Fundamental duties basically implies the moral obligations of all the citizens of a country and for now, there are 11 fundamental duties in India, which are written in part IV-A of the Constitution, to promote patriotism and strengthen the unity of our country.
Initially, the fundamental duties of India wasn’t a part of the Indian Constitution, they were added by the 42nd and 86th Constitutional Amendment Acts belatedly. The list of fundamental rights and duties along with the Directive Principles of State Policy are sections of the Indian Constitution that elaborate on the essential obligations of the citizens to its country, alongside rights that they hold as Indian citizens.
Similarly like all citizens have equal rights, they even have an equal fundamental duty to uphold their rights (mentioned under Article 21) and also confirm that they do not violate any of these rights. An individual cannot expect to enjoy all the privileges and freedom under the law without performing their corresponding fundamental duties.
“The incremental journey of formulation of the Indian Constitution provides a functional framework including principles, procedures, practices, rights, powers, and duties of the government. It also provides fundamental rights and fundamental duties that must be enjoyed and obeyed by a citizen respectively,”
The Fundamental Duties were added in the year 1976, supported by the recommendation of the Swaran Singh Committee that was initiated by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi soon after the declaration of national emergency, to further revise and review the constitution.
The committee was under the Chairmanship of Sardar Swaran Singh, India’s longest-serving union cabinet minister, reinforced by his recommendations; the govt. subsumed several changes to the Constitution including the Preamble, through the 42nd Amendment, which included the fundamental duties under the Indian Constitution as well.
However, by the 86th Amendment in 2002, the first 10 duties were then increased to 11, under Article 51A, Part IV-A of the Constitution of India. The eleven fundamental duties are as follows:
1. To oblige with the Indian Constitution and respect the national anthem and Flag.
- To cherish and follow the noble ideas that inspired the national struggle for freedom.
- To protect the integrity, sovereignty, and unity of India.
- To defend the country and perform national services if and when the country requires.
- To promote the spirit of harmony and brotherhood among st all the people of India and renounce any practices that are derogatory to women.
- To cherish and preserve the rich national heritage of our composite culture.
- To protect and improve the natural environment including lakes, wildlife, rivers, forests, etc.
- To develop scientific temper, humanism, and spirit of inquiry.
- To safeguard all public property.
- To strive towards excellence in all genres of individual and collective activities.
- To provide opportunities for education to children between 6-14 years of age, and duty as parents to make sure that such opportunities are being awarded to their child.The 11 fundamental duties look into the crisis in Indian society and become a tool for straightening it out. They function as a source of protection for the liberty of the people.
These duties were drafted on the lines of moral, ethical, and cultural code of conduct which is to be followed by the people to endorse and protect the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of our country. It also helps the govt. in sustaining proper governance and sanctioning the right performance of a democratic society.
Fundamental Duties are made Non-Enforceable. Rationally speaking, making fundamental duties non-enforceable was a wise decision and for the most when the DPSP in the Constitution is non-enforceable as well. One of the reasons for not making these duties enforceable is because of the majority of the population of India being illiterate and many people are unaware of their Constitutional obligations. In this scenario, if the fundamental duties were enforced, it might have resulted in causing chaos and harassment among people, and the whole point of this would dissipate.
Also, implementing the fundamental duties would have been tough, as the Fundamental Duties mentioned in Article 51A, lack proper explanation and for different people, these duties are prone to be misinterpreted or interpreted in many alternative ways. Moreover, the fundamental duties enlisted are entirely dependent on the performance of the State and therefore also the Directive Principle of State Policy.
If the country is unable to provide a proper environment that elaborates on the fundamental duties, then to follow these duties properly will constitute to a another problem. These duties aren’t legally enforceable, which implies that if a citizen of India violates any of them in any way, no legal proceeding can be taken against him/her.
Although these duties are non-enforceable, they’re important because; For the growth of a democratic country like India, it’s crutial that all fundamental duties are followed by the citizens while respecting the integrity and promotion of cultural harmony within the country.
These duties are a constant reminder to citizens to create a free, healthy, and responsible society and that they are expected to not act rashly or heedlessly and not indulge themselves in any kind of anti-social activities.
It also includes providing education to children, particularly to the children who are 14 years of age or below, safeguarding our human rights, and are a major step towards the abolition of social injustice that exist within the society and goes unnoticed.
Environmental pollution has become one of the greatest causes of concern, not just for Indians but for people around the globe. Unless we all take the pledge to keep our surroundings free from pollutants, there remains the threat of undesirable consequences.
The fundamental duties aren’t solely for the purpose of expression of morals or religion, as the courts can take perception in the matter to enforce and give effect to these constitutional obligations. Under Article 51A and as per the definition of fundamental duties, it is the responsibility of the citizens to build a free and healthy society, where all citizens are treated equally without any partiality.
Following the fundamental duties is the responsibility of the citizen itself. A judgment by the Supreme Court stated that if someone had genuine religious obligation, which can be placed above patriotism, then nobody can force them to sing the national anthem. No one can force anyone to follow the fundamental duties, people should realise its importance on their own.
It is the citizen’s responsibility to realize that the fundamental duties are made for everyone’s well being and it is in their own heed to perform their duties for the benefit of themselves and the society and discharge their legal and constitutional obligations whole-heartedly. Only by doing so, can every individual contribute for the growth of the democratic republic collectively.
Citizens are expected to behave in accordance with the ideal code of conduct parallel to the 11 fundamental duties and no legal action can be initiated for non-performance. Alongside the independence of India, emerged the republican rule, which made each of us responsible for the happiness and welfare of our people.
Author: Neha . S. Menon,
ICFAI LAW SCHOOL, 1st Year.