The Fundamental Rights are defined as the basic human rights of all citizens. These rights, defined in Part III of the Constitution, apply irrespective of race, place of birth, religion, caste, creed or sex. They are enforceable by the courts, subject to specific restrictions. The Directive Principles of State Policy are guidelines for the framing of laws by the government. These provisions, set out in Part IV of the Constitution, are not enforceable by the courts, but the principles on which they are based are fundamental guidelines for governance that the State is expected to apply in framing and passing laws.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES AND FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS Fundamental Rights and Directive Principle are integral components of the same organic constitutional system and no conflict between them could have been intended by founding fathers. But the view of Supreme Court on the relationship between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles have not been uniform throughout.
There are three possible views on the relationship between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles. The first view is that former are the superior to the latter and so the latter must give way to the former in case of repugnancy or irreconcilable conflict between the two. The second view is that Fundamental Rights and directive principle are equal in importance and hence , in case of conflict between the two an attempt must be made to harmonise them with each other.
The view is that Directive Principles are superior to Fundamental Rights mainly because the constitution provide that the former are ‘fundamental in the governance of the country’ and it shall be the ‘duty’ of the state “to apply these principle in making laws” and the binding nature of law does not cease to be so merely because it can not be enforced. These different view regarding the relationship between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles have been pronounced by the judiciary at different times .
In the following chapters an attempts has been made to examine the role of judiciary in relation to the Directive Principles with the Fundamental Rights. History: The relationship between the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles is best illustrated in the Article 37. It provides that Directives are not enforceable in a court of law. But, they are fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the state to apply them in making laws.
In view of such provision, there have arisen certain conflicts between the Directive Principles and Fundamental Rights. But, as of now Article 39(b) and 39(c) can take precedence over Fundamental Right enshrined under Article 14 and Article 19. A survey of historical development in relationship between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles are as follows. i. During the initial period from 1950 to 1966 there was emphasis on sacrosanct character of Fundamental rights.
The Supreme Court held the view that if two interpretations of a law are possible, the one avoiding conflict should be accepted. But in case of a single interpretation, leading to conflict fundamental right would prevail other directive principles. In this view, constitutionality of 1st Amendment Act was hailed as valid. ii. In the historic Golan Math’s case, 1967, the Supreme Court emphasized on unamedability of the fundamental rights which have been given a ‘transcendental position. ’ iii. The Government passed 24th and 25th Amendment Act 1971.
The 24th Constitution Amendment Act made it clear that the Parliament has power to amend any provision of the Constitution, including the fundamental Rights. The 25th Constitution Amendment Act introduced Article 31(c) which provides that in case of implementing Article 39(b) and (c) if there is axorrflict with fundamental right, the , law shall not be declared null and void. iv. In Keshavananda Bharati case overruled the Golaknath’s case but made it clear that courts retained the power to judicial review in case of law giving effect to directives under Article 39(b) and (c).
One of the crucial implications of this judgment was ‘basic structure’ which cannot be altered. v. During the period of Emergency Parliament passed the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 which provided for implementation of directives other than only under Article 39(b) and (c). vi. In Minerva Mill’s case, 1980 the Supreme Court declared that a balance between Part III and Part IV was a basic feature of the constitution. This abrogated the view of giving precedence to the directives over fundamental rights.
Significance of Directive Principles of State Policy: Firstly, they are intended to usher an egalitarian order, once the limitations or resources is overcome and state is competent enough to fulfill them. For, most of the directives are resource consuming. Secondly, they have exercised an important check on the government. Rightly remarked by Ambedkar that the directives ‘can be the best election manifesto Thirdly, they guide both, the government and the people in the realm of politics and society. They have significant educative value.
Fourthly, they emphasize the goal of welfare state and social justice that are warranted in Indian polity and keep check on elitist or populist measures. Despite accusations of being nothing more than ‘moral precepts’ or ‘dead wood in living tree’ and alike, it cannot be denied that the directives have helped (directly or indirectly) in shaping the face of our polity. It has been seen with optimism by leadership as well as people to be of paramount importance. For, “both have inevitable interest in building a more egalitarian society than they have! Directives help in achieving this objective.