Despite being part of the same constitution, a contrast is often made between part III and part IV i.e. between fundamental rights and directive principles. The main reasons are the judicial enforceability of FR and its nature being negative obligation of the state.
The directives are non justifiable and are more in the nature of positive affirmations of the state. However in recent time, some of the directives have been made a part of chapter on Fundamental Rights to be in tune with the requirements of changing polity.
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.