; that no discrimination would be made on the basis of caste, color, race, religion and sex etc. at the time of giving admission in educational institutions and Article 45, concerned with the Directive Principles of State Policy, provides that within 10 years of the enforcement of the Indian Constitution, the Indian Government would made arrangements for the free and compulsory education of all children upto the age of 14 years.
Directive Principles are helpful in giving proper direction to fundamental rights. Rights are changed with the passage of time and Directive Principles of State Policy which have been embodied in the Indian Constitution keeping in view the demands of the future, help in giving proper direction to Fundamental Rights e.g. in order to implement Articles 39 (b) and 39 (c) concerned with the Directive Principles of State Policy, 44th constitutional amendment was passed which has made the Right to Property a mere legal right.
Article 39 (b) and (c) of the Indian Constitution provide for the control and ownership of means of material resources with the main aim of public good and to prevent the concentration of wealth in a few hands. Infact, the first, fourth twenty fourth and twenty fifth Amendments were passed with the aim of the implementation of the Directive Principles of State Policy.
Directive Principles make Fundamental Rights a reality. Article 23 and 24 of Indian Constitution empowers the Indian citizen with the right against exploitation but it is Article 38 (1) of the Constitution, concerned with the Directive Principles of State Policy which gives it a practical shape. Article 38 (1) provides that the State will strive for making such a social order which caters to the general welfare, in which social, economic and political justice will be made available to all the people of the country. With the establishment of such a welfare state the possibility of any sort of exploitation would end and a society without any exploitation will thus be formed.
The Directive Principles are helpful to the courts in the interpretation of Fundamental Rights. These Principles have guided the courts of the country. In 1952 while delivering the judgment in the case of Kameshwar Singh Vs. the State of Bihar, the then Chief Justice of Supreme Court of India, Justice M. C. Mahajan had stated with reference to Article 37 of the Indian Constitution. The constitution of big blocks of lands in hands of a few individuals is contrary to the principles on which the constitution is based.
‘Similarly while delivering the judgment in the judicial case of Chandra Bhawan Boarding and Lodging Vs. The State of Mysore and others concerned with the relationship of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy, the Supreme Court of India observed, “Freedom of trade does not mean freedom to exploit. While Rights conferred under Part III are fundamental, the Directive Principles given under Part IV are fundamental in the governance of the country.” We see no conflict on the whole between the provisions contained in Part III and IV. They are complementary and supplementary to each other.
In short, Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy are complementary and supplementary to each other. It will be futile to ask the question of superiority of the first or the second or of giving preference and priority to the one on the other. The need of the hour is to establish harmonious relationship between the two because the aim of both is the same. In addition to this, in the absence of one, the other becomes useless.
Along with the fundamental rights, if Directive Principles are not simultaneously implemented it would be impossible to give social and economic justice to the Indians and a society free from all sorts of exploitation will not be possible. The State while implementing the Directive Principles should as far as possible, refrain from amending the Fundamental Rights. Neither the Directive Principles should be implemented at the cost of Fundamental Rights nor the latter be maintained as sacrosanct and unamend-able even when amendments are needed for implementing the former.
The Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles together constitute the ‘Conscience of the Constitution. ‘The former seeks to create an egalitarian society by freeing all citizens from coercion and restriction and by providing them due civil rights and freedoms. The latter seeks to fix the goals of socio-economic reforms which are to be attained by the State for securing social, economic and political justice and a welfare polity. Hence, both should be respected and maintained.
In the words of Justice Chandrachud “Our constitution aims at bringing about a synthesis between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy by giving to the former a pride of place and to the latter a place of performance.” Together, not individually, they form the core of the constitution. What is required is a harmonious reconstruction and not the determination or primacy of one over the other.