FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES; ARTICLE 51A OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION
Published by: Aakansha Singh
“People tend to forget their duties but remember their rights”
Article 51A of the Constitution
Fundamental Duties are enshrined under Article 51A of the Constitution of India by virtue of 42th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1972. Initially, there were 10 Fundamental Duties in the Constitution. Later, 11th Fundamental duty was added by 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002. Thus, there are 11 Fundamental Duties under Indian Constitution.
51A: Fundamental Duties; It shall be duty of every citizen of India_
To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and National Anthem;
To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India;
To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
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;
To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife, and to have compassion for living creatures;
To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
To safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
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;
Who is parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years.
Purpose behind the incorporation of Fundamental Duties
The purpose behind the incorporation of Fundamental duties was to make citizen responsible towards country by reminding every citizen that they should follow some code of conduct in exchange of their Fundamental Rights and also to promote the objectives of the Preamble of Indian Constitution.
The Fundamental Duties were enshrined by the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976, in accordance with the recommendation of the Sardar Swaran Singh committee which was Constituted by Indira Gandhi. The Fundamental Duties was inspired from the Constitution of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the Constitutions of Japan, China, and the USSR. It is also inspired from Article 29(1) Universal Declaration of Human Rights which says “Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible”.
The scope of Article 51A is limited to the only citizens of India unlike some of the articles Fundamental Rights e.g. Article 21, are extendable to “all persons” irrespective of nationality. Thus, Fundamental Duties are endowed on the citizens of India and not upon the Foreigners.
Enforcement of Fundamental Duties
Indian Constitution does not provide legal sanction for violation or non-performance of Fundamental Duties. There is neither any specific provision for enforceability of Fundamental Duties. But there are various provisions are available in statutes to enforce Fundamental Duties. Thus, the Verma Committee was appointed in the year of 1999 to identify the existence of legal provisions for the enforcement of Fundamental Duties. They are mentioned below:
The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, prescribe punishment for the preaching and practice of untouchability.
The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 was enacted with purpose to prohibit from insulting the country’s national symbols, the National Flag and the National Anthem including the Constitution of India.
The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1976, declares communal organization as an unlawful association and against the integrity and sovereignty of India.
The Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972, provides protection for wild animals, birds, and plants and also prohibits trade of rare and endangered species. The act prescribes punishments for the offences against the wild animals.
The Forest (Conservation) Act, of 1980 enacted in order to conserve forest and to regulate forest activities such like deforestation and forest land.
The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 prevents improper use of certain emblems and names for professional and commercial purposes in order to protect integrity and sovereignty of India.
Section 153B of the IPC provides punishable offence for imputations and assertions prejudicial to the national integration by words either spoken or written.
Section 295-298 of the IPC deals with offences related to religion and provides punishments therefor.Sections 123(3) and 123(3A) of the Representation of People Act, 1951 prohibits politicians to ask votes in the name of religion, caste, community and in violation of these provisions their election can be set aside. And under Section 8A of the Act they can be disqualified for being a Member of Parliament or a State Legislature.
Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) prohibits from spreading enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, language by way of writings, speeches, gestures, activities, exercise, etc.
Interpretation of Fundamental Duties
Fundamental Duties are self-explanatory in nature. Although, there are various cases when Supreme Court of India has interpreted the real purpose of incorporating the Fundamental Duties.
In respect of Clause(e), the Supreme Court of India held that in the case of State of Punjab v. G.S. Gill, “ it is duty of the Public administrator that he should get rid off all narrow mental observation based on caste, religion or regional. He should have an open mind while dealing with society as a whole”.
Further, for the clause (g), in the case of M.C. Mehta V. Union of India, a divisional bench of the Supreme Court has held environment education compulsory in India. And said that the Centre Government should provide some guidelines to citizens of India in order to this duty imposed on them, thus directed to the Central Goverment:
To directed all schools from the first to ten classes, to give weekly lessons on environment in order to protect and improve the natural resources including forests, lakes, rivers, and wild-life.
To distribute text-books on environment free of cost.
To train up teachers on the subject environment.
Members of the parliament and legislature and officers of Central, state and local authorities should introduce cleanliness weeks and also render free personal service to keep their local areas unpolluted in order to save land, water and air.
And the in the case of Ram Prasad v. State of Uttar Pradesh with respect to Clause(j)- “To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity” it was said that the chapter IV-A had been inserted in the Constitution to regulate behaviour and to bring about excellence. Article 51A is in a positive form where ‘Excellence’ means to strive for merit, virtue, and honest performance. Constitutional makers have expected that the citizens shall perform their duties in an excellent way rather performing them half-heartedly.
Importance of Fundamental Duties
There are two aspects related to importance of Fundamental Duties that are legal and social aspect. In context to the legal importance of the Fundamental Duties is similar to that of the Directive Principles of State Policy. While the Directives were addressed to the state, without any legal sanction, similarly the Fundamental Duties are addressed to the citizens, without any legal sanction for their violation.
The Constitution expects that citizens of the country should monitor their own actions while exercising and enforcing his Fundamental Rights, keeping in mind that they owes some duty towards the nation as per prescribed in Art. 51A to the Constitution and if he does not care for the duties endowed upon him, he should not retain any rights.
For example, if a person who burns the Constitution, in violation of the duty in Art.51A(a), cannot ask that the meeting where it was burn should be protected by Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.
Thus, Fundamental duties were added in Indian Constitution to develop a sense of responsibility among citizens towards their country. These duties are morally obligated and not legally. But in case of their violation, there are various laws to enforce these duties but for the active enforcement, there must be legal sanctions under the Indian Constitution, so that true purpose of Fundamental duties may be achieved.
Constitution of India
P.M. Bakshi, the Constitution of India
Durga Das Basu on Shorter Constitution of India