Fundamental duties

Fundamental duties

  • Fundamental duties were added to the Indian Constitution by the 42nd Amendment, 1976. On the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee, 
  • They were originally 10 in number, but in 2002, the 86th Amendment raised its number to 11. 

  • The USSR (Russia) constitution is the source of the fundamental duties. 

  • Our Constitution has become more in line with numerous sections of other nations' modern constitutions and with Article 29(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights due to the inclusion of fundamental duties.

Features of Fundamental Duties:

  • Residents are supposed to abide by the country's code of conduct; only citizens of India are subject to fundamental duties; foreigners are not.
  • While some duties are moral, for example, promoting the spirit of patriotism and upholding the unity of India, cherishing the noble idea of freedom struggle etc., other duties are civic. For example, respecting the national flag and the national anthem. 
  • They are non-justiciable.
  • Fundamental duties consist of tasks essential to the Indian way of life by incorporating percepts reflecting the value of Indian traditions.
  • Though article 51-A does not expressly cast any fundamental duty on the state, the fact remains that the duty of every citizen of India is the collective duty of the state- AIIMS Student union vs. AIIMS and Ors.

Significance of Fundamental Duties

  • Constant Reminder of Democratic Conduct:
      • The purpose of Basic Duties is to constantly remind every citizen that while the Constitution clearly grants them certain fundamental rights, it also obligates them to uphold fundamental standards of democratic behaviour.
  • Admonishes Against Anti-Social Activities:
      • They deter the populace against anti-social behaviours that defame the country, such as burning the flag, destroying public property, or disturbing the peace.
  • Sense of Discipline and Commitment:
      • They aid in fostering a sense of discipline and commitment to the country.
      • They assist in realising national goals by encouraging residents to participate rather than merely watch actively.
  • Help Determine Constitutionality of Law:
    • It aids the Court in deciding whether the law is constitutional.

Criticism of fundamental duties:

    • The list of obligations is incomplete since several important obligations, such as paying taxes and casting ballots in elections, must be included.
    • The duties are randomly distributed and without any overarching structure.
    • These are merely moral principles and are imprecise and aspirational. For instance, heroic concepts of the struggle for independence, the term "composite culture," "scientific temper," etc.
    • They have little worth in the eyes of the public and are not justifiable on their own.
  • Socio-economic challenge:
    • Poverty: India has high levels of poverty, illiteracy, and unemployment. In such a situation, people may not be aware of their rights, leave alone their duties.
    • Large population: this leads to much pressure on resources, which, in turn, is responsible for the erosion of values that are the very basis of duties.
    • Corruption: because of rampant corruption, the people are generally fed up with the administration, and in disgust, they also do not perform their duties.
    • Conflict: conflicts in regional and communal groups are hindrances in the process of building a strong and united India. Due to this, concern for preserving regional and communal identities takes such an ominous turn that the national interest is ignored.

Need for new fundamental duties.

  • Rights and duties are correlative: the two concepts are so interwoven that they cannot be diverted from each other. Therefore, it is pertinent that a duty must complement every right; hence we need new duties to balance rights. 
  • Scope of fundamental rights: there has been a significant expansion in their scope through judicial pronouncements such as the right to live in a clean and healthy environment. As a result, an imbalance has been created between fundamental rights and duties. 
  • Socio-political structure: with the advent of technology and the evolution of societal norms, new obligations have arisen that citizens owe to each other and the country.
  • Sense of civic responsibility: certain duties essential to any democracy need to be reinforced within the current context to instill a new sense of civic responsibility.

New duties required

  • Duty to pay taxes: as recommended by the Swaran Singh committee
  • Duty to vote: duty to vote, actively participate in the democratic process of governance and pay taxes [NCRWC]
  • Duty to promote the well-being of children: to foster a spirit of family values and responsible parenthood in education and physical and moral well-being. [ NCRWC]
  • Duty to prevent civil wrongs: it is not enough that a citizen refrains from committing wrong; he has a duty to see fellow citizens not indulge in the commission of wrongs.
  • Duty to raise voice against injustice: the duties of a victim or a witness can be classified into two main categories, viz. Duty to report a crime and duty to testify in Court.
  • Duty to protect whistleblowers
  • Duty to help accident victims
  • Duty to keep premises clean: article 21 has been interpreted to include the right to a clean environment. 
  • Duty to support bona fide civil society movements
  • Reinvigorating civic responsibility

Should fundamental rights be made legally enforceable?

    • Arguments in favour
      • To fill the legal vacuum: The legislative gap needs to be filled by making them enforceable in order to enforce discipline and behavioural changes among residents.  
      • Enables the judiciary to examine legislative reasonableness: Fundamental obligations are important to consider, and their worth will be increased by making them enforceable.  
      • Guide to legislature and executives: fundamental duties must be fulfilled by the state and its officials.
      • Legislative potential like DPSPs: The judiciary has valued DPSPs because they advance the common good. The same standards must be applied to the fundamental duties. 
      • Reinforce constitutional obligations: In accordance with article 51 A(k), when coupled with article 21 A, the state and parents are required to share responsibility for the children's education. It might aid in reducing child labour.
      • Promote patriotism: The moral obligation of all citizens to support the unity of India and advance patriotism is described as one of the essential tasks. The Constitution imposes moral obligations on citizens to carry out these tasks. 
  • Arguments against making fundamental duties enforceable
    • Political propaganda: for example protecting the culture, tampering/omitting with the curriculum is facilitated.
    • Repetitive: For instance, fundamental responsibilities to preserve and enhance the natural environment, including its forests and wildlife, repeat what the applicable environmental protection law mandates. Ambiguous: Fundamental obligations include concepts without definition, such as brotherhood and scientific temper. Both the government and other citizens may abuse them. For instance, India is witnessing increased cow vigilante lynchings due to efforts to preserve cultural heritage. 
    • Lack of adequate awareness: to properly enforce duties, it must be known to all. This should be done through a systematic and intensive education of people, that is, by publicity or by making it a part of education.
    • Patriotism cannot be forced: citizens cannot be forced to carry patriotism on their sleeves, and courts cannot inculcate patriotism among people through its order.
    • Constitutional values: the significance of constitutional duties is not diminished by the fact that no punishment is prescribed for not following them. Fundamental duties should be treated as constitutional values that all citizens must propagate.

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