FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

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By Ansu Ealias

INTRODUCTION

Three important parts of the Indian Constitution are Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Duties.

The Constitution of the USSR, which was first adopted in the year 1924. It was re-adopted in the year 1936 and was popularly known as the ‘Stalin Constitution, ‘ which had provisions for Fundamental Duties. Presently, the USSR runs on the Constitution of 1993 in which Fundamental Duties are discussed under Chapter X (Art. 130-133). In India, Fundamental Duties (Part IV A) were introduced by the

 Swaran Singh Committee through the 42nd Amendment Act.

A Nation is formed by the set of people who inhabit a certain geographical landmass, are a part of consolidated political unit, have shared rights and duties and follow a common legal system in political and day to day parlance. Fundamental duties are set of such moral obligations which we as a citizen of a country require to follow in order to promote respect towards the national symbols and rituals, which are in turn representation of the nation – its people i.e., patriotism and strengthen the unity of India. There are eleven such fundamental duties, which are written in Part IV – A of Constitution, which were added by the 42nd amendment of Indian constitution in 1976. These duties are generally not found in the constitution, which are based on the western liberal tradition rather found in the socialist constitution. P.V. Kane in the History of Dharam sastra, Vol – V and was found critical of that our constitution ignored the Indian tradition of duties and emphasize only on the rights. According to Kane, Indian tradition has followed duties. Duties towards our family, duties towards our neighbour, duties towards our Gurus etc. and these were neglected in our constitution.

FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

The fundamental duties which were added by the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution in 1976, in addition to creating and promoting a culture. Since the duties are imposed upon the citizen and not upon the State, legislation is necessary for their implementation.

For example, mandamus cannot be sought against an individual who does not observe his duties under this article. With respect to the duty under clause (a) of this article, it has been held that “proper respect is shown to the National Anthem by standing up when the National Anthem is sung. It will not be right to say that disrespect is shown by not joining in the singing.

While the Fundamental Rights provisions covered the rights of the individual and the Directive Principles the duties of the State, until 1976 there were no provisions in our Constitution laying down the duties of the individual even though the traditions and temper of Indian thought through the ages laid greater emphasis on duties. For every right, there is a corresponding duty. Duty is an inalienable part of right; the two represent the two sides of the same coin. What is duty for one is another’s right and vice versa. If all men have a right to life, a duty is also cast upon all men to respect human life and not to injure another person. A new Part IV A titled ‘Fundamental Duties; after the original Parts III and IV of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles respectively. Originally ten in number, the Fundamental Duties were increased to eleven by the 86th Amendment in 2002, which added a duty on every parent or guardian to ensure that their child or ward was provided opportunities for education between the age of six and fourteen.

The new Part IV A consisted of articles 51 A which reads as follows: 51 A. It shall be the duty of every citizen of India :

  • To abide by the Constitution and respect the National Flag and the National Anthem;
  • To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired 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 the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all 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 our composite culture;
  • To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life 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 and the guardian, to his child, or a ward between the ages of 6-14 years as the case may be. (Added by 86th Constitutional Amendment in 2002).

NEED FOR FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

Rights and duties are correlative. The fundamental dunes, are, therefore, 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 certain basic norms of democratic conduct and democratic behaviour.

The traditional duties have been given constitutional sanction. “If one takes care to ace. he will discover in the Constitution not only his rights but also his duties. A look at the Constitution will also thus answer the complaint of some persons that Constitution has conferred rights on the individual but has not set out the duties of the individuals.

towards the society. By the Preamble the Constitution secures to all the citizens “liberty of thought. expression. belief, faith and worship”. These are fundamental rights of the citizens. The rest of the preamble emphasises only the duties, …Justice, social economic and political”. In addition to this, the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution are not absolute rights. The State IS empowered to impose reasonable restriction and curtail these rights in the interest of society. Restrictions may sometimes amount to prohibition”.

SOURCE OF FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

It is significant to note that none of the constitutions of westerncountries specifically provide the duties and obligations of citizens. Among the democratic constitutions of the world, we find mention of certain duties of the citizens in the Japanese Constitution. In Britain, Canada and Australia the rights and duties of citizens arc governed largely by Common law and judicial decisions. The French Constitution makes only a passing reference to duties of citizens. The American Constitution provides only for fundamental rights and does not refer to duties of citizens. It does not mean that the people of these countries behave in on irresponsible manner. In all these countries the citizens are imbued with a high sense of patriotism as a result of education and training in the elementary duties and obligations of citizenship.

 The Constitution of Socialist countries, however, lay great emphasis on the citizens citifies. Article 32 of the Yugoslavian Constitution lays down : .The freedom and rights shall be achieved in solidarity among the people by the fulfilment of their duties towards each other”. Article 36 says. “The right to work and the freedom to work are guaranteed and whoever will not work. though he is fit to do so, shall not enjoy the rights and the social “protection that man enjoys on the basis of work”. Article 66 lays down, “Every citizen shall conscientiously discharge any public or social office vested in him and shall be personally accountable for discharging it”.

CRITICISM OF FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

The Fundamental Duties mentioned in Part IVA of the Constitution have been criticized on the following grounds:

1. They have been described by the critics as redundant and a code of moral precepts due to their non-justiciable character.

This is because the duties included in the Constitution as fundamental would be performed by the people even though they were not incorporated in the Constitution.

2. Some of the duties are vague, ambiguous and difficult to be understood by the common man.

3. The list of duties is not exhaustive as it does not cover other important duties like casting vote, paying taxes, family planning and so on. In fact, duty to pay taxes was recommended by the Swaran Singh committee.

4. The critics said that the inclusion of fundamental duties as an appendage to Part IV of the Constitution has reduced their value and significance. They should have been added after Part III so as to keep them on par with Fundamental Rights.

SIGNIFICANCE OF FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

In spite of criticisms and opposition, the fundamental duties are considered significant from the following viewpoints:

1. 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 not mere spectators but active participants in the realization of national goals.

2. They serve as a warning against the anti-national and antisocial activities like burning the national flag, destroying public property and so on.

3. 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.

ENFORCEMENT OF DUTIES.

The duties incorporated in the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment are statutory duties and shall be enforceable by law. Parliament, by law. .ill provide penalties to be imposed for failure to fulfil those duties and obligations. The success of this provision would, however, depend much upon the manner in which and the person against whom these duties would be enforced.

For the proper enforcement of duties, it is necessary that it should be known to all. This should be done by a systematic and intensive education of the people that is by publicity or by making it a part of the syllabi and curriculum of education. The Law has himself suggested this. Most of the people of this country are illiterate and not politically conscious of what they owe to society and country. Homes, Universities, offices and their places of work should all be Made centres for imparting in the performance of their obligations.

CASE LAWS

  • Shyam Narayan Chouksey v.Union of India

Supreme Court in a PIL held—One is compelled to show respect whenever and wherever  National Anthem is played. It is the elan vital of the nation and fundamental grammar belonging to the nation state. The Prescription of the place  or occasion has to be made by the constitution and the law. Playing of National Anthem in the cinema halls on the screen may not be mandatory until a final decision is taken by committee appointed by the  Central Government. The Court issued the necessary directions with the exemption granted to disabled to remain in force till the final decision of the competent authority with regard to each occasion whenever the National Anthem is played or sung.’

  • M. C. Mehra v. Union of India.

The Supreme Court has held that under Art. 51-A (g) it is the duty of the Central Government to introduce compulsory teaching of lessons at least for one hour in a week on protection and improvement of natural environment in all the educational institutions of the country. It directed the Central Government to get textbooks written on that subject and distribute them to the educational institutions free of cost. In order to arouse amongst the people. the consciousness of cleanliness of environment, it suggested the desirability of organising-keep the city clean week. keep the town clean. keep the village clean week in every city, town and village throughout India at least once in a year.

  • AIIMS Students Union v. AIIMS.

Speaking about the importance of Fundamental duties enshrined in Article 51A while striking down the institutional reservation of 33% in AILMS coupled with 50% reservation discipline wise as violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. the Supreme Court said that they are equally important like fundamental rights. Though fundamental duties are not made enforceable like fundamental rights but it cannot overlook as -duties” in Part IV-A is prefixed by the same word “fundamental” which was prefixed by the founding fathers of the Constitution to-tight” in Part III. Every citizen of India is fundamentally obliged to develop the scientific temper and humanism. Though Article 5I-A does not  cast any fundamental duty on the state. The Fact remain that the duty of e very citizen is the collective duty of the state. Any reservation apart from being substantive on the constitutional anvil must also be reasonable to be permissible The facts remain that the duty reasonable to be permissible. In assessing they  would null into consideration would be whether the character and quantum of reservation or accelerate in achieving ultimate goal of  excellence enabling national constantly rising to higher level.in globalisation where nation as enabling whole as to compare with other nations of the world as to survive, excellence  cannot be given go by  and certainly other nations of the world as to survive, not compromised in entirety. Fundamental duties though not enforceable by a writ of the Court, yet provide a valuable guide and aid to interpretation of constitutional and legal.

CONCLUSION

Fundamental duties enshrined by the constitution is an effort to make administration successful, which cannot be unless citizens take their responsibilities. These duties are a constant reminder to us of the national goals as well as the basic norms of political order.These fundamental duties are applicable exclusively for the citizen. Violating some of these fundamental duties are punishable offence in the court of law. Though fundamental duties are highly criticized on various aspects like – Why paying tax is not a fundamental duty? Why voting is not a fundamental duty? And some argue over the vague idea of conceptualizing fundamental duties. Anyhow, these fundamental duties are playing a symbiotic relationship between citizen and state. The state is providing us the fundamental rights and in turn it is asking for the duties.

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