Fundamental duties must be enforced: plea

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Fundamental duties must be enforced: plea

  • The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre and States to respond to a petition to enforce the fundamental duties of citizens, including patriotism and unity of the nation, through ""comprehensive, well-defined laws”.
  • The need to enforce fundamental duties arises due to new illegal trend of protest by protestors in the garb of freedom of speech and expression, by way of blocking of road and rail routes in order to compel the government to meet their demands.
  • In the erstwhile USSR Constitution, the rights and duties were placed in the same footing. There is a pressing need to enforce and implement at least some of the fundamental duties.

Fundamental duties

  • The Russian Constitution originated the concept of Fundamental Duties.
  • On the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee, they were inserted into Part IV-A of the Constitution by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976.
  • The 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002 adds one more duty to the original ten. Article 51-A of the Constitution lists all eleven duties (the sole Article in Part-IV-A).
  • The basic duties serve as a reminder to individuals that, while exercising their rights, they must also be aware of the obligations they have to their nation, society, and fellow citizens.
  • However, the duties, like the Directive Principles, are non-justiciable in nature.

List of Fundamental Duties

  • 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 that inspired the 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 the country’s composite culture;
  • To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures;
  • To develop 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; and
  • To provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age of six and fourteen years (added by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002).

Significance of Fundamental Duties

  • They serve as a reminder to citizens that while exercising their rights, they must also be aware of their responsibilities to their nation, society, and fellow citizens.
  • They serve as a deterrent to anti-national and anti-social behaviours such as flag burning, property destruction, and so on.
  • They serve as a source of inspiration for citizens, encouraging them to be disciplined and committed.
  • They provide the impression that citizens are not only spectators but active players in the achievement of national objectives.
  • They are idealistic by nature and guide citizens in the right direction.
  • They assist courts in reviewing and assessing whether a statute is constitutionally valid.
  • Fundamental responsibilities are significant because they define all citizens' moral responsibility to contribute to the development of patriotism and the preservation of India's unity.
  • Fundamental duties make persons aware of their social and citizenship responsibilities, shaping a society in which everyone is concerned nd sensitive of our fellow citizens' inherent rights.

Criticism of Fundamental Duties

  • In nature, they are rendered non-justifiable.
  • Taxes, family planning, and other important responsibilities are not addressed.
  • Provisions that are vague and unclear and difficult to understand by the average person
  • Provisions that are unnecessary because they would be observed even if they were not included.
  • The significance and objective of FD are diminished by its inclusion as an appendix to the constitution.

Swaran Singh Committee on Fundamental Duty

  • It opined that in addition to enjoyment of certain rights by the citizens they also have certain duties to perform as well. This recommendation was accepted by the government
  • A new section Part IVA was added and only one article was inserted in it
  • Some recommendations of the committee which were not accepted include:
  • Parliament may provide for any penalty for failure to adhere to any FD
  • No law imposing such penalty could be questioned in the court
  • Duty to pay taxes should also be a fundamental duty of the citizens

Verma Committee recommendations

  • The committee was setup in 1999.
  • It identified some legal provisions for enforcement of FDs- Prevention of insults to National Honor, laws which penalize for promoting enmity, protection of civil rights act, wildlife (protection) act of 1972 etc