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CASE LAW ON DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY

In The State of Madras v. Srimathi Champakam Dorairajan, 1951 SCR 525, it was held that the Directive Principles of State Policy have to conform to and run as subsidiary to the Chapter of Fundamental Rights. The view was reiterated in Deep Chand and Anr. v. The State of Uttar Pradesh and Others, 1959 Supp. (2) SCR 8.

The Court went on to hold that disobedience to Directive Principles cannot affect the legislative power of the State. So was the view taken in In Re : The Kerala Education Bill, 1957 , 1959 SCR 995. With L.C. Golak Nath and others v. State of Punjab and Another, (1967) 2 SCR 762, the Supreme Court departed from the rigid rule of subordinating Directive Principles and entered the era of harmonious construction. The need for avoiding a conflict between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles was emphasized, appealing to the legislature and the courts to strike a balance between the two as far as possible.

Having noticed Champakam  even the Constitution Bench in Quareshi-I chose to make a headway and held that the Directive Principles nevertheless are fundamental in the governance of the country and it is the duty of the State to give effect to them. "A harmonious interpretation has to be placed upon the Constitution and so interpreted it means that the State should certainly implement the directive principles but it must do so in such a way that its laws do not take away or abridge the fundamental rights, for otherwise the protecting provisions of Part III will be a 'mere rope of sand'. "Thus, Quareshi-I did take note of the status of Directive Principles having been elevated from 'sub-ordinate' or 'sub-servient' to 'partner' of Fundamental Rights in guiding the nation.

His Holiness Kesavananda Bharati Sripadagalvaru and Anr. v. State of Kerala and Anr., (1973) 4 SCC 225, a thirteen-Judge Bench decision of this Court is a turning point in the history of Directive Principles jurisprudence. This decision clearly mandated the need for bearing in mind the Directive Principles of State Policy while judging the reasonableness of the restriction imposed on Fundamental Rights. Several opinions were recorded in Kesavananda Bharati and quoting from them would significantly increase the length of this judgment. For our purpose, it would suffice to refer to the seven-Judge Bench decision in Pathumma and Others v. State of Kerala and Ors., (1978) 2 SCC 1, wherein the learned Judges neatly summed up the ratio of Kesavananda Bharati and other decisions which are relevant for our purpose. Pathumma holds :-
"(1) Courts interpret the constitutional provisions against the social setting of the country so as to show a complete consciousness and deep awareness of the growing requirements of society, the increasing needs of the nation, the burning problems of the day and the complex issues facing the people, which the legislature, in its wisdom, through beneficial legislation, seeks to solve. The judicial approach should be dynamic rather than static, pragmatic and not pedantic and elastic rather than rigid. This Court while acting as a sentinel on the qui vive to protect fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens of the country must try to strike a just balance between the fundamental rights and the larger and broader interests of society so that when such a right clashes with a larger interest of the country it must yield to the latter.
(2) The Legislature is in the best position to understand and appreciate the needs of the people as enjoined in the Constitution. The Court will interfere in this process only when the statute is clearly violative of the right conferred on a citizen under Part III or when the Act is beyond the legislative competence of the legislature. The courts have recognised that there is always a presumption in favour of the constitutionality of the statutes and the onus to prove its invalidity lies on the party which assails it.
(3) The right conferred by Article 19(1)(f) is conditioned by the various factors mentioned in clause (5).  (4) The following tests have been laid down as guidelines to indicate in what particular circumstances a restriction can be regarded as reasonable:
(a) In judging the reasonableness of the restriction the court has to bear in mind the Directive Principles of State Policy.
(b) The restrictions must not be arbitrary or of an excessive nature so as to go beyond the requirements of the interests of the general public. The legislature must take intelligent care and deliberation in choosing the course which is dictated by reason and good conscience so as to strike a just balance between the freedom in the article and the social control permitted by the restrictions under the article.
(c) No abstract or general pattern or fixed principle can be laid down so as to be of universal application. It will have to vary from case to case and having regard to the changing conditions, the values of human life, social philosophy of the Constitution, prevailing conditions and the surrounding circumstances all of which must enter into the judicial verdict.
(d) The Court is to examine the nature and extent, the purport and content of the right, the nature of the evil sought to be remedied by the statute, the ratio of harm caused to the citizen and the benefit conferred on the person or the community for whose benefit the legislation is passed.
(e) There must be a direct and proximate nexus or a reasonable connection between the restriction imposed and the object which is sought to be achieved.
(f) The needs of the prevailing social values must be satisfied by the restrictions meant to protect social welfare.
(g) The restriction has to be viewed not only from the point of view of the citizen but the problem before the legislature and the object which is sought to be achieved by the statute. In other words, the Court must see whether the social control envisaged by Article 19 (1) is being effectuated by the restrictions imposed on the fundamental right. However important the right of a citizen or an individual may be it has to yield to the larger interests of the country or the community.
(h) The Court is entitled to take into consideration matters of common report history of the times and matters of common knowledge and the circumstances existing at the time of the legislation for this purpose.


In State of Kerala and Anr. v. N.M. Thomas and Ors., (1976) 2 SCC 310, also a seven-Judge Bench of this Court culled out and summarized the ratio of this Court in Kesavananda Bharati. Fazal Ali, J extracted and set out the relevant extract from the opinion of several Judges in Kesavananda Bharati and then opined: "In view of the principles adumbrated by this Court it is clear that the directive principles form the fundamental feature and the social conscience of the Constitution and the Constitution enjoins upon the State to implement these directive principles. The directives thus provide the policy, the guidelines and the end of socio-economic freedom and Articles 14 and 16 are the means to implement the policy to achieve the ends sought to be promoted by the directive principles. So far as the courts are concerned where there is no apparent inconsistency between the directive principles contained in Part IV and the fundamental rights mentioned in Part III, which in fact supplement each other, there is no difficulty in putting a harmonious construction which advances the object of the Constitution. Once this basic fact is kept in mind, the interpretation of Articles 14 and 16 and their scope and ambit become as clear as day."

The message of Kesavananda Bharati is clear. The interest of a citizen or section of a community, howsoever important, is secondary to the interest of the country or community as a whole. For judging the reasonability of restrictions imposed on Fundamental Rights the relevant considerations are not only those as stated in Article 19 itself or in Part-III of the Constitution; the Directive Principles stated in Part-IV are also relevant. Changing factual conditions and State policy, including the one reflected in the impugned enactment, have to be considered and given weightage to by the courts while deciding the constitutional validity of legislative enactments. A restriction placed on any Fundamental Right, aimed at securing Directive Principles will be held as reasonable and hence intra vires subject to two limitations : first, that it does not run in clear conflict with the fundamental right, and secondly, that it has been enacted within the legislative competence of the enacting legislature under Part XI Chapter I of the Constitution.

In Municipal Corporation of the City of Ahmedabad & Ors. v. Jan Mohammed Usmanbhai & Anr., (1986) 3 SCC 20, what was impugned before the High Court was a standing order issued by the Municipal Commissioner of the State of Ahmedabad, increasing the number of days on which slaughter houses should be kept closed to seven, in supersession of the earlier standing order which directed the closure for only four days. The writ petitioner, a beef dealer, challenged the constitutional validity of the impugned standing orders (both, the earlier and the subsequent one) as violative of Articles 14 and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution. The challenge based on Articles 14 of the Constitution was turned down both by the High Court and the Supreme Court. However, the High Court had struck down the seven days closure as not "in the interests of the general public" and hence not protected by Clause (6) of Article 19 of the Constitution. In appeal preferred by the Municipal Corporation, the Constitution Bench reversed the Judgment of the High Court and held that the objects sought to be achieved by the impugned standing orders were the preservation, protection and improvement of live-stock, which is one of the Directive Principles. Cows, bulls, bullocks and calves of cows are no doubt the most important cattle for our agricultural economy. They form a separate class and are entitled to be treated differently from other animals such as goats and sheep, which are slaughtered. The Constitution Bench ruled that the expression "in the interests of general public" is of a wide import covering public order, public health, public security, morals, economic welfare of the community and the objects mentioned in Part IV of the Constitution.

In Workmen of Meenakshi Mills Ltd. and Others. v. Meenakshi Mills Ltd. and Anr. , (1992) 3 SCC 336, the Constitution Bench clearly ruled  "Ordinarily any restriction so imposed which has the effect of promoting or effectuating a directive principle can be presumed to be a reasonable restriction in public interest."

Similar view is taken in Papnasam Labour Union v. Madura Coats Ltd. and Anr. , (1995) 1 SCC 501. Directive Principles Long back in The State of Bombay and anr. v. F.N. Balsara, 1951 SCR 682, a Constitution Bench had ruled that in judging the reasonableness of the restrictions imposed on the Fundamental Rights, one has to bear in mind the Directive Principles of State Policy set-forth in Part IV of the Constitution, while examining the challenge to the constitutional validity of law by reference to Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

In a comparatively recent decision of this Court in M.R.F. Ltd. v. Inspector, Kerala Govt. and Ors., (1998) 8 SCC 227, this Court, on a conspectus of its various prior decisions summed up principles as 'clearly discernible', out of which three that are relevant for our purpose, are extracted and reproduced hereunder. "On a conspectus of various decisions of this Court, the following principles are clearly discernible:
(1) While considering the reasonableness of the restrictions, the court has to keep in mind the Directive Principles of State Policy. ……..
(3) In order to judge the reasonableness of the restrictions, no abstract or general pattern or a fixed principle can be laid down so as to be of universal application and the same will vary from case to case as also with regard to changing conditions, values of human life, social philosophy of the Constitution, prevailing conditions and the surrounding circumstances………………..
(6) There must be a direct and proximate nexus or a reasonable connection between the restrictions imposed and the object sought to be achieved. If there is a direct nexus between the restrictions and the object of the Act, then a strong presumption in favour of the constitutionality of the Act will naturally arise.

Very recently in Indian Handicrafts Emporium and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors., (2003) 7 SCC 589, this Court while dealing with the case of a total prohibition reiterated that 'regulation' includes 'prohibition' and in order to determine whether total prohibition would be reasonable, the Court has to balance the direct impact on the fundamental right of the citizens as against the greater public or social interest sought to be ensured. Implementation of the Directive Principles contained in Part IV is within the expression of 'restriction in the interests of the general public'.

Post Kesavananda Bharati so far as the determination of the position of Directive Principles, vis-a-vis Fundamental Rights are concerned, it has been an era of positivism and creativity. Article 37 of the Constitution which while declaring the Directive Principles to be unenforceable by any Court goes on to say  "that they are nevertheless fundamental in the governance of the country." Several clauses of Article 37 themselves need to be harmoniously construed assigning equal weightage to all of them. The end part of Article 37  "It shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws" is not a pariah but a constitutional mandate. The series of decisions which we have referred to hereinabove and the series of decisions which formulate the 3-stages of development of the relationship between Directive Principles and Fundamental Rights undoubtedly hold that, while interpreting the interplay of rights and restrictions, Part-III (Fundamental Rights) and Part-IV (Directive Principles) have to be read together. The restriction which can be placed on the rights listed in Article 19(1) are not subject only to Articles 19(2) to 19(6); the provisions contained in the chapter on Directive Principles of State Policy can also be pressed into service and relied on for the purpose of adjudging the reasonability of restrictions placed on the Fundamental Rights.

In AIIMS Students' Union v. AIIMS and Ors., (2002) 1 SCC 428, a three-Judge Bench of this Court made it clear that fundamental duties, though not enforceable by writ of the court, yet provide valuable guidance and aid to interpretation and resolution of constitutional and legal issues. In case of doubt, peoples' wish as expressed through Article 51-A can serve as a guide not only for resolving the issue but also for constructing or moulding the relief to be given by the courts. The fundamental duties must be given their full meaning as expected by the enactment of the Forty-second Amendment. The Court further held that the State is, in a sense, 'all the citizens placed together' and, therefore, though Article 51A does not expressly cast any fundamental duty on the State, the fact remains that the duty of every citizen of India is, collectively speaking, the duty of the State.

In Mohan Kumar Singhania & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors., 1992 Supp (1) SCC 594, a governmental decision to give utmost importance to the training programme of the Indian Administrative Service selectees was upheld by deriving support from Article 51-A(j) of the Constitution, holding that the governmental decision was in consonance with one of the fundamental duties.

In State of U.P. v. Yamuna Shanker Misra & Ors., (1997) 4 SCC 7, this Court interpreted the object of writing the confidential reports and making entries in the character rolls by deriving support from Article 51-A(j) which enjoins upon every citizen the primary duty to constantly endeavour to strive towards excellence, individually and collectively.

In Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra & Ors. v. State of Uttar Pradesh & Ors., 1986 (Supp) SCC 517, a complete ban and closing of mining operations carried on in the Mussoorie hills was held to be sustainable by deriving support from the fundamental duty as enshrined in Article 51-A(g) of the Constitution. The Court held that preservation of the environment and keeping the ecological balance unaffected is a task which not only Governments but also every citizen must undertake. It is a social obligation of the State as well as of the individuals.

In T.N. Godavarman Thirumalpad v. Union of India & Ors., (2002) 10 SCC 606, a three-Judge Bench of this Court read Article 48-A and Article 51-A together as laying down the foundation for a jurisprudence of environmental protection and held that "Today, the State and the citizens are under a fundamental obligation to protect and improve the environment, including forests, lakes, rivers, wild life and to have compassion for living creatures". 

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