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Difference Between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy

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  • Last Updated : 29 Oct, 2021

The Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) of India are inspired by The Charter of Human Rights of the United Nations (1948) and the Irish Constitution respectively. The Fundamental Rights and the DPSP enshrined in PART-III and PART-IV of the constitution together strive to make Indian democracy rich and viable.

Granville Austin has described the Fundamental Rights and the Directive principles as theConscience‘ of the Indian Constitution.

The Fundamental Rights are the basic rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution which allows an individual to develop themselves to their full capacity. Part III(Article 12-35) of our Constitution lays down in detail all the Fundamental Rights. The concept of Fundamental Rights has been taken from the Bill of Rights in the United States. The Constitution acts as the Guarantor of the Fundamental Rights, and the Supreme Court of India and the High Court of the State are the Guardian of the Fundamental Rights. The Fundamental Rights are justiciable in nature and these Fundamental Rights are applicable to all the citizens of India universally, but in the case of aliens (except enemy aliens), these rights are partly applicable as Articles 15,16,19, 29, and 30 are not applicable to them. Enemy aliens do not enjoy all of the Fundamental Rights for example, according to Article 22, they do not enjoy protection against arrest and detention.

The total number of Fundamental Rights in India is 6 [Originally it was 7, as the right to property (Article 31) is not a Fundamental Rights anymore; it was repealed by the 44th amendment 1978]. It is now a Legal Right under Article 300 (A). The six fundamental rights are as follows:

  • Right to Equality (Article 14-18)
  • Right to particular freedom (Article 19-22)
  • Right against exploitation (Article 23-24)
  • Right to freedom of religion (Article 25-28)
  • Cultural and educational rights (Article 29-30)
  • Right to constitutional remedies. (Article 32)

The Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) are ideological directions provided by the constitution to the government of the State, and it is the duty of the State to follow these directions in the administration as well as in making laws. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar had described these principles as ‘novel features’ of the Indian Constitution. The main concept of DPSP aims to build a ‘welfare state’ and most of the directives aim at the establishment of an Economic and Social Democracy. The DPSP is enshrined in Part-IV of the constitution (Article 36-51). The DPSP is non-justiciable in nature. DPSP is universally applicable to the citizens of India and the aliens in India.

The total number of DPSP is 18 (originally it was 13). The DPSP can be classified into three categories based on their content.

  • Socialist Principles: they aim at establishing social and economic justice, thereby fulfilling the goal of a welfare state (Article 38, 39, 39A, 41, 42, 43, 43A, 47).
  • Gandhian Principles: These principles are based on Gandhian ideology, and they aim at the reconstruction of the society by following Gandhian ideas of emancipation (Article 40, 43, 43B, 46, 47, 48).
  • Liberal Principles: These principles embody the ideology of liberalism and thereby aim to build a liberal and democratic society promoting the common good (Articles 44, 45, 48, 49, 50, 51).

The Fundamental Rights and the DPSP are the cornerstones of the Indian Constitution that together make the Indian democracy successful, but they are different from each other in their own spheres of activity. The differences between the two are as follows:

1. The Fundamental Rights are enshrined in Part-III of the Constitution, they are justiciable in nature, and they can be enforced in any court of law; while the DPSP are enshrined in Part IV of the Constitution, and they are non-justiciable in nature.

2. The Fundamental Rights are basic rights guaranteed to an individual for his/her development therefore they are individualistic in nature; while the DPSP strives to establish a welfare state, hence it trends more towards collectivism.

3. The Fundamental Rights upholds the principle of political democracy; while the DPSP stands for economic and social democracy.

4. The Fundamental Rights can be suspended during a national emergency except for the rights under articles 20 and 21; while DPSP cannot be suspended under any circumstance.

5. If any law is passed contravening any fundamental right, the law can be declared null and void by any court of law; while the law cannot be declared null and void if it contradicts any DPSP.

6. Fundamental rights are negative in nature as they impose restrictions upon the state, prohibiting the state to act in a manner that violates individual rights; while the DPSP is positive in nature as it is a direction given to the state by the constitution which the state is expected to abide by in its administration.

7. Fundamental rights are universally applicable to all citizens of India but partially applicable to the aliens in India, but the DPSP is universally applicable to both citizens and aliens.

8. The concept of the fundamental right has been taken from The Bill of Rights of the USA; while the concept of DPSP has been taken from Ireland.

The fundamental rights and the DPSP together fulfill the greater role of empowering the individual by allowing them to develop their abilities to their full potential and also act as a check against the hasty legislation of the government, together with fulfilling the greater role of establishing a ‘welfare state’.

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