Directive Principles of State Policy explained
Directive Principles of State Policy explained.

What Are Directive Principles of State Policy

The Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) are a set of guidelines, principles, or provisions given to the federal institutions that administer India’s state to formulate laws and policies.

These provisions, found in Part IV (Article 36-51) of the Indian Constitution, are not enforceable by any court, but the principles they establish are considered irrefutable (impossible to deny or disprove) in the country’s governance, making it the state’s responsibility to apply these principles in making laws to establish a just society.

Economic and socialist, political and administrative, justice and legal, environmental, monument protection, and peace and security are the categories in which Directive Principles are categorised.

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Genesis of Directive Principles of State Policy

The Directive Principles of the Irish Constitution about social fairness, economic welfare, foreign policy, and legal and administrative affairs inspired the DPSP for the Indian Constitution. The Irish nationalist movement, particularly the Irish Home Rule Movement, impacted the writers of the Indian Constitution.

As a result, the Directive Principles of Social Policy (of Ireland’s Constitution) have had a significant impact on the Indian Constitution’s Directive Principles.

The concept of such policies may be traced back to the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Declaration of Independence of the Colonies in Revolutionary France. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the United Nations had an impact on India’s Constitution.

Related: 48 Features of Indian Constitution Taken From Other Countries

Characteristics of Directive Principles of State Policy

The goal of the Directive Principles of State Policy is to establish social and economic conditions that allow citizens to live happy life. They also want to create a welfare state to promote social and economic democracy. DPSP serve as a check on the administration, allowing citizens to evaluate the government’s performance and vote it out if it fails to deliver on its promises.

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Though the Directive Principles are unjustifiable human rights, they are essential to the country’s governance. It is the state’s responsibility, according to Article 37, to apply these principles while drafting laws. Furthermore, the executive agencies of the union and the states should be guided by these values.

Even the judges must consider them while making decisions.

According to Article 37 of the Indian Constitution, it is the role of the state and union governments to develop more comprehensive policies and regulations for implementation, taking DPSPs into account as a fundamental policy.

Many policies have been implemented by state and union governments that violate the DPSPs, such as:

  • Using intoxicating drinks as a major source of tax revenue rather than implementing prohibition for the betterment of people’s health.
  • Separation of judiciary and executive
  • Failure to implement Uniform Civil Code for citizens, and so on.

When the union government determines that a DPSP is no longer beneficial to the country, it will be removed from the Constitution by a constitutional amendment in order to eliminate uncertainty in policymaking and direction.

The judiciary has the power to overturn any government decision or law that is directly opposed to any DPSP.

An existing policy that complies with the Directive Principles of State Policy cannot be revoked, but it can be expanded in accordance with the DPSP. Policy changes made under the applicable DPSP are irreversible unless a constitutional amendment abolishes the applicable DPSP.

Implementation of Directive Principles of State Policy

The Directive Principles are thus not to remain in the Constitution as mere platitudes (a remark or statement) but have to be implemented to create a new social order or the socialistic pattern of society in accordance with these principles. It will be clear from the following paragraphs to what extent have these been implemented.

Some of the implementations of Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) are:

Emergence of the Public Sector

In the public sector, there has been a significant increase. The state has been vested with the ownership and control of the material resources of the community.

The great multi-purpose river valley projects such as the Bhakra-Nangal, Damodar Valley and Hirakund; iron and steel producing concerns such as Bhilai, Rourkela and Durgapur; ship-building centres like Vizag; and others such as Sindri Fertilizers, Hindustan Machine Tools, Chittaranjan Locomotives, and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited have contributed significantly to the economic development of India. These are owned and managed by the state (central government).

Agrarian Reforms

India is an agricultural country. Ever since the introduction of the Permanent Settlement, land mostly belonged to a few Zamindars while the actual tillers (one who prepares land for crops – small farmer or field worker) of the soil remained poor and miserable as they had to pay high rents. The intermediaries also exploited them in other ways. These middlemen have been eliminated, and the tillers now deal directly with the government.

In many states, steps have also been taken to improve the conditions of the cultivator with regards to the security of tenure, fair rents, etc.

To prevent concentration of land-holdings in the hands of the actual tillers, even ceiling has been fixed as a result of which the maximum area of land which an individual owner may hold has been fixed.

Agrarian reforms have been implemented to ensure that the community’s material resources are divided in such a way that they best serve the common interest. The government has abolished the old Zamindari institution.

Permanent Settlement was introduced in Bengal and Bihar in 1793 by Lord Cornwallis. Through the Permanent Settlement Act, the British declared that all landlords, Zamindars and Talukadars have to pay some amount of rent to the government. The amount of rent was fixed permanently by the government itself. The Zamindars were elevated to the rank of the landlord over the land in respect of which they were merely responsible for revenue collection.

Promotion of Cottage Industries

Cottage industries are a state subject. However, the union government has set up several Boards to assist the states in finance, marketing, etc.

Some of these important boards are All-India Khadi and Village Industries Boards; All India Handicrafts Board; All-India Handloom Board; Small Scale Industries Board, and Silk Board.

The National Small Industries Corporation and Khadi and Village Industries Commission have been set up and are doing useful work.

Organisation of Village Panchayats

Village panchayats were established in all states and given consistent self-government rights under the 73rd Amendment Act. These organisations handle medical relief, village road, street, tank, well upkeep, elementary education, sanitation, and other issues. They also exercise judicial functions, both civil and criminal. They can try cases of the value of rupees 200 or less and try minor offences punishable with small fines. By now, practically all the five lakh villages have their panchayats which form the primary units of administration.

Raising of Standard of Living of People

To raise the standard of living, particularly of the rural population, the union government launched the Community Development Programme in 1952. The actual responsibility for the execution of this programme is on the shoulders of the state governments.

This programme seeks to transform the rural economy, particularly by reorganising agriculture and animal husbandry on scientific lines. It also aims at providing better communications, better housing, improved sanitation and wider education, both general and technical.

Laws to Prohibit the Slaughter of Cows

Many states have also passed laws to prohibit the slaughter of cows, calves and other milch (denoting a cow or other domestic mammal giving or kept for milk) and draught cattle.

Prohibition of Intoxicating Drinks and Drugs

Shortly after the new Constitution was adopted, a rigorous prohibition policy was implemented, and by today, a number of states have gone fully dry, with more states following suit.

It is calculated that by 1957 the area under prohibition was over 32 % of the country’s total area.

The Prohibition Enquiry Committee set up by the Planning Commission has drawn up a comprehensive scheme to carry out the work of prohibition more effectively, and severe restrictions have been imposed on the production and consumption of intoxicating goods.

Separation of the Executive From the Judiciary

The separation of the executive and the judiciary is recommended in a Directive (Article 50). The 1973 Criminal Procedure Amendment Act went a long way toward achieving the goal of separating the court from the executive branch.

Free and Compulsory Primary Education

The different states have taken big steps toward free and compulsory primary education. The Directive (Article 45) had laid down that the goal was to be reached within 10 years. This has not been possible as the period was too short for such a gigantic task. It may take another decade to implement the Directive fully.

The 86th Amendment Act of 2002 included Article 21A, which states, “The state shall provide free and compulsory education to all children aged 6 to 14 years in a manner defined by law.” As a result, it has been designated as a fundamental right.

Promotion of Economic and Educational Interests or Backward People

The government has taken several steps to improve the educational and economic prospects of society’s most vulnerable groups, particularly the scheduled castes and tribes.

More and more cottage and small-scale industries have been set up to improve the economic conditions of these people. They are given liberal aid to enable them to rise higher and become economically secure.

Uniform Civil Code

Introducing a Uniform Civil Code in India is a very uphill task as the followers of the different faiths have their separate laws. The enactment of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and the Hindu Succession Act, 1956, are steps leading to the adoption of a Uniform Civil Code for the entire country.

Read in Detail: What Is Uniform Civil Code and Should India Implement It?

Promotion of International Understanding

India has made consistent efforts to promote world understanding and peace, and her efforts have been recognised and applauded by practically all countries. Despite Pakistan’s provocation, India has refrained from going to war. India wants the Indo-China border problem to be resolved peacefully.

Besides the Directive Principles contained in Part IV of the Constitution, there are a few others that are also to be implemented. These are:
(1) Every state and local authority within it is required by Article 350A to provide sufficient facilities for children from linguistic minority groups to receive instruction in their mother language at the primary level of education.

(2) Article 351 directs the union to foster the growth of the Hindi language and to develop it to the point that it may serve as a medium of expression for all aspects of India’s composite culture.

(3) Article 335 mandates that the claims of members of the scheduled castes and tribes be considered in making appointments to services and posts under the union and state governments while maintaining administrative efficiency.


As a matter of principle, the relevance of the Directive Principles cannot be doubted since the provisions in these Directives are very much in the interest of the Indian people.

The Directive Principles provide a blueprint of the welfare state, and thus their relevance and utility cannot be questioned. Their contents are very much relevant because they are of ever-lasting value, but their non-justiciable character and lack of legal sanction make them even irrelevant. It is critical to give them a justiciable nature and coercive legal consequence in order for them to be practically meaningful.

Read Next:
What Is Article 21 of the Indian Constitution?
2. What Is the Mini Constitution of India, and What Changes It Added?

Dinesh Verma
WritingLaw » Law Notes » Characteristics and Implementation of Directive Principles of State Policy – Indian Constitution Law Study Material
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