Indian Constitution: Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy

To implement the ideals and to achieve the goals enshrined in the preamble and to establish welfare state, fundamental rights and the directive principles of state policy have been provided for in the constitution. Part III, which contains Articles 12 to 35, deals with fundamental rights, while part-IV, which contains Articles 36 to 51, deals with directive principles of state policy.

 The fundamental rights in India constitution are:

1. Right to Equality (Article 14 to 18): According to this right all citizens of the country are equal in eyes of law. Everyone has an equal opportunity to get a government job. The untouchability has been abolished. All other types of titles also have been abolished except the educational degrees.

2. Right to Freedom (Article 19 to 22): According to this right, every Indian citizen enjoys the following seven fundamental freedoms : 

  (i) Freedom of speech and expression: 

  (ii) Freedom of assembly peacefully and without arms. 

  (iii) Freedom to form associations and unions. 

  (iv) Freedom of movement.

  (v) Freedom to reside in any part of India. 

  (vi) Right to buy, keep, and dispose of property. 

  (vii) Freedom of profession.

3. Right against Exploitation (Article 23 to 24): According to this right no one can sell or purchase any man or woman, no one can take work from others without paying the money for his labour and children below 14 years cannot be employed in a factory or mine or any other dangerous work. 

4. Right to Freedom of Religion (Article 25 to 28): India has been declared a secular State. The State itself has no religion. According to this right, freedom of religion has been granted to every individual. Anyone can follow, practice, and preach any religion he likes and has faith in the same.

 5. Cultural and Educational Right (Article 29 to 30): According to this right the people of any part of India, whose language or culture is separate have the right to protect and develop it. Every citizen has the right to get admission to any government-aided educational institution. 

6. Right to Constitutional Remedies: The right to constitutional remedies is the most important fundamental right for the citizens of India. According to this right, all the citizens have the right to move to the Supreme Court or to any of the High Court in India. With this right, the citizens are able to protect all the fundamental rights. While protecting the fundamental rights these courts can issue the following writs: (a) The Writ of Habeas Corpus. (b) The Writ of Mandamus. (c) The Writ of Quo Warranto. (d) The Writ of Prohibition. (e) The Writ of Certiorari.

Directive Principle of the State Policy

"The Directive Principles of the state policy, which by Art. 37 are expressly made unenforceable by a court cannot override the provisions found in part III (fundamental rights) which, notwithstanding other provisions, are expressly made enforceable by appropriate writs, orders or directions under article 32. The chapter on fundamental rights is sacrosanct and not liable to be abridged by any legislative or executive act or order, except to the extent provided in the appropriate article in part III. The Directive Principles of state policy have to conform to and run as subsidiary to the chapter on Fundamental Rights." The Supreme Court is giving a good deal of value to the Directive principles from a legal point of view and started arguing for harmonizing the two the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles. 

The Supreme Court came to adopt the view that although Directive Principles were legally non-enforceable, nevertheless, while interpreting a statute, the courts could look for light to the "lodestar" of the Directive Principles. The courts could interpret a statute so as to implement Directive Principles instead of reducing them to mere theoretical ideas. The courts also adopted the view that in determining the scope and ambit of Fundamental Rights, the Directive Principles should not be completely ignored and that the courts should adopt the principles of harmonious construction and attempt to give effect to both as far as possible. For example, as early as 1958, in Kerala Education Bill  DAS, C.J., while affirming the primacy of fundamental rights over the directive principles, qualified the same by pleading for a harmonious interpretation of the two. He observed “nevertheless, in determining the scope and ambit of the Fundamental rights relied upon by or on behalf of any person or body, the court may not entirely ignore these Directive Principles of state policy laid down in part IV of the constitution but should adopt the principle of harmonious construction and should attempt to give effect to both as much as possible. Without, therefore, making the directive principles justifiable as such, the courts began to implement the values underlying these principles to the extent possible. The Supreme Court began to assert that there is “no conflict on the whole” between the fundamental rights and the directive principles. ‘They are complementary and supplementary to each other. Since then, the judicial attitude has become more positive and affirmative towards directive principles, and both fundamental rights and directive principles have come to be regarded as co-equal. There is in effect a judicial tendency to interpret Fundamental rights in the light of, and so as to promote, the values underlying Directive Principles. This aspect of the directive principles was stressed upon by the Supreme Court in Golak Nath vs State of Punjab case. The Supreme Court there emphasized that the fundamental rights and directive principles formed an “integrated scheme” which was elastic enough to respond to the changing needs of the society.

Today, Fundamental Rights enjoy supremacy over the Directive Principles. Yet, Directive Principles can be implemented. The Parliament can amend the Fundamental Rights for implementing the Directive Principles, so long as the amendment does not damage or destroy the basic structure of the Constitution.

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About Harish Kumar

Harish, a technical core team member at with five year experience in full stack web and mobile development, spends most of his time on coding, reading, analysing and curiously following businesses environments. He is a non-graduate alumni from IIT Roorkee, Computer Science and frequently writes on both technical and business topics.

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