Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP): Amendment, Sanctions and Criticism

The Directive Principles of State Policy been declared as the fundamental principles in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the state to apply these principles in making laws. Hence, they impose a moral responsibility on the state authorities for their application.

Directive Principles of State Policy


42nd Amendment Act of 1976

Four new Directive Principles were added during 42nd Amendment. They necessitate the State:

  • To secure opportunities for healthy development of children under Article 39.
  • To promote equal justice and to provide free legal aid to the poor under Article 39 A.
  • To take steps to secure the participation of workers in the management of industries under Article 43 A.
  • To protect and improve the environment and to safeguard forests and wildlife under Article 48 A.

44th Amendment Act of 1978

The 44th Amendment Act of 1978 necessitated the state to abate inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities under Article 38.

86th Amendment Act of 2002

The 86th Amendment Act of 2002 made the elementary education a fundamental right under Article 21 A and modified the subject-matter of Article 45. The 86th Amendment Act necessitated the state to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years.

97th Amendment Act of 2011

A new Directive Principle was added during 97th Amendment Act relating to co-operative societies. It necessitated the state to promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of co-operative societies under Article 43B.


The Drafting Committee accepted the recommendation of Mr B. N. Rau who was the Constitutional Advisor of the constituent assembly that the rights of an individual must be divided into two categories, i.e. justiciable and nonjusticiable. Therefore, the Fundamental Rights, justiciable in nature, are merged in Part III and the Directive Principles, non-justiciable in nature, are merged in Part IV of the Constitution.

However, the Directive Principles are non-justiciable in nature, the Constitution under Article 37 make it clear that these principles are fundamental in the governance of the country and it shall be the duty of the state to apply these principles in making laws. They impose an ethical responsibility on the state authorities for their application, but the real force behind them is political, that is, public opinion. It was analysed by Alladi Krishna Swamy Ayya that no ministry responsible to the people can afford light heartedly to ignore the provisions in Part IV of the Constitution.

Dr B. R. Ambedkar also pointed out that a government which rests on popular vote can hardly ignore the Directive Principles while shaping its policy. If any government ignores them, it will certainly have to answer for that before the electorate at the election time.

The framers of the Indian Constitution made the Directive Principles non-justiciable and legally non-enforceable due to the following reasons as listed below:

  • The country did not possess sufficient financial resources to implement them.
  • The presence of vast diversity and backwardness in the country would stand in the way of their implementation.
  • The newly born independent Indian State with its many preoccupations might be crushed under the burden unless it was free to decide the order, the time, the place and the mode of fulfilling them.

Henceforth, taking a pragmatic view, the framers of our constitution refrained from giving teeth to the directive principles. They believed more in an awakened public opinion rather than in court procedures as the decisive sanction for the execution of these principles.


Many constitutional and political experts as well as members of the constituent assembly criticised the Directive Principles on the following grounds:

No Legal Force

The criticism of the Directive principles was mainly the consequence of their non-justiciable nature. While K T Shah dubbed them as ‘pious superfluities’ and compared them with ‘a cheque on a bank, payable only when the resources of the bank permit’, Nasiruddin contended that these principles are ‘no better than the new year’s resolutions, which are broken on the second of January’.

T T Krishnamachari described the Directives as a veritable dust-bin of sentiments, whereas K C Wheare called them as a manifesto of aims and aspirations and suggested that they serve simply as moral homily, and Sir Ivor Jennings observed them only as pious aspirations.

Illogically Arranged

According to the critics, the Directive Principles are not arranged in a sensible manner on the basis of a consistent philosophy. The declaration blends with the relatively insignificant issues with the most important economic and social questions. It combines rather inappropriately the modern with the old and provisions suggested by the reason and science with provisions based purely on sentiment and prejudice.


Sir Ivor Jennings observed the Directives to be on the basis of the political philosophy of the 19th century England. He remarked: ‘The ghosts of Sydney Webb and Beatrice Webb stalk through the pages of the text. Part IV of the Constitution expresses Fabian Socialism without the socialism’. He suggested that the Directives are deemed to be suitable in India in the middle of the twentieth century.

Constitutional Conflict

K Santhanam has stated that the Directive principles arise a constitutional conflict between

(a) the Centre and the states,

(b) the President and the Prime Minister, and

(c) the governor and the chief minister.

According to him, the Centre can give directions to the states with respect to the implementation of these principles, and in case of non-compliance, can dismiss the state government.

For instance, when the Prime Minister gets a bill which is violating the Directive Principles and is passed by the Parliament, the president may reject the bill on the ground that these principles are fundamental to the governance of the country and hence, the ministry has no right to ignore them. The same constitutional conflict may arise at the state level between the governor and the chief minister.


Despite all the criticisms and shortcomings as stated above, the Directive Principles are not a pointless addendum to the Constitution. The Constitution itself affirms that they are fundamental to the governance of the nation. The Directive Principles are the life giving provisions of the Constitution. They constitute the stuff of the Constitution and its philosophy of social justice. According to the former CJI M. C. Chagla, ‘if all these principles are fully carried out, our country would indeed be a heaven on earth. India would then be not only democracy in the political sense, but also a welfare state looking after the welfare of its citizens’. Dr B. R. Ambedkar had stated that the Directives have great value since, they lay down that the goal of Indian polity is economic democracy as distinguished from political democracy.

According to M C Setalvad (former Attorney General of India), the Directive Principles, although confer no legal rights and creates no legal remedies, are significant and useful in the following ways:

  • They are like an instrument of instructions or general recommendations which are addressed to all authorities in the Indian Union. They remind them of the basic principles of the new social and economic order, which the Constitution aims at building.
  • They have served as useful beacon-lights to the courts. They have helped the courts in exercising their power of judicial review, that is, the power to determine the constitutional validity of a law.
  • They form the dominating background to all State action, legislative or executive and also a guide to the courts in some respects.
  • They amplify the Preamble, which solemnly resolves to secure to all citizens of India justice, liberty, equality and fraternity.

The Directive Principles also perform the following major roles:

  • They facilitate stability and continuity in domestic and foreign policies in political, economic and social spheres in spite of the changes of the party in power.
  • They are supplementary to the fundamental rights of the citizens. They are intended to fill in the vacuum in Part III by providing for social and economic rights.
  • Their implementation makes a favourable atmosphere for the full and proper enjoyment of the fundamental rights by the citizens. Political democracy, without economic democracy, has no meaning.
  • They enable the opposition to exercise influence and control over the operations of the government. The Opposition can blame the ruling party on the ground that its activities are opposed to the Directives.
  • They serve as a crucial test for the performance of the government. The people can examine the policies and programmes of the government in the light of these constitutional declarations.
  • They serve as common political manifesto. ‘A ruling party, irrespective of its political ideology, has to recognise the fact that these principles are intended to be its guide, philosopher and friend in its legislative and executive acts’.

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2 responses to “Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP): Amendment, Sanctions and Criticism”

  1. Nithya says :

    Dear Glen, it is very important to be updated on the recent state policies and its directives as an IAS Aspirant. Thank you for highlighting the vitality of these principles stated to govern the country and also helps in being completely in par with the existing scenario of Amendments, Sanctions and criticism.


  2. MARISWAMY T P says :



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