• Part IV of the Constitution lays down the Directive Principles of State Policy.
  • These principles constitute a sort of moral supplement to the Fundamental Rights.
  • The idea of incorporating the Directive Principles in the Constitution was borrowed from the Constitution of Ireland.
  • The fundamental rights are negative in character.
  • They only guarantee certain freedoms to the citizen against the encroachment by the Government.
  • There is nothing positive in them that may promote material and social welfare of the individual.
  • But Article 38 of the Constitution states: “The State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may, a social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of national life.
  • The State shall, in particular, strive to minimise the inequalities in income and to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities among individuals as well as among groups of people residing in different areas and engaged in different vocations.”

Directive Principles

In order to achieve the aims explained above, the Constitution lays down the following principles to be followed by the State :

1. all the citizens have the right to an adequate means of livelihood;

2. the ownership and control of the material resources of the community are to be so distributed as best to subserve the common good;

3. the operation of economic system does not result in the concentration of wealth and means of production to the common detriment;

4. there is to be equal pay for equal work;

5. the health and strength of workers is not abused, and the citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age and strength;

6. children are given opportunities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity, and childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material deprivation.


In addition to the above principles the following guidelines have been laid down :

1. To ensure equal justice and free legal aid to the poor;

2. to organize village panchayats as units of village self-government;

3. to secure to all workers wage for living, decent conditions of work and social and cultural opportunities;

4. to secure participation of workers in the management of industrial undertakings and establishments;

5. to secure for the citizens a unified civil code throughout the country;

6. to provide free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years;

7. to promote educational interests of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes;

8. to raise the standard of nutrition, living and to improve public health;

9. to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on scientific lines;

10. to protect and improve the environment and safeguard forests and wild life:

11. to protect the monuments and places and objects of national importance;

12. to separate the judiciary from the executive in the public services;

13. to promote international peace security, to maintain just and honourable relations between nations, to foster respect for international law and treaty obligations and to encourage settlement of international disputes by arbitration.

Criticism of Directive Principles

When the Constitution was being framed, the Directive Principles of State Policy were subjected to very severe criticism by the members of the Constituent Assembly: Even after the adoption of the Constitution, such criticisms have not been eliminated.

1. No Legal Sanction- Critics say that since these principles have no legal sanction behind them, they are no more than ‘pious wishes’, ‘moral precepts’, ‘window-dressing’, ‘New year Greetings’ and in the words of K. T. Shah, “a cheque-the payment of which has been left on the wishes of the bank.” Another critic said, “they are like a cow which does not give any milk.”

2. Incoherent and Illogical- These principles, according to some critics, lack coherence and are illogical. Further, a Sovereign State can be circumscribed by any sort of direction. The inclusion of such directions has made the Constitution bulkier. These directions might lead to conflicts between the various branches of the government both at the Centre and in the States.

No doubt, there is an iota of truth in some of these criticisms, but it cannot be held that these principles have no significance. They have their importance. 

Importance of Directive Principles

1. Conscience of the Constitution. In the words of Justice Hegde and Justice Mukerjee, “the Directive Principles constitute the ‘Conscience’ of our Constitution. They fix certain social and economic goals for immediate attainment by bringing about a non-violent revolution. Through such social revolution the Constitution seeks to fulfil the basic needs of the common man and to change the structure of society. aims at making the Indian masses free in the positive sense.”

2. Give Effect to Modern Social and Political Ideals. This is the age of socialism and welfare state. Our views about the purpose and functions of the State have completely changed. The old concept of the police state has been discarded. Now it is considered to be the duty of the State to interfere positively in the life of the society with a view to promoting the economic, social and cultural welfare of the citizens. The Directive Principles of State Policy enshrined in the Constitution aim at giving effect to these modern social and political ideals.

3. Minimise the Effect of Competitive Economy. The Directive Principles aim at minimizing the effects of competitive economy. If free competition is allowed to dominate life the weaker section is bound to go to ruin and on the contrary the rich and the strong will survive. The Directive Principles aim at promoting the spirit of cooperation and mutual aid in society so that every individual irrespective of his caste, creed, sex, birth etc. may get a chance to lead a decent human life.

4. Being Non-violent Socio-economic Revolution. The most important thing about the Directive Principles that they aim at bringing about a non-violent socio-economic revolution in the country. This is the age of revolutionary upheavals. The masses are on the march everywhere. If exploitation of man by man is not eliminated, if social justice is not established by peaceful democratic methods, violent upheavals are bound to occur. If the Directive Principles are implemented there would be no need for a violent revolution.

Directive Principles and Fundamental Rights

(1) Nature. The Fundamental Rights, as noted above, are negative in character. Their purpose is to create an egalitarian society, to free all citizens from coercion or restrictions by society and to make liberty. available for all. The Directive Principles are positive in nature. Their purpose is to bring about a socio-economic revolution and establish a welfare state.

(2) Justiciability. The Fundamental Rights are justiciable. A citizen has the rights to move the Supreme Court for the enforcement of these rights. But the Directive Principles are not justiciable. They are not enforceable by any Court. If the State does not implement them no legal or constitutional remedy is available.

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