Jurisprudence of Legal Rights and Duties

In many ways, the terms “rights” and “justice,” which belong to the person who can exercise them, are interchangeable. The administration of justice was designed to uphold ongoing obligations and safeguard rights. The law deals with questions of obligations or rights. Rights refer to all legally permissible behaviour, whereas duties denote nothing illegal. Legal rights, according to Holmes, are nothing more than “a licence to exercise to certain natural authority and upon specified conditions to gain protection, restitution, or recompense by the help of public force”[1] Legal rights are the only concepts that modern jurisprudence comprehends because they are the foundation of both law and philosophy. To impose corrections and duties, rights are employed as an incentive. Many academics define rights in terms of human, constitutional, legal, and moral rights, as shown below.

Legal rights components

The rights and obligations of the people and the government are at the centre of all jurisprudential problems and strategies. All rights today are legal in nature, despite the existence of moral rights.

Salmond asserts that each legal right consists of the following components:[2]

· Subject of right: A person who is entitled to rights is the subject of a right.

· Subject of duty: Every right comes with a matching duty that must be performed on behalf of the right holder.

· Acts: The right is exercised by an action, such as a deed or omission that is either the right’s object or subject.

 · Title: Every legal right is vested in its owner, which is against someone, according to the title. It alludes to certain deeds or omissions that lead to a charge of disobedience.

How Legal Right is Enforced

Where there is a right, there is a cure or Ubi jus ibi remedium. If someone’s rights are violated, the court can be contacted. They are eligible for relief in the form of payment. When the remuneration is insufficient to cover the plaintiff’s claim, the court may order the Contract to be specifically performed. The Specific Relief Law regulates it.

Concept of Duty

Duty is a legal requirement as well because it is the inverse of right. Common terms used to describe it include moral duty, human duty, basic duty, and legal duty, among others. Social norms and values establish moral duty, human rights texts establish human duty, the nation’s constitution establishes fundamental duty, and statutes establish legal duty. Duty is a synonym for a word that means to act righteously. When a duty is broken, consequences are applied since it is wrong.

Types of Duties[3]

· Antecedent duty and remedial duty: An antecedent responsibility is one that predates all other duties, whereas a remedial duty is one that results from a violation of rights.

· Corporeal duty and incorporeal duty: Corporeal duties are those relating to tangible property, whereas incorporeal duties are those relating to intangible property

· Duty in rem and duty in personam: Duty in rem refers to the obligation to respect property ownership, but duty in personam refers to the obligation to respect a person’s dignity and temporary rights.

· Duty in repropria and duty in realiena: Duty in realiena relates to the duty of partial property, whereas duty in repropria refers to the absolute duty of property.

· Fundamental duty and legal duty: Legal duties are obligations imposed by statutory laws, whereas fundamental duties are obligations to uphold fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution.

· Perfect duty and imperfect duty: Perfect duties refer to full compliance, whereas imperfect duties are obligations that are subject to conditions or punishments.

· Positive duty and negative duty: positive obligations imply positive acts, but negative duties forbid certain behaviours.

· Primary duty and secondary duty: A primary duty is an absolute obligation that is independent of all others, but a secondary responsibility is an obligation that results from a primary duty being breached.

· Principal duty and accessories duty: A principal duty is a major duty, whereas an accessory duty is a minor duty, such as one related to a lease or a servitude.

Rights in India

The Fundamental Rights contained in Part III of the Indian Constitution provide consideration to the idea of rights. The Constituent Assembly members’ zeal and the foresight of the Constitution’s authors led to the creation of an all-encompassing, comprehensive constitution that combined elements of other international constitutions to take on its current form. The idea of fundamental rights came from British constitutionalism, and the innovative notion to include them in a constitution came from the United States.

The fundamental rights are viewed as fundamental human rights that are necessary for human existence and set humans apart from other living things. They exercise the power of law and are supported by the ability to be enforced. Our country’s judiciary protects the protection of our fundamental rights, which serve as a check on the exercise of the state’s arbitrary power. In this regard, these rights are negative since they impose a duty on the government not to violate people’s rights by the passage of any laws, actions, orders, rules, etc. The constitution not only upholds these rights but also offers remedies for their enforcement in the shape of Articles 32 and 226.

It was held by the apex court in the case of Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union Of India & Others[4] that “Any member of the public acting in good faith may move the court for relief under Article 32 and also under Article 226,” according to the Constitution, “so that the fundamental rights may become significant not only for the rich and well-off who have the ways to access the court but also for the large numbers of people who are living a life of poverty and destitution and who are unable to seek judicial redress because of lack of awareness, assertiveness, and resources.”

Duties in India

The Indian Constitution contains the idea of duties as it is understood in India in the form of Fundamental Duties under Part IV-A. The 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1976, which created Article 51-A, added it. It lays out 11 fundamental obligations for all Indian citizens to follow. It emphasises that the first responsibility of citizens is to uphold the Constitution’s principles, institutions, national anthem, and flag. The sovereignty and integrity of our country must always be upheld and protected by the people. In addition, every citizen has a responsibility to defend the nation, when necessary, advance peace and harmony, protect the environment and natural resources, preserve our rich cultural heritage, foster a spirit of humanism, pursue excellence, and ensure that children between the ages of six and fourteen have access to education. These obligations derived from fundamentals cannot be enforced in a court of law. However, the legislature has the authority to codify these obligations as laws and to impose fines and penalties for noncompliance. The rise of judicial activism and the launching of public interest lawsuits have further strengthened the judiciary’s and citizens’ proactive roles in identifying and upholding these obligations.

In the case of the State of Rajasthan vs Union of India[5], According to the Supreme Court, “Legal rights are defined as the interests that the law protects by imposing responsibilities on other persons. Legal rights are correlatives of legal duties in the strict sense. However, a legal right in the strictest sense refers to freedom from another’s legal authority. Immunity is not at all a subject.

Relationship between right and duties

Law and case law must include rights and obligations. Determining rights or duties is the ultimate goal of the law. Justice must also uphold obligations and recognise rights. Because rights and obligations are interrelated, one cannot exist without the other. They are reciprocal, correlated, and dependent on one another. According to Paton, we cannot have a right without an associated duty or an associated duty without a right. According to Holland, rights may be active or passive, depending on the right holder’s preferences. Every right must be accompanied by vinculum Juris, or royal obligation bond. Austin upholds both strict and flexible obligations. For Austin, a right cannot be granted to an undefined or ambiguous entity, such as society, the general populace, etc. The sovereign establishes the people’s rights, obligations, and power through command. Austin divides responsibilities into three categories: self-regarding duties, duties owing to the sovereign, and duties not regarding persons, such as God and lower animals. Duty to God is not a requirement under law. Animal owners may create legal obligations on behalf of their pets, and a list of communal obligations is also available. Due to the fact that suicide is a crime, the self-regarding obligation is similar to the duty to declare.


[1] Jerry Ukaigwe, 2016, Ecowas Law, Springer, p.5.

[2] Vide Rajitbhakta Pradhananga and Kishor Silwal, 2055, A General Outline of Jurisprudence, Kathmandu: Kantipur Offset Press, pp.136-137.

[3] Salmond on Jurisprudence, (12th ed.), Bombay: N.M. Tripathi Private Limited, pp.243-245.

[4] 1984 SCR (2) 67

[5] 1978 SCR (1)1

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