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Fundamental Duties In India: Article 51(A)

Our country India has the lengthiest written constitution in the world. In this, the rights of every person are kept in mind. However, the three organs of the State cannot make this country self-reliant until they get the proper support from the citizens as well. So certain fundamental duties are expected from the citizens to be carried out. In this article, we will discuss the Fundamental Duties which are expected to be carried out by the citizens of our country. It is a moral obligation on the citizens to maintain the feeling of patriotism and unity among all the citizens of the country.

The fundamental duties which were added by the 42nd Amendment Act of the Constitution in 1976, in addition to creating and promoting culture, also, strengthen the hands of the legislature in enforcing these duties vis-a-vis the fundamental rights.

Part IVA of the Indian Constitution deals with Fundamental Duties. As of now, there are 11 Fundamental duties.

Originally, the Constitution of India did not contain these duties. Fundamental duties were added by 42nd and 86th Constitutional Amendment acts.

Citizens are morally obligated by the Constitution to perform these duties. However, like the Directive Principles, these are non-justifiable, without any legal sanction in case of their violation or non-compliance.

Need for Fundamental Duties:

It is important to understand that no democratic system could ever succeed if the citizens are not willing to participate actively by discharging their duties which are expected to be done by them.

Our Constitution has provided us with various rights and expects us to perform certain duties as a return. Article 51(A) talks about these Fundamental Duties and has 11 fundamental duties that are expected to be performed by the citizens (there were 10 earlier and 11th was added later by the 86th amendment). First, we will discuss these 11 fundamental duties and then we can move on to the next topic whether it is needed or not.

We need to follow our Constitution and should respect our national flag and national anthem.

  • Should follow the ideals of the freedom struggle
  • Protect the sovereignty and integrity of our nation.
  • Protect our nation and provide national services when required.
  • Should have the spirit of a common brotherhood.
  • Preserve the culture of our country.
  • Protect the environment of our country
  • Generate scientific rationale for every thought.
  • To protect public property.
  • Strive for excellence.
  • It is the duty of every parent to send their children between 6-14 years to school.

From these fundamental duties, one can easily understand the need for the fundamental duty in our constitution. It is required to protect the sovereignty of our nation. To maintain the unity and integrity of our nation. Rights and duties go hand in hand and cannot be separated at any cost. Fundamental duties and fundamental rights are two sides of a coin that we know can�t be separated. Also, it is found as the need of the hour to introduce fundamental duties in our constitution.

Maintain the Sovereign Nature of State:

The main aim of the insertion of fundamental duties was to maintain the sovereign nature of our state. Although these are not legally enforced they also provide some kind of sovereign power to our state.

To maintain Unity and The integrity of the nation:

In the current scenario, we can see that people are often talking about the term �intolerance�. They are relating intolerance with unity. According to them if the people become intolerant then the compatibility with other people will be affected and ultimately the unity among different people will be affected terribly. Our Fundamental Duties help in developing tolerance among the citizens and ultimately help in developing the feeling of unity and integrity among the citizens of our country.

In the interpretation of different statues which are made by the legislature:

The Fundamental Duties help in the interpretation of the law/statutes made by the legislature. It is held in many cases that the need for Fundamental Duties in interpreting the Fundamental Right is pivotal. In the case of Mohan Kumar Singhania v. Union of India, the court held that statutes made according to Article 51(A) of our Constitution are valid. Thus from this, we can clearly see that Fundamental Duties help in interpreting the constitutional provision.

To create a balance between the claims of the individual citizen and those of the civil society:

A report was submitted by a committee led by late Justice J.S. Verma in the year 1999. The need for and importance of Fundamental Duties (especially under Article 51A) was explained by this committee. It can be found in recommendation nos 3.38.1 and 3.38.2 of the report.

According to this committee, it is important to create a balance between the expectations of individual citizens and to create a civil society. To achieve this goal, it becomes important to orient the citizens of our country to be aware of their social and citizenship responsibility. And by doing this we will ultimately end up shaping the civil society(By term �civil society, we mean that a society where all become concerned and considerate of the rights of fellow citizens).

Needed for the current situation:

When our Constitution was drafted by our Constitution makers, they didn�t need to insert the fundamental duty in our constitution. But as time passes the need and importance of Fundamental Duty was felt that is why they were inserted later by 42nd Amendment in our Constitution. Earlier the feeling of patriotism, harmony, feeling to promote brotherhood, secularism were inherent and there was no need to put any moral or legal obligation on the citizen to the same. The feeling of serving the country and defending the country at any cost was there among the citizens of the country. The people were willing to protect the rich heritage of Indian culture.

However, as time passed people were lacking these qualities. Earlier the above qualities were taught by the family and also by the teachers in school and colleges. But with time, all the people become so busy in their life that they forget to inculcate these values among themselves. Those qualities which were once an integral part of the life of the citizens of India were found to be enforced in the form of Fundamental Duties.

In Chandra Bhavan Boarding And Lodging Bangalore v. State of Mysore And Another, the Supreme Court held that our Constitution can't protect all the rights of citizens without assigning certain duties to its citizens. However, this decision was taken before the insertion of fundamental duties in the Indian Constitution. It clearly explains the need for fundamental duties for making a welfare society.

Article 51 (A): Fundamental duties

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 wildlife, 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 endeavor and achievement.
  11. 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.

Facts about Fundamental Duties:

  • Fundamental Duties are categorized into two � Moral Duty & Civic Duty

Moral Duty:

cherishing noble ideals of freedom struggle

Civic Duty: respecting the Constitution, National Flag, and National Anthem
  • They essentially contain just a codification of tasks integral to the Indian way of life
  • The Fundamental Duties are confined to Indian citizens only and do not extend to foreigners unlike a few Fundamental Rights
  • They are also nonjusticiable similar to the Directive Principle of State Policies
  • There is no legal sanction against their violation

Criticism of Fundamental Duties

The Fundamental Duties mentioned in Part IVA of the Constitution have been criticized on the following grounds:
  • The critics have described them as a code of moral precepts due to their non-justiciable character. Their inclusion in the Constitution was described by the critics as superfluous. This is because the duties included in the Constitution as fundamental would be performed by the people even though they were not incorporated into the Constitution.
  • Some of the duties are vague, ambiguous and difficult to be understood by the common man.
  • The list of duties is not exhaustive as it does not cover other important duties like casting votes, paying taxes, family planning, and so on. In fact, the duty to pay taxes was recommended by the Swaran Singh Committee.
  • 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 to keep them on par with Fundamental Rights.

Swaran Singh�s Committee recommended more than 10 Fundamental Duties, however, not all were included in the Constitution.

Those duties recommended by the committee which were not accepted were:

  • Citizens to be penalized/punished by the parliament for any non-compliance with or refusal to observe any of the duties.
  • The punishments/penalties decided by the Parliament shall not be called in question in any court on the ground of infringement of any of Fundamental Rights or on the ground of repugnancy to any other provision of the Constitution.
  • Duty to pay taxes.
At last, we can conclude that in this article we have come to know about every aspect of Fundamental Duties and by reading every aspect of it we can clearly understand the need and importance of Fundamental Duty. It was added in our constitution as our government realized that civil society can not be made by the state only. The citizens of our country need to play a vital role in achieving the basic aim of our constitution. They can do this by following their duties towards the nation as mentioned in Article 51A of our Constitution.

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