After coming to terms with the comprehension that the rights and duties of the citizens are interwoven and correlative, our parliamentarians finally inserted the fundamental duties through the enactment of 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act in 1976. This amendment incorporated a new part – Part IV A to the Constitution that comprises of only one Article, namely Article 51 A, which specifies a code of ten fundamental duties of the citizens. One more fundamental duty was added in 2002.
This was deliberately done on the part of the then parliamentarians, especially the party in the power the Congress party, as our original and constitution contained only fundamental rights and not fundamental duties. The then ruling party, declaring the non-inclusion of fundamental duties in the constitution as a historical mistake, made the claim that what the framers of the constitution failed to do was being done then.
In 1976, during the course of the internal emergency (1975-77) as the need and necessity of fundamental duties was felt the Congress Party formed the Sardar Swarn Singh Committee to make the recommendations about it.
The Committee, while recommending the incorporation of a separate chapter on Fundamental Duties in the Constitution, emphasized that citizens should become conscious that in addition to the enjoyment of fundamental rights, they also do have certain duties to perform.
However, in the process of enactment of 42nd Amendment the government did not accept all recommendations of the Swarn Singh Committee. The recommendations not accepted by the then government were:
- The parliament may provide for the imposition of such pending or punishment as may be considered appropriate for any non-compliance with or refusal to observe any of the duties.
- No law imposing such penalty or punishment shall be called in question in any court on the ground of infringement of any Fundamental Rights or on the ground of repugnancy to any other provision of the Constitution of India.
- Duty to pay taxes should be a Fundamental Duty of the citizens.
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Fundamental Duties as listed in the Constitution
Article 51 A of the constitution of India states that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India:
(ii) To cherish and follow the noble ideals that inspired the national struggle for freedom;
(iii) To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
(iv) 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;
(v) To value and preserve the rich heritage of the country’s composite culture;
(vii) To develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.
(viii) To safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
(ix) 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 and;
(x) To provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age of six and fourteen years. This (duty) was added by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002.
Characteristics of the Fundamental Duties
Some of the Fundamental Duties belong to the class of moral duties and others and belong to the class of civic duties. For example, cherishing noble ideals of freedom struggle is a moral duty and respecting the constitution, National Flag and National Anthem is a civil duty.
Fundamental Duties are about such values that have been a part of Indian tradition, religions, mythologies and practices. In fact; the duties are integral to the Indian way of life.
In this context it is important to mention here what the Verna Committee had said that on Fundamental Duties. The committee said, essentially all that is contained in the Fundamental Duties is just a codification of tasks integral to the Indian way of life. A close scrutiny of clauses of Article 51 A indicates that a number of these clauses basically refer to such values as have been a part of the Indian tradition, mythology, religious and practices….it would be essential to create public awareness of the need to appreciate and internalize the concept and practice of Fundamental Duties with particular emphasis on the necessity of creating a harmonious society with a scientific outlook, free from tensions and turmoils.
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Fundamental Duties, Human rights and Mahatma Gandhi
The Fundamental duties, incorporated in the Article 51 A, are in concord with Article 29 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that says:
“Everyone has duties to community which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.”
Mahatma Gandhi, while expressing his thoughts on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, said: “The source of right is duty. If we all discharge our duties, rights will not be far to seek. If leaving duties unperformed we run after rights, they will escape us like will 0’ the wisp, the more we pursue them, the further they will fly.”
Importance of Fundamental Duties
Fundamental Duties act as a reminder to the citizens that while enjoying their fundamental rights, they must not forget the duties they owe to their country and their society.
These duties function as a warning against the anti-social and anti-national activities such as burning the national flag and so on. For most of the citizens these duties are not only a source of inspiration but also promote discipline and commitment among them. The duties instigate a feeling that the citizens are not spectators only but active participants too in the process of fulfillment of national goals.
Since the Fundamental Duties are enforceable by law, the Parliament has got the power for the imposition of appropriate penalty for failure to fulfill any of them.
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