CHAPTER 8 – FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

 

FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES

(ARTICLE 51A)

 

 

PART IV-A OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA

 

Although the makers of the Constitution did not feel the need to include in it, the fundamental duties of the citizens, were added to the Constitution on the recommendations of Sardar Swaran Singh Committee in 1976, through 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, by inserting Article 51A through Part IV-A into the Constitution. This part reminds the citizens of India that in addition to enjoying fundamental rights, they also owe certain duties towards their nation, their society and their fellow citizens.

 

 

ARTICLE 51A

 

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, and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.
  6. to value and preserve the rich cultural heritage of India.
  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 endeavour and achievement.
  11. to provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age of six and fourteen years (Added through 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002).

 

DESCRIPTION

The 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act 1976 originally added first ten fundamental duties. However, through the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002, an 11th fundamental duty was added to Article 51A under Part IV-A of the Constitution. These are conferred upon citizens only and not upon aliens. The legal utility of fundamental duties is similar to that of the directives. While the Directives are addressed to the government, the duties are addressed to the citizens, without any legal sanction for their violation. Since the Fundamental Duties are not addressed to the government, a citizen cannot claim that he must be properly equipped by the government so as to perform the duties mentioned under Article 51A. However, since education is a state subject, the Supreme Court has issued directions to the states, having regard to Article 51A (g).

Although the fundamental duties are not enforceable by courts of law, these help in determining the constitutional validity of a law. The Supreme Court has held that if a law has been made to give effect to a fundamental duty, the court may not declare such a law to void just on the grounds of contraventions with provisions of Article 14 (Right to Equality) or Article 19 (Rights to Freedom).

Duties are observed by individuals as a result of dictates of the social system in which one lives, under the influence of role models, or due to fear of punitive provisions of law. It may be necessary to enact suitable legislation wherever necessary to require obedience of obligations by the citizens.  Some of the legislations to enforce fundamental duties upon citizens have been:

  1. The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act (1971) prevents disrespect to the Constitution of India, the National Flag and the National Anthem. In 2006, the Supreme Court made it mandatory to play national anthem before every movie show in a theatre and also for citizens to stand up during such national anthem. However, in 2016, the court reversed its order making it not mandatory for theatres to play national anthem before every show.
  2. The Protection of Civil Rights Act (1955) provides for punishment for offences related to caste and religion.
  3. The various sections of Indian Penal Code penalises sedition and violence in the name of religion, language, region or any other reason that could threaten the national integration and peace. The various preventive detention acts also empower the state to detain people who can threaten sovereignty, integrity and unity of the nation. 
  4. The Wildlife Protection Act (1972) prohibits trade in rare and endangered species.
  5. The Forest Conservation Act (1980) checks indiscriminate deforestation and diversion of forest land for non forest purpose.
  6. The Right to Education Act, 2009 makes it mandatory for the State to provide free and compulsory education to children in the age group 6-14 years. Also, it makes it mandatory for parents to send their children in this age group mandatorily to school.
  7. The recent verdict of the Supreme Court declaring the practise of Triple Talaaq invalid is one of the many steps taken to renounce such practices which were derogatory to the dignity of the women.