LEGAL SHORTS-Conflict between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles

January 19, 2018

Fundamental Rights are enshrined under Part III of the Constitution of India  and Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) have been enumerated under Part IV of the Constitution of India. Fundamental Rights and the DPSP are the two wheels of the chariot as an aid to make social and economic democracy a truism[1].

Conflict between Fundamental Rights and DPSP

The issue relating to conflict between Fundamental Rights and DPSP often arise as the declarations made under DPSP in many cases are of wider import than Fundamental Rights. However, the Fundamental Rights in its basic nature are rights enforceable by the Courts of Law and any act of State or Law that violates fundamental rights are ultra vires whereas the DPSP are not enforceable by Courts of Law[2] and any act of State or Law which is otherwise valid cannot be declared as void if it is against DPSP.

In the case of State of Madras v. Champakam[3], the Supreme Court held that in case of any conflict between DPSP and Fundamental Rights, the Fundamental Rights under Part III prevails.

Thereafter, in 1967 in the landmark Golak Nath case[4], 11-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court held that Fundamental Rights cannot be abridged/diluted to implement the DPSP.

Article 31C conferring wider import on DPSP

Pursuant to the aforesaid case, the Constitution was amended in 1971 and Article 31C[5] was incorporated in the Constitution which widened the import of DPSP to state that though the DPSP themselves are not directly enforceable in the Courts, if any Law is made to implement any of the Directives contained in Part IV of the Constitution of India it would be immune from unconstitutionality on the ground of contravention of the fundamental rights conferred by Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution of India .

Minerva Mills case[6]

In this celebrated case, the Supreme Court restricted the wide scope conferred on DPSP vide Article 31C of the Constitution of India  to hold that:

  1. Article 31C is restored to its pre-1976 position so that a Law would be protected by Article 31C only if it has been made to implement the directive in Article 39(b)-(c) and not any of the other Directives included in Part IV.
  2. That there is a fine balance in the original Constitution as between the DPSP and the Fundamental Rights, which should be adhered to by the Courts by a harmonious reading of the two categories of provisions, instead of giving any general preference to the DPSP.






[1] Jijubhai Nanabhai Khachar v. State of Gujrat, 1995 Supp. (1) SCC 596

[2] Article 37 of the Constitution of India

[3] (1951) SCR 523 (531)

[4] Golak Nath v. State of Punjab (1967)

[5] Incorporated by 42nd Amendment Act

[6] Minerva Mills v. Union of India, AIR 1980 SC 956

About the Author

Shilpi Sharan

- Shilpi Sharan is the Editor at - an Advocate with extensive knowledge in myriad fields of Law. She has a flair of writing and has legal publications in national and international law magazines to her credit. She focuses on legal research and aims at raising public awareness of laws in India.