Fundamental Duties

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    • Recently, the Chief Justice of India said fundamental duties in the Constitution are not merely to serve a “pedantic or technical” purpose

    CJI’s opinion

    • Our Constitution is the fundamental document that regulates the relationship between the citizens and the government. 

    • While it has granted us inalienable rights, it places upon us certain fundamental duties

    • The fundamental duties are not merely pedantic or technical, they were incorporated as the key to social transformation.

    Fundamental Duties

    • Incorporation of Fundamental Duties:
      • When the Constitution was adopted in the year 1949, there were no provisions regarding Fundamental Duties to the Citizens though there was a Part III for Fundamental Rights. 
      • The Fundamental Duties of citizens were added to the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, upon the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee that was constituted by the Government. 
        • The Committee suggested that steps needed to be taken to ensure that the individual did not overlook his duties while in the exercise of his Fundamental Rights. 
      • The fundamental duties were incorporated in Part IV-A of the Constitution
        • The concept of Fundamental duties was taken from the former USSR.
    • Article 51(A) describes 11 fundamental duties
      • 10 came with the 42nd Amendment; 
      • 11th was added by the 86th Amendment in 2002.

    It shall be the duty of every citizen of India:

    • 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 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;
    • To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes,rivers, 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;
    • 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.

    Significance of Fundamental Duties

    • It serves as a constant reminder to the citizens that while enjoying their rights, the citizens should be aware of their duties towards 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 public property or disturbing public peace.
    • These help in the promotion of a sense of discipline and commitment towards the nation. 
    • It helps the Court in determining the constitutionality of the law.

    Criticism of Fundamental Duties

    • They are made non-justiciable in nature.
    • Important duties such as tax-paying, family planning etc are not covered.
    • Vague and ambiguous provisions which are difficult to be understood by a common man.
    • Superfluous provisions since they would generally be followed even if they were not included. 

    Nature of Fundamental Duties

    • Fundamental duties are essentially taken from Indian tradition, mythology, religions and practices
      • Essentially these were the duties that are the codification of tasks integral to the Indian way of life.
    • It also drew on examples of “ancient India ” and Hindu scripture Bhagvad Gita to reason that “people in India have had a tradition of performing their duties’ ‘.
    • The Fundamental Duties are intended to serve as a constant reminder to every citizen that while the Constitution conferred on them certain Fundamental Rights specifically. 
    • It also requires citizens to observe certain basic norms of democratic conduct and democratic behaviour because rights and duties are correlative.
    • The Verma Committee on Fundamental Duties of the Citizens (1999) identified the existence of legal provisions for the implementation of some of the Fundamental Duties. 
      • The committee provided with the provisions like:
        • No person can disrespect the National flag, Constitution of India and the National Anthem under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.
        • The Protection of Civil Rights Act (1955) provided for punishments in case of any offence related to caste and religion.
    • However, whereas Fundamental Rights are justiciable, the Fundamental Duties are non-justiciable
      • It means that the violation of fundamental duties, i.e. the non-performance of these duties by citizens is not punishable.
        • These duties are not enforceable by law. However, a court may take them into account while adjudicating on a matter. 

    Source: TH