Enforcing Fundamental Duties

  • GS Paper – 2, Indian Constitution

Why is it in the news?

  • The Supreme Court of India has issued a notice to the Centre and the states to reply to a petition seeking to enforce the Fundamental Duties of citizens, including patriotism and national unity, through comprehensive and well-defined laws.
  • These fundamental responsibilities are outlined in Article 51A (Part IVA) of the Constitution, and they include striving to protect the values of the country as well as contributing to its growth and improvement.

What are the Fundamental Duties of a Person?

  • The Russian Constitution serves as an inspiration for the concept of Fundamental Duties (erstwhile Soviet Union).
  • The Swaran Singh Committee’s recommendations were included into Part IV-A of the Constitution via the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976, which was passed in response to the recommendations.
  • Originally consisting of ten duties, the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002 introduced a tenth obligation as part of the revised list.
  • The Fundamental Duties, like the Directive Principles of State Policy, are inherently non-justiciable in their character.

The following is a list of fundamental Duties:

  • 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 that inspired the 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 and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women,
  • To value and preserve the rich heritage of the country’s composite culture,
  • To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures,
  • To develop 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, and
  • To provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age of six and fourteen years (added by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002).

What is the Importance of Fundamental Duties in the Modern World?

  • The relationship between rights and responsibilities is reciprocal.
  • It is intended that the Fundamental Duties serve as a continual reminder to all citizens that, while the Constitution expressly confers some fundamental rights on individuals, it also compels citizens to adhere to fundamental principles of democratic conduct and democratic behaviour.
  • These serve as a warning to the public against anti-social behaviours that are considered to be disrespectful of the nation, such as burning the national flag, damaging public property, and upsetting public order.
  • These contribute to the development of a sense of discipline and loyalty to one’s own country and its people. They contribute to the achievement of national objectives via the active engagement of citizens rather than through the passive participation of observers.
  • It aids the Court in assessing whether or not a statute is constitutionally valid. For example, if a legislation passed by the legislatures is challenged in court for constitutional legitimacy, and the law is found to be giving effect to any Fundamental Duty, the law will be found to be reasonable.

What is the justification for enforcing fundamental obligations by legal means?

  • Indian society has always placed a high value on a person’s “Kartavya,” in accordance with the prescriptions of the ancient texts.
  • A person’s responsibilities towards society, the country, and, in particular, towards one’s parents are fulfilled in this manner.
  • The Gita and the Ramayana both exhort individuals to carry out their responsibilities without regard for their rights.
  • In the former Soviet Union’s Constitution, the rights and obligations were placed on an equal footing with one another.
  • There is an urgent need to enforce and implement at the very least some of the core obligations under the law.
  • Examples of such responsibilities include upholding and protecting India’s sovereignty, unity, and integrity, defending the country and doing national duty when called upon, and promoting a feeling of nationalism and patriotism in order to maintain India’s unity.
  • Following China’s ascension to the status of a superpower, these essential responsibilities have taken on greater significance.
  • The Verma Committee on Fundamental Duties of Citizens (1999) noted the presence of legislative provisions for the fulfilment of parts of the Fundamental Duties, but did not identify any specific legal requirements. The committee came up with provisions such as the following:
  • According to the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, no one has the right to insult the Indian national flag, the Indian Constitution, or the Indian National Anthem.
  • The Protection of Civil Rights Act (1955) stipulated sanctions in the event of any infraction involving caste or religion, among other things.
  • There has been an argument made in the petition that non-compliance with the Fundamental Duties has a direct impact on the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Articles 14 (Equality before Law), 19 (Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of expression), and 21 (Right to Life) of the Indian Constitution.
  • For example, the necessity to enforce basic obligations comes as a result of a new criminal trend of protest by demonstrators who are disguising themselves as exercising their right to freedom of expression and expression.

When it comes to fundamental duties, what is the Supreme Court’s position?

  • The Supreme Court’s Ranganath Mishra decision, issued in 2003, stated that basic obligations should be enforced not just via legal fines, but also through social consequences.
  • The Supreme Court ruled in AIIMS Students Union v. AIIMS 2001 that fundamental obligations are just as significant as fundamental rights in the context of constitutional rights.
  • Despite the fact that basic responsibilities are not enforceable in the same way that fundamental rights are, they cannot be ignored as obligations in Part IV A.
  • They are preceded by the same term fundamental that the founding fathers of the Constitution used to prefix the word ‘right’ in Part III of the Constitution.

The Best Way Forward

  • In order to “properly sensitise individuals to their responsibilities,” as well as “completely operationalize and enforce them,” a standard policy on basic obligations is required, which would “significantly assist citizens in becoming responsible.”


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