Author : Deshna Desai, Student at Pravin Gandhi College of Law, Mumbai.
Constitution is the fundamental and highest law of the land. The preface to this constitution is the preamble. The preamble guides the citizen what they shall achieve together for the country. Ironically, the preamble starts with ‘we the people’ and ends with ‘give to ourselves this constitution’ which reminds the citizens that they have the supreme authority to enlighten the future of their motherland.
The constitution binds the citizens with a crucial dual responsibility. The citizens should not only be vigilant that their rights are being restricted but also fulfil their duties under article 51A. in order to enjoy the benefits of various government schemes, they shall fulfil their duties. These fundamental duties have been incorporated in constitution to remind the citizens that they should not only be conscious of their rights but also their duties. Following these fundamental duties is a must to attain excellence in al spheres of achievement towards the nation.
BACKGROUND OF FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES
The Constitution of India is the longest written document in the world. It guarantees the fundamental right mentioned in the part III to the citizens of India which cannot be violated by anyone. There 1975 period is known as one of the darkest period in the history of independent India. In the year 1975, emergency was declared because of internal disturbance as claimed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The emergency also suspended the fundamental rights of the citizens. It was during that time when the fundamental duties were incorporated in the constituted.
The Swaran Singh Committee in its recommendation had a point for inclusion of the fundamental duties in Indian Constitution. the 42nd amendment which is also knows the mini constitution brought in the provisions of 10 fundamental duties under part IV A of the constitution. Later on, during the 86th amendment, one more duty was added. The fundamental duties are provided under article 51A of the constitution. The fundamental duties were adopted from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic Constitution.
The fundamental duties are defined as the obligation of the citizen towards its nation. The fundamental duties in the constitution makes the individual aware of his part to the nation. They are the duties of every Indian citizen in order to protect the sovereignty and integrity of India.
Article 51 A of the constitution mentions that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India. The 11 fundamental duties are as follows:-
- ‘To abide by the constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem.’ Constitution is the law of the land. It is the duty of the citizen to follow and obey the provisions of the constitution. The citizens should also respect the identity of the nation which is the national flag and national anthem of the country.
- ‘To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom.’ Every citizen is well aware of the struggle for our independence by our leaders. In order to achieve development, the citizens should not forget these noble ideals, rather they should merge it with their modern thoughts and go ahead on the path of development
- ‘To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.’ People are sovereign in the nation. Hence, the sovereignty of the nation lies in the hands of the people. Unity is the strength of the nation. The country won’t be able to handle any situations if the people are not united. It is the responsibility of every citizen to maintain the sovereignty and integrity of the country. Even the fundamental rights cannot be exercised when the sovereignty and integrity of India is at question as mentioned under article 19 (2).
- ‘To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so.’ The most important duty of each and every citizen is to stand up for the nation whenever required. The country is their home and the citizens should protect it from alien enemies.
- ‘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.’ India is known for its unity in diversity. With numerous diversities in the religion, culture, language the people of India have always showed harmony and brotherhood. However, it is necessary to keep on reminding the citizens of India that whatever we have achieved today is the result of this unity and in order to achieve more it is of utmost importance to maintain this unity and harmony. India being the land of god, many goddesses are also worshiped. However sometimes women don’t get their deserved position and there are lots of derogatory practices being carried out which should be stopped immediately.
- ‘To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.’ India is the land of culture. In the most part of the world, India is identified by its culture. It is the responsibility of each and every citizen to preserve this culture and its rich heritage.
- ‘To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures.’ Man has always been greedy and selfish to the nature which provides him with the basic needs. This duty is one of the most important duty which must be followed by the citizens. Article 48A also imposes the duty to the state to protect the nature, however the citizens should not forget that it is equally their responsibility to protect, improve and safeguard the nature.
- ‘To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform.’ It guides the citizens to understand things and clear out all the doubts and the spirit of inquiry with a scientific attitude. India’s First Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had also quoted that scientific temper acts as the solution for many problems for the individual.
- To safeguard public property and to abjure violence.’ Mahatma Gandhi is the father of our nation. He has taught the principle of non-violence to the world and Indians should follow this path and protect and preserve the public property from any acts of 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.’ Every individual should work hard by himself and with the fellow countrymen in order to roll up the flag of the nation higher.
- ‘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.’ This was added to the list of fundamental duties in the 86th amendment in the year 2002. This is also a fundamental right under article 21A of the constitution in which the state is assigned the duty to provide free education to children between 6 to 14 years. It is the duty of each and every parent to give their children this right and accordingly, the constitution entrusts this responsibility on them to provide education to their child.
ACCOUNTABILITY OF THE CITIZENS
The Father of the nation has defined right as a duty well performed. According to him if one discharges all the duties, the rights will not be far to seek.
The reason behind adding fundamental duties in the constitution is pretty clear and fair. The citizens of India were so obsessed with their rights that they sometimes forget that they owe something to the nation. There will be an immediate opposition in a case where the state fails to comply with the fundamental right but what about the situation where the citizens forget their duties?
During the making of the constitution, questions were raised as to why the fundamental duties were not a part of the constitution. The principles of the constitution were majorly based on the provisions of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), however the provision of Art 29 (1) was clearly ignored which dealt with the duties of the citizens.
However, the saviour 42nd amendment had the provisions for the fundamental duties of the citizens.
Constitution has been kind enough to not impose any sanctions on the individual for not performing his duties. However, the citizens should not take it lightly and rather perform the duty with the same kindness. There have been so many instances in daily life where we see people clearly ignoring the duties. People failing to respect the national anthem, national flag, not exercising their right to vote, disturbing unity in the name of religious differences, being greedy to the nature, hazardous pollution, using violence as an answer to every situation which is totally opposite to the national ideals.
In M.C. Mehta (2) v Union of India the supreme court held that, the educational institution and the central government should have lessons and raise awareness among people to protect the environment and make people aware of their duty under article 51A(g).
While striking down 33% reservation in AIIMS the apex court specified that the fundamental duties hold the same importance as the fundamental rights. Rather fundamental duties play a crucial role while claiming fundamental rights.
In Shyam Narayan v Union of India, the apex court had passed the judgement which made it compulsory to play the national anthem before screening any movie and it was mandatory that all the viewers should rise when it is being played even in the movie. This was in respect to the movie Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham which had a seen of national anthem being played and none of the viewers stood up. However, in 2019 when a Bengaluru man denied to stand up during the national anthem was released on bail on the grounds that after the Narayan case, it was not mandatory to stand up during the national anthem. The status of present law is thus uncertain.
In KRK Prasad v Union of India, the court held that the constitution commands the citizens of India to follow the fundamental duties enumerated under article 51A.
In Dr. Dasarthi v State of Andhra Pradesh, the court held that article51(j) binds the citizens to strive towards excellence individually and collectively so that the nation continuously rises to a higher level. The state can also provide ways for the same as mentioned in the constitution.
In this self-oriented world, we keep on wondering what the country is doing for us but not focus on what we do for the country. One should always remember that duties and rights are 2 sides of the same coin. One who follows his duty, will in return enjoy his rights.
Having so many doubts in respect to performance of the fundamental duties is not a treat to the eyes. Our splendid history is the proof of how dedicated our ancestors were towards their duties. Today’s generation must carry forward this inherited quality.
We the proud Indians, having the sovereign power must strive hard to follow our duties and uplift our nation on the glorious part of development.
 The Constitution of India, art.51A
 The Constitution of India, art 19(2)
 The Constitution of India, art. 48A
 The Constitution of India, art.21A
 Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948, art29(1)
 M.C. Mehta v Union of India,  AIR 4016, (SC)
 AIIMS Students Union v AIIMS,  AIR 3262, (SC)
 Shyam Narayan Chouksey v UOI, (2017) 1 SCC 421, (SC)
KRK Prasad v Union of India,  AIR 243, (AP)
 Dr. Dasarthi v State of Andhra Pradesh,  AIR 136, (AP)