May 25, 2014

Fundamental Duties - Its Significance and Drawbacks in Indian Constitution

The Fundamental Duties of Indian Citizens were added as Article 51-A by the 42nd Amendment, 1976,
  • Fundamental Duties added on the recommendation of Swaran Singh Committee.
  • These are non-justifiable i.e their compliance cannot be enforced by law, but serves as moral responsibility on the citizens.
  • Originally 10 Fundamental Duties , 11th Fundamental Duty was added by 86th Amendment in 2002. At Present we have 11 Fundamental Duties.
  • Fundamental rights and Fundamental duties are correlated. Either of them cannot be ignored.
  • To create a general awareness of the provisions of fundamental duties amongst the citizens on the lines recommended by the Justice Verma Committee in 1999

List of all 11 Fundamental Duties in India are  
Fundamental Duties of India - Its Significance and Drawbacks in Indian Constitution
(a) It is the duty of every citizen to abide by the constitution and respect its ideal and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.
(b) It is the duty to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom.
(c) It is the duty to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.
(d) It is the duty of every citizen to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do.
(e) It is the duty 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.
(f) It is the duty of every citizen to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.
(g) It is the duty to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life and have compassion for living creatures.
(h) It is the duty of the citizen to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.
(i) It is the duty of every citizen to safeguard public property and to abjure violence.
(j) It is the duty of every citizen to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievements.
(k) It is the duty of every parent or guardian to ensure that their child or ward was provided opportunities for education between the ages of six and fourteen years.( added by 86th Amendment in 2002)

Nature of Fundamental Duties / Significance of Fundamental Duties in India:

  • The Importance of fundamental duties is they serve as a reminder to perform specific duties towards society and warning to citizens against anti social activities (disrespect minorities, harm public property etc.).
  • The fundamental duties are enforceable by law i.e. parliament is authorized to make law for fulfilment of fundamental duties and can impose punishment and penalties for any act in contravention of any of them.
  • In 1992, the SC held that in determining the constitutionality of any law if court finds that it seeks to give effect to any of fundamental duties, it may consider such law to be reasonable in relation to Art 14 or 19 and thus save such law from unconstitutionality.
  • They serve as a warning against the anti-national and antisocial activities like burning the national flag, destroying public property and so on.
  • They serve as a source of inspiration for the citizens and promote a sense of discipline and  commitment among them. They create a feeling that the citizens are no mere spectators but active participants in the realisation of national goals.
  • These duties are in the nature of a code of conduct. Since they are unjusticiable, there is no legal sanction behind them. As you will find, a few of these duties are vague. For example, a common citizen may not understand what is meant by ‘composite culture’, ‘rich heritage’ ‘humanism’, or ‘excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activities’. They will realize the importance of these duties only when these terms are simplified A demand has been made from time to time to revise the present list, simplify their language and make them more realistic and meaningful and add some urgently required more realistic duties. As far as possible, they should be made justiciable.
Various Laws passed by Parliament for Enforcement of Fundamental Duties:
A summary of such legal provisions is given below:
  • In order to ensure that no disrespect is shown to the National Flag, Constitution of India and the National anthem, the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 was enacted.
  • The Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1950 was enacted soon after independence, inter alia, to prevent improper use of the National Flag and the National Anthem.
  • In order to ensure that the correct usage regarding the display of the National Flag is well understood, the instructions issued from time to time on the subject have been embodied in Flag Code of India, which has been made available to all the State Governments, and Union territory Administration (UTs).
  • There are a number of provisions in the existing criminal laws to ensure that the activities which encourage enmity between different groups of people on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc. are adequately punished.  Writings, speeches, gestures, activities, exercise, drills, etc. aimed at creating a feeling of insecurity or ill-will among the members of other communities, etc. have been prohibited under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  • Imputations and assertions prejudicial to the national integration constitute a punishable offence under Section 153 B of the IPC.
  • A Communal organization can be declared unlawful association under the provisions of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967.
  • Offences related to religion are covered in Sections 295-298 of the IPC (Chapter XV).
  • Provisions of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 (earlier the Untouchability (Offences) Act 1955).
  •  Sections 123(3) and 123(3A) of the Representation of People Act, 1951 declares that soliciting of vote on the ground of religion and the promotion or attempt to promote feelings of enmity or hatred between different classes of citizens of India on the grounds of religion, race, caste, community or language is a corrupt practice.  A person indulging in a corrupt practice can be disqualified for being a Member of Parliament or a State Legislature under Section 8A of the Representation of People Act, 1951.

Drawbacks of Fundamental Duties in Indian Constitution/Criticize Fundamental Duties in Indian Constitution?
  • The fundamental duties are not precisely defined. Their ambiguity and vagueness confound the citizens as to what they are supposed to do.
  • Most significantly. they are merely moral postulates and do not have justiciability. They are not enforced by Law.
  • Place in the constitution: It has been added in the Part IVA i.e. after Part IV (Which belongs to the Directive Principles of State Policy which are non-enforceable  even with the court of law). It has given the Fundamental Duties a nature of non-obligation. Instead it should have been placed as the Part IIIA i.e. after Part III (it belongs to the Fundamental Rights). It should have been given power at par with Fundamental Rights.
  • Fundamental Duties prescribe duties for the citizens and not for the Government for better life and social progress.
  • Another point of criticism is that some Fundamental Duties are vague and it is not possible for an average man to understand them. For example, the duties pertaining to upholding the noble ideals of the freedom struggle or the development of a “scientific temper and humanism and spirit of enquiry and reform” are not understood by the ordinary citizens.
  • Another drawback of the Fundamental Duties lies in their incorporation in Part IV of the Constitution. Without appropriate legal sanctions, the Fundamental Duties are mere pious wishes.
  • There is overlapping and repetition in description of Fundamental Duties.
  • Fundamental duties miss some important duties such as cast vote, pay taxes, family planning etc.

Difference between fundamental rights and fundamental duties in India?
  • Fundamental Right applies to both citizens & foreigners but fundamental duties apply only to citizens.
  • They are non-justiciable in nature i.e. they can’t be taken to court of law if they are not followed. They lack legal sanction & direct enforcement. But Parliament can enforce it if it wants via proper legislation.
  • Fundamental Rights have negative impact on the government. Fundamental Duties have impact on the Citizens.

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