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What Are Fundamental Duties?

Context:

Attorney-General K.K. Venugopal said that there was no need to enact specific laws to “enforce” fundamental duties on citizens.

Relevance:

GS II- Polity (Indian Constitution)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What really is the situation?
  2. How were the fundamental duties incorporated in the Constitution?
  3. What are the fundamental duties of the citizen?

What really is the situation?

The Supreme Court is hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) petition to enact “comprehensive, well-defined laws” to enforce citizens’ fundamental duties, including as patriotism and national unity.

Precursor to AG’s remark
  • In the Ranganath Mishra case of 2003, the Supreme Court directed that the Justice J.S. Verma Committee’s report on the “operationalization of fundamental duties” be implemented.
  • The work of the committee was included in a report by the National Commission to Review the Constitution’s Workings.
  • The government was advised in the study to educate people about their responsibilities, as well as the preservation of minorities and religious freedom.

How were the fundamental duties incorporated in the Constitution?

  • The fundamental duties were incorporated in Part IV-A of the Constitution by The Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976, during Indira Gandhi’s Emergency.
  • Article 51(A) describes 11 fundamental duties — 10 came with the 42nd Amendment; the 11th was added by the 86th Amendment in 2002, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was Prime Minister.
  • These duties are not enforceable by law.
    • However, a court may take them into account while adjudicating on a matter.
  • They were made a part of the Constitution to emphasise the obligation of the citizen in return for the fundamental rights that he or she enjoys.

What are the fundamental duties of the citizen?

Article 51(A) says 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; 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 wild life, 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 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.

The last subsection, (k), on the education of children, was added in 2002 by The Constitution (86th Amendment) Act. The same amendment also introduced Article 21A in the Constitution: “The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of six to fourteen years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.”

-Source: The Hindu

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