Enforcement of Fundamental Duties


    In News 

    • Recently, the Supreme Court issued notices to the Centre and states in a writ petition seeking the enforcement of the fundamental duties of citizens as enshrined in the Constitution of India.

    Major Reasons behind SC’s notice 

    • The recent petition argues that citizens have a duty to uphold the ideals of the country and to contribute to its growth and betterment, and that not carrying out the fundamental duties of the citizen has a direct bearing on the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.
    • There have been cases where Fundamental Duties have been brazenly flouted by the people including the officers of the law and which in turn resulted in violation of Fundamental rights of other citizens.
    • The petition mentioned the Supreme Court’s own judgment in the Ranganath Mishra judgment to contend that fundamental duties should not only be enforced by legal sanctions but also by social sanctions. After all, rights and duties were co-relative.

    How were the fundamental duties incorporated in the Constitution?

    • 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 exercise of his Fundamental Rights. 
    • The fundamental duties were incorporated in Part IV-A of the Constitution during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency. 
    • The concept of Fundamental duties was taken from the USSR.

    Fundamental Duties

    • Article 51(A) describes 11 fundamental duties — 10 came with the 42nd Amendment; the 11th was added by the 86th Amendment in 2002, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was Prime Minister.
    • 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.

    Nature of Fundamental Duties

    • The Fundamental duties are essentially taken from the 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. 

    Significance of Fundamental Duties

    • It serves as a constant reminder to the citizens 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 the 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.