The success of a democracy depends upon the active participation of its citizens. Our Constitution is the result of the demands of the common people and it provides them certain fundamental rights under Part III of the constitution of India. So, it is equally important for the citizens to follow and respect the constitution by performing certain duties. These duties are known as Fundamental Duties in the Constitution of India. So, let’s discuss the article on 11 fundamental duties.
Fundamental Rights and Duties are the two sides of a coin. To respect one’s right is another man’s duty.
Meaning of Fundamental Duties
Fundamental duties are the basic norms and values that guide a citizen’s behaviour toward its country and constitution. These duties keep us reminding that our Constitution provides us with certain rights and in return, we shall perform certain duties for it.
DPSP and Fundamental duties
The fundamental duties in India are quite similar to the Directive Principles of state policies (DPSP) in the manner of enforcement. The DPSP provides direction to the state whereas the 11 fundamental duties provide direction to its citizens to respect their fellow people and the society as a whole.
The history behind the Addition of Fundamental Duties in the Constitution
The concept of fundamental duties in India is borrowed from the constitution of the USSR. Our original Constitution didn’t include fundamental duties at the time of 1950. It was added later on by the Indira Gandhi government in 1976 through the 42nd Amendment.
At that time of Incorporation, the protest was going on throughout the country against the Indira Gandhi government and the public property was harmed and set on fire. To deal with it, Mrs Indira Gandhi declared a national emergency and formed Swaran Singh Committee to amend the Constitution. The primary purpose behind this move was to promote the feeling of patriotism in the citizens by making them responsible to protect the national wealth and resources. The committee recommended more than 10 fundamental duties of the citizens. These recommendations were accepted with few modifications and a new Article 51(A) was included in the constitution. The addition of Duties makes our Constitution in line with the requirements of Article 29 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
List of Fundamental duties: Article 51(A)
The fundamental duties are included in chapter IV (A) of our Constitution. Article 51(A) comprises 11 fundamental duties in the Constitution of India. It is important to note that initially there were only 10 fundamental duties and the 11th fundamental duty was added through the 86th Constitutional amendment. These duties are only applicable to Indian citizens and not to foreigners.
11 Fundamental Duties in the Constitution of India
- Duty to follow the Constitution and respect the institutions – This duty put an obligation on the citizens that they should follow all the provisions of the constitution. It also states that we should honour our national flag and national anthem. We shall respect the various organs of government including Parliament, High Court, Supreme Court, etc.
- Duty to remember the noble ideals of our freedom fighters – India’s freedom struggle include the noble ideas of non-violence, self-sacrifice and a way of the wife. Thus, every citizen should remember the sacrifices made by our freedom fighters and put those values in our day to day life.
- Duty to uphold sovereignty and Integrity – India is a sovereign country and it is the duty of every citizen to ensure that its sovereignty shall never be compromised. The citizens should also ensure that the unity of our country remains intact from the external and internal separatist forces.
- Duty to defend and render national services – This duty states that every citizen should be ready to serve national duty at the time of any adversity like an earthquake, flood, etc. We should put the national interest ahead of our personal interest.
- Duty to promote harmony and brotherhood – India is a diverse country with many castes, religions and cultures. Thus, it is the duty of every citizen to respect each other’s culture and treat everyone equally to promote harmony and brotherhood in society.
- Duty to preserve the rich heritage– India is a country of rich heritage including our culture, spirituality and the belief in the truth. Thus it is the responsibility of every citizen to adopt these values and take them forward for our future generations.
- Duty to preserve the natural environment – This duty inspires every citizen to protect its forests, lakes, rivers, wild animals, etc. Further, it also calls for showing compassion toward wild animals and birds. We should stop the continued deforestation and the rising level of pollution in society. We should use our natural resources with utmost care and sincerity.
- Duty to develop scientific temper – The main objective of this duty is to ensure that our citizens shall be scientifically superior. We should follow an intellectual approach to remove ignorance by conducting due inquiry. Further, we shall remain humane and work for the betterment of humanity.
- Duty to safeguard Public property – This duty puts an obligation upon the citizens that they should protect public property and should not use any violence to destroy them. We should treat public property at par with national property to ensure its best utilization for the betterment of the public at large.
- Duty to develop individually and collectively for national development – A country is the collection of individuals. Thus this duty states that we should develop firstly at the individual level and therefore become an active part in the growth of the nation. We should work for achieving excellence.
- Duty to provide education in the age group of 6-14 – The future of a country depends upon the development of the children. This duty provides an obligation to the parents and the teachers to ensure that basic education should be given to a child between 6 to 14 years of age. This duty is supplemented with Article 21(a) of the constitution.
Importance of Fundamental Duties of Indian citizens
The fundamental duties of Indian citizens hold special importance in today’s society as people are only being conscious about their rights. The primary importance of these duties is that they ensure the participation of the Public in nation-building. The 11 fundamental duties also ensure that the citizens shall act as responsible citizens by not involving in any anti-social activities. Further, they act as a moral code of conduct that motivates the citizens to work for the betterment of the entire society.
They also played a very special role in promoting harmony and brotherhood in society. Further, it makes us aware of our responsibility toward the environment by making it free from pollution. It also contributes to the development of the nation by educating all the children from the age of 6 to 14. Lastly, the 11 fundamental duties contribute to fulfilling our Constitutional obligations.
In A.I.I.M.S. Student’s Union v. A.I.I.M.S., It was held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court that the fundamental duties are as important as fundamental rights. These duties give valuable guidance while interpreting constitutional and legal issues.
Non Enforceable Nature of Fundamental Duties
The term non-enforceable means that these duties are not legally enforceable and we can’t approach the court in case of their violation. They are merely obligatory in nature. There is no punishment prescribed for their violation.
The Swaran Singh Committee in its report recommended that the fundamental duties should be enforceable in nature. But this recommendation was not accepted. The primary reason behind this was that the majority of the population in India were illiterate and they were unaware of their constitutional obligation. So, if they were made enforceable then there would have been a flood of cases and the people had to face a lot of trouble.
Read the article on 6 Fundamental Rights of Indian constitution
However, it is equally important to note that the fundamental duties of Indian citizens are not enforceable in the constitution itself but certain other statutes prescribe punishment for violation of certain fundamental duties. The Prevention of Insult to National Honour, Act 1971 provide punishment for 1 year if a person cause insult to our national flag and the national anthem twice. Further, The Environment Protection Act, 1986 also contains punishment for the people who deliberately cause pollution in the society.
Lastly, the fundamental duties can be enforceable against the people holding public offices. If a public officer breaches his fundamental duties, then they will be subject to punishment. A public officer taking part in a protest can be punished by deducting his salary for the day or in any other suitable manner.
Fundamental duties are one of the most essential elements of our Constitution. They put an obligation on the citizens to work for the betterment of the country. The fundamental duties promote harmony and a feeling of nationalism in the citizens. Though they are not legally enforceable they serve as a moral guide to interpreting our other constitutional provisions.
However, the main problem that arises with the effectiveness of fundamental rights is the lack of knowledge among the people about the fundamental duties of Indian citizens. The “National Commission to Review the Working of Constitution” also recommended that the first and foremost step required by the Union and State Governments is to sensitise the people and create a general awareness about their duties. Thus, there is a very strong need to make people aware of the duties along with their rights.