- The Fundamental Duties are an essential part of the Indian Constitution. Some of the highest ideals preached by our great saints, philosophers, social reformers, and political leaders are embodied in the duties prescribed. When its inception in 1950, India’s original constitution did not mention citizen duties.
- Citizens’ Fundamental Duties were added to the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, in response to the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee, which had been formed by the government earlier that year. The Fundamental Duties help to regulate citizens’ behaviour and to achieve excellence in all aspects of citizens’ lives.
Quotes of Mahatma Gandhi about duty:
- “The true source of rights is duty. If we all discharge our duties, right will not be far to seek. If we leave duties unperformed we run after rights, they will escape us like a will-o’-the-wisp. The more we pursue them, the farther they fly” – MAHATMA GANDHI
Important Information on Fundamental Duties
- This section was inspired by the USSR constitution, which is listed in Part IV(A) and consists of a single Art. 51.
- Fundamental responsibilities, such as DPSP, are non-justiciable.
- On the recommendations of the Swaran Singh committee, the 42nd CAA added this section in 1976. (The committee recommended only Eight Duties, the amendment added ten duties)
- In addition, the 86th CAA 2002 added one more duty – 51A(k) = a total of 11 duties.
- The Japanese constitution is one of the few democratic nations that includes a provision addressing citizens’ duties.
- Fundamental Duties only apply to residents and do not extend to foreigners.
Swaran Singh Committee on Fundamental Duty:
- The Swaran Singh Committee on Fundamental Duty concluded that, in addition to exercising certain rights, citizens must also perform certain duties. The government accepted this recommendation.
- Part IVA was added as a new section with only one article.
- Some of the committee’s recommendations that were rejected include:
- Parliament may impose any penalty for failure to comply with any FD.
- No law imposing such a penalty could be challenged in court. Tax payment should also be a fundamental duty of citizens.
List of Fundamental Duties
- To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag, and the National Anthem.
- To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom.
- To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India.
- To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so.
- To promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all people of India transcending religious, linguistic, and regional or sectional diversities and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.
- To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.
- To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.
- To develop the scientific temper, humanism, and the spirit of inquiry and reform.
- To safeguard public property and to abjure violence.
- To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity, so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement.
- Subsequently, another duty was added by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002: for a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education of the child or ward between the ages of six and fourteen (It was added under Article 21A Right to education was made an FR).
The following are the characteristics of fundamental duties:
- The fundamental duties include both moral and civic obligations.
- Fundamental rights are applicable to foreigners as well, but fundamental duties are only applicable to Indian citizens.
- The fundamental duties are not legally enforceable. In the event of a violation, the government cannot impose any legal sanctions.
- These responsibilities are also linked to Hindu traditions or mythology, such as paying homage to the country or promoting the spirit of brotherhood.
The Importance of Fundamental Duties
- They serve as a reminder to citizens that, while exercising their rights, they must also be mindful of the duties they owe to their country, society, and fellow citizens.
- They serve as a deterrent to anti-national and anti-social activities such as burning the national flag and destroying public property.
- They serve as a source of inspiration for citizens and instill in them a sense of discipline and commitment.
- They give the impression that citizens are not passive bystanders but active participants in the achievement of national goals.
- They are ideal in their nature and guide citizens in the right direction.
- They assist courts in examining and determining a law’s constitutionality.
- For example, the Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that when determining the constitutionality of a law, if a court finds that the law in question seeks to give effect to a fundamental duty, it may consider such law to be reasonable in relation to Article 14 (equality before the law) or Article 19 (six freedoms), and thus save such law from unconstitutionality.
- The significance of fundamental duties is that they define the moral obligations of all citizens to contribute to the promotion of patriotism and the preservation of India’s unity.
- Fundamental duties make citizens aware of their social and citizenship responsibilities, shaping a society in which all become solicitous and considerate of our fellow citizens’ inalienable rights.
Criticism of Fundamental Duties:
- They are inherently non-justiciable.
- Important responsibilities such as taxation and family planning are not covered.
- Provisions that are vague and ambiguous, making it difficult for the average person to understand
- Provisions that are superfluous because they would be followed even if they were not included
- Inclusion as an appendix to the constitution diminishes the value and intent of FD.
- The committee was set up in 1999.
- It identified some legal provisions for enforcement of FDs– Prevention of insults to National Honor, laws which penalize for promoting enmity, protection of Civil Rights Act, Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, etc
- The Verma Committee (1999) identified the existence of the following legal provision:
- Prevention of insults to National Honour Act (1971)
- Protection of Civil Rights Act (1955)
- Representation of People Act (1951)
- Wildlife Protection Act (1972) and Forest Conservation Act (1980)
Supreme Court (1992) ruled
- In determining the constitutional validity of any law, the Supreme Court (1992) ruled that if the law in question seeks to give effect to FDs, it may consider such law to be reasonable in relation to Art. 14 or Art. 19, thus saving such law from unconstitutionality.
- The state can enact laws to prevent duty violations.
- Writs cannot be used to impose duties.
Difference Between Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties:
|Fundamental Rights||Fundamental Duties|
|Fundamental Rights are the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution that can’t be taken away from a citizen.||Fundamental Duties are the legal responsibilities bestowed upon the citizens to perform.|
|Fundamental Rights are considered to be the normative rules of liberty and freedom for every citizen in order to achieve a harmonious and free lifestyle||Fundamental Duties are the moral responsibilities of all citizens that need to be performed by them in order to achieve prosperity and uphold the unity of the nation.|
|Fundamental Rights are universally available to all citizens regardless of their race, caste, religion, sex or place of birth and are justiciable in nature, i.e. they can be taken to a court of law.||Fundamental Duties are non-justiciable and hence can’t be taken to a court of law.|
- Fundamental duties are the moral obligations of all citizens to promote patriotism and preserve India’s unity. The fact that there is no penalty for failing to follow Fundamental Duties does not diminish their importance. Fundamental Duties are the conscience of our Constitution; they should be regarded as constitutional values that all citizens must uphold.
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