The Supreme Court recently issued notices to the Centre and states in a writ petition seeking the enforcement of the fundamental duties of Indian citizens as enshrined in the Constitution of India.
- The petition, filed by advocate Durga Dutt, 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.
- 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… 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.
Back to Basics
How were the fundamental duties incorporated in the Constitution?
- The fundamental duties were incorporated in Part IV-A of the Constitution by The Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976, during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency.
- Article 51(A) describes 11 fundamental duties — 10 came with the 42nd Amendment; the 11th was added by the 86th Amendment in 2002.
- These duties are not enforceable by law.
- However, a court may take them into account while adjudicating on a matter.
- They were made a part of the Constitution to emphasise the obligation of the citizen in return for the fundamental rights that he or she enjoys.
- The Russian Constitution has the concept of fundamental duties.
What are the Fundamental duties of Indian Citizens?
- Article 51(A) says it shall be the duty of every citizen of India:
- (a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;
- (b) to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
- (c) to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
- (d) to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
- (e) 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;
- (f) to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
- (g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;
- (h) to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
- (i) to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
- (j) 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;
- (k) 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.”
- The last subsection, (k), on the education of children, was added in 2002 by The Constitution (86th Amendment) Act. The same amendment also introduced Article 21A in the Constitution:
- “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.”
Importance of Fundamental duties of Indian Citizens:
- Reduction of illiterates in the country.
- Nature will be preserved and protected hence there will be a guaranteed good environment to live in the future.
- To claim fundamental rights one must be fulfilled with his duties and it will be checked before the court of law. If one doesn’t fulfill his/her fundamental duties the respective person’s claim of fundamental rights becomes difficult.
- The common brotherhood with the collectivity activity of people leads the Country to excellence in all spheres of matter.
- It alerts the citizens not to indulge in any offense against the government.
- Helps to interpret ambiguous statutes.
- Promotes unity and integrity among the people which makes a Sovereign Country.
- Our heritage is protected and given to the next generation.
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