Home Constitutional Law II How Relevant Are the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy

How Relevant Are the Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy

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Provisions akin to chapter II of the 1979 – 99 Constitutions are contained in the Indian Constitution. In State of Madras v. Champakam Dorairajin, the court stated as follows:

of the State Policy which by  Article 37 are expressly made unenforceable by a  court cannot override the provisions found in part III which notwithstanding other provisions, are  expressly made enforceable by appropriate writs,  orders or directions under Article 32. The chapter on
Fundamental Rights is sacrosanct and cannot be  abridged by any legislative or executive Act or order,  except the extent provided in the appropriate Articles  in Part III. The Directive Principles……have to  conform to and run as subsidiary to the chapter on  Fundamental Rights.”

The above could be said to be the purpose of the decision of the court in Archbishop Olubunmi Okogie V. Attorney-General of Lagos State. 

The fact that section 6(6) (c) takes the determination of justiciability of chapter II out of the watching eyes of the judiciary renders ineffective the strength of the provisions of the law contained therein. One of the reasons for taking this position is the undesirability of raising issues that are regarded as political promises to the point of rights that can be asserted and enforced in a court of law. They are regarded as values to be pursued and goals to strive to achieve. Solace is taken in the fact that the factors contained in Chapter II could be used to determine the success or otherwise of a government. Thus if it is felt that a party in power has performed abysmally below expectation, the party may not be voted for when next the electorates have the opportunity of voting to choose their leaders.

One thing that has to be noted is that notwithstanding the non- justiciability of chapter II of the Constitution, the provisions of the law contained therein are also found in other sections of the constitution that are justiciable especially in chapter IV of the Constitution dealing with Fundamental Human Rights. Since the provisions of the law in chapter II are more comprehensive in terms of field coverage, they could be used to determine the ambit and operation of the rights provided for in general terms in chapter IV of the Constitution. A critical look at chapter II reveals that the provisions therein contained are repetitive of the justiciable portions of the constitution. Perhaps it could be stated that chapter II is not altogether useless if we come to terms with the view of Eskor Toyo37 that basically the Indian principles of state policy were meant to represent a touchstone of economic and social progress against which legislation passed by parliament and other law-making bodies were to be measured. Of particular relevance in this regard is section 16 of Chapter II which deals with economic objectives.

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