If there is one single Act which can transform India and needs to be done forthwith is to make Directive Principles enshrined in the constitution, Fundamental Rights of the citizen. For those who are not acquainted with these nomenclatures in the Constitution of India, let me explain in simple terms. Fundamental Rights like say Right to life, equality and liberty etc are enforceable. Citizens can move to court against the state in case of violations. Directive principles, are however, not enforceable by court. It is a road map for the Government to follow.
The Directive Principles, though not judicially enforceable, are fundamental in the governance of the country. It shall be the duty of the State to apply these principles in making laws. Besides, all executive agencies should also be guided by these principles. Even the Judiciary has to keep them in mind in deciding cases. The Supremacy of Directive Policy over Fundamental Rights was established by the 25th Amendment Act of 1971. If laws are made to give effect to the Directive Principles over Fundamental Rights, they shall not be invalid on the grounds that they take away the Fundamental Rights.
The nation has passed 64 years after the Constitution of India was adopted. 64 years is a long time, in fact the number is approximately the same as longevity of an average Indian now. Most of the generation who were thrilled to be in the era of Constitution adoption may not be alive to see that the many of the directives still continue as measures of a pious intent though there have been some legislations giving effect to the Directive Principles periodically. However, this piecemeal approach has to go, and once and for all the Directive Principles which are deemed relevant as on date should be made enforceable in one go. It is now or never. To those who died disillusioned in a free India- our best tribute will be make all possible directives enforceable. This will make us the citizens – not supplicants at the mercy of those in power.
The basic postulates are as relevant today as it was then. Let us now take a look at some of the Directive Principles contained in the Constitution.
- Welfare of the people by promoting social order in which social, economic and political justice is informed in all institutions of life
- Ownership and material resources of the community are so distributed so as to subserve the common good.
- Reducing economic inequality as well as inequalities in status and opportunities, not only among individuals, but also among groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations.
- The State shall aim for securing right to an adequate means of livelihood for all citizens, both men and women as well as equal pay for equal work for both men and women.
- The State should also ensure living wage and proper working conditions for workers, with full enjoyment of leisure and social and cultural activities
- To raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health
But for a nation to shape up, enactments urging state to do something is not enough. There has to be simultaneous responsibility on we the citizens. A set of Fundamental Duties have been placed vide forty second amendment, but again in Part IV A i.e. Non-justiciable character. This should also be correspondingly amended to make Fundamental Duty on the same footing as Fundamental Rights- enforceable. A few of these are
- To strive for excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher level of Endeavour and achievement.
- To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectoral diversities
- To renounce practices derogatory to women
- To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.
- As a parent or Guardian, to provide opportunities for education to their child or ward
In Hindi there is a saying laton ke bhoot baaton se nahin mante (a person who can only understand the language of beatings cannot be counseled by words). Both the Indian State and its Citizens now certainly require legal sanction in respect of rights and duties enumerated above for a better tomorrow in India. Can the political parties take this up as a challenge?
Let us strive to make 2014 the year of Indian Spring and A.C.T. by blending the framework as above incorporating therein Accountability (A) , Credibility (C) and Transparency (T) in public conduct of both the Individuals and the State.