The Fundamental Duties are an important part of Indian Constitution. The duties prescribed, embody some of the highest ideals preached by our great saints, philosophers, social reformers and political leaders. No Duties of the Citizen were incorporated in the original constitution of India at the time of its commencement in 1950.
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 earlier that year. The Fundamental Duties help to regulate the behaviour of the citizens and to bring about excellence in all the spheres of the citizens.
Swaran Singh Committee on Fundamental Duty:
- It opined that in addition to enjoyment of certain rights by the citizens they also have certain duties to perform as well. This recommendation was accepted by the government
- A new section Part IVA was added and only one article was inserted in it
Some recommendations of the committee which were not accepted include:
- Parliament may provide for any penalty for failure to adhere to any FD
- No law imposing such penalty could be questioned in the court
- Duty to pay taxes should also be a fundamental duty of the citizens
The features of Fundamental duties are as follows:
- Both moral and civic duties have been laid down under the fundamental duties
- Fundamental rights can be applied to foreigners also but the fundamental duties are only restricted to the Indians citizens.
- The fundamental duties are not enforceable in nature. No legal sanction can be enforced by the government in case of their violation.
- These duties are also related to Hindu traditions or mythology like paying respect to the country or promoting the spirit of brotherhood
Relevance of fundamental duties under Article 51A:
- They serve as a reminder to the citizens that while enjoying their rights, they should also be conscious of duties they owe to their country, their society and to their fellow citizens.
- They serve as a warning against the anti-national and antisocial activities like burning the national flag, destroying public property and so on.
- They serve as a source of inspiration for the citizens and promote a sense of discipline and commitment among them.
- They create a feeling that the citizens are no mere spectators but active participants in the realization of national goals.
- They are ideal in nature and lead the citizen in the right direction.
- They help the courts in examining and determining the constitutional validity of a law.
- For instance, in 1992, the Supreme Court ruled that in determining the constitutionality of any law, if a court finds that the law in question seeks to give effect to a fundamental duty, it may consider such law to be ‘reasonable’ in relation to Article 14 (equality before law) or Article 19 (six freedoms) and thus save such law from unconstitutionality.
- The importance of fundamental duties is that they define the moral obligations of all citizens to help in the promotion of the spirit of patriotism and to uphold the unity of India.
- Fundamental duties make citizen conscious of his social and citizenship responsibilities and so shape the society in which all become solicitous and considerate of the inalienable rights of our fellow citizens.
Criticism of Fundamental Duties:
- They are made non-justiciable in nature
- Important duties such 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
- Inclusion as an appendage to the constitution reduces the value and intent behind FD
Supreme Court (1992) ruled:
- In determining the constitutional validity of any law, if law in question seeks to give effect to FDs, it may consider such law to be ‘reasonable’ in relation to Art. 14 or Art. 19 and thus saving such law from unconstitutionality.
- State can make laws to prevent violation of duties.
- Duties cannot be imposed by writs.
Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties:
Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties are inter-related and one can’t exist without the other.
“Fundamental rights can be defined as privileges granted to each individual of the country to enjoy and the Fundamental Duties are the moral responsibilities which one needs to carry out in order to respect the rights of another individual and perform social obligations,” says Advocate Manuj Chadha.
|Fundamental Rights are the freedoms guaranteed by the constitution which can’t be taken away from a citizen.
|Fundamental Duties are the legal responsibilities bestowed upon the citizens to perform.
|Fundamental Rights are considered to be the normative rules of liberty and freedom for every citizen in order to achieve a harmonious and a free lifestyle
|Fundamental Duties are the moral responsibilities of all the citizens that need to be performed by them in order to achieve prosperity and uphold the unity of the nation.
|Fundamental Rights are universally available to all citizens regardless of their race, caste, religion, sex or place of birth and are justiciable in nature, i.e. they can be taken to the court of law.
|Fundamental Duties are non-justiciable and hence can’t be taken to the court of law.
Fundamental duties are the moral obligations of all citizens to help promote a spirit of patriotism and to uphold the unity of India. The significance of Fundamental Duties is not diminished by the fact that there is no punishment prescribed for not following them. Fundamental Duties constitute the conscience of our Constitution; they should be treated as constitutional values that must be propagated by all citizens.