What is the constitutional position of Directive Principles of State Policy? How has it been interpreted by the judiciary after the emergency in 1975-77?

Published: July 11, 2019

The Directive Principles of State Policy are mentioned in Part-IV of the Constitution, from Article 36 to 51. These are Directives to the state to be followed in the formation of policy. They are however, made non-justiciable in the court of law, but yet, they are important and fundamental in governance of the country. They are aims and ideals to be achieved by the state which would lead the country towards creating a welfare state.

Various provisions of the Directives have achieved status of the Fundamental Rights. The Directives contained in Article – 39(b) and (c) have been given supremacy over the Fundamental Rights contained in Article 14 and 19.

Trend of the judicial interpretation regarding the Directive Principles has completely changed after the emergency in 1975-77. The Supreme Court, in the case of Minerva Mills Ltd. 1980 gave the doctrine of harmonious construction between the fundamental rights and the directives which has effectively directed the states to protect the rights provided under part IV. It interpreted and gave status to many of the Directive Principles as the Fundamental Rights. For example, Equal Pay for Equal Work, Right to Education, Free Legal Aid, Speedy Trial, Protection of Children from Exploitation, Abolition of Child Labour, Protection of Working Women from Sexual Harassment, Right to Work and Medical assistance to workers, Protection of Ecology and Environmental pollution etc. have been raised to the status of the fundamental rights. Thus, constructive trend has been taken by the Supreme Court after the emergency in 1975-77.

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