In Supreme Court, AG says no need to enact specific laws to "enforce" fundamental duties on citizens
- Attorney General of India K.K. Venugopal on Monday said there was no need to enact specific laws to “enforce” fundamental duties on citizens.
- He said the Supreme Court cannot issue mandamus to Parliament to make such laws.
- A Bench of SC said the court had been very circumspect in entertaining a PIL petition filed by a lawyer to enforce the fundamental duties of citizens, including patriotism and unity of nation, through “comprehensive, well-defined laws”.
- Mr. Venugopal took objection to the petitioner’s lack of research, saying had he cared to look, the Ministry of Law and Justice website would have shown him detailed accounts of the “tremendous work” done by the government to create awareness among the public of their fundamental duties.
Justice J.S. Verma Committee’s report on the “operationalisation of fundamental duties”.
- The committee’s work was a part of a report of the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution.
- The report had urged the government to sensitise people and create general awareness among the public about their duties and the protection of minorities and freedom of religion.
- The Supreme Court, on February 21, issued notice to the Centre and the States on this question.
- The idea of Fundamental Duties is inspired by the Constitution of Russia (erstwhile Soviet Union). These were incorporated in Part IV-A of the Constitution by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976 on the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee.
- Originally 10 in number, one more duty was added through the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002.
- Like the Directive Principles of State Policy, the Fundamental duties are also non-justiciable in nature.
Need to Legally Enforce Fundamental Duties
- The Gita and the Ramayana dictate people to perform their duties without caring for their rights.
- In the erstwhile Soviet Union Constitution, the rights and duties were placed on the same footing.
- There is a pressing need to enforce and implement at least some of the fundamental duties.
- These fundamental duties assume significance after the emergence of China as a superpower.
- The Verma Committee on Fundamental Duties of the Citizens (1999) identified the existence of legal provisions for the implementation of some of the Fundamental Duties. The committee provided with the provisions like:
- No person can disrespect the National flag, Constitution of India and the National Anthem under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.
- The Protection of Civil Rights Act (1955) provided for punishments in case of any offence related to caste and religion.
- It was argued in the petition that the non-adherence of the Fundamental Duties has a direct bearing upon the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Articles 14 ( Equality before Law), 19 (Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech) and 21 (Right to Life) of the Constitution of India.
Earlier Supreme Court’s Stand on Fundamental Duties
- The Supreme Court’s Ranganath Mishra judgement 2003 held that fundamental duties should not only be enforced by legal sanctions but also by social sanctions. In AIIMS Students Union v. AIIMS 2001, it was held by the Supreme Court that fundamental duties are equally important like fundamental rights.
- Though fundamental duties are not enforceable like fundamental rights they cannot be overlooked as duties in Part IV A.
- They are prefixed by the same word fundamental which was prefixed by the founding fathers of the Constitution to ‘right’ in Part III.
- There is a need for a uniform policy for the “proper sensitisation, full operationalisation and enforceability” of fundamental duties which would “substantially help citizens to be responsible”.
- Fundamental Duties
- Swaran SIngh Committee
Q. Fundamental duties though not enforceable by a writ of court are fundamental to the well being of society and individuals. Comment. (250 words)