March 10, 2012
The obnoxious impertinence of Directive Principles of State Policy
India has a very poor Constitution, that (a) labours in great detail about subsidiary institutional arrangements that are best left to the relevant parliament to make (as example, I cite the protections for the all-India services), and (b) imposes the policy opinions of the Constituent Assembly on all future generations through the Directive Principles of State Policy.
The idea that someone, in 1948 or 1949 could tell us in 2012 what kind of policies we ought to have is obnoxious and impertinent in the extreme.
Fortunately, Somnath Bharti, a Supreme Court lawyer who is also a prominent FTI member, has pointed out the following speech by Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly. If nothing else, it absolves Ambedkar from this 'crime' against modern India:
The Honourable Dr. B. R. Ambedkar (Bombay: General): Mr. Vice-President, Sir, I regret that I cannot accept the amendment of Prof. K. T. Shah. My objections, stated briefly are two.In the first place the Constitution, as I stated in my opening speech in support of the motion I made before the House, is merely a mechanism for the purpose of regulating the work of the various organs of the State. It is not a mechanism where by particular members or particular parties are installed in office.What should be the policy of the State, how the Society should be organised in its social and economic side are matters which must be decided by the people themselves according to time and circumstances. It cannot be laid down in the Constitution itself, because that is destroying democracy altogether. If you state in the Constitution that the social organisation of the State shall take a particular form, you are, in my judgment, taking away the liberty of the people to decide what should be the social organisation in which they wish to live.It is perfectly possible today, for the majority people to hold that the socialist organisation of society is better than the capitalist organisation of society. But it would be perfectly possible for thinking people to devise some other form of social organisation which might be better than the socialist organisation of today or of tomorrow. I do not see therefore why the Constitution should tie down the people to live in a particular form and not leave it to the people themselves to decide it for themselves.
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