Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties are inter-related, but there are many differences between the two, Fundamental Rights are the privilege enjoyed by each individual of the country on the other side, Fundamental Duties are the moral responsibilities which one needs to carry out in order to respect the rights of another individual and perform social obligations. Hedge J. in the case Chandra Bhagwan Boarding and lodging v. State of Mysore said that “It is a fallacy to think that under our Constitution, there are only rights and no duties.”
Fundamental Duties have been added to implement the recommendations of Swaran Singh Committee in 1976. Some of the important points recommended by the committee which were not included –
- Parliament should impose penalty or punishment in case of non-compliance of duties
- If punishment is imposed according to the above clause, it cannot be called in question in any court
- Duty to pay taxes to be incorporated as fundamental duty
Later, 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 came into existence which added Part IV A in the Constitution of India. It has only one article i.e. Article 51A which originally had 10 Duties from Article 51A clause (a) to clause (j)
The 10 Fundamental duties are as follows:
1. To abide by the Constitution and respects its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and National Anthem
In Bijoe Emmanuel v. State of Kerala, (the National Anthem case) the court held that not joining the singing of the National Anthem should not be considered as the disrespect of National Anthem or violation of Article 51A clause (a). The Supreme Court in Sanjeev Bhatnagar v. Union of India rejected the demand for the deletion of the word “Sindh” from the National Anthem and held that National Anthem is immortal and inalienable hence cannot be changed.
2. To cherish and follow the noble ideas which inspired our national struggle and 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; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
6. To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
7. To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, rivers, lakes and wild life 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 endeavor and achievement.
But with the introduction of 86th Amendment Act, 2002, clause (k) was added to Article 51A.
11. To provide opportunities for education to children between 6-14 years of age, and duty as parents to ensure that such opportunities are being awarded to their child.
Fundamental Duties have been derived from USSR and these are confined to citizens only and do not extend to foreigners. In case SURYA NARAIN v. UNION OF INDIA, Rajasthan Court held that the duties under Part IVA are the duties of individual citizens and hence, a mandamus could not be sought against an individual who did not observe his duties under Article 51A. Also in W.B. HEAD MASTER’S ASSOCIATION v. UNION OF INDIA, it was held that the performance of the duty was quite personal to every citizen of India.
As these are non–justiciable many term these duties as Moral obligations or Sanction less duties. Does that make them less important? NO!
The main purpose of the Fundamental Duties is
- To remind Indian citizens of their duty towards the society, nation.
- Warn citizens against the anti national and anti social activities like burning flag, disrespecting the Constitution of India and the National Anthem.
- Inspire the citizens to promote a sense of discipline and commitment among themselves.
In the case UNION OF INDIA v. NAVEEN JINDAL, Supreme Court held that Fundamental Duties may serve as a guide to the interpretation of the Constitution and legal issues. Although if, Parliament enacts a law through amendment then, these duties can be enforced. For example, Parliament implemented Prevention of Insult to National Honors Act, 1971 against the Indian citizens for committing insult of national honors and after sometime Fundamental Duties came into existence. The act protects Article 51A clause (a). Also in M.C. MEHTA v. UNION OF INDIA, court held that it is the duty of every citizen under Article 51A clause (g) to preserve and protect the natural environment and for this Parliament had already passed the Wild Life protection Act, 1972 and Forest Conversation Act, 1980.
The non-enforceability of the Fundamental Duties does not affect its importance as it reminds people to perform their duties towards the nation. Also to make people understand that it is not only the duty of the government to do everything, in return every individual should be conscious about their role in the society. These duties inculcate a sense of social responsibility. Every right has its co-relative duty should always be taken into account.