Fundamental Duties in Indian Constitution

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The Fundamental Duties enshrined in Part IVA of the Indian Constitution (Article 51A) were inserted by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act in 1976. In this article we will go through the list of Fundamental Duties, their background or need, legal position and suggestions of committees.

What is the Need of Fundamental Duties in the Constitution?

While the Fundamental Rights covered in Part III of the Constitution specify the Rights of the individual in relation to the state and Part IV of the Constitution (Directive Principles) list the duties of the state, there were no specific provisions listing the duties of the citizens of India vis-a-vis other citizens and the country and society at large.

In fact, there can be no rights in a society where there are no duties. Rights and duties are two sides of the same coin and inseparable. For every right, there is a corresponding duty. The fundamental duties are intended to regulate behaviour and to inspire citizens to strive towards excellence.

The source of right is duty. If we all discharge our duties, rights will not be far to seek.

Mahatma Gandhi

Therefore, to fill this vacuum, Part IVA containing the 10 Fundamental Duties were inserted by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act in 1976 vide Article 51A. A 11th Fundamental Duty was added by the 86th Amendment Act in 2002. Hence there are 11 Fundamental Duties in the Constitution at present. The addition of the chapter on Fundamental Duties was recommended by the Swaran Singh committee, which had recommended an eight-point code of fundamental duties.

The fundamental duties are in consonance with Article 29(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which says ” Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible”.

List of Fundamental Duties in the Indian Constitution

As mentioned above, there are presently 11 Fundamental Duties in the Indian Constitution. The 11 Fundamental Duties are listed below.

Article 51A states that -> It shall be the duty of every citizen of India:

  1. to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the national Flag and the National Anthem;
  2. to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
  3. to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
  4. to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
  5. to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
  6. to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
  7. to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;
  8. to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
  9. to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
  10. 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;
  11. Every parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age of 6 and 14 years x

x :> Added by the 86th Amendment Act, 2002.

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Legal Position of the Fundamental Duties

Although there are no Constitutional provisions for the enforcement of Fundamental Duties covered in Article 51A nor is there any provision to prevent or punish for their violation, there are specific legal provisions for the  enforcement of some of the fundamental duties as noted by the JS Verma Committee:

  1. The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act 1971 was enacted to ensure that no disrespect is shown to the National Flag, Constitution of India and the National Anthem [Fundamental Duty enumerated in 51A (a)].
  2. Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) prohibits writings, speeches, gestures, activities, exercises, drills, etc. aimed at creating a feeling of insecurity or ill-will among the members of various communities [Fundamental Duty enumerated in 51A (e)].
  3. Activities and assertions prejudicial to national integration constitute offence under Section  153B of the IPC [Fundamental Duty enumerated in 51A (c)].
  4. Offences related to religion and caste are covered in Sections 295-298 of the IPC (Chapter XV) and provisions of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 [Fundamental Duty enumerated in 51A (e)].
  5. Section 123(3) and 3(A) of the Representation of People Act, 1951 declares soliciting of votes on the ground of religion and the promotion of feelings of ill will and hatred among different religious communities as a corrupt electoral practice.
  6. Article 51A(g) regarding protection of environment has received particular attention from the various courts. The JS Verma committee on Fundamental Duties has listed and documented as many as 138 Supreme Court cases in the area of environmental protection.

Have Fundamental Duties Been Borrowed from Some Country?

The concept of fundamental duties is not unique to India. For instance, article 40 of the constitution of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam enjoins that “the public property of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam is sacred and inviolable. It is the duty of every citizen to respect and protect public property”. The Japanese constitution also lays down the duties of the citizen as against the rights he can exercise. Similar is the case with the Constitution of Netherlands.

However, the specific duties as enumerated in Article 51A of the Constitution are unique to the Indian ethos and value systems and have not been borrowed from any country. They are a codification of the practices, customs, traditions, and way of life existing in India for centuries.

Recommendations Regarding the Fundamental Duties

The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution, 2002, recommended addition of the following fundamental duties in Article 51A of the Constitution:

  1. Duty to vote at elections
  2. Duty to actively participate in the democratic process of governance
  3. Duty to pay taxes
  4. Duty to foster family values and responsible parenthood
  5. Duty of industrial organizations to provide education to children of their employees

With the increasing incidents of communal violence and religion-based mob violence (example beef lynching), strict adherence to fundamental duties is the need of the hour to foster feeling of common brotherhood and to maintain the unity and integrity of India.

Reference Books for IAS

GS Solved Papers
General Studies Manual
Manorama Year Book
Oxford Student Atlas
Science and Technology

Topic-wise Books for IAS

Indian Polity Laxmikanth
Ecology and Environment
India's Struggle for Independence
Brief History of Modern India
Indian Art and Culture
Certificate Course in Geography

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