Directive Principles of State Policy

Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) serve as guiding principles for the state when shaping policies and passing laws. Think of them as a set of instructions outlined in the Government of India Act, 1935. Their aim is to promote economic and social democracy within the country, envisioning a society that prioritizes these values. It’s important to note that DPSPs are ideals and aspirations rather than strict legal mandates – courts don’t have the authority to enforce them if violated. They essentially represent a moral compass for the state, steering it towards the collective well-being of the people.


The Directive Principles are like a mix of various important aspects that shape the life of our nation. They cover a wide range of topics, including general social policies, administrative guidelines, socio-economic rights, and even statements about our country’s international stance. It’s important to note that the force behind these Directives is political rather than legal. While courts don’t have the power to enforce them, and the government can’t be legally compelled to follow through, these principles are considered “fundamental in the governance of the country.” In simpler terms, they play a crucial role in how our nation is run.

Object of the Directive Principles of State Policy

The Directive Principles of the Indian Constitution play a crucial role by outlining specific social and economic goals, aiming for a peaceful societal transformation. Here’s a friendlier breakdown:

  1. Welfare State: The Constitution dreams of creating a caring “Welfare State” at both the national and state levels. In this setup, the government’s main responsibility is to ensure the well-being of its people.
  2. Social Revolution: These principles embody the humane and socialist ideals driving the Indian social revolution. The vision is to foster an egalitarian society, where wealth isn’t concentrated, opportunities are abundant, and everyone has equal access to education, employment, and a decent life. The aim is to achieve social justice on all fronts.
  3. Emphasizing Preamble Ideals: The Directive Principles amplify the Preamble’s message, stressing that India’s political objective isn’t a hands-off approach but the establishment of a Welfare State. Here, the government actively ensures social and economic justice, upholding the dignity of every individual.

Overview of Part IV of the Constitution

Part IV contains nineteen articles, from arts. 36 to 51. They could be broadly divided under four heads, namely,

  • Social Policy Directives,
  • Principles of Administrative Policy,
  • Socio-Economic Rights, and
  • Principles of International Policy of the country.

Social Policy Directives

The idea of “Social Justice” embedded in the Constitution of India encompasses a range of principles crucial for fostering the well-rounded growth and development of each citizen.

  1. Promotion of Social Order: The aim of every government, as outlined in Article 38, is to establish and safeguard a social order that ensures justice—be it social, economic, or political—for the people in the nation. When coupled with Article 41, which advocates for the right to work, education, and public assistance for the weaker sections, it becomes the State’s duty to provide pensions to retired Government servants and their dependents.
  2. Better Industrial Relations: Article 43A is dedicated to improving industrial relations, especially those concerning workers.
  3. Right to free and compulsory education: Article 21A, introduced by the Constitution (Eighty-sixth) Amendment Act, 2002, makes free and compulsory education a fundamental right. The Supreme Court, in the Unnikrishnan v. State of A. P. case, emphasized the government’s responsibility to implement Article 45. The Right to Education Act, 2009, emerged from the Right to Education Bill tabled in 2005.
  4. Uniform Civil Code: Article 44 includes provision for a Uniform Civil Code to harmonize social relations, as part of Part IV.
  • In significant cases like Mohd. Ahmed Khan v. Shah Bano Begum and Sarla Mudgal v. Union of India, the Supreme Court expressed disappointment in the government’s failure to fulfill the obligations of Article 44. However, in the Lily Thomas v. Union of India case, the Supreme Court clarified that its expression of disappointment did not amount to issuing a directive to the government to pass a Uniform Civil Code.
  1. Right to Health: The foundation of the right to health and the improvement of nutrition levels lies in Article 47. During the debates in the Constituent Assembly, members with a Gandhian vision, advocating for prohibition throughout India, influenced the inclusion of special emphasis on the prohibition of liquor throughout the country.

Principles of Administrative Policy

To make sure everyone across the nation has a say in how our government works and to encourage the active participation of villagers, Article 40 was added, calling for the establishment of village panchayats. Meanwhile, Article 50 emphasizes the importance of keeping the judiciary separate from the executive branch.

These ideas eventually led to the creation and approval of the Constitution 73rd and 74th Amendment Acts in 1992. These amendments introduced Parts IX and IXA to the Constitution. Part IX focuses on Panchayats, promoting the concept of “panchayati raj” or local self-governance at the village level. On the other hand, Part IXA is all about Municipalities, aiming to empower local governance in urban areas.

Socio-Economic Rights

Pandit Nehru envisioned the Directive Principles of State Policy as a means to shape society along a more socialist path, aiming to uplift the working sections of the nation through Articles 41-43A and Article 48. These articles specifically focus on improving the conditions of workers and promoting their well-being. In the case of Hanif Quareshi v. State of Bihar, the court determined that the prohibition of slaughtering certain cattle species is a reasonable restriction on an individual’s right to choose their trade, emphasizing the importance of balancing personal freedoms with societal interests.

Principles of International Policy

Article 51 clearly guides the state to play a positive role in keeping global peace and security intact. It encourages the promotion of friendly resolutions to conflicts and the nurturing of fair and honorable relationships between nations.

Overview of Articles of Part IV

  1. Article 36: This article clarifies what we mean by the term “state” in our constitutional context.
  2. Article 37: This article emphasizes that certain provisions in this part of the Constitution are beyond the scope of judicial review.
  3. Article 38: The state is directed to actively work towards the well-being of its people, highlighting a commitment to social welfare.
  4. Article 39: This article outlines key principles the state should follow, including ensuring livelihoods, fair resource distribution, and preventing the concentration of wealth in a few hands.
  5. Article 39A: This article ensures that everyone has access to equal justice and free legal assistance, promoting fairness in the legal system.
  6. Article 40: This article focuses on the organization of Village Panchayats, recognizing the importance of local governance.
  7. Article 41: The state is obligated to provide opportunities for work, education, and public assistance to those who are unemployed, sick, or elderly.
  8. Article 42: This article calls for fair and humane conditions of work, along with provisions for maternity relief.
  9. Article 43: The state is directed to ensure a decent standard of life for all workers, emphasizing the well-being of the labor force.
  10. Article 43A: This article advocates for the participation of workers in the management of industries, promoting a collaborative approach.
  11. Article 44: The mandate here is for a Uniform Civil Code for the entire country, aiming at uniformity in personal laws.
  12. Article 45: This article underscores the provision of free and compulsory education for all, highlighting the importance of accessible learning.
  13. Article 46: The state is directed to work for the benefit of backward communities, recognizing the need for inclusive development.
  14. Article 47: This article mandates efforts to improve nutrition levels, emphasizing the importance of a healthy population.
  15. Article 48: The focus here is on enhancing animal husbandry and agriculture practices for overall agricultural improvement.
  16. Article 48A: This article stresses the need for environmental improvement, aligning with the growing concerns for ecological well-being.
  17. Article 49: There is a provision for the care of monuments, recognizing the cultural and historical importance of preserving our heritage.
  18. Article 50: This article emphasizes the separation of the judiciary and executive branches, promoting a system of checks and balances.
  19. Article 51: This article lays down principles for our international policy, guiding our approach to foreign relations.

Twenty Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of India

  • Article 31C, introduced through the Constitution (25th Amendment) Act in 1971, aimed to overcome obstacles posed by judicial decisions in implementing the Directive Principles outlined in Part IV of the Constitution. The initial segment of Article 31C resembled Article 31A, providing legal protection to laws against challenges under Articles 14 and 19, with the goal of realizing the Directive Principles in Article 39(b)-(c).
  • The purpose behind Article 31C was to facilitate the nationalization or the assumption of public management and control over various sectors, including means of production, key industries, mines, minerals, public supplies, utilities, and services.
  • However, the Supreme Court declared the second part of Article 31C unconstitutional. This part attempted to restrict the court’s jurisdiction in determining whether a law, seeking protection under Article 31C, genuinely aligned with the principles outlined in Article 39(b)-(c). The court found the exclusion of its oversight in such matters to be inconsistent with constitutional principles.

Read Also: Cultural Rights (Articles 29-30)

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