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Directive Principles of State Policy in The Indian Constitution

The Directive Principles of State Policy contained in Part IV, Articles 36-51 of the Indian constitution constitute the most interesting and enchanting part of the constitution.

The Directive Principles may be said to contain the philosophy of the constitution. The idea of directives being included in the constitution was borrowed from the constitution of Ireland. As the very term “Directives” indicate, the Directive principles are broad directives given to the state in accordance with which the legislative and executive powers of the state are to be exercised.

As Nehru observed, the governments will ignore the directives “Only at their own peril.” As India seeks to secure an egalitarian society, the founding fathers were not satisfied with only political justice. They sought to combine political justice with economic and social justice.

The Directive Principles may be classified into 3 broad categories—

Gandhian and
(1) Socialistic Directives

Principal among this category of directives are (a) securing welfare of the people (Art. 38) (b) securing proper distribution of material resources of the community as to best sub serve the common-good, equal pay for equal work, protection of childhood and youth against exploitation. etc. (Art.39), (c) curing right to work, education etc. Art. (41), (d) securing just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief (Art. 42) etc.

(2) Gandhian Directives

Such directives are spread over several Arts. Principal among such directives are (a) to organize village panchayats (Art. 40), (b) to secure living wage, decent standard of life, and to promote cottage industries (Art.43), (c) to provide free and compulsory education to all children up to 14 years of age (Art. 45), (d) to promote economic and educational interests of the weaker sections of the people, particularly, the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, (e) to enforce prohibition of intoxicating drinks and cow-slaughter and to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on scientific lines (Arts. 46-48).

(3) Liberal intellectual directives

Principal among such directives are (a) to secure uniform civil code throughout the country (Art.44), (b) to separate the judiciary from the executive (Art.50), (c) to protect monuments of historic and national importance and (d) to promote international peace and security.

On the whole, Part IV contains a formidable list of directives given to the executive and the legislatures to follow in issuing orders or making laws. These directives make India a “plastic state.” The directives may be used by any party with any ideology. In fact, the Directive Principles are codified versions of democratic socialist order as conceived by Nehru with an admixture of Gandhian thought.

Part IV of the constitution does not form an operative part of the constitution. The directives are non-justiciable in character. The courts cannot compel the governments to enforce the directives.

But if there is no judicial sanction behind the directives, there are certainly political sanctions. Art. 37 make the directives, “fundamental in the governance of the country and in… making laws.” Hence the government cannot totally ignore them, for fear of adverse popular reaction. The opposition inevitably takes the government to task whenever the directives are blatantly ignored, thus scoring a political point.

The non-justiciability of part IV has exposed the directives to trenchant criticism. Jennings calls them “pious aspirations,” and “Fabian socialism without socialism.” Where characterizes them as “paragraphs of generalities.”

Yet many scholars appreciate the value of the directives. Sir B. N. Rau regards them as “moral precepts” with an educative value. Ambedkar considered them as powerful instruments for the transformation of India from a political democracy into an economic democracy. The directive principles according to Granville Austin, are “positive obligations”… to find a piddle way between individual liberty and Public good. “The directives constitute a sort of “instrument of instruction” to all governments in the great task of transforming a laissez-fire society into a welfare state, a socialistic pattern of society and eventually into a socialist society.
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