Fundamental Duties


Though the rights and duties of citizens are correlative and inseparable, the original Constitution, enforced on January 26th, 1950, did not mention anything about the duties of citizens. The framers of the Constitution expected that the citizens of free India would perform their duties willingly. But things did not go as expected. Therefore, ten fundamental duties were added in Part-IV A of the Constitution under Article 51-A in the year 1976 through the 42nd Constitutional Amendment. In 2002, one more fundamental duty was added.

Although there is no provision in the Constitution for direct enforcement of any of these duties, nor for any sanction to prevent their violation. The Fundamental Duties in the Indian Constitution are inspired by the Constitution of the erstwhile USSR. Notably, none of the Constitutions of major democratic countries like Australia, Canada, France, Germany, USA and so on specifically contain a list of duties of citizens. The Japanese Constitution is, perhaps, the only democratic Constitution in the world which contains a list of duties of citizens. Whereas the socialist countries, on the contrary, gave equal importance to the fundamental rights and duties of their citizens.

Swaran Singh Committee Recommendations

 In 1976, the Congress Party created the Sardar Swaran Singh Committee to make recommendations about fundamental duties. The committee recommended a separate chapter on fundamental duties in the Constitution. It stressed that citizens should become conscious that, in addition to the enjoyment of rights, they also have certain duties to perform as well. The Congress government at the Centre accepted these recommendations and enacted the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act in 1976. This amendment added a new part, namely, Part IVA, to the Constitution. This new part consists of only one article, that is, Article 51A, which for the first time specifies a code of ten fundamental duties of citizens.

Though the Swaran Singh Committee suggested the incorporation of eight Fundamental Duties in the Constitution, the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1976 included ten Fundamental Duties.

List of Fundamental Duties

The 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act of 1976 added to the Constitution a new Part IVA titled “Fundamental Duties.” There is only one Article 51 A in the new Part IVA. Article 51 A lays down ten duties for every citizen of India. Later, the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002 added a new clause as the eleventh duty. According to Article 51 A, it shall be the duty of every citizen of India:

  • To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the 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 and 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 not to use 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.
  • To provide opportunities for the education of his child or ward between the age of six and fourteen years.

Features of the Fundamental Duties

The Fundamental Duties have the following characteristics:

  • Some of them are moral duties while others are civic duties. For example, cherishing noble ideals of freedom struggle is a moral precept and respecting the Constitution, National Flag and National Anthem is a civic duty.
  • The Fundamental Duties are confined to citizens only and do not extend to foreigners. whereas some of the fundamental Rights are extended to all people, whether they are citizens or foreigners.
  • Like the Directive Principles of State policy, the Fundamental Duties are also non-justiciable. The Constitution does not provide for their direct enforcement by the courts.
  • They refer to such values that have been a part of the Indian tradition, mythology, religions, and practices.

Verma Committee Observations

The purpose of incorporating the Fundamental Duties in the Constitution is to make the citizens aware of their social and economic obligations and to warn them to do and not to do certain things in the interest of their country, their fellow citizens, and themselves.

For the implementation of at least some of the fundamental duties of citizens, as the Verma Committee (1999) has stated, legal provisions exist:

  • The Prevention of Improper Use Act (1951) prevented the improper use of National Emblem, National Flag and the National Anthem.
  • The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act (1971) prevents disrespect to the National Flag, Constitution of India and the National Anthem.
  • There are a number of provisions in the existing criminal laws to ensure that the activities that encourage enmity between different groups of people on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc. are adequately punished.
  • The Protection of Civil Rights Act (1955) provides for punishments for offences related to caste and religion.
  • Imputations and assertions prejudicial to national integration constitute a punishable offence under section 153B of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  • A communal organization can be declared unlawful association under the provisions of Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act 1967.
  • The Representation of People Act (1951) provides for the disqualification of members of Parliament or a state legislature for indulging in corrupt practises, that is, soliciting votes on the ground of religion or promoting enmity between different groups of people on the grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.
  • The Wildlife (Protection) Act (1972) prohibits trade in rare and endangered species.
  • The Forest (Conservation) Act of 1980 checks indiscriminate deforestation and diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes.

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