Differences between Directive Principles and Fundamental Rights

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Part III (Fundamental Rights) and Part IV (Directive Principles of State Policy) are two integral and related parts of the Constitution. Part III describes and guarantees fundamental rights to the people and Part IV aims at strengthening the social and economic foundations of Indian Democracy.

The nature and content of each Part is, naturally, different

Main Points of Difference:

1. Fundamental Rights are Negative Injunctions while Directive Principles are Positive Instructions:

The first major difference between the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles has been that while the former have been mostly negative injunctions which prohibit the State from doing certain things, the latter constitute the positive directions to the State to attain or do certain things. For example, the Fundamental Rights under Art. 15 states: "The State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, caste, sex, place of birth or any of them."

Art. 21 lays down that "No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty..." As against this the Directive Principles give positive instructions to the State to do certain things. For example, the state has been directed to organise village panchayats, to check concentration of wealth and resources, to introduce prohibition, to protect historical monuments, to promote international peace and the like.

2. Fundamental Rights are Justiceable, Directive Principles are Non-justiceable:

A vital difference between the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles is that while the former are justiciable, the latter are non-justiciable. Art. 32 gives to the people, the Right to Constitutional Remedies which guarantees the enjoyment of rights. They can go to the courts for protecting their rights.

The Supreme Court and the High Courts enjoy the power to issue several writs for the enforcement of the rights. As against it Directive Principles are not enforceable. The Constitution clearly states that Part IV (Directive Principles) is not to be enforced by any Court. Directive Principles confer neither a legal/constitutional right nor provide for any method by which their non-implementation can be challenged.

3. Fundamental Rights provide for Political Democracy whereas Directive Principles aim at Socio-Economic Democracy:

The Fundamental Rights grant and guarantee civil and political freedoms and rights which are the essential political pillars of a democratic system. As against these, the Directive Principles aim at the establishment of the socio-economic democratic system in India. Their aim is to secure the socio-economic foundations of the Indian political system through appropriate legislation by the State.

4. Legal superiority of Fundamental Rights over the Directive Principles:

Fundamental Rights are enforceable. These stand granted and guaranteed. As against these Directive Principles are non-enforceable principles which have been incorporated in the Constitution after the incorporation of the Fundamental Rights. These features demonstrate the legal superiority of the Fundamental Rights over Directive Principles.

In a conflict between Part III and Part IV, the Supreme Court has always upheld the legal supremacy of the Fundamental Rights. It has not accepted any abridgement of Fundamental Rights by the State for implementing the Directive Principles.

5. Fundamental Rights have already been attained but Directive Principles are yet to be attained:

The Constitution grants and guarantees fundamental rights to the people. With the inauguration of the Constitution, the Fundamental Rights of the people became operative and people got their rights and freedoms. As against this, the Directive Principles of State Policy are yet to be attained. Some legislation has been enacted to implement some of these principles but most of these are yet to be secured by the State.

6. Fundamental Rights are backed by Law, Directive Principles by Public Opinion:

The Constitution clearly vests the Fundamental Rights with a constitutional and legal basis and makes these enforceable by the Courts. These are binding upon the State. As against this, the Directive Principles have been denied a legal basis. However, these reflect the desire of the founding fathers and the will of the people of India to secure socio-economic development through the implementation of these principles. The Directive Principles enjoy widespread support of public opinion.

These points clearly bring out the difference between the Fundamental Rights (Part III) and Directive Principles (Part IV). Despite these differences the two are designed to be complementary and supplementary to each other.


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