Difference b/w Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy?

हिंदी में पढ़ें
August 21, 2021
By Advocate Chikirsha Mohanty



Fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy are essential elements of the Indian Constitution and are put in place to enable the holistic development of both the state and its citizens. The fundamental rights enshrined in part III of the constitution seek to guarantee the most basic inherent rights to every citizen, whereas the directive principles of state policy lay down the instructions which must guide the state while formulating its laws and policies to help create a welfare state. Both these concepts play integral role in the constitutional structure, but are very distinct from one another as is explained herein below.

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Fundamental Rights

Fundamental rights are a set of basic rights and freedoms which have been recognised as being sacred to every citizen of the nation and are enshrined in the Indian Constitution. These rights are guaranteed to ensure holistic development of the entire nation and its citizens. Part III of the Indian Constitution lays down the fundamental rights guaranteed by the state and this part is considered sacrosanct to the extent that even the state is prevented from impinging upon these rights except for in the manner provided in this part itself.

The fundamental rights are guaranteed to every citizen without any exceptions irrespective of the cast, creed, gender, sex, religion, race etc. Every citizen thus has a right to move a court of law if his/her fundamental rights.

The Indian construction at present guarantees the following fundamental rights:

  • Right to equality – this right ensures that every citizen is considered equal in the eyes of law is thus met with equal treatment irrespective of any factor. It ensures that nobody is discriminated on the basis of cast, creed, religion, sex etc.

  • Right to freedom – this right encompasses a set of freedoms which are fundamental to the holistic growth of every citizen of the nation. These include the freedom to form associations, assemble peacefully, the freedom to move or reside anywhere across the territory of the nation. Numerous other rights which have now been recognised as fundamental rights fall under this category such as the right to life and liberty and also the right to education.

  • Right against exploitation – This right protects citizens from exploitation in any form such as guaranteeing prohibition of child labour, human trafficking and slavery etc.

  • Right to freedom of religion – This right ensures that all citizens can freely follow any religion of their choice without any prohibitions. This includes taking part in any and all religious ceremonies and to promote one’s religion.

  • Cultural and educational rights – with the immense diversity across the nation, these rights enable protection of minority cultures and languages. This also includes the right to primary education up till the age of 14 years for every child in the nation.

  • Right to constitutional remedies – fundamental rights protected by the constitution can be enforced and also protected by approaching a court of law. Every citizen has a right to move a court of law in case of violation of any of its fundamental rights, for the protection of which the following writs are available:

1. Mandamus
2. Habeas Corpus
3. Prohibition
4. Certiorari
5. Quo Warranto

Consult:Top Civil Lawyers in India

Directive Principles of State Policy

Directive principles of state policy constitute the set of principles or instructions enshrined in the constitution, aimed at guiding the state while formulating its laws and policies to ensure that the ends of creating a welfare state are achieved. Thus, the primary purpose of enacting the directive principles of state policy is to aid in the creation of a welfare state and to achieve social, economic and political justice along with other ideals of the preamble.

The nature of directive principles of state policy signifies that the motivation behind their inclusion is not the establishment of political democracy, but to ensure establishment of social and economic democracy in the state. Directive principles of state policy are enshrined in Part IV of the constitution covered under articles 36 – 51.

As opposed to fundamental rights, directive principles of state policy are nonjusticiable i.e., they cannot be enforced in a court of law. Therefore, a citizen does not have the right to move a court in case there is any derogation or non-observance of the directive principles of state policy by the state in the process of formulation of laws. However, their significance is well recognised to achieve standards of proper governance.

Certain examples which portray the implementation of the directive principles of state policy at play are:

  1. Maternity benefit

  2. Right to education

  3. Land reform measures

  4. Tenancy reforms

  5. Wildlife protection

  6. Minimum wages act

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Difference Between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy

Fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy are distinct elements of the Indian Constitution and the following characteristics highlight the difference between the two:

  1. As explained above, fundamental rights constitute the very basic freedoms and rights guaranteed to every citizen by the state, through the mechanism of the Constitution. The fundamental rights are aimed at securing the rights considered inherent in every citizen. Directive principles of state policy on the other hand are enshrined in the constitution to serve as a set of guiding principles for the state in its exercise of framing policies and laws.

  2. Fundamental rights find a place in the Indian Constitution under Part III which encompasses Articles 12 – 35. Conversely, directive principles of state policy are contained in a separate section under Part IV of the Indian Constitution which comprises of articles 36 – 51.

  3. Fundamental rights in essence act as negative covenants on the state to ensure that the state is unable to transgress upon these basic inherent rights of every citizen. On the other hand, directive principles of state policy are positive covenants requiring positive action from the state.

  4. Another distinguishing factor is that of justiciability, which essentially refers to the nature of matters upon which a court can adjudicate. Fundamental rights in this regard are considered justiciable as they give a right to every citizen to move a court of law to ensure that the fundamental rights are enforced and any transgression is corrected. Conversely, directive principles of state policy are nonjusticiable and citizens cannot seek enforcement of these principles against the state in a court of law.

  5. Given the sacrosanct nature of fundamental rights, these carry a legal sanction guaranteed by the very constitution. However, directive principles of state policy are not binding in the same manner and are considered sanctions arising out of morality and polity.

  6. Fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy also differ on the approach the two aim to follow. Fundamental rights work on a micro level with an approach aimed at securing the basic freedoms and rights of every individual. Whereas, the approach directive principles of state policy aim at is on a macro level, seeking at promoting the welfare of the entire state as a whole.

  7. Fundamental rights are provided to guarantee the welfare and holistic development of an individual. On the other hand, directive principles of state policy are enacted to promote the welfare of the community as a while and are thus socialistic in nature.

  8. Further, where on the one hand fundamental rights aim at establishing a political democracy, directive principles of state policy on the other hand provide a more social and economic democracy.

Consult:Top Civil Lawyers in India

Important Judgments for Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy

The following are some important judgements which discuss the interplay between fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy and highlight how the two are distinct from the other:

  1. State of Madras v. Srimathi Champakam Dorai Rajan (1951 AIR 226) – In this case, the Supreme Court was tasked to adjudicate the correctness of a government order reserving seats in medical colleges on communal lines. While the order was challenged as being violative of Article 29 (2), it was sought to be justified for being implemented in line with Article 46 of directive principles of state policy. The While scrapping the said order, the Supreme Court stated that the directive principles of state policy could not override the fundamental rights, which were sacrosanct and are made enforceable under the constitution.

  2. Mohd. Hanif Qureshi & Ors. V. State of Bihar (1958 AIR 731) – The Supreme Court dealing with another case of conflict between fundamental rights and the directive principles of state policy held that the directive principles of state policy cannot override the categorical restrictions imposed on the legislative power of the state by way of the fundamental rights. The Supreme Court held that a harmonious construction must be placed upon the constitution so as to interpret it to ensure that the state should certainly implement the directive principles of state policy, but not in a manner which abridges or takes away the fundamental rights ensured to the citizens.

  3. Re: The Kerala Education Bill, 1957 (1959 1 SCR 995) – In this case, the Supreme Court observed that although the directive principles of state policy could not override fundamental rights, however these guiding principles should not be ignored by the state and efforts should be made to harmonise the two.

  4. Minerva Mills Ltd. & Ors. V. Union of India & Ors. (1980 AIR 1789) – in this case, the Supreme Court was adjudicating upon a challenge to the constitutional validity of certain provisions of the Sick Textile Undertaking (Nationalisation) Act, 1974. The Supreme Court held that to achieve the goal of the directive principles of state policy, the guarantees given under part III of the constitution cannot be destroyed. Therefore, the goals enshrined in part IV have to be achieved without abrogation of part III.

  5. Unni Krishnan J. P. V. State of A. P. [(1993) 1 SCC 645, 765] – The Supreme Court in this case held that provisions of part III & part IV are supplementary and complementary to each other and that the fundamental rights are but a means to achieve the goals indicated in part IV. The court also held that the fundamental rights must be construed in light of the directive principles of state policy.

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Why do you Need a Lawyer?

Fundamental rights and directive principles of state policy are intricate legal concepts of constitutional law, which require the aid of an expert legal mind to decipher and understand properly. Therefore, when faced with any issue regarding either of these two parts of the constitution, one must proactively locate and hire the services of a good constitutional or supreme court lawyer. A good lawyer, experienced in constitutional law will help provide you a complete understanding of what constitute your fundamental rights under the Indian constitution and help decipher if your rights have been violated by any act of either the state or another individual. An experienced lawyer will best protect your interests and represent you before a court of law to ensure that your fundamental rights are enforced and protected.



 

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