The Constitution of India not only embraces Fundamental rights but also Fundamental Duties.1Fundamental duties of citizens are as essential as Fundamental Rights conferred by the Constitution of India to live in harmony and cooperation. Rights and duties coincide with each other and are inseparable. When a person exercises his right he must be aware to preserve another’s right by performing his duties concomitantly. Duties can be an act of omission or commission. A person may be required to abstain from doing something (an act of omission) or need to discharge his duty (an act of commission) to exercise his right. The duty of every citizen of India is the collective duty of the State.
At first, the rationale of the constitution was to promote and protect the fundamental rights of the citizens and some of the rights for foreigners and laid down duties for the state to preserve the enjoyment of those rights. However during 1975-77 when the internal emergency was declared importance of fundamental duties was determined. Fundamental duties are borrowed from the Constitution of USSR (Russia). Apart from India and Russia, Fundamental duties are also engraved in the constitution of China, Shri Lanka, and Japan. In 1976 via 42nd Amendment Act fundamental duties were inserted as a single article, under Part V-A Article 51A as per the recommendation of the Swaran Singh Committee. Initially, only ten fundamental duties were proclaimed but later in 2002 by the 86th Amendment, the eleventh duty was added by recognizing the importance of education by laying a duty upon parents or guardian to provide an opportunity for the education of their child between the ages of 6 to 14 years [Article 51-A (k)]. The performances of fundamental duties are only observed by the citizens of India, unlike fundamental rights which are guaranteed to citizens and foreigners alike. Fundamental duties are inclusive of moral as well as civil obligation. For example, it is the moral duty of every citizen to respect the ideals of the constitution, to respect the national anthem and national flag [Article 51-A (a)], cherishing noble ideals of the freedom struggle [Article 51-A (b)] and it is a civic duty to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India [Article 51-A (c)], to defend the nation and to render national service when called upon to do so [Article 51-A (d)].
To ensure virtuous social reformation citizens must develop a scientific temper with the spirit of inquiry to form a rationale having an intellectual approach to tackle various issues [Article 51-A (h)]. Our self achievements and endeavor also benefits the Nation to rise at a higher level and hence it is the fundamental duty of citizens to strive towards excellence in all sphere of individual and collective activity [Article 51-A (j)].
Like the Directive Principle of State Policy, Fundamental duties are also non justiciable however they are utilized by the courts to consider the constitutional validity of a law. When a citizen demands or enforce his right to protest, he must also abide the duty to protect and preserve public property and to abjure violence [Article 51A (i)].
If the legislature enacts any law that restricts any conduct in violation of Fundamental duties, the court shall observe the same as reasonable restrictions upon the concerned Fundamental Right. With the increase of intolerance among
the religious community and anti-national activities the ideology of Fraternity seems to lose its significance. The ideals of fraternity are inculcated as a vital element in the preamble of the constitution which gives a precise idea regarding the ideology of the citizens. The essence of fraternity is also inserted under Article 51-A (e) which urges citizens to promote harmony and spirit of common brotherhood.
In M.C. Metha v. Union of India, the Supreme Court directed the Central Government to initiate a mandatory teaching of Protection and Preservation of Environment for at least one hour weekly in all educational institutions across the nation. This decision was influence by Article 51-A (g) which enjoins the citizens to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures. In Vishakha v. State of Rajasthan, the Apex court highlighted Article 51-A (e) which caste duties upon the citizens to renounce practices, derogatory to the dignity of women, and issued guidelines against sexual harassment at the workplace.
The Swaran Singh Committee recommended enforcing the fundamental duties by punishing the offenders for any non-compliance to observe any duties. The punishment shall be laid down by the Parliament that shall not be questioned by any court on the charge that it contravenes with any article mentioned in the Constitution of India. Fundamental duties are often considered as percepts of moral and civil duties because of their non-enforceable feature. However legal sanctions are made for some duties if they are been violated for example as per Article 51-A (f), dictate to value and preserve the rich heritage, if anyone is found scribbling on the walls of historic monuments, a fine is levied.
Some of the fundamental duties are not self-explanatory and ambiguous in their structure that requires broader interpretation along with explicit explanation. Fundamental duties are not exhaustive as it fails to consider other essential duties that every citizen must abide by. Such as political duty of casting vote and economic duty to pay the government tax timely and other social duties such as family planning and health.
Fundamental duties are often undermined and underrated if compared with the fuss about enforcing fundamental rights when encroach upon. Fundamental duties provide us with a parameter in which fundamental rights are to be comprehended. Insertion of fundamental duties is indeed a meritorious step to make the citizens duty oriented that shall ensure social welfare and solidarity.
By Divya Dilip Arekar,III Year, B.A. LL.B. (Hons.), The Maharaja Sayajirao University Of Baroda, Gujarat.