This Article is written by Mridushi Damani, student of Hidayatullah National Law University.

The Directive Principles of State Policy, which are also referred to as DPSP, are enumerated in Part IV of the Constitution of India from Articles 36 to Article 51. The framers of the Constitution borrowed this idea from the Irish Constitution of 1937, which had in turn been inspired by the Spanish Constitution. These principles of the Indian Constitution were described as “novel features” by learned Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. The Directive Principles, along with the Fundamental Rights, contain the philosophy and soul of the Constitution. All the more, Granville Austin referred to the Directive Principles and the Fundamental Rights as the “Conscience of the Constitution.”


The Constitution of India does not formally classify the Directive Principles of State Policy; however, for better understanding and based on content and direction, they can be classified into three categories, namely:

  1. Socialistic Principles
  2. Gandhian Principles
  3. Liberal-Intellectual Principles


Socialistic Principles:

These are the principles with the aim and goal to provide socio-economic justice in the society and to set the path towards the welfare state. These principles explore the school of socialism and lay down the structure of a democratic socialist state. They direct the state through various Articles some of them being, Article 39 A- Promote equal Justice and free legal aid to the poor; Article 42- Make provision for just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief; Article 47- Raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living of people and to improve public health; along with numerous other articles such as Article 38, Article 39, Article 41, Article 43 and Article 43A.


Gandhian Principles:

Based on Gandhian ideology these principles represent the programme of reconstruction enunciated by Mahatma Gandhi during the national movement. To fulfil the dreams of Mahatma Gandhi, some of his ideas were included in DPSP, and they direct the State through Articles such as Article 43- Promote cottage industries on an individual or cooperation basis in rural areas; Article 47- Prohibit the consumption of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health; Article 48- Prohibit the slaughter of cows, calves and other milch and draught cattle and to improve their breeds; Article 40, Article 43B, and Article 46.


Liberal-Intellectual Principles:

These principles reflect the ideology of liberalism. Under various articles, they direct the state to achieve various ideals as seen in Article 44- Secure for all citizens a uniform civil code throughout the country; Article 45- Provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years; Article 48- Organise agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and scientific lines, Article 48A, Article 49, Article 50 and Article 51.

Thus, based on the distinct features of the Directive Principles, they can be grouped in their respective categories, be it Socialistic Principles or Gandhian Principles or Liberal-Intellectual Principles.



The incorporation of the Directive Principles of State Policy within the scope of the Indian Constitution has been justified on various grounds which can be enumerated as follows:

  1. Public opinion backs Directive Principles. The Directive Principles are indeed, non-justiceable. Legal sanctions do not support these. However, these are supported by public opinion, which is, in reality, also the real sanction behind the law.

“These Directives constitute a kind of basic standard of national conscience and those who violate, would do so at the risk of being ousted from the position of responsibility to which they have been chosen.”

  • V. Pylee


  2. Provide for a welfare state. The Directive Principles lay down the philosophical foundations of a welfare polity and make it a responsibility of the state to secure it through welfare legislation. These also provide that a welfare polity means the securing of Justice—social, economic and political for all the people.

3. Importance as moral ideals. Directive Principles are true of the nature of moral ideals. They constitute an ethical code for the state. This does not reduce their value. Through these, the founding fathers placed before the nation the goals and ideals which are to be achieved through future legislation. The state is a human social institution. Government is always made and managed by the people. Just as people have a moral code which guides their behaviour in society, likewise there is every justification for a moral code designed to guide the political behaviour of the men who form and run the government of the state.

4. Directives constitute a guide for the state. The incorporation of Part IV was governed by the decision to provide a guide to the government for making policies and laws to secure justice. This was the reason which made the founding fathers law down that these were “fundamental in the governance of the country”.

5. Source of continuity in Policies. The Directive Principles are a source of continuity in the policies of the government. In a democratic system, the government changes after regular intervals and each new government have to make policies and laws. The presence of Directive Principles ensures that every government, irrespective of the fact whether it is formed by a rightist or a leftist or a neo-leftist or a neo-rightist party, will exercise the law-making and executive power based on the Directive Principles which every government has to accept these as fundamental principles in the governance of the country.

6. Directive Principles are supplementary to the Fundamental Rights. Directive Principles are the positive and optimistic directions to the state for securing and strengthening the socio-economic dimension of Indian democracy. These provide for those socio-economic rights which the constitution-makers believed should have been granted to the people but which could not be granted due to the paucity of resources.

As such, while making these unenforceable, they made it a responsibility of the government to secure these through future law-making. Directive Principles aim at the establishment of socio-economic democracy. These are ancillary to Fundamental Rights which provide for civil and political rights and freedoms.

7. The yardstick for measuring the worth of the Government. Directive Principles of State Policy constitute a yardstick with which the people can measure the worth of the government. A government which ignores the task of implementing the Directive Principles can be rejected by the people in favour of a government by another political party which is expected to give the required importance and value to the task of securing the Directive Principles.

8. Helpful in the interpretation of the Constitution. The Directive Principles constitute a list of the aims and goals of the ideal nation. These reflect the wisdom of the founding fathers, the goals of the freedom struggle and the demands of national public opinion. These specify into clear-cut goals the objectives stated in the Preamble to the Constitution. These reflect the philosophy of the Constitution and hence provide useful help to the courts in their task of interpreting the Constitution.

 9. An ambiguity of Directive Principles is useful. The Directive Principles have been expressed in words which are not very rigid and stringent in their meanings. This ambiguity has been supportive in so far as it helps the state to interpret and apply these principles in accordance with the socio-economic environment, which prevails at a given time. The Directive Principles are specific enough to guide the path of the state but at the same time ambiguous enough to help the state in moulding these in accordance with the changing times and social needs and interests.


Thus, the inclusion in the Constitution of Part IV containing the Directive Principles of State Policy has been a welcome, worthwhile and useful decision.


“If a chapter on Fundamental Rights is a must for a state of the modern democratic type with a written constitution, a chapter on Directive Principles of State Policy is a must for a welfare state with a written constitution.”

– Dr K.C. Markandan



Many critics have been very vocal in criticizing the existence of unenforceable pious declarations in the body of the Constitution as stand incorporated in its Part IV (DPSP). They consider these as “superfluous high sounding principles” with little scope for actual realization.

  1. Lack of legal force. The critics hold that since these principles are unenforceable directives, these principles do not carry any weight. Their violation or non-realization cannot be challenged in any court.


“Non- justiciable and abstract Directive Principles which may be safely ignored by the legislator…do not enhance the true prestige of a written constitution.”

 – M. Anantnarayan

2. Mere declarations. The Directive Principles are a mere declaration of intentions or instruments of instructions which are to be observed and secured by the state at will. The Constitution does not make them justiciable and neither fixes the time-limit within which these are to be secured. The legislature is to secure these as and when it may be possible for it. No wonder then, critics like T. Shah describe it as “a cheque payable by the bank at its convenience.

 3. Unsystematic enumeration. Another point of criticism against the Directive Principles has been that these have been neither systematically slated nor properly classified. These appear to be a collection of pious declarations recorded in the Constitution.


“These Directives are neither properly classified nor logically arranged. The declaration mixes up relatively unimportant issues with the most vital economic and social questions.”

– Srinivasan

4. Lack of clarity. Several Directives lack clarity while several have been repeated at different places. The Directive Principle with the aim to promote international peace and friendly cooperation among all the nations is a laudable declaration. But the real issue/question is how to secure it? No intelligible guideline has been provided for this purpose.

“The formulation of the Directive Principles of State Policy can hardly be considered inspiring. It is both vague and repetitive.”

– Srinivasan

5. Reactionary in nature. Many critics hold that several principles laid down as Directive Principles of state policy are reactionary. Penned during the period of 1947-49, several of the Directives appear to be reactionary in contemporary times. The ruling party at a particular time can use some of the directives for political and selfish ends. Moreover, enumeration of these principles involve an attempt to unduly binding the present with the past.

6. The impracticability of some of the principles. Part IV includes some directives which cannot be realized in actual practice. The states which introduced prohibition had to, later on, remove it. Haryana introduced prohibition but found it almost impossible to implement. The Haryana Government was therefore compelled to scrap it. Prohibition cannot be enforced by law because of the practical difficulties involved in the implementation of prohibition.

7. Borrowed obsolete philosophical foundations. The critics criticize Part IV also for the fact that most of the Directive Principles incorporated in it are based on age-old and foreign philosophical foundations which essentially the foundations of Fabian Socialism.

Many critics hold the view that the Directive Principles merely reinstate the objectives and goals which have been clearly stated in the Preamble of the Constitution. Their enumeration in Part IV has made things more complex and complicated.

8. Mere Promises. Directive principles are designed to serve as pious promises for creating an impression about the just and useful exercise of the power of the state. They aim to secure support by making promises and not through action.


However, despite the various criticisms, the importance and significance of the Directive Principle of State Policy cannot be undermined. The following words of Chief Justice Kania highlight the importance of the Directive Principles fully:


“Being a part of the Constitution, Directive Principles represent not the temporary will of the majority, but the deliberate wisdom of the nation expressed through the Constituent Assembly.”


The Directive Principles provide for a necessary and ideal foundation for the Indian polity as a democratic and welfare polity. The securing of Directive Principles alone can complete our democratic system, supplement the Fundamental Rights and freedoms of the people and build a welfare polity characterized by Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.




  • Article 36 – Article 51 of the Indian Constitution.
  • Dr Durga Das Basu, Introduction to the Constitution of India, LexisNexis (21st 2013).
  • J.N.Pandey, The Constitutional Law of India (Central Law Agency, Allahabad,46th Edition 2009)
  • Granville Austin, Indian Constitution Cornerstone of a Nation, Oxford Publication.
  • P Jain, Indian Constitution Law (6th Ed. Reprint 2012, Lexis Nexis Butterworth Wadhwa, Nagpur).