Article 51-A, under Part 1V-A of the Indian Constitution was added by the forty-second amendment of 1976. This article laid down a list of eleven duties for the citizens of India. The duties which have been incorporated in the Constitution are enforceable by law. The duty of providing or laying down provisions for punishment or penalties for those, who fail to fulfill these duties lies upon the Parliament.
According to Article 51A—It shall be the duty of every citizen of India—
(a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;
(b) to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
(c) to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
(d) to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
(e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
(f) to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
(g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;
(h) to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
(i) to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
(j) 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;
(k) who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years.
Fundamental duties, while being obligations for the citizens to complete, present the front of a continual reminder that the Constitution has also conferred fundamental rights upon the citizens of India, since rights and duties go hand in hand and are correlative. These duties were added in the Constitution since it was argued by the ruling government that the both the Constitution as well as the citizens of India emphasized only on the rights but no attention was paid to the duties that as the rightful citizens of India, people were to observe.
The Preamble of the Constitution incorporates within itself the phrases ‘freedom of speech, thought, expression and worship.’ These are the rights guaranteed by it. The rest of the Preamble makes a point of accentuating the duties: justice, political, social and economic. The duties in question are those which an individual has towards the society and they have constitutional sanction.
The fundamental duties make the citizens aware of the need to comply with basic democratic norms and certain obligations.
In Hon’ble Shri Rangnath Mishra v. Union of India JT 2003 (7) SC 206, a letter had been written to the Chief Justice of India by a petitioner to provide directions to the State to make the citizens aware of their fundamental duties towards the society. The letter was treated by the Apex Court as a writ petition which even raised a question mark on the correctness of decision in the national anthem case, which needed reconstruction of the decision.
However, by the time the hearing was taken up, the NCRWC (National Commission to review the Working of Constitution) had submitted its report where it had made several recommendations in relation to the fundamental duties:
- Proper steps must be taken and implemented by the Governments, both at the central and the state level to create a wave of awareness among the general population and to sensitise them regarding what the fundamental duties mean.
- The Commission also made recommendations for the modes and ways by which the awareness was to be created.
After the report of the commission, the writ was disposed off and the governments were directed by the Court to take the necessary steps.
In AIIMS Students Union v. AIIMS, AIR 2001 SC 3262, the Apex Court spoke about the relevance of the fundamental duties. At the same time, the Court also struck down the institutional reservation of thirty three percent along with the fifty percent reservation, citing it to be a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution. The Supreme Court specifically mentioned that fundamental rights are as important as fundamental duties. The word fundamental prefixed before duties provided them with a constitutional sanction and they cannot be overlooked.
In M.C Mehta v. Union of India (1983) 1 SCC 471, it was held by the Apex Court that it is the responsibility of the Government of India to propose mandatory classes and lessons for at least an hour a week in educational institutions all over the country to make the citizens aware about the protection of natural environment.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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We are also running a series Inspirational Women from January 2021 to March 31,2021, featuring around 1000 stories about Indian Women, who changed the world. #choosetochallenge