Importance and limitations of Part 4 of the Indian Constitution

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Question – Discussing the importance and limitations of Part 4 of the Indian Constitution, explain that it stands for social and economic democracy as opposed to political democracy. – 3 December 2021

Answer – The Directive Principles of State Policy are mentioned in Part 4. The Directive Principles of State Policy are included in Article 36 to Article 51 of Part 4. Directive Principles of State Policy means what kind of elements the state has been instructed by the constitution. The state will decide its policies. Keeping these elements in mind, the state makes its policies and runs this country by those policies. Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy are intertwined with each other i.e. rights have been given to the citizens on one hand and on the other hand the state has been instructed to make policy. The obligation to fulfill the same rights which have been mentioned under Part 3 in Fundamental Rights, has been given in the Directive Principles of State Policy under Part 4.

Importance of Directive Principles of State Policy

  • Fundamental rights provide political rights.
  • The Directive Principles of State Policy provide for social and economic rights. The Directive Principles of State Policy constitute the comprehensive socio-economic program for a modern democratic state.
  • Their aim is to realize the high ideals of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity.
  • It is based on the concept of welfare state instead of police state.
  • It helps the courts to examine and determine the constitutional validity of laws in the light of socio-economic justification. Its socialist principles establish the framework of a democratic socialist state and provide socio-economic justice.
  • The Directive Principles of State Policy include the ideology of liberalism as well as Gandhian ideology.
  • They lay down moral obligations on the officials of the state in terms of their actions.
  • Compliance with these creates a conducive environment for the full and fair enjoyment of the Fundamental Rights.

However, it also has some limitations:

  • No legal force: The Directive Principles of State Policy are non-judicial in nature i.e. they cannot be violated even by the courts for legally enforceable orders.
  • Constitutional Difference: The Directive Principles of State Policy create a constitutional distinction between (a) the Center and the states, (b) the central government and the President, (c) the chief minister and the governor.
  • Difference with Fundamental Rights: These can be amended to implement the Fundamental Rights.
  • A law cannot be struck down by a court, even if it violates the Directive Principles of State Policy.

Despite the above limitations, the Directive Principles of State Policy are extremely important for the governance of the country. Its importance can be gauged from the words of a former Chief Justice of India:

“If all the principles of the Directive Principles of State Policy are fully implemented, our country will indeed be a heaven on earth. After this India will be not only a democracy in the political sense but a welfare one working for the welfare of its citizens. The state will be there.”

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