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Fundamental Duties

History & Background


The Fundamental Duties in the Indian Constitution are inspired by the Constitution of the erstwhile USSR.


Though the rights and duties of the citizens are correlative and inseparable, the original constitution contained only the fundamental rights and not the fundamental duties. Notably, none of the Constitutions of major democratic countries specifically contain a list of duties of citizens.


The Fundamental Duties were added to the constitution in 1976. In 2002, one more Fundamental Duty was added.

Swaran Singh Committee


The Congress party established the Sardar Swaran Singh Committee in 1976 to make recommendations on fundamental duties deemed necessary during the operation of the internal emergency (1975-1977).


Recommendations


A separate chapter on fundamental duties to be added to the Constitution. It emphasised the importance of citizens understanding that, in addition to exercising their rights, they also bear certain responsibilities.


In 1976, the Central Congress Government acted on these recommendations bypassing the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act.


Part IV-A of the Constitution was added as a result of this amendment. This new section contains only one article, 51A, which establishes a code of ten fundamental citizen duties for the first time.


The Swaran Singh Committee recommended that the Constitution include eight Fundamental Duties; however, the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act (1976) included ten.

Notably, some of the Committee's recommendations were rejected by the Congress Party and thus did not make it into the Constitution. These are:


  • The Parliament may impose any penalty or sanction it deems appropriate for failure to perform or refuse to perform any of the duties.


  • No law imposing such a penalty or punishment may be challenged in court on the grounds that it violates one or more of the Fundamental Rights or is inconsistent with another provision of the Constitution.


  • Taxation should be recognised as a fundamental right of citizens.




List of Fundamental Duties


According to Article 51A, every Indian citizen is responsible for:


  • to protect the Constitution, its ideals, and institutions, as well as the National Flag and National Anthem.


  • to cherish and uphold the noble ideals that inspired the country's independence struggle.


  • to defend and uphold India's sovereignty, unity, and integrity


  • to defend the country and render national service when called upon


  • to promote harmony and brotherhood among all Indians, regardless of religious, linguistic, regional, or sectional differences, and to refrain from practises that are demeaning to women's dignity


  • to appreciate and protect the country's diverse cultural heritage


  • to protect and improve the natural environment, including forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and to show compassion for all living things.


  • to cultivate a scientific temperament, humanism, and a spirit of inquiry and reform


  • to safeguard public property and refrain from violence


  • to strive for excellence in all areas of individual and collective activity, so that the nation's level of effort and achievement is constantly raised; and


  • to make educational opportunities available to his child or ward between the ages of six and fourteen. The 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002 inserted this obligation into the Constitution.


What are the characteristics of the Fundamental Duties?


Civic Responsibilities: Respecting the Constitution, the National Flag, and the National Anthem.


Moral Duty: Cherishing noble ideals of self-determination is a moral precept.


  • Duties refer to values that have existed for millennia in Indian mythology, religions, and practices. In other words, they are essentially a list of tasks that are essential to the Indian way of life.


The Fundamental Duties, unlike some of the Fundamental Rights, apply only to citizens and do not apply to foreigners.


The Directive Principles, are non-justiciable obligations. The Constitution does not provide for their direct enforcement by the courts. Furthermore, there is no legal repercussion for their infringement. On the other hand, Parliament is free to enact appropriate legislation to enforce them.


What are the reasons behind the criticisms of Fundamental Duties?



1. The list of responsibilities omits critical duties such as voting, tax payment, and family planning. Indeed, the Swaran Singh Committee recommended making taxation a legal requirement.


2. Certain responsibilities are ambiguous, and difficult for the average person to understand.


3. They have been referred to as a code of moral precepts because they are non-justiciable. (The Swaran Singh Committee proposed a penalty or sanction for non-compliance with Fundamental Duties.)


4. Their inclusion in the constitution was considered unnecessary. As they were to be carried out even if they weren't mentioned in the constitution.


According to critics, the inclusion of fundamental duties as an appendix to Part IV of the Constitution diminishes their value and significance. They should have been added after Part III to keep them on par with Fundamental Rights.


Verma Committee


In 1998, The Justice Verma Committee was formed with the goal of developing a strategy and methodology for implementing a national programme to teach fundamental duties, make them enforceable in all educational institutions, and begin in-service training.


Observations


The Verma Committee on Citizens' Fundamental Duties (1999) discovered that certain Fundamental Duties have legal provisions governing their enforcement. The following are the details:


  • Act for the Prevention of Insults to National Honour (1971): Defamation of the Indian Constitution, the National Flag, and the National Anthem is prohibited.


  • Inciting animosity between different groups of people on the basis of language, race, place of birth, or religion, among other factors, is punishable under various criminal laws.


  • Protection of Civil Rights Act,1955: Offenses against caste and religion are punishable.


  • Indian Penal Code (IPC): The Indian Penal Code: Imputations and assertions that are detrimental to national integration are punishable.


  • Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967: A communal organisation can be declared an unlawful association.


  • The Representation of People Act (1951): Allows members of Parliament and state legislatures to be disqualified for corrupt practises such as soliciting votes on religious grounds or fomenting animosity between different sections of the population based on caste, race, language, or religion.


  • The Commercialization of the Rare and Endangered Species Act of 1972 prohibits the commercialization of rare and endangered species.


  • The Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 prohibits irresponsible deforestation and forest land diversion for non-forest purposes.




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