While rights are important, they need to be balanced with duties. Unless duties are performed, rights become vacuous. Right to free speech and expression can be meaningful only when the duty to protect public property is followed. One’s right to life is complete only when one is educated and helps his/her children go to school. Right to do business needs to be harmonised with the right to respect environment. The duty to build a modem and egalitarian nation coexists with the democratic rights.
Duties are generally associated with the socialist countries. Part IVA of the Constitution relating to Fundamental Duties was inserted in the Constitution by the Constitution (Forty- second Amendment) Act, 1976 in accordance with the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee appointed to review the Constitution. This Part contains only one article, namely, article 51A containing 11 Fundamental Duties. Originally it had only 10 duties but the 86th Amendment Act- Right to education- included the 11th one.The following are the FDs:
“51 A. Fundamental Duties - It shall be the duty of every citizen of India -
The duties reflect Indian tradition and values and in India environment is traditionally revered. Respect for women pervades our culture. Education is necessary for science and technology which is the forte of ancient India. Our commitment to multicultural society is one of the sources of our soft power.
Justice Verma Committee Report on Teaching Fundamental Duties to Citizens
Justice Verma Committee Report on Teaching Fundamental Duties to Citizens was est up in 1998 and the report was presented in 2000.lt recommended re-orienting approaches to school curriculum and teachers’ education programmes and incorporating fundamental duties in higher and professional education,
Supreme Court on citizens’ duties
In 2003, Supreme Court has directed the Centre to enact a law for the enforcement of fundamental duties by citizens as suggested by the Justice Verma Committee(2000).
The former Chief Justice of India, Ranganath Mishra, in a letter to the Chief Justice of India, requested the apex court to issue necessary directions to the State to educate its citizens in the matter of fundamental duties so that a right balance emerged between rights and duties. This letter was treated as a writ petition.The apex court appointed senior advocate K. ParaSaran, as amicus curiae to assist the court.
National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution(NCRWC) report in 2002 recommended the implementation of the report of Justice Verma Committee
The Commission recommended that the first and foremost step required to be taken by the Union and the State Governments was to sensitise the people and create a general awareness of the provisions of fundamental duties amongst the citizens, on the lines recommended by the Justice Verma Committee.
Relationship between the Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles and Fundamental Duties
The Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles of State Policy and Fundamental Duties are parts of the Constitution of India that lay out what the Government owes to the citizens and vice versa. While FRs are democratic in nature, they lead to citizen contribution to democracy and secularism. It is complemented by the State working for the DPSPs that render the society even more democratic( Panchayats) and egalitarian(Art.38 and 39). The - secular provisions of FRs and DPSPs are also complimentary- Art.25-28 and Art.44 can be read together as mutually rendering each other meaningful. FDs, on their part contribute to a stronger , socially .diversified and democratic nation. DPSPs prescribe the fundamental obligations of the State to its citizens and FDs prescribe duties of the citizens to the State.
The Fundamental Rights are basic rights of all citizens in Part III of the Constitution; apply irrespective of race, place of birth, religion, caste, creed or gender. They are enforceable by the courts, subject to specific restrictions.
The Directive Principles of State Policy are guidelines for the framing of laws by the government. These provisions, set out in Part IV of the Constitution, are not enforceable by the courts( not justiciable), but the principles on which they are based are fundamental guidelines for governance that the State is expected to apply in framing and passing laws.
The Fundamental Duties are defined as the moral obligations of all citizens to help promote a spirit of patriotism and to uphold the unity of India. These duties, set out in Part IV-A of the Constitution, concern individuals arid the nation. Like the Directive Principles, they are not legally enforceable.However, like the DPSPs these are made enforceable through various laws, though in themselves non-justiciable. For example, the FD that citizeris should not destroy public property finds enforcement through various legislative statutes. Similarly, the DPSP of maternity relief has been enacted into various enforceable laws. These are only two examples from the many that are available.
The Supreme Court, after the judgment in the Kesavananda Bharati case, has adopted the view of the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles being complementary to each other, each supplementing the other's role in aiming at the same goal of establishing a social democracy and welfare state by means of social revolution. The same was stressed in the Minerva Mills case and the IR Coelho verdict(2007) Similarly, the Supreme Court has used the Fundamental Duties to uphold the Constitutional validity of statutes which seeks to promote the nationalist objects. These Duties have also been held to be obligatory for all citizens, subject to the State enforcing the same by means of a valid law. The Supreme Court has also issued directions to the State in this regard, with a view towards making the provisions effective and enabling a citizens to properly perform their duties.
Some excerpts from NCRWC report '
Fundamental Duty enshrined in clause (c) of article 51A is essentially addressed to those citizens- who belo'ng to the defence forces or responsible for the maintenance of law and order.
Practically, the whole of Chapter VI of the Indian Penal Code (1PC) relating to offences against the State is relevant for protecting the sovereignty and integrity of India. If liberty resides in the minds of men and women, the same is true of unity. Any conduct which seeks to destroy or damage unity is punishable under Section 153-A of the IPC; Imputations and assertions prejudicial to national integration are punishable under Section 153-B of the IPC. Statements or reports containing alarming news which tend to promote enmity etc. are punishable under Section 505 (2) of the IPC.
The Fundamental Duty enshrined in clause (d) of article 51A is contingent on the citizens being called upon to defend the country and render national service. It is addressed to all citizens other than those who belong to the army, the navy and the air force. It is a Fundamental Duty entrusted to the common man as indicated by the expression “when called upon to do so”. Those citizens who belong to any of the three defence forces are entrusted constantly with this Fundamental Duty. This Fundamental Duty has not so far been tested as there has been ho occasion when the common man was called upon to render national military service and to defend the country from any external aggression. The defence of the country may be needed against external aggression and war mongeringarmed rebellion within the country. It connects with FR in Art.23.2
The duty to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India essentially flows from the basic value of fraternity enshrined in the Preamble to the Constitution. India is a country of different castes, languages, religions and many cultural streams but we are one people with one Constitution, one flag and one citizenship. Spirit of brotherhood should come very normally among the citizens of a country like India where the norm has been to consider the entire world as one family. The Constitution also casts upon us the Fundamental Duty of ensuring that all practices derogatory to the dignity of women are renounced. This again should come normally to a country where it is an aphorism that Gods reside where women are worshipped, (yatra naryastu pujyante ramante tatra devata). It is for us to rise above the later day degenerations and aberrations which tarnished the image of our society.
The first part of the clause (e) deals with the duty of citizens to promote harmony and spirit of common brotherhood among all the people of India.
The second part of the clause gives a mandate to remove prejudices and prejudicial or harmful concepts and conduct based on gender. The central core of the concept is indignity to women. The passing of the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 emphasizes the importance of the duty. Many laws have been passed by the Union Government and the State Governments which punish practices derogatory to the dignity of women. The significance of clause (e) lies in its call to every citizen to renounce sflch practices. This clause easily lends itself to its effectuation in a concrete case because of its comparatively precise dimension.” (Vishaka vs State of Rajasthan 1997 )
It is true that there is no legal sanction provided for violation or non-performance of Fundamental Duties.
Out of the eleven clauses in article 51 A, six are positive duties and the other five are negative duties. Clauses (b), (d), (f), (h) , (j) and (k) require the citizens to perform these Fundamental Duties actively.
It is no longer correct to say that Fundamental Duties enshrined fn article 51A are not enforceable to ensure their implementation and are a mere reminder. Fundamental Duties have the element of compulsion regarding compliance. What is needed is to enact suitable legislation wherever necessary to require obedience of the duties by the citizens, with'legal sanctions. There is need for comprehensive legislation in . this area to ensure a faithful and effective implementation of the Fundamental Duties.(Read above in the relevant excerpt)
A number of judicial decisions are available towards the enforcement of certain clauses under Article 51 A.