Directive Principles of State Policy

Part IV deals Directive principles of state policy. These directive principles represent the socio-economic goals which the nation is expected to achieve. The directive principles form the fundamental feature and the social conscience of the Constitution and the Constitution enjoins upon the state to implement these directive principles . These directive principles are designed to guide the destiny of the nation by obligating three wings of the state, i.e., legislature, judicature and executive to implement these principles.

Article 47 of the Constitution is one of the directive principles of State policy and it provides that the State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties. The improvement of public health will also include the protection and improvement of environment without which health cannot be assured.

The Constitution Act, 1976, added a new directive principle in Article 48-A dealing specifically with protection and improvement of environment. It provides:

The State shall endeavor to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife of the country.

Thus, Indian Constitution became one of the rare Constitutions of the world where specific provisions were incorporated in the Supreme Lex putting obligations on the “State” as well as “Citizens” to protect and improve the environment. This certainly is a positive development of Indian Law.

The State cannot treat the obligations of protecting and improving the environment as mere pious obligation. The directive principles are not mere show-pieces in the window-dressing. They are ” fundamental in the governance of the country” and they, being part of the Supreme Law of the land, have to implemented.

Article 37 of the Constitution provides :

The provisions contained in this part ( Part IV ) shall not be enforceable by any court, but the principles therein laid down are nevertheless fundamental in the governance  of the country and it shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws.

In view of article 37 of the Constitution, the court may not be able to actively enforce the directive principles by compelling the State to apply them in the making of law. The court can, if the State commits a breach of its duty by acting contrary to these directive principles, prevent it from doing so.

Also the non-enforceable nature of the directive principles does not preclude the judiciary from declaring any law unconstitutional which is in violation of the directive principles. The non-enforceable nature of the directives also does not preclude the right of the citizens to move to the court to see that other organs of the State, i.e., the legislature and executive perform their duties faithfully and in accordance with the law of the land. Judicial process is also State action under article 37 and the judiciary is bound to apply the directive principles in making Judgement.

Thus, the directive principles serve the Courts as a code of interpretation .

 

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