- 16 Aug 2022
- 7 min read
Why in News?
Recently, Chief Justice of India said Fundamental Duties in the Constitution are not merely to serve a "pedantic or technical" purpose, but they were incorporated as the key to social transformation.
How were the Fundamental Duties Incorporated?
- The idea of Fundamental Duties is inspired from the Constitution of Russia (erstwhile Soviet Union).
- These were incorporated in Part IV-A of the Constitution by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976 on the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee.
- Originally 10 in number, one more duty was added through the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002.
- All the eleven duties are listed in Article 51-A of the Constitution (the sole Article in Part-IV-A).
- Like the Directive Principles of State Policy, Fundamental duties are also non-justiciable in nature.
What are the Listed 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 Significance of Fundamental Duties?
- Constant Reminder of Democratic Conduct:
- Fundamental Duties are intended to serve as a constant reminder to every citizen that while the Constitution specifically conferred on them certain fundamental rights, it also requires citizens to observe basic norms of democratic conduct and democratic behaviour.
- Admonishes Against Anti-Social Activities:
- They serve as a warning to the people against the anti-social activities that disrespect the nation like burning the flag, destroying public property or disturbing public peace.
- Sense of Discipline and Commitment:
- These help in the promotion of a sense of discipline and commitment towards the nation.
- They help in realising national goals by the active participation of citizens rather than mere spectators.
- Help Determine Constitutionality of Law:
- It helps the Court in determining the constitutionality of the law.
- For instance, any law passed by the legislatures, when taken to Court for constitutional validity of the law, if it is giving force to any Fundamental Duty, then such law would be taken as reasonable.
What is the Supreme Court’s Stand on Fundamental Duties?
- The Supreme Court’s Ranganath Mishra judgment 2003 held that fundamental duties should not only be enforced by legal sanctions but also by social sanctions.
- In AIIMS Students Union v. AIIMS 2001, it was held by the Supreme Court that fundamental duties are equally important as fundamental rights.
- Though fundamental duties are not enforceable like fundamental rights they cannot be overlooked as duties in Part IV A.
- They are prefixed by the same word fundamental which was prefixed by the founding fathers of the Constitution to ‘right’ in Part III.
- The fundamental duties are not merely pedantic or technical. They were incorporated as the key to social transformation.
- In order to contribute meaningfully to society, the citizens must first understand the Constitution and its organs. "It is imperative for the people to understand the system and its nuances, the powers and the limitations.
- That is why it is very important to spread constitutional culture in India.
- There is a need for every citizen to be a meaningful stakeholder in Indian democracy and try to imbibe the Constitutional philosophy in its true spirit.
- There is a need for a uniform policy for the “proper sensitization, full operationalization and enforceability” of fundamental duties which would “substantially help citizens to be responsible”.