Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles

Our discussion of Part III and Part IV dealing with the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy would be incomplete if we fail to study both in terms of-

(i) their being different from each other,

(ii) their being in relationship each other,

(iii) each being viewed varyingly by Parliament and the Courts, especially the Supreme Court.

“The fundamental rights and the directive principles are different from each other, i.e., they are not the same. “The nature of both differs drastically: the fundamental rights are ‘political’ in nature; the directive principles are, in nature, ‘socio- economic’. “The fundamental rights are, by and large, negative while the directive principles are, by the large, ‘positive’. “The fundamental rights constitute ‘properties’ of the people, i.e., persons—persons as individuals, and persons as citizens— the fundamental rights are ‘rights’ of the people whereas the directive principles are ‘properties’ of the State—they belong to the states, i.e., they are the tasks the State has to perform; duties and not rights of the states.

“The fundamental rights may be described as ‘decrees’ on the State: what the State has not to do while the directive principles are ‘directives’ on the State: what the state is expected to do. “The fundamental rights are enforceable: the courts are bound the enforce them whereas the directive principles, according to Article 37, are not enforceable: the courts cannot force the state to implement them. “The fundamental rights help establish political democracy in the country while the directive principles help establish economic and social democracy. And yet, both constitute two facets of the same reality. Both, the fundamental rights and directive principles are integral parts of the same whole, one, i.e., the fundamental rights, laying emphasis on political aspect of democracy and the other, i.e., the directive principles, laying emphasis on the ‘socio-economic’ aspect of democracy.

The framers of the Constitution of India saw both as parts of individual rights: (a) political rights of the individual, and (b) socio-economic rights of the individual : fundamental rights as today’s rights and the directive principles as tomorrow’s rights—rights of the present and the rights of the future, both incomplete when separated from each other. “The courts regard the fundamental rights as the means to attain the ends/goals of egalitarian and welfare state. “The two supplement and complement each other, both constituting as Austin says, the conscience of our Constitution. At some point of time, both the Parliament and the Supreme Court had viewed the fundamental rights and the directive principles variedly.

The Parliament, eager and zealous to bring about the socio-economic changes, sought to elevate directive principles as compared to fundamental rights while the Supreme Court, going by the letter of the law, favoured the dominance of the fundamental rights over the directive principles. Article 37 makes it clear that neither the state can be called to explain as to why the directive principles have not been or are not being implemented nor the Supreme Court can force the State to enforce them. “That is what makes the directive principles non-justifiable, i.e., unenforceable, nevertheless, the directive principles of state policy have been declared fundamental in the governance of the country. Article 37 says : “ … it shall be the duty of the State to apply these principle in making laws.” Indeed, the courts cannot force the state to enforce, the directive principles, but it can and, in fact, should declare any law passed void if it goes contrary to any directive principles, not on grounds that it is a law against the directive principles but on the ground that it is the law against the Constitution. If the fundamental rights and directive principles are in conflict against each other, the position, which the Parliament and the Supreme Court take, has been one which put the Parliament and the Supreme Court on opposite poles. In State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan—1951, the Supreme Court held the view: “

“The Directive Principles of State Policy have to confirm and to run as subsidiary of the chapter on Fundamental Rights”, holding the position that in case of conflict between the two, the fundamental rights would prevail. In the State of Bihar v. Kameshwar Singh—1952, the apex court relied on article 39 in deciding a certain Zamindari Abolition Act which was passed for public purposes within the meaning of Article 31. In Re Kerala Education Bill of 1957, the Supreme Court pointed out that the directive principles cannot override the fundamental rights, though it emphasised on the fact that the directive principles may not be entirely ignored. “The principles of harmonious construction, the court held, should be adopted while giving effect to both fundamental rights and directive principles. In fact, the Supreme Court began realising soon that the two are not opposed to each other.

In the Kesvananda Bharati v. State of Kerala—1973, the apex court had observed that “fundamental rights and directive principles aim at the same goal of bringing about a social revolution and establishment of a welfare state – – -.They are supplementary and complementary to each other. The same view was taken by the Supreme Court in Unni Krishnan v. State of Andhra Pradesh—1993. “The 25th Constitutional amendment of 1971 sought to enhance the importance of the directive principles by stating that no law giving effect to the directive principles contained in article 39 (b) and (c) would be deemed to be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with the rights conferred by article 14 or 19.

“The 42nd constitutional amendment—1976 further enhanced the importance of the directive principles by stating that no law giving effect to all the directive principles would be deemed to be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with rights guaranteed in articles 14, 19 or 31 of the Constitution. But the Supreme Court, while striking down the above part of 42nd amendment on the ground that it destroys the ‘basic structures’, held that the Constitution is founded on the bed rock of the balance between Part III (the fundamental rights) and Part IV (the directive principles) and that absolute primacy to any one over the other would disturb the harmony of the Constitution. However, the Supreme Court, in State of Tamil Nadu v. L. Abu Kavur Bai—1984, clarified all doubts with regard to the fundamental rights and the directive principles by stating that although the directive principles are not enforceable, yet the court should make a real attempt at harmonizing and reconciling the directive principles and the fundamental rights and any collision between the two should be avoided as far as possible.

Comments

Leave a Reply