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Q. Which one between the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy enjoys the position of priority?

Q. Which one between the Fundamental Rights and the Directive Principles of State Policy enjoys the position of priority?
Ans. In a situation of conflict between the Fundamental Rights (Part Ill) and the Directive Principles of State Policy (Part IV); it becomes a debatable points as to which one should get priority over the other. In 1951, the Supreme Court in State of Madras Vs. Champakam Dorai- rajan case, upheld that in case of contradiction between the provisions of Part Ill and that of Part IV, the former (Fundamental Rights) shall prevail. In another Case related to Kerala Education Bill, 1957, the court declared that the Directive Principles of State Policy cannot get priority over the Fundamental Rights, yet the Directive Principles cannot be ignored totally. In this respect a new Article 31(c) was added in 1971 by 25th Constitutional Amendment which gives priority to the Directive Principles of State Policy in specific situations. It provides that no law giving effect to the principles contained in Article 39(b), (c) shall be deemed to be void on the ground that it is inconsistent with, or takes away or abridges away any of the rights conferred by Article 14 or Article 19. It further states that no law containing a declaration that it is for giving effect to such principles shall be called in question in any court on the ground that it does not give effect to such policy (principles). In Keshvanand Bharti case. in 1973, the Supreme Court upheld the first part of Article 31(c) but declared null and void the’ second part underlined above on the ground that it abridges the power of ‘Judicial Review’ of the court which is part of the ‘Basic Structure of the Constitution. It propounded the principle that Parliament cannot change the Basic Structure of the Constitution even by the process of Constitution Amendment. However, in 1976, Parliament by 42nd Amendment Act further  extended the first part of Article 31(c) to include not just Article 39(b)(c) but all the Directive- Principles of State Policy. Thus, all the Directive Principles of State Policy were given priority by this Amendment.
Again, in 1980, the Supreme Court in case of Minerva Mills Ltd. & Co. Vs. Union of India, reiterated its earlier stand and decided to declare null and void the extension of the scope of Article 3 1(c) made by 42nd Constitutional Amendment. After this judgement, the position is that only those laws which give effect to the principles contained in Article 39(b)(c) (not all Directive Principles) shall prevail over the Fundamental Right provided in Article 19 and Article 14. And, also. the courts shall have the power of Judicial Review to inquire into the laws made to give effect to the principles contained in Article 39(b)(c). But with respect to other Directive Principles, the Fundamental Rights still hold the position of priority. Thus, both arc important and require harmonious balance to be maintained.


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