The Fundamental Duties in Indian Constitution
The Fundamental Duties are a novel feature of the Indian Constitution, guaranteed by the constitution of India in Part IV(A) in Article-51 (A). These are recognized as the moral obligations that actually help in upholding the spirit of nationalism as well as to support the harmony of the nation as well as of the citizens, and not legally enforceable, the citizens are morally obliged by the Constitution to perform these duties.
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Fundamental Duties are the modernization of the Constitution. Fundamental Duties have been incorporated in the Indian Constitution ‘ to remind every citizen that they should not only be conscious of their rights, but also of their duties. Rights and duties go hand-in-hand as they are correlative. They serve as constant reminder to every citizen that while the Constitution specifically confers on them certain Fundamental Rights, it also expects them to observe certain basic norms of democratic conduct and behaviour.
In 1976, the committee was set up under the chairmanship of Swarna Singh to make recommendation about Fundamental Duties, the need and necessity of which was felt during the operation of the internal emergency.
The committee recommended the inclusion of separate chapter on Fundamental Duties in the Constitution. On following it Part IV(A), with Article-51(A), was added by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976. In 2002, through the 86th Amendment, a duty was incorporated providing opport¬unities for education to his child or ward between the age of six to fourteen years. Article-51(A) lays down the following duties. It shall be the duty of every citizen of India.
■ 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 which inspised our 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 spirit of common brotherhood among all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic, and regional or sectional diversities to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.
■ To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.
■ To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures.
■ To develop the 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
■ To provide opportunities for education by the parent, the guardian, to his child, or a ward between the age of 6-14 years as the case may be.
Feature of the Indian Constitution
Some of them are moral duties while others are civic duties. For instance cherishing noble ideals of freedom struggle is a moral precept, and respecting the Constitution, National Flag, and National Anthem is a Civic Duty
■ They are essentially contains just a codification of tasks integral to the Indian way of life.
■ The Fundamental Duties are confined to citizens only and do not extend to foreigners.
■ Like Directive Principles, the Fundamental Duties are also non-justiciable. The Constitution does not provide for their direct enforcement by court. However, the Parliament is free to enforce them by suitable legislation.
Points to Remember
Composite Culture The foundation of this composite culture is the Sanskrit language and literature which is the great binding force for the different people of this country.
The original population of India was Hindu, thereafter country was subjected to Muslim and British rule. Because of its wonderful tolerance, the Hindu culture imbibed these alien cultures and grew up a ‘composite culture’ in India.
Scientific Temper Scientific temper referred to a mentality of an outlook rather than a specialized body of knowledge and measured by the extent to which ordinary people were using the method of science to life’s problems and to reject superstition, prejudice and injustice. Scientific temper call for outlook founded on organized knowledge and experience and based on reason and rationality.
Strive Towards Excellence This would include respect for professional obligations and excellence whatever work, we take up either as individual citizens or as group. Our effort should be directed to achieving the goal of excellence.
Significance and Enforcement of Indian Constitution
The various clauses of Article-51(A) express fine sentiments. Some of these duties are already being enforced through ordinary law e.g., there are laws making any activity disrupting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India illegal and penal.
But some of the other duties mentioned appear to be legally unenforceable for they are vague and imprecise. These can at best be regarded as Directory. As regards enforceability of these duties, it has been held that these duties being duties of individual citizens cannot be enforced, through mandamus as they cast no public duties. The duties can be promoted by constitutional means.
Even though, the significance of the Article-51(A) lies in the fact that these clauses can be taken in consideration in relation to interpretation of statutes and acts of the Parliament or State Legislature, especially an ambiguous statute.
It has been aptly observed that Fundamental Duties, though not enforceable by a writ of the court, yet provide a valuable guide and aid to interpretation of constitutional and legal issues. In case of doubt or choice of people’s wish as manifested through Article-51(A) can serve as a guide not only for resolving the issues but also for construction or moulding the relief to be given by the courts.
Constitutional enactment of Fundamental Duties if it has to have any meaning must be used by courts as a tool to tap on State action drifting away from constitutional values.
These duties can enforceable through the law made by Parliament by providing some penalties to be imposed for failure to fulfill these duties and obligations.
The existence of meritorious provisions for the implementation of Fundamental Duties, such as the Prevention of Insults of National Honour Act, (1971), the Protection of Civil Rights Act, (1976) and the Wildlife (Protection) Act. 1972, the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
The Fundamental Duties of Indian citizens serve an imperative purpose, as a democratic politics cannot succeed if the citizens refuse to assume responsibilities and duties and are not enthusiastic to be active participants in the process of Governance. The Fundamental Duties are considered as the responsibilities which should performed by each and every civilian of India.
Fundamental Duties of Indian Constitution and Supreme Court
The Supreme Court, in MC Mehta vs Union of India (1983) case, has directed the Union Government to introduce compulsory teaching of lessons relating to Fundamental Duties.
In another case, AIIMS students’ Union vs AIIMS (2001), the Supreme Court regarded Fundamental Duties as important as the Fundamental Rights, and also an aid to interpretation of provisions of the Constitution.
The Fundamental Duties in Foreign Countries
The incorporation of Fundamental Duties in the Constitution has not been a common feature in Western countries. In United I I Kingdom, Canada and Australia, duties, constitute part of common laws.
The French Constitution only has a passing reference of the duties. The Japanese Constitution contains duties of the citizens. The former Soviet Constitution and the present Constitution of People Republic of China refers to Fundamental Duties. Japanese Constitution is, perhaps, the only democratic Constitution in the world which contains a list of duties of citizens.
Fundamental Duties in Japan
The LDP draft can be characterized by its obligation clauses imposed on the people. The current Constitution lists three obligations.
Right to Work (Article-27), to pay taxes as : provided for by Law, (Article-30) and to have all boys and girls under their protection receive ordinary education as provided for by Law (Article-26).
The LDP I draft adds six more.
■ The people must respect the National Anthem and Flag.
■ The people must be conscious of the fact that there are responsibilities and obligations in compensation for freedom and rights (Article-12).
■ The people must comply with the public interest and public order (Article-12).
■ The people must help one another among the members of a household (Article-24).
■ The people must obey commands from the State or the subordinate offices thereof in a State of Emergency. (Article-99).
■ The people must uphold the Constitution (Article-102).