The fundamental duties which were added by the Forty-second Amendment of the Constitution in 1976, in addition to creating and promoting a culture, also strengthen the hands of the legislature in enforcing these duties vis-a-vis the fundamental rights. Since the duties are imposed upon the citizen and not upon the State legislation is necessary for their implementation. For example, mandamus cannot be sought against an individual who does not observe his duties under this article. With respect to the duty under clause (a) of this article, it has been held that “proper respect is shown to the National Anthem by standing up when the National Anthem is sung. It will not be right to say that disrespect is shown by not joining in the singing.
Even though brought in by the Constitution (Forty Second Amendment) Act 1976 during the operation of the proclamation of Emergency, Part IV-A, laying down certain duties of the citizens, is one of the most valuable parts of the Constitution. It is also the most neglected.
While the Fundamental Rights provisions covered the rights of the individual and the Directive Principles the duties of the State, there were until 1976 no provisions in our Constitution laying down the duties of the individual even though the traditions and temper of Indian thought through the ages laid greater emphasis on duties. For every right, there is a corresponding duty. Duty is an inalienable part of right; the two represent the two sides of the same coin. What is the duty of one is another’s right and vice versa. If all men have a right to life, a duty is also cast upon all men to respect human life and not to injure another person.
Gandhiji sought to emphasise the economic and social responsibilities of all citizens. It was in keeping with his ideas that the Constitution (Forty-Second Amendment) Act, 1976 added to the Constitution a new Part IVA titled ‘Fundamental Duties; after the original Parts Ill and IV of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles respectively. Originally ten in number, the Fundamental Duties were increased to eleven by the 86th Amendment in 2002, which added a duty on every parent or guardian to ensure that their child or ward was provided opportunities for education between the ages of six and fourteen years.
The new Part IVA consisted of articles 51 A which reads as follows :
51 A. It shall be the duty of every citizen of India
(a) To abide by the Constitution and respect the National Flag and the National Anthem;
(b) to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
(c) to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
(d) to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
(e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
(f) to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
(g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures;
(h) to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
(i) to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
(j) 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.”
(k) to provide opportunities for education by the parent the guardian, to his child, or a ward between the age of 6-14 years as the case may be. (added by 86th Constitutional Amendment in 2002).
CRITICISM OF FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES
The Fundamental Duties mentioned in Part IVA of the Constitution have been criticized on the following grounds:
- They have been described by the critics as a code of moral precepts due to their non-justiciable character. Their inclusion in the Constitution was described by the critics as superfluous. This is because the duties included in the Constitution as fundamental would be performed by the people even though they were not incorporated into the Constitution.
- Some of the duties are vague, ambiguous and difficult to be understood by the common man.
- The list of duties is not exhaustive as it does not cover other important duties like casting vote, paying taxes, family planning and so on. In fact, duty to pay taxes was recommended by the Swaran Singh Committee.
- The critics said that the inclusion of fundamental duties as an appendage to Part IV of the Constitution has reduced their value and significance. They should have been added after Part III so as to keep them on par with Fundamental Rights.
SIGNIFICANCE OF FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES
In spite of criticisms and opposition, the fundamental duties are considered significant from the following viewpoints:
- They serve as a source of inspiration for the citizens and promote a sense of discipline and commitment among them. They create a feeling that the citizens are not mere spectators but active participants in the realisation of national goals.
- They serve as a warning against the anti-national and antisocial activities like burning the national flag, destroying public property and so on.
- They serve as a reminder to the citizens that while enjoying their rights, they should also be conscious of the duties they owe to their country, their society and to their fellow citizens.