The Fundamental Duties, incorporated through the 42nd Amendment on the advice of the Swaran Singh Committee, were added to Part IV A of the Indian Constitution. These duties draw inspiration from the Constitution of the erstwhile USSR and the principle of jurisprudence, which posits that where there is a right, there must be a corresponding duty.
Salient features of the Fundamental Duties are as follows:
• They encompass both moral obligations that uphold the ideals of the freedom struggle and civic duties that respect the Constitution.
• They codify responsibilities that have traditionally been integral to the Indian way of life.
• They are applicable only to citizens.
• They are non-justiciable.
The Fundamental Duties play a vital role in maintaining a democratic balance, as they complement the Fundamental Rights that guarantee constitutional rights of citizens against the State, as well as the Directive Principles of State Policy that impose moral duties on the State.
The significance of Fundamental Duties lies in the following aspects:
• They remind citizens of their duties while enjoying their rights, thereby strengthening democracy.
• They serve as a deterrent against anti-national and anti-social elements.
• They inspire citizens to actively participate in the achievement of national goals.
• They can be employed by courts to determine the constitutional validity of a law.
• They can be enforced through parliamentary legislation, such as the Prevention of Insults to National Honor Act, 1971.
However, the role of Fundamental Duties in maintaining this balance is subject to criticism due to the following reasons:
• The list of duties is not exhaustive, omitting important duties such as paying taxes and voting.
• Being non-justiciable, they are reduced to a set of moral principles.
• Some duties are vague, ambitious, and challenging for the common man to comprehend, such as promoting scientific temper.
• The Fundamental Duties should have been added after Part III to be on par with Fundamental Rights.
Although introduced during the emergency period, subsequent governments did not repeal this amendment. The 86th Constitutional Amendment further included an additional 11th duty, indicating societal and political acceptance of having a set of duties enshrined in the Constitution. It is advisable for the Parliament to periodically review the scope of these duties to ensure their relevance and effectiveness.