Difference Between Fundamental Rights And Directive Principles Of State Policy


With 448 Articles, 25 Parts, and 12 Schedules, the Indian Constitution is the world’s longest. It is the ultimate law of the land and controls a variety of sectors, some of which are essential and necessary for the nation’s functioning. The various portions of the Constitution have a specific title under which various legislation pertaining to that subject are listed. Parts III and IV, the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy, are the most visible and discussed sections of the Indian Constitution. Whereas the Fundamental Rights are the rights that all citizens have, the Directive Principles are the mandates that the State must bear in mind when making laws and regulations. Each has a specific function to play, and each is fully described.

However, there may be times when both of these elements are at odds with one another. A circumstance may call for one to be picked over the other, i.e. one to take precedence over the other. In such a scenario, not only is it difficult to select between the two, but the worth of the one not chosen is reduced. It is sometimes stated that Basic Rights, since they are essential, will take precedence over Directive Principles; nevertheless, it is also contended that Directive Principles are fundamental in the sense that they provide the foundation for the operation of the State. To determine their real nature and activities, it is necessary to thoroughly analyse both components and comprehend the points of distinction between the two.

The Fundamental Rights

Fundamental Rights - Nature, Scope and importance

Individuals’ rights are extremely essential. Rights aid in the formation of personality by providing a person with plausible claims that may be enforced against the State if any of his basic convictions are infringed. The Fundamental Rights envisioned in Part III of the Indian Constitution are the fundamental rights guaranteed to every citizen of the nation, regardless of caste, creed, gender, religion, place of birth, and so on. Articles 12 to 35 of the constitution mention six essential rights:

  1. The Right to Equality, which promotes citizen equality and forbids discrimination on certain grounds.
  2. The Right to Freedom, which enumerates numerous liberties like as freedom of expression, freedom of profession, and so on.
  3. The Right to Religious Freedom, because India is a melting pot of religious groupings, it is critical to protect the interests of religious minorities.
  4. The prohibition against forced labour, child labour, and other kinds of human exploitation is known as the Right Against Exploitation.
  5. Cultural and Educational Rights, because India is a diverse nation with so many cultures and beliefs, so it is essential to preserve the culture of every group.
  6. The Rights to Constitutional Remedies, under which a person can approach the courts of the country if he/she feels that his/her Fundamental Rights have been violated.

These rights further branch out and give us various other fundamental rights, such as the Right to Privacy, the Right to Education, the Right to Life and Personal Liberty etc.

Although the rights are fundamental in nature, they can be taken away in certain situations, for example, if there is a situation of emergency under Articles 358 and 359 of the Constitution. Even then, the Right to Life and Personal Liberty cannot be taken away by the State.

The Directive Principles of State Policy

Articles 36 through 51 of the Constitution include the Directive Principles of State Policy. They were derived from the Irish Constitution, which was derived from the Spanish Constitution. The Directive Principles are rules that the government must follow while developing legislation for the country. They fulfil the notion of a Welfare State, which can only be realised if these Principles are followed in the manner that they are stated. Article 37 of Part IV indicates that, while these principles are not enforceable in any court of law, they are important to the country’s governance and the government has a duty to adopt them when drafting legislation.

Directive Principles of State Policy - (Articles 36-51) - DPSP

In contrast to Fundamental Rights, the Directive Principles are not classified in the Indian Constitution. However, for a better understanding, they are typically divided into three categories: socialist principles, Gandhian principles, and liberal-intellectual ideas.

  1. Articles 38 to 39A, Articles 41 to 43A, and Article 47 are composed of socialistic principles, and they lay down the framework for the development of a democratic socialist state.
  2. Articles 40, 43, 43B, and 46 to 48 include Gandhian principles, which promote the ideology of Mahatma Gandhi during the movement for Independence.
  3. Articles 44, 45, and 48 to 51 are inclined towards the ideas of liberalism and intellectualism. The Uniform Civil Code is also covered under these Articles.

The Directive Principles do advocate for the protection of certain rights, such as the right to equal compensation for equal labour, as well as equality and justice, but they are more rules than rights. They may be classified as the responsibilities of those in charge of governing the country.

Points of Difference Between Fundamental Rights And Directive Principles Of State Policy

Apart from the fact that the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy represent distinct things and are found in various portions and articles of the Constitution, they are fundamentally different in terms of their aims and execution. The following are the relationships between fundamental rights and state policy directive principles:

  1. The Fundamental Rights are open to all Indian people, they represent an individualised attitude. They are the fundamental rights of every individual citizen in the country, and if violated, they can be enforced against another individual or the State. The Directive Principles have a more social stance. They exist for the benefit of the country’s whole population rather than for the benefit of individuals. They have a group mentality.
  2. The scope of Fundamental Rights is essentially limited, because granting limitless rights to the citizens may result in anarchy. They are to be read strictly. But the scope of Directive Principles is limitless. They can be read and interpreted extensively and can give birth to more principles.
  3. Fundamental Rights are negative in nature, which means that they are prohibitions on the State. The State is required from doing certain things that would lead to the violation of an individual’s Fundamental Rights. They are legally enforceable in a court of law of the country. This also implies that Fundamental Rights are of such a nature that they can be violated. Directive Principles, on the other hand, do not possess the characteristic of being violated. They exist as a basis for the laws that are formulated for the country and this implies that they cannot be legally enforced in a court of law of the country. This renders the Directive Principles positive in nature, i.e. the State is obliged to do certain things for the welfare of the country.
  4. Because India is a democratic country, democratic features may be seen in its laws. Both the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles promote the concept of democracy, although they do it in distinct ways. Fundamental Rights spread political democracy, whereas Directive Principles spread social and economic democracy. It is simply due to the fact that the goals of both parties are dissimilar. Furthermore, Fundamental Rights represent individual wellbeing, whereas Directive Principles represent societal and economic benefit.
  5. Adequate legislation is necessary for the execution of Directive Principles. The Directive Principles can only be realised via law. They cannot be implemented automatically and in the language in which they are enshrined in the Constitution. Fundamental Rights, on the other hand, are already enforceable. They do not require any legislation to be enacted. However, this does not mean that there are no consequences for violations of Fundamental Rights. Directive Principles are subject to legal and political sanctions, but Fundamental Rights are also subject to legal consequences.
  6. If a legislation violates the Fundamental Rights, a court might declare that law illegal and void. However, the courts lack the authority to declare any statute that violates a Directive Principle illegal or void. A legislation, on the other hand, can be supported by a court if it gives effect to a Directive Principle.
  7. The Fundamental Rights were given a place of honour by the drafters of the Constitution. They are the fundamental rights granted to all citizens. The Directive Principles are granted permanent status in the Constitution since they serve as the foundation for the country’s legislative activities.
  8. Violation of the Fundamental Rights results in punishment, as per the Indian Penal Code, 1860. These rights can be enforced against the State or against any individual(s). There is no punishment for the violation of Directive Principles.
  9. Fundamental Rights can be suspended during a period of emergency, except the Fundamental Right to Life and Personal Liberty, which cannot be suspended even in an emergency. Directive Principles can never be suspended or restricted, under any circumstance.
  10. The Constitution of India was formulated at a time when a lot of countries had their own constitutions. Thus, many parts of our Constitution have been borrowed from other constitutions. While the Directive Principles have been borrowed from the Irish Constitution, the Fundamental Rights have been borrowed from the Constitution of the United States of America.


The differences between the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy suggest that the aims and objectives of both are different but somewhat similar. Each part of the Constitution compliments another, and so do they. It is necessary to understand the importance of each and apply/use them accordingly. Fundamental Rights are rights in the sense that they are available to the people, and Directive Principles act as duties upon the State, which the State is required to fulfil, even though the Directive Principles incorporate some elements of social and economic rights. Together, they aim at promoting the principles of democracy and welfarism, which can be achieved only when both the parts go hand in hand, without any conflict.