Relationship between Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles and Fundamental Duties

Relationship between Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles and Fundamental Duties

There are some rights which are necessary to lead a life. Some of the rights which are enshrined in the Constitution and are also recognized by the State are known as Fundamental Rights.

The provisions of Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Duties are under the Part III, Part IV and Part IV-A of the Constitution respectively. These are considered as vital elements of the Constitution and they are developed by the Constituent Assembly of India between 1947 and 1949.

Fundamental Rights are those rights which are granted to the citizens of India for their protection and welfare etc. by the Constitution.  These provisions apply irrespective of caste, gender, sex, race, religion, place of birth etc. They are also called as basic human rights for the citizens. Fundamental Rights are enforceable by the High Courts and Supreme Court under Article 226 and Article 32 respectively, subject to specific restrictions. They focus on interest of personality.

Directive Principles are the guidelines provided by the Constitution for framing the laws by the government. These are not such provisions like Fundamental Rights which are enforceable by courts. While framing and passing the laws by the State, these principles work as fundamental guidelines for governance of the State. In other words, DPSP are the directions given to the State to guide the establishment of economic and social democracy. The Directive Principles focuses on the welfare of the society.

The Fundamental Duties are the moral responsibilities of all the citizens which help in promoting the spirit of patriotism and also the unity of India. As like as Directive Principles they are also not enforceable by the courts, it concerns about individuals and the nation. Initially there were 10 Fundamental Duties but after 86th Amendment in 2002, one other duty was added that ‘every parent or guardian must provide appropriate opportunities of education to his child between the ages of 6 to 16 years’. Currently, there are 11 Fundamental Duties.


The Directive Principles have been used to uphold the Constitutional validity of Legislation when the conflict arises with the Fundamental Rights. Article 31-C was added by the 25th Amendment in 1971 to provide the supremacy to the Directive Principles in the form of Article 31-C. The insertion of this article was to give effect to the Directive Principles in Article 39-B and Article 39-C over Fundamental Rights conferred by Articles 14, 19 and 31.

In the case of Golak Nath v. State of Punjab 1The SC has said that Fundamental rights cannot be diluted, diminished or taken away and then in response to it by bringing the Amendment Act and inserted Article 31-C in Part III of the Constitution. If any law is framed with effect to DPSP and if it violates Article 14, 19 and 21 then the law should not declare as void merely on this ground.

The application of this article was to be extended to all the DPSP by the 42nd Amendment, 1970, but the Supreme Court struck down the extension as void on the ground that it violated the basic structure of the Constitution in Minerva Mill case 2. The Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles have also been used together in forming the basis of Legislation for the welfare of the citizens.

In the very leading Kesavananda Bharati case, 3 The Supreme Court has held that Parliament can amend any part but without basic structure. The clause 2 of Article 31-C has been declared unconstitutional and void as it was against the basic structure. But the clause 1 has been declared valid. The Parliament has brought the 42nd Amendment Act and extends the scope of provisions of Article 31-C. After the Judgement, the Supreme Court has adopted the view that the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles are complementary to each other and they are supplementing the other’s role with the aim of establishing the welfare state by the social means.

Thus the Court restored Article 31-C to its original state as inserted by 25th Amendment in 1971. It follows that the Directive Principles of Article 39-B and Article 39-Cshall have the supremacy on fundamental rights conferred by Article 14 and 19.

In State of Kerala v. N. M. Thomas 4, the SC said that the Fundamental Rights and DPSP should be built in such a way to be with each and every possible effort should be taken by the courts to solve the dispute between them.

The Supreme Court has used the Fundamental Duties to uphold the Constitutional validity of Statutes which tends to promote the objects expended in the Part IV of the Constitution i.e. Fundamental Duties. These Duties are held to be obligatory for all citizens, subject to the State enforcing the same by means of a valid law. The Supreme Court has also issued directions to the State for making the provisions effective and enabling a citizen to properly perform their duties.

In Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporation, 5 The SC has submitted that DPSP are fundamentals in the governance of the country. So, equal importance should be given to the meaning and concepts of Fundamental Rights.

In Dalmia Cement v. Union of India, 6 The SC said that Fundamental Rights and DPSP are supplementary and complementary to each other and the Preamble of the Constitution which provides an introduction, Fundamental Rights and DPSP are conscience of the Constitution.

In Ashok Kumar Thakur v. Union of India, 7 The SC said that no difference can be made between these two sets of rights. Fundamental Rights are the rights which deal with the Civil and Political Rights whereas DPSP deals with social and economic rights. DPSP are not enforceable in courts but it doesn’t mean it is a subordinate.

A notable change had come in the judiciary on the question of the relationship between the Fundamental Rights and DPSP.

.In re Kerala Education Bill,8 the Supreme Court observed ‘though DPSP cannot override Fundamental Rights, but in determining the scope and ambit of Fundamental Rights the court couldn’t ignore the Directive Principles but they should adopt the principle of Harmonious Construction and should attempt to give effect to both. The Supreme Court also began to assert that there is no conflict between the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles. They are supplementary and complementary to each other.

In Minerva Mill case, the court observed that Part III and Part IV are the two wheels of the chariot as an aid to make social and economic democracy. The Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles are the basic structure of the Constitution.

Now, Article 46 of the DPSP guides the affirmative action under Article 15 (4) and Article 16 (4). The Directive principles of ‘Equal pay for equal work’ and ‘participation of workers in management’ were received through Article 14 and also freedom of occupation under Article 19 (1) or right to livelihood under Article 21. In Consumer education and research centre v. UOI  by reading Article 21 with Article 39-C, 41, 43 and 48-A, Justice K. Ramaswamy held for the court that ‘The health and strength of the worker is an integral facet of right to life’.


The Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles are the two faces of a coin that serve a single purpose i.e. the interest of the citizen. Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles provisions are defined under Part III, Part IV-A and Part IV of the constitution. Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties go to the roots of how a citizen acts in the society whereas Directive Principles are the guidelines for the State to create and pass laws.

Fundamental Rights and Duties are enforceable in courts while the Directive Principles are not. Therefore, the decision for enforcement of directive principles lies in the hands of the aggrieved and it is upon the jurisdiction of the court that it will decide whether to adjudicate this or not.

The judicial attitude has undergone various transformations where courts are very active to uphold the Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Constitution thereby interpreting the provisions of Part IV i.e. DPSP. Initially, the court has adopted a strict and legal position in interpreting Parts III and IV of the Constitution which is reflected in State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajan, 9 it was held that case of conflict between the Part III and Part IV, the Fundamental Rights will prevail.

In the recent decision of the Apex and the High Courts, there has been a changing trend by making a harmonious construction between the Part III and Part IV of the Constitution making the Directive Principles justifiable and enforceable on par with the Part III i.e. the Fundamental Rights of the Constitution. They both are supplementary and complementary to each other.

“The views of the authors are personal


  • AIR 1976 SCR (2) 762
  • AIR 1973 SC 1461
  • AIR 1980 SC 1789
  • AIR 1976
  • 1985 SCC (3) 545
  • (1996) 10 SCC 104
  • 10 April, 2008
  • (1959) 1 SCR 995
  • AIR 1951 SC 226
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I am Ayush Pandey pursuing BBA. – LL.B., ( Integrated) at BBD Deemed to be University. Being an athirst law student I love to read the different cases and having keen interest towards Indian Penal Code & Constitutional Law. I love to read books that inspire me and also which re related to the legal field. I prefer to travel and explore new things and places. In my free time, I use to listen to music and spend my quality time with the different – different people so that I can get their perspective bout the happenings in our country. It helps me in making my points stronger at the time of frequent debates with my colleagues. It also helps me in nourishing my writing skills. In my articles, I usually try to frame more reality than fiction and trying to show the impacts either positive or negative on society as I have done similar in my Article on ‘Dowry Death'. last but not the least, I am a gadget lover and I own many of them.