Fundamental Rights vs. Directive Principles of State Policy

Fundamental Rights vs. Directive Principles of State Policy

It should be remembered that the Preamble, the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles are all integral parts of the same constitutional edifice. They are all equally important and have to be read with each other. The emphasis in the entire scheme of the Constitution under the headings of the Preamble, the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles is on building an egalitarian society and on the concept of socio-economic justice. Inasmuch as the Directive Principles, though declared to be fundamental as guiding principles for making and administering laws, were not made enforceable in courts of law, they represented subtle compromise between what the framers, as the leaders of the freedom struggle, looked upon as the ideal or the goal and what, as realists, they found to be immediately feasible. The Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles together constituted the soul of the Constitution.


It is now clearly understood that there is no essential dichotomy between Rights and Duties or between the Fundamentally Rights and the Directive Principles. They complement and

supplement each other (Kesavananda Bharti v. State of Kerala, AIR 1973 SC 146). If the Fundamental Rights represent the don’ts for the Government and the legislature, the Directive Principles represent the do’s. There is no conflict.


Again, while speaking on the constitution Fourth Amendment in the Lok Sabha, Nehru declared that the responsibility for the economic and social welfare policies of the nation should lie with Parliament and not with the courts. In so far as the decisions of courts had shown that there was some inherent contradiction between the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles, it was for Parliament to remove the contradiction and “make Fundamental Rights subserve the Directive Principles of State Policy.”


A distinction is sometimes sought to be made between what may be called ‘positive rights’ and ‘negative rights’. Broadly speaking, while Part III deals with areas of individual freedom and the extent to which the State can restrain it, Part IV deals with positive duties cast upon the State to attain the ideal of social and economic justice. Even among the fundamental rights, however, there are some positive injunctions which seek to protect the interests of the society and the rights of the poor citizens from encroachment by entrenched sections. Thus, article 17 abolished untouchability and makes its practice in any form an offence punishable by law. Article 15 inter alia provides that no citizen shall be discriminated against in the use of public places like shops, wells, roads, eating houses etc. on account of his religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Article 23 prohibits another great social evil, that of forced labour. The whole effort has been to ensure that the fundamental rights of the citizens do not degenerate into the liberties of the few against the interests of the many.

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