The Supreme Court in the case of ‘D.S. Nakara v. Union of India (1982)’, while deciding the question of pension, discussed the concept of Socialism as follows-
What does a Socialist Republic imply? Socialism is a much misunderstood word. Values determine contemporary socialism pure and simple. But it is not necessary at this stage to go into all its ramifications. The principal aim of a socialist State is to eliminate inequality in income and status and standards of life. The basic framework of socialism is to provide a decent standard of life to the working people and especially provide security from cradle to grave. This amongst others on economic side envisaged economic equality and equitable distribution of income.
This is a blend of Marxism and Gandhism leaning heavily towards Gandhian socialism. During the formative years, socialism aims at providing all opportunities for pursuing the educational activity. For want of wherewithal or financial equipment the opportunity to be fully educated shall not be denied.
Ordinarily, therefore, a socialist State provides for free education from primary to Ph. D. but the pursuit must be by those who have the necessary intelligence quotient and not as in our society where a brainy young man coming from a poor family will not be able to prosecute the education for want of wherewithal while the ill-equipped son or daughter of a well-to-do father will enter the portals of higher education and contribute to national wastage.
After the education is completed, socialism aims at equality in pursuit of excellence in the chosen avocation without let or hindrance of caste, colour, sex or religion and with full opportunity to reach the top not thwarted by any considerations of status, social or otherwise. But even here the less equipped person shall be assured a decent minimum standard of life and exploitation in any form shall be eschewed. There will be equitable distribution of national cake and the worst off shall be treated in such a manner as to push them up the ladder.
Then comes the old age in the life of everyone, be he a monarch or a Mahatma, a worker or a pariah. The old age overtakes each one, death being the fulfilment of life providing freedom from bondage. But there socialism aims at providing an economic security to those who have rendered unto society what they were capable of doing when they were fully equipped with their mental and physical prowess.
In the fall of life the State shall ensure to the citizens a reasonably decent standard of life, medical aid, freedom from want, freedom from fear and the enjoyable leisure, relieving the boredom and the humility of dependence in old age. This is what Art. 41 aims when it enjoins the State to secure public assistance in old age, sickness and disablement. It was such a socialist State which the Preamble directs the centres of power Legislative Executive and Judiciary-to strive to set up.
From a wholly feudal exploited slave society to a vibrant, throbbing socialist welfare society is a long march but during this journey to the fulfilment of goal every State action whenever taken must be directed, and must be so interpreted, as to take the society one step towards the goal.
To some extent this approach will find support in the judgment in Minerva Mills Ltd. & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors.(1980). Speaking for the majority, Chandrachud, C.J. observed as under:
“This is not mere semantics. The edifice of our Constitution is built upon the concepts crystallised in the Preamble. We resolved to constitute ourselves into a Socialist State which carried with it the obligation to secure to our people justice-social, economic and political. We, therefore, put Part IV into our Constitution containing directive principles of State policy which specify the socialistic goal to be achieved.”
At a later stage it was observed that the fundamental rights are not an end in themselves but are the means to an end, the end is specified in part IV. Bhagwati, J. in his minority judgment after extracting a portion of the speech of the then Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru, while participating in a discussion on the Constitution (First Amendment) Bill, observed that the Directive Principles are intended to bring about a socio-economic revolution and to create a new socio-economic order where there will be social and economic justice for all and everyone, not only a fortunate few but the teeming millions of India, would be able to participate in the fruits of freedom and development and exercise the fundamental rights.
It, therefore, appears to be well established that while interpreting or examining the constitutional validity of legislative/administrative action, the touchstone of Directive Principles of State Policy in the light of the Preamble will provide a reliable yardstick to hold one way or the other.