The term "duty" is derived from the word "due," which refers to an
obligation. Thus, it can be termed as the responsibility to carry out an action
or activity. This act or duty may be required by the state, the failure to which
would result in legal sanctions, or it may be of an ethical, moral, cultural,
etc. nature. In his work, "On Duty," the early Roman philosopher Cicero posits
that there are four possible sources from which obligations may arise.
- Since a person is human
- As a result of one's position in life such as family, country,
- Because of a person's nature
- According to one's moral standards oneself.
Duty refers to a legal responsibility to do or not do something in a legal
context. It is assumed that when a person receives a right, they will also be
subject to some obligations. The obligation of the right is corresponding. There
are two different types of responsibilities; when a person has a legal duty, he
is required to carry it out; but, when it comes to a moral duty, he is not. The
decision rests with the person. The duties are broken down into primary and
secondary duty, positive and negative duty, and absolute and relative duty.
Defining a Duty:
According to Keeton, responsibility is an act of restraint that the state
enforces about a right that belongs to another person and whose violation is
bad. Every right entails a corresponding obligation, and vice versa.
Salmond argues that a duty is an action that must be performed, meaning that to
do otherwise would be wrong. Wrongs and obligations are related. Duty is the
opposite of a right and is synonymous with having to perform something. The
reverse of this action would be improper. Every time a person is given a duty by
the law, that person is also given the corresponding right, according to him.
Salmond held the view that no right can exist without an equal obligation to
fulfill it. Every right or obligation entails a legal commitment that binds two
or more people together. Therefore, there cannot be a duty unless there is a
party to whom it is owed, a right unless there is a party against whom it is
asserted, and there cannot be a wrong unless there is a party who is harmed,
that is, a party whose rights have been violated.
Vinculum Juris, which translates to "a bond of the law," is another name for
this. It is a connection that ties two people collectively legally.
Legal duty, according to Hibbert, is "the situation or a person whose acts are
susceptible to being controlled by another with the consent and help of the
Prof. Dicey asserts that "a duty is a form of obligation. People follow it out
of complacency, respect, empathy, terror, and logic. Additionally, as a result
of moral, societal, and psychological influences. The State supports the
majority of obligations. A fine or prison sentence is imposed for a duty
According to Austin, there are two categories of duties:
- Relative Duty: Such obligations have a corresponding right.
- Absolute duty: It has no corresponding right in and of itself.
According to Austin, a right must be vested in a specific individual and be
upheld through legal action brought by that person against the offender.
Austin, therefore, presupposes that an ambiguous or indefinite entity, such as
the society or the people, cannot acquire a right. The second presumption is
that a sovereign can impose or modify rights as it sees fit. As a result, the
sovereign is not permitted to hold such rights.
Austin listed four different categories of absolute duties:
- Duties To God That Are Not Owed To Humans;
- Duties To Unspecified Individuals Or The General Public, Such As The
Need To Behave Properly.
- Self-Regarding Obligations, Such As The Obligation To Abstain From
Alcohol Or Suicide.
- Responsibility To A State Or Sovereign.
Hibbert discusses both absolute and relative obligations. The previous
obligations are exclusively owed to the state, and their breach is typically
referred to as a crime. As a result, punishment is the appropriate solution. The
latter category of obligations is owed to anybody other than the person imposing
them, and when it is broken, it results in a civil injury that can be
compensated for by the victim.
Duties and their Nature
Duties follow rights. Every right or duty is accompanied by a legal covenant of
obligation that ties two or more people together. One has to fulfill for the
other, and the other person has the right to request that duty be fulfilled.
Thus, for any obligation to exist, there must be an entity to whom it is owed;
similarly, for a right to exist, there must be an entity that requests that the
entity to whom it is owed perform the obligation; and for a violation to occur,
there must be a person whose obligation has not been fulfilled, which means that
his right to receive the due obligation has been denied. This is also referred
to as a "bond of the law" or vinculum Juris. It is a connection that ties two
people collectively legally.
Rights and duties are matching entities in such an interpersonal connection.
When someone has a right, it follows that they should be treated fairly by
carrying out their associated obligations. The right to life entails a
responsibility to respect the rights of others, which means not interfering with
their lives. Therefore, in a democratic society, it is the reciprocal and
corollary nature of obligations that uphold our rights and regulate how people
interact with one another.
The Following Rules Must Be Followed When Someone Is Expected To Perform Two
Duties At Once:
- Duty to God must take precedence over obligations to men.
- Duties to protect the individual are subordinate to those to maintain
public order or the general welfare.
- Duties to one's family and close friends come before obligations to
- More important duties are completed before less important ones.
- Higher-level duties take precedence over lower-level obligations.
Characteristics of Duties:
A duty is an obligation that must be met. It is a set of rules or instructions
outlining the behavior that must be adhered to when carrying out moral or
socially responsible obligations.
The primary characteristics of obligation, according to Professor Fuller, are
- It should be universal, while some deviations are allowed.
- It ought to be published.
- It ought to be comprehensible and perspective.
- It needs to remain constant.
- It ought to be gratifying and consistent with one's moral principles.
Relationship between Rights and Duties:
The most crucial components of the law are rights and duties. The enforcement of
rights and the performance of duties make up the majority of the administration
of justice. The relationship between rights and duties is so intimate that one
cannot exist without the other. In other words, the existence of one depends on
the presence of the other as neither a father nor a child can exist without the
other. A right is always against the person who is subject to the corresponding
duty. In a similar vein, a duty is always owed to the person who has the
Division of DutiesLegal and Moral Duties:
A legal wrong is opposed by a legal duty, which is acknowledged by the law for
the administration of justice. Similar to how moral duty is the reverse of moral
evil, it is not recognized by legislation but is practiced based on societal
perception and human conscience. A duty may therefore be moral but not legal and
vice versa. Therefore, it is required by law to fulfill a legal duty but not a
moral duty. For instance, it is against the law to sell milk that has been
tampered with, and it is morally wrong to waste paper. For the former there is a
penalty, but not for the latter.
Positive and Negative Duties:
Additionally, duties have been categorized as either positive or negative.
Positive duties entail some behavior on the part of the subject. If a student
owes another student a book, then the former must return the book to the latter.
Therefore, this duty is a positive one.
Negative duty, on the other hand, essentially calls for a person to show
patience when it is imposed. Assume that someone has property, in which case
others have a duty not to interfere. As a result, this duty is a negative one.
Primary and Secondary Duties:
Primary duties are those that already exist and are essentially unrelated to any
other obligations. The duty in this situation is to avoid harming anyone else.
Now let's talk about the idea of secondary duties. These are the duties whose
main goal is to enforce another duty. For instance, if one person harms another,
the former is obligated to compensate the latter. Therefore, this task is known
as a secondary duty. On the other side, a primary duty is to refrain from
harming other people.
Duties under the Indian Constitution
The Indian Constitution contains the idea of duties as it is understood in India
in the form of Fundamental Duties under Part IV-A. The 42nd Constitutional
Amendment Act of 1976, which created Article 51-A, added it. It lays out 11
fundamental duties for all Indian citizens to follow. It emphasizes that the
first duty of citizens is to uphold the Constitution's principles, institutions,
national anthem, and flag. The sovereignty and integrity of our country must
always be upheld and protected by the citizens.
In addition, every citizen is required to defend the nation when necessary,
foster peace and brotherhood, protect the environment and natural resources,
foster the growth of a humanistic spirit, strive for excellence, and provide
children between the ages of six and fourteen with the opportunity to receive an
education. These duties derived from fundamentals cannot be enforced in a court
The legislature, however, has the power to make these obligations laws and
impose fines and penalties for disobedience. The legal system's and citizens'
proactive involvement in identifying and upholding these obligations have been
further increased by the rise of judicial activism and the filing of public
Analysis and Conclusion
The concept of rights and obligations is important in every legal system around
the globe. In the lack of rights and obligations, citizens lead a life no better
than that of an animal. As long as they are not supported by the rule of law,
that is, until and until they are given legal protection and are upholdable in
court, the simple grant of rights and obligations by the state is useless. The
concept of rights and obligations has evolved in the contemporary era, and
non-human animals are now thought to have rights. There are several tendencies
in the jurisprudence and application of these rights and obligations, and the
courts have adjusted to meet the changing needs of society.