Explained: DPSP | Policy principles of state policy

The author has explained the importance of the guiding principles of state policy, often referred to as the DPSP.


The Constitution of India contained certain guidelines that the state had to follow in order to protect its citizens. It mentions the responsibility of the state towards its citizens and this is referred to as the guiding principles of state policy (hereinafter “DPSP”). Part IV of the constitution forms the DPSP. The aim of this part is to ensure social, economic and political justice. This DPSP should contribute to the achievement of the welfare state.

DPSP and the Constitution

Part IV of the constitution consists of 15 DPSP. This starts with Article 36 through Article 51 of the Constitution. The Government of India must take note of these articles before making any law or policy. This part of the constitution consists of the obligations that a state must fulfill.

The preamble to the constitution expressly states that it should ensure justice, freedom, equality and fraternity for all citizens. The only way to achieve this constitutional goal is through DPSP. For this reason, some scholars consider DPSP to be the essence of the constitution. In addition, it is a known fact that India wants to adopt the ideal of the welfare state. DPSP is the means to achieve the same thing.

Basic rights, DPSP and basic duties

The constitution of India not only obliges the state, but also provides rights and obligations for its citizens. And such rights and duties are called basic rights and basic duties. The former is enshrined in Part III of the Constitution, the latter in Part IV A of the Constitution. The relationship between these three can be explained by precedents.

  1. It should be noted that if the acts of the legislature and the executive violate the fundamental rights of the Constitution, the same act will be annulled. For example, if the legislature passes a law in violation of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution, it will be declared unconstitutional. However, an exception to this rule has been confirmed in IC Golak Nath & Ors. v. State of Punjab & Anr .. The Court ruled that if the law is consistent with the DPSP and in violation of the above articles, then that same law will be declared unconstitutional and not for those reasons only.
  2. The case of Golak Nath was found in the case of Kesavananda Bharati v. Kerala State & Anr. In this case, the court ruled that fundamental rights and the DPSP should complement each other.
  3. In the Kerala v. NM Thomas case, the court ruled that the constitution should be read in accordance with the DPSP.
  4. In the Javed v. Haryana State case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fundamental Rights should be read in conjunction with the chapter on the Principles of State Policy and Obligations.
  5. In the Ashok Kumar Thakur v UOI case, the court ruled that fundamental rights are civil and political rights and DPSPs are social and economic rights. And DPSPs are not subordinate even though they are not justified by the legal process.
  6. In the NK Bajpai v Union of India case, the court recommended that the constitutional aspects of fundamental rights, the DPSP and fundamental obligations be examined when interpreting any provisions.

In India there are several other cases where the relationship between fundamental rights, DPSP and fundamental duties is mentioned. All of these cases emphasize the fact that neither is superior, but complementary.

Enforceability of DPSP

The enforceability of DPSP is an important question in the minds of citizens. The answer to that is no. DPSP is not enforceable as it is a moral obligation to the state and not a legal obligation. The state is not legally liable if it does not follow the DPSP. The same applies to basic tasks. However, fundamental rights are enforceable.

Article 37 of the Constitution expressly provides that Part IV of the Constitution is not enforceable by any court. It is important to note, however, that while the DPSP is not justified by the court, it is justified on its own. This was repeated in the case of Air India Statutory Corporation v United Labor Union & Ors.


In summary, DPSP is seen as fundamental to the governance of the country. Dr. Ambedkar referred to these principles as novel features of the constitution because of their unenforceability. It is important to note that DPSP is unenforceable and does not render it unusable as it provides guidelines for making the concept of welfare a reality.

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