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Fundamental Duties

List of Fundamental Duties:

Article 51A, Part IVA of the Indian Constitution, specifies the list of fundamental duties of the citizens.

It says “it shall be the duty of every citizen of India:

  1. To abide by the constitution and respect its ideal and institutions;
  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 diversities,
  6. To renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
  7. To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
  8. To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers, and wild-life and to have compassion for living creatures;
  9. To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
  10. To safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
  11. 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. “

Further, one more Fundamental duty has been added to the Indian Constitution by 86th Amendment of the constitution in 2002, who is a parent or guardian , to provide opportunities for education to his child, or as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years.

Features and Characteristics of Fundamental Rights

  1. The Fundamental Rights are not absolute. They are subject to reasonable restrictions. They strike a balance between individual liberty and social Security. But the reasonable restrictions are subject to Judicial review.
  2. All the Fundamental Rights can be suspended except the fundamental rights guaranteed under article 20 and 21. Right to freedom is automatically suspended during Emergency. Some of the Fundamental rights are for the Indian citizens only, but some can be enjoyed by both citizens and aliens.
  3. Fundamental Rights can be amended but they cannot be abrogated. The abrogation of Fundamental rights will violate the basic structure of the Constitution.
  4. Fundamental Rights are both positive and negative. The negative rights prevent the state from doing certain things. Article 15 prevents the state from making discrimination.
  5. Some Fundamental Rights are available against the state. Some rights are available against individuals.
  6. The Fundamental Rights are justifiable. A citizen may approach the court of law when his fundamental rights are violated.
  7. Some Fundamental rights may not be available to personnel serving in the defense forces. They cannot enjoy all the fundamental rights.
  8. The fundamental rights are social and political in character. No economic rights have been guaranteed to the Citizens of India, although without them the other rights are of little or of no significance.

Criticism of Fundamental Rights

  1. As fundamental duties are not included in Part III (fundamental rights) of the constitution, no constitutional legal remedies for enforcement of duties, but the Parliament is free to provide by suitable legislation. Critics have pointed out that this list of fundamental duties miss some important duties such as cast vote, pay taxes, family planning etc.

  1. Some complicated terms such as ‘composite culture’ or ‘noble ideas’ are difficult to understand by common man and lead to violation of any of fundamental duties. The Supreme Court ruled that as people of this country are different in number of ways.

  1. The Fundamental Duties are vague:Even if citizens intend to obey these duties, it is not possible for them to do the same because they do not know what to do or how to do, for instance, how to maintain the sovereignty, integrity or glorious heritage of the country, or have scientific temper, etc. Actually, these duties are expressed in vague language, and cannot provide any guidance to citizens. Citizens look for definite statement of duties to be followed by them and not those impractical duties.

  1. The Fundamental Duties are beyond the jurisdiction of the court:As these duties are beyond the jurisdiction of the court, the awakening of citizens on these duties is not possible. These duties have to be given a legal shape. It is difficult to ascertain whether they are obeyed or violated by a citizen. It is difficult to determine whether a citizen has or has not maintained the sovereignty of the country as mentioned in fundamental duties.

Justice Verma Committee

The Government of India appointed a committee to “operationalise suggestions to teach fundamental duties to the citizens of India” under the chairmanship of Justice JS Verma in 1998, which submitted its report in October 1999. The committee reported that “duty to vote at elections, actively participate in the democratic process of governance and pay taxes should be included in Article 51A of the Constitution.”

Justice Verma Committee Report (1999) on operationalization of fundamental duties observed: “Education is a sub-system of the total social system and it is in this context that the recommendations stated in this chapter should be viewed. Of course, a long-term strategy for developing a value-based society can come only through the instrumentality of right education and training”.

Unfortunately, the Justice Verma Committee’s recommendation on the fundamental duties has not been implemented till date in letter and spirit.

Significance of Fundamental Duties

The responsibility of doing or of not doing some work is known as duty. Duty is that positive or negative work that a man has to do, he may be willing for that or not. The fundamental duties are those duties which are essential for every citizen for his/her own progress, for the progress of the society and for the well-being of the nation.

The importance of the fundamental duties is:

  1. The Fundamental Duties are non-controversial in nature: Politicians of different views agree on the utility and importance of Fundamental Duties. They are in the best interest of the country and awaken patriotism among the citizens.

  1. The Fundamental Duties are the ideals and the guidelines for the individual:These rights are ideal in nature and lead the citizen in the right direction. The environment of selfishness is rampant in the country. There is no balance between the interests of the society and individual. This tendency is eroding the society. Fundamental duties would serve as an ideal behaviour to all of them.

  1. The Fundamental Duties create consciousness among the people:The fulfillment of the fundamental duties are voluntary and not compulsory. They will slowly awaken the conscience of the people to do their duties.
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