Fundamental Duties (FDs)                                                                                    

Fundamental Duties: The History

        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 and the nation. Like the Directive Principles, they are not legally enforceable. The Fundamental Duties were added to the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment in 1976.

Fundamental Duties

        The Fundamental Duties of citizens were added to the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, upon the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee that was constituted by the government earlier that year. Originally ten in number, the Fundamental Duties were increased to eleven by the 86th Amendment in 2002, which added a duty on every parent or guardian to ensure that their child or ward was provided opportunities for education between the ages of six and fourteen years. The other Fundamental Duties obligate all citizens to respect the national symbols of India, including the Constitution, to cherish its heritage, preserve its composite culture and assist in its defence. They also obligate all Indians to promote the spirit of common brotherhood, protect the environment and public property, develop scientific temper, abjure violence, and strive towards excellence in all spheres of life. Citizens are morally obligated by the Constitution to perform these duties. However, like the Directive Principles, these are non-justifiable, without any legal sanction in case of their violation or non-compliance. There is reference to such duties in international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 51A brings the Indian Constitution into conformity with these treaties.

        The Fundamental Duties noted in the constitution are as follows:

—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

Criticism and analysis

        Fewer children are now employed in hazardous environments, but their employment in non-hazardous jobs, prevalently as domestic help, violates the spirit of the constitution in the eyes of many critics and human rights advocates. More than 16.5 million children are in employment. India was ranked 88 out of 159 countries in 2005, according to the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians. The year 1990–1991 was declared as the "Year of Social Justice" in the memory of B.R. Ambedkar. The government provides free textbooks to students belonging to scheduled castes and tribes pursuing medicine and engineering courses. During 2002–2003, a sum of Rs. 4.77 crore (47.7 million) was released for this purpose. In order to protect scheduled castes and tribes from discrimination, the government enacted the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, prescribing severe punishments for such actions.

        The fundamental duties however are non-justiciable in character. This means that no citizen can be punished by a court for violation of a fundamental duty. In this respect the fundamental duties are like the directive principles of the constitution in part IV. The directive principles lay down some high ideals to be followed by the state. Similarly, the fundamental duties in Art 51A, lay down some high ideals to be followed by the citizens. In both cases, violation does not invite any punishment. It is significant that the fundamental duties are placed at the end of part IV rather than at the end of part III of the constitution. While part III containing fundamental rights is justiciable, part IV containing the directive principles is not.

        However, these fundamental duties are not mere expressions of pious platitudes. Courts will certainly take cognizance of laws seeking to give effect to fundamental duties.

        Further, the fundamental duties enumerated in Art. 51A constitute a constant reminder to the citizens that they have duties in building up a free, egalitarian and healthy society. These are expected to act as damper to reckless and anti-social activities on the part of some individuals.

        Finally, the very fact that these duties figure in the constitution, keeps the door open for the duties to be given higher constitutional at status in future through constitutional amendments.

Relationship between the Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles and Fundamental Duties

        The Directive Principles have been used to uphold the Constitutional validity of legislations in case of a conflict with the Fundamental Rights. Article 31C, added by the 25th Amendment in 1971, provided that any law made to give effect to the Directive Principles in Article 39(b)–(c) would not be invalid on the grounds that they derogated from the Fundamental Rights conferred by Articles 14, 19 and 31. The application of this article was sought to be extended to all the Directive Principles by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, but the Supreme Court struck down the extension as void on the ground that it violated the basic structure of the Constitution. The Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles have also been used together in forming the basis of legislation for social welfare. The Supreme Court, after the judgement 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 welfare state by means of social revolution. Similarly, the Supreme Court has used the Fundamental Duties to uphold the Constitutional validity of statutes which seeks to promote the objects laid out in the Fundamental Duties. 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.

        ¤ Further, one more Fundamental duty has been added to the Indian Constitution by 86th Amendment of the constitution in 2002. That is -

⇒ "Who is a parent or guardian , it is their duty to provide opportunities for education to his child, or as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years."

More about FDs...

Study Notes on FDs
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Fundamental Duties Hindi
FDs and FRs in Hindi

        I am sure that in this colloquium, these and all other aspects relating to the new statutory fundamental duties will be discussed and assimilated. I wish the discussions all success.

Thank You,

Parivartan India