Directive Principles can be considered as even more important than the Fundamental Rights because they provide a positive thrust towards welfare. Discuss.
In the words of Granville Austin, Directive Principles (DPs) and Fundamental Rights (FRs) are the conscience of the Indian Constitution. While FRs ensure minimum basic rights to ensure a dignified life to citizens, DPs are considered fundamental in the governance of the country as it seeks to establish economic and social democracy.
In the Kesavananda Bharati Case, 1973 the Supreme Court highlighted the importance of Directive Principles as:
1) They contain the basic philosophy of the Constitution which needs to be reflected in the government policies and laws made by the Parliament.
2) Unlike Fundamental Rights, these principles do not put any limitations on the powers of the state.
3) It covers almost every section of society. For example – children, women, old age, disabled, scheduled caste and scheduled tribes, and therefore helps in the establishment of a welfare state.
4) It also provides a list of areas of governance to be considered. For example – free legal aid, workers participation, and equal pay for equal work, environment protection and uniform civil code.
However, the role of the fundamental rights is also crucial as they:
1) Are essential for holistic development of individuals.
2) Protect the liberties and freedoms of the people from being encroached upon by the state or other individuals.
3) Act as limitations on the executive and the legislature.
4) Prevent the government from becoming autocratic or despotic.
5) Help in the establishment of the rule of law.
However, the Supreme Court in Minerva Mills case, 1980 held that absolute primacy to one over other disturbs the harmony of the Indian Constitution.
Hence, a balance between the two is necessary to achieve the objectives of Justice, Liberty, Equality and Fraternity as enshrined in the preamble.