The Government is planning to assign its different Ministries with the task of spreading awareness about Fundamental duties among people. The idea of Fundamental Duties is inspired from the Constitution of Russia. These were incorporated in Part IV-A of the Constitution by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976 on the recommendations of Swaran Singh Committee. Originally 10 in number, one more duty was added through the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002. All the eleven duties are listed in Article 51-A of the Constitution (the sole Article in Part-IV-A). The fundamental duties serve as a reminder to citizens that while enjoying their rights, they have also to be quite conscious of duties they owe to their country, their society and to their fellow-citizens. However, like the Directive Principles, the duties are also non-justiciable in nature.
Fundamental Duties in India-Article 51-A
The fundamental duties which were added by the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution in 1976, in addition to creating and promoting culture, also strengthen the hands of the legislature in enforcing these duties vis-a-vis the fundamental rights.
The list of Fundamental Duties under article 51-A to be obeyed by every Indian citizen is given in the below: Abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem
To abide by the constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem- It is the duty of every citizen to respect the ideals, which include liberty, justice, equality, fraternity and institutions namely, executive, the legislature and the judiciary. Hence all of us are supposed to maintain the dignity of constitution by not indulging in any activities which violate them in letter and spirit. It also states that if a citizen by any overt or covert act shows disrespect to the constitution, the National Anthem or the National Flag it would spell doom to all our rights and very existence as citizens of a sovereign nation.
To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom-The citizens of India must cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired the national struggle for freedom. These ideals were those of building a just society and a united nation with freedom, equality, non violence, brotherhood and world peace. If the citizens of India remain conscious of and committed to these ideals, we will be able to rise above the various separatist tendencies raising their ugly heads now and then, here and there.
To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India- it is one of the pre eminent national obligations of all the citizens of the India. India is a vast and diverse nation with different caste, religion, sex and linguistic people; if freedom and unity of the country are jeopardized then united nation is not possible. Hence in a way sovereignty lies with the people. It may be recalled that these were first mentioned in preamble and also under 19(2) of fundamental rights reasonable restrictions are permitted on freedom of speech and expression in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India.
To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so – it is the duty of every citizen to defend our country against external enemies. All the citizens are bound to be conscious of any such elements entering India and also when in need, they should be ready to take up arms to defend themselves. It is addressed to all the citizens other than those belonging to army, navy and the air force.
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 – Given the vast diversities among people, the presence of one flag and single citizenship strengthens the spirit of brotherhood among the citizens. It states that people should rise above narrow cultural differences and strive towards excellence in all spheres of collective activity
To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture – our cultural heritage is one of the noblest and richest, it is also part of the heritage of the earth. Hence it is our duty to protect what we have inherited from the past, preserve it and pass on to the future generations. India is also one of the most ancient civilizations of the world. Our contributions towards art, science, literature is well known to the world, also this land is birth place of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.
To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life and to have compassion for living creatures – these natural reserves are the most valued assets of our country hence it is the duty of every citizen to protect it. Rising pollution, large scale degradation of forests is causing immense harm to all the human lives on earth. Increasing natural calamities is a proof to it. It is also reinforced in other constitutional provision under article 48A i.e. Directive Principles of State Policy which states that, to protect and improve the environment and safeguard the forests and wildlife
To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform – It is a known fact that it is necessary to learn from the experiences and developments around the world for our own development. It is duty of every citizen to protect and promote scientific temper and spirit of inquiry to keep pace with fast changing world.
To safeguard public property and to abjure violence – it is unfortunate that in a country which preaches non-violence to the rest of the world, we ourselves see from time to time incidents of senseless violence and destruction of public property. Among all the fundamental duties this one holds a great significance in current scenario when strike, protest etc have become a common phenomenon. Whenever there is a strike or bandh or rally, mob develops mentality to harm public properties like buses, buildings and to loot them and citizens who are protectors become mute spectators.
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. –As responsible citizens whatever work we take up should be directed towards achieving the goal of excellence so that our country constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement. This clause has potential to not only regenerate and reconstruct the country but also to raise it to the highest possible level of excellence.
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 – it was the recommendation of National Commission to Review the Working of constitution, to make education a fundamental right of all the children up to age of 14. 86th Constitutional amendment Act, 2002 however provided for free and compulsory education as a legally enforceable fundamental right for all children between 6 to 14 years of age.
Importance of Fundamental Duties- Part IV-A
Fundamental Duties are an inalienable part of right. The importance of these are given in the below:
They remind Indian Citizens of their duty towards their society, fellow citizens and the nation
They warn citizens against anti-national and anti-social activities
They inspire citizens & promote a sense of discipline and commitment among them
They help the courts in examining and determining the constitutional validity of a law
They are enforceable by law
Criticism of fundamental duties
The Fundamental Duties mentioned in Part IVA of the Constitution have been criticized on the following grounds:
They have been described by the critics as a code of moral precepts due to their non-justiciable character. Their inclusion in the Constitution was described by the critics as superfluous. This is because the duties included in the Constitution as fundamental would be performed by the people even though they were not incorporated into the Constitution.
Some of the duties are vague, ambiguous and difficult to be understood by the common man.
The list of duties is not exhaustive as it does not cover other important duties like casting vote, paying taxes, family planning and so on. In fact, duty to pay taxes was recommended by the Swaran Singh Committee.
The critics said that the inclusion of fundamental duties as an appendage to Part IV of the Constitution has reduced their value and significance. They should have been added after Part III so as to keep them on par with Fundamental Rights.
Facts about Fundamental Duties for UPSC:
Fundamental Duties are categorized into two- Moral Duty & Civic Duty o Moral Duty: cherishing noble ideals of freedom struggle o Civic Duty: respecting the Constitution, National Flag and National Anthem
They essentially contain just a codification of tasks integral to the Indian way of life
The Fundamental Duties are confined to Indian citizens only and do not extend to foreigners unlike few Fundamental Rights
They are also non-justiciable similar to Directive Principle of State Policies
There is no legal sanction against their violation
How they are incorporated in the Indian Constitution?
The Fundamental Duties were incorporated in Part IV-A of the Constitution by the Constitution 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, during Emergency under Indira Gandhi’s government.
Today, there are 11 Fundamental Duties described under Article 51-A, of which 10 was introduced by the 42nd Amendment and the 11th was added by the 86th Amendment in 2002, during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government.
The idea behind their incorporation was to emphasize the obligation of the citizen in exchange for the Fundamental Rights that he or she enjoys.
The concept of Fundamental Duties is taken from the Constitution of Russia.
What are the Fundamental Duties under Article 51-A?
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 — it is one of the preeminent national obligations of all the citizens 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 the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women
To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture — our cultural heritage is one of the noblest and richest, it is also part of the heritage of the Earth
To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life 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
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.
It is the one on children’s education that was added in 2002 by the 86th Amendment that provided for the Right to Free and Compulsory Education for children in the age group 6-14, with the insertion of Article 21A. It also cast an obligation on parents to provide such opportunities under Article 51A (K).
Under what circumstances was the 42nd Amendment passed?
The amendment came at a time when elections stood suspended and civil liberties curbed.
The government arrested thousands under MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act) and carried out anti-poverty programmes, slum demolition drives, and a forced sterilization campaign.
Apart from adding the Fundamental Duties, the 42nd Amendment also changed the Preamble to the Constitution to include the words ‘Socialist and secular’ to describe India, in addition to its being ‘Sovereign Democratic Republic’.
New ‘Directive Principles’ were added and given precedence over Fundamental Rights.
Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and High Courts to review constitutionality of the laws was curtailed.
High Courts were prohibited from deciding on the constitutional validity of central laws.
A new Article 144A was inserted, prescribing a minimum of seven judges for a Constitution Bench, besides stipulating a special majority of two-thirds of a Bench for invalidating central laws.
Swaran Singh Committee Recommendations:
In 1976, the committee was set up to make a recommendation for fundamental duties, the need and necessity of which was felt during the emergency period.
The committee recommended for the inclusion of separate chapter under the heading of Fundamental Duties.
It will make citizen conscious of their duties while enjoying fundamental rights.
The government accepted the suggestion and included in a separate article 51A which had ten fundamental duties.
The government declared that non-inclusion of fundamental duties in the original constitution was a huge mistake which has now been ratified by the present government.
Although Swaran Singh Committee suggested the incorporation of only eight fundamental duties but the 42nd Amendment had ten duties.
It is not surprising that not all recommendations were accepted by the then government, some of these non-recommendations are:
The Parliament may provide for the imposition of punishment or penalty as considered suitable for non-compliance of these duties.
Such punishment or law won’t be questioned in a court of law for the enforcement of fundamental Rights and in case it caused a breach of fundamental rights.
Duty to pay taxes by the citizen was by the citizen was also on the list of fundamental duties.
Justice Verma Committee Report:
Justice Verma Committee was constituted in 1998 to plan a strategy and to work out for a methodology for operationalizing a programme initiated countrywide for the purpose of teaching fundamental duties and make it enforceable in every educational institution and to initiate as in-servicing training.
The committee had knowledge of non-operationalization of Fundamental duties and it was not because of the lack of concern or non-availability of legal provisions, but it was because of the strategy of implementation.
There are enough legal provisions and committee had provided with these provisions:
The prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 has already been implemented stipulating that no citizen can disrespect the National flag, Constitution of India and the National anthem which are enshrined in the first clause of the Article 51A.
There are various criminal laws which are enacted to provide punishment to people encouraging enmity between different sections of people on the grounds of race, religion, language, place of birth and so on.
To provide punishment for the offence related to caste and religion, The Protection of Civil Rights Act (1955) was enacted.
There are various sections in the Indian Penal Code that declare the imputation and assertions which are prejudicial to nation’s integrity and unity and are punishable offences.The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 was enacted to prevent a communal organisation to be declared as an unlawful association.
For the disqualification of Members of Parliament or state legislatures that have indulged in corrupt practices such as soliciting votes in the name of religion or promoting enmity between different sections of people on grounds of race, caste, language, religion or any other ground, The Representation of People Act of 1951 was enacted.
The protection of wildlife and prohibition of trade in rare and endangered animals is done by The Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.To ensure the implementation of Clause (g) of Article 51A, The Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 was implemented which provides for indiscriminate deforestation and diversion of forest land for non-forest purpose.
Why Fundamental Duties Needed?
It serves as a constant reminder to the citizens while enjoying their rights, the citizens should be aware of their duties their nation and towards other citizens.
These serve as a warning to the people against the anti-social activities that disrespect the nation like burning the flag, destroying the public property or disturbing public peace.
These help in the promotion of a sense of discipline and commitment towards the nation. They help in realizing national goals by the active participation of citizens rather than mere spectators.It helps the Court in determining the constitutionality of the law. For instance, any law passed by the legislatures, when taken to Court for constitutional validity of the law, if it is giving force to any Fundamental Duty, then such law would be taken as reasonable.They can be enforced by the law; the parliament has the right to impose any type of penalty or punishment for violating any of the Fundamental Duties.
Author- Rishi Kumar Tripathi & Arti Sharma,