Fundamental duties of India:
As an Indian citizen, certain rights and duties are provided to us. The duty of every citizen is to abide by the laws and perform his/her legal obligations. A person should always be aware of his/her fundamental duties. 11 fundamental duties are laid down by the Indian Constitution
Origin and scope of fundamental duties:
On the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee, the fundamental duties were added by the 42nd Amendment, 1976 in our Indian Constitution. The fundamental duties were originally 10 in numbers but in 2002, the 86th Amendment increased its number to 11. The 11th duty made it compulsory for each and every parent and guardian to provide the educational opportunities to their child who is more than 6 years but less than 14 years of age. These duties are borrowed from the Constitution of Japan
Neither there is a direct provision in the Constitution for the enforcement of these duties nor there is hardly any legal sanction in order to prevent violation of these duties. These duties are obligatory in nature. The following facts provide for the importance of fundamental duties:
1.A person should respect the fundamental rights and duties equally because in any case, if the court comes to know that a person who wants his/her rights to be enforced is careless about his/her duties then the court will not be lenient in his/her case.
2.Any ambiguous statute can be interpreted with the help of fundamental duties.
- The court can consider the law reasonable if it gives effect to any of the fundamental duties. In this way, the court can save such law from being declared as unconstitutional.
Fundamental duties taken from:
The fundamental duties are taken from the USSR (Russia) constitution. The addition of fundamental duties in our constitution have brought our constitution aligned with the Article 29(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with various provisions of the modern constitution of other countries.
11 Fundamental duties:
Only one Article that is Article -51A is there in Part-IV-A of the Indian Constitution that deals with fundamental duties. It was added to the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976. For the first time, a code of 11 fundamental duties was provided to the citizens of India. Article 51-A states that it is the duty of every citizen of India:
1.To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, National Flag, and National Anthem.
2.To cherish and follow the noble ideals that inspired the national struggle for freedom.
3.To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India.
4.To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so.
5.To promote harmony and the spirit of brotherhood among all the ppl of India, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities, and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.
6.To value and preserve the rich heritage of the county’s composite culture.
7.To protect and improve the natural environment (forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife) and to have compassion for living creatures.
8.To develop the scientific temper, humanism, and the spirit of inquiry and reform.
9.To safeguard public property and to adjure violence.
10.To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to a higher level of endeavor and achievement.
11.To provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age of 6 – 14yrs – added in the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002.
The features of Fundamental duties are as follows,
1.Both moral and civic duties have been laid down under the fundamental duties, like, “the Indian citizens should not only cherish the noble ideas that lead to the freedom struggle but they should also respect the Constitution, the National Flag and National Anthem”.
2.Fundamental rights can be applied to foreigners also but the fundamental duties are only restricted to the Indians citizens.
3.The fundamental duties are not enforceable in nature. No legal sanction can be enforced by the government in case of their violation.
4.These duties are also related to Hindu traditions or mythology like paying respect to the country or promoting the spirit of brotherhood.
Fundamental duties and Indian constitution:
The Constitution was adopted in the year 1949, but it did not contain the provisions for fundamental duties. The Parliament of India not only realised the need to insert fundamental duties in the Indian Constitution but it also felt that everyone should perform such duties. A new part, that is Part IVA, was inserted by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 which provides for several fundamental duties that needs to be followed by the citizens of India.
These duties are considered as “directory” as these duties cannot be enforced through the writ of mandamus because they don’t cast any public duties. Fundamental duties are the basic reminder of our national goals and basic norms of political order. They inspire an individual to inculcate in himself/herself a sense of social responsibility. The Supreme Court said that the fundamental duties can be used to interpret any statue which is uncertain. These duties provide educational and psychological value to the citizens of India. These duties uphold the spirit of Democracy and patriotism.
42nd amendment 1976:
The 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 was approved during the Emergency period. The Indian National Congress which was at that time headed by Indira Gandhi approved this amendment. This amendment was regarded as the most controversial amendment. The provisions that were provided by this amendment act came into force on different dates. Most of the provision came into force on 3 January while others came into force from 1 April 1977. This amendment is also known as “Mini-Constitution” or “Constitution of Indira” because wide changes were brought to the constitution. 11 Fundamental Duties were laid down by the 42nd Amendment.
86th amendment 2002:
The Unnikrishnan Judgement provided that all the citizens who are below the age of 14 years have a right to free and compulsory education. Due to an increasing public demand for education, the government worked towards making education a fundamental right. In 2002, an amendment was inserted in Article 51A. Article 51(k) was added after Article 51(j) which stated that it is a fundamental duty of every citizen who is a parent or a guardian to provide opportunities for free and compulsory education to a child who is between 6 years to 14 years of age.
Fundamental duties committees:
Swaran Singh Committee,
In 1976, the Congress Party set up the Sardar Swaran Singh Committee to make recommendations about fundamental duties, the need and necessity of which was felt during the operation of the internal emergency (1975-1977). The committee recommended the inclusion of a separate chapter on fundamental duties in the Constitution. It stressed that the citizens should become conscious that in addition to the enjoyment of rights, they also have certain duties to perform as well. The Congress Government at Centre accepted these recommendations and enacted the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act in 1976. This amendment added a new part, namely, Part IVA to the Constitution
Justice Verma committee,
Justice Verma Committee was established in 1998. The committee took this step because it was aware of the non-operationalization of the Fundamental duties. The committee found that the reason for non-operationalization was due to lack of strategy for its implementation rather than lack of concern.
The committee provided with the provisions like:
1.No person can disrespect the National flag, Constitution of India and the National Anthem under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.
2.Various criminal laws have been enacted which provide punishment to the people who encourage enmity between people on the grounds of race, religion, language etc.
3.The Protection of Civil Rights Act (1955) provided for punishments in case of any offence related to caste and religion.
4.The imputations and assertions that are prejudicial to the nation’s integrity and unity are considered as punishable offences under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
5.In order to prevent a communal organisation to be declared as an unlawful association, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 was established.
6.If the members of the Parliament or the state legislature indulge in any corrupt practices like asking votes in the name of religion then they will be held liable under the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
7.The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 protect and prohibit the trade in the case of rare and endangered animals.
8.The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 was implemented to make sure that Article 51A(g) was properly implemented.
Need for Fundamental Duties:
Rights and duties are correlative. The fundamental duties serve as a constant reminder to every citizen while the Constitution specifically conferred on them certain fundamental rights. Certain basic norms of democratic conduct and democratic behaviour must be observed by the citizens. The then ruling party, Congress, claimed that what the framers of the Constitution failed to do is being done now. This omission was rectified by introducing a chapter on citizen’s duties towards the nation. In India, people lay more emphasis on rights and not on duty.
This view was wrong. In this country, there has been a tradition of performance of one’s duties even in partial disregard of one’s rights and privileges. Traditional duties have been given a constitutional sanction. If one clearly looks in the Constitution not only he/she will discover his/her rights but also the duties. A careful look at the Constitution will definitely solve the question of the people who claim that the Constitution only provides for the rights to the citizen and not the duties of the persons towards the society.
Importance of fundamental duties:
The importance of fundamental duties are as follows,
1.Fundamental duties act as a constant reminder that the citizens while enjoying their fundamental rights should not forget about their duties towards the nation.
2.These duties act as a warning signal for the people against any type of antisocial activities.
3.These duties gives a chance to the people to have an active participation in the society rather than being a spectator.
4.These duties promote a sense of discipline and commitment towards the society.
5.The courts can use fundamental duties for determining constitutionality of law. If any law is challenged in court for its constitutional validity and if that law is providing force to any of the fundamental duties then that law will be held reasonable.
6.If the fundamental rights are enforced by a law then in case of its violation the Parliament can impose penalty or punishment for the same.
The Supreme Court of India ordered cinema halls to play National Anthem while portraying the Nation Flag. This was a remarkable step taken by the Supreme Court while giving the importance to the fundamental duties.
The non-enforceability of the fundamental duties won’t affect its importance. Fundamental duties are an important aspect of a democratic state because it not only allows people to enjoy their rights but also reminds them to perform their duties which they have towards the nation. The word ‘fundamental’ which is attached to the duties makes them utmost important and thus it is required that they are to be followed by everyone. Many duties have also been set up as a separate law and are made enforceable by the law but this does not reduces the value of other duties that are provided in Article 51A. It is not only the duty of the government to provide everything in the Constitution, it is the people who should also be conscious about their role in the society. Even duties like paying taxes, right to vote must be performed by each and every citizen of the nation. These duties inculcates a sense of social responsibility in everyone. While interpreting the fundamental rights these fundamental duties are always taken into account.
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