A number of judicial pronouncements and constitutional amendments have altered the balance between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy since the commencement of the constitution. Analyse.

A number of judicial pronouncements and constitutional amendments have altered the balance between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy since the commencement of the constitution. Analyse.

Answer:

The justiciability of Fundamental Rights on the one hand and the moral obligation of the state to implement directive principles, without them being justiciable, on the other hand have led to a conflict between the two. Since the commencement of the Constitution, the various judicial pronouncements and constitutional amendments have tried to alter the nature of relationship between Fundamental rights and Directive Principles:

  • Fundamental Rights supreme but amendable: In Champakam Dorairajan case (1952), the first case regarding the conflict between Fundamental Rights and DPSP, Supreme Court ruled that the supremacy of fundamental rights would prevail in case of any conflict between the two. However, it also held that the Fundamental Rights could be amended by the Parliament by enacting constitutional amendment acts to implement the Directives.
  • Fundamental Rights sacrosanct: In Golaknath case (1967), the Supreme Court ruled that the parliament can’t take away or abridge any of the Fundamental Rights which are sacrosanct in nature, which meant that the Fundamental Rights can’t be amended for the implementation of the Directive Principles.
  • Fundamental Rights amendable and laws implementing certain directives immune from some Fundamental Rights: As a reaction to the judgement in the Golaknath case, Parliament enacted 24th amendment (1971) and 25th amendment (1971).
  • 24th amendment made it clear that Parliament has the power to amend any part of the Constitution including Fundamental Rights.
  • 25th amendment inserted a new Article31 C, which provided immunity to laws enacted for implementing the directives under Article 39(b) and 39(c) from any challenge on the grounds of violation of Article 14, 19 and 31. Further such a law, would not be open to judicial review.
  • Kesavananda Bharati case (1973) accepted the supremacy of two directives over certain Fundamental Rights. However, held the undermining of judicial review as unconstitutional citing violation of basic structure.
  • Supremacy of Directive Principles: Under, 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act in 1976, Parliament amended Article 31C and accorded primacy to all Directives contained in Part IV of the Constitution over Fundamental Rights conferred under Article 14,19 and 31.
  • Balanced relationship between Directive Principles and Fundamental Rights: In Minerva Mills case (1980), the Supreme Court struck down the extension of supremacy to all Directives as unconstitutional and restored Article 31C in its original form. It held that the balance between part III and part IV is integral for the constitution as they together constituted the core of commitment to social revolution.

Thus, the present position is that the fundamental rights enjoy supremacy over the directive principles. However, the parliament can amend the Fundamental Rights for implementing Directive Principles, so long as the amendment doesn’t affect the basic structure of the Constitution.

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