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The 11 Fundamental Duties of Indian Citizens

Fundamental Duties were incorporated in the Indian Constitution by the 42nd amendment. There are 11 Fundamental Duties for Indian Citizens drafted on the lines of moral, ethical and culture code of conduct followed by people. The duties are educative in nature and direct the citizens to behave in a virtuous and honorable manner.
Written by:
Antim Amlan
Published on
13-Sep-19

Fundamental duties basically imply the moral obligations of all citizens of a country and today, there are 11 fundamental duties in India, which are written in Part IV-A of the Constitution, to promote patriotism and strengthen the unity of India.

Originally, the fundamental duties of India was not a part of the Indian Constitution, in fact, they were added by the 42nd and 86th Constitutional Amendment Acts. The list of fundamental rights and duties and the Directive Principles of State Policy are sections of the Indian Constitution that elaborate on the essential obligations of the states to its citizens, along with the duties and rights that they hold as Indian citizens.

Just like all citizens have equal rights, they also have an equal fundamental duty to uphold other rights and also make sure that they do not violate these rights. A person cannot expect to enjoy all the privileges and freedom under the law without performing their corresponding fundamental duties.

The Inception of the Indian Constitution 

The Indian Constitution which is also known as The Law of the Land traces its significant emergence in the year 1946 when the first meeting of the constituent assembly was held post the grant independence of India. The constituent assembly onboard Dr. Rajendra Prasad as its president. The idea to elucidate the constitutional supremacy required a physical representation and hence on 29th August 1947, a drafting committee was appointed. Dr. BR Ambedkar was elected as the Chairman of the Drafting Committee to achieve a permanent and organized constitution. The underlying features of the constitution upon which the drafting committee kept it’s focus on was Republican State, Parliamentary Supremacy, an independent Judicial System, Fundamental Rights, and a Federal System. 

On 4th November 1947, the drafting committee submitted the initial draft of the constitution and the final draft was submitted on 26th November 1949. On 24th January 1950, the handwritten Constitutional Draft, submitted by the Drafting Committee, got signed and came into legal force on the 26th January 1950.

The Constitution of India is considered to be the longest constitution in the world contains a Preamble, 25 Parts along with 12 Schedules, 448 Articles and 101 Amendments till now. At the time of its origin, it had only 385 Articles in 22 Parts and 8 Schedules. The formulation of the Indian Constitution gained inspiration from different constitutions from various countries taking 2 years 11 months and 18 days to complete the supreme law of the land.

“The incremental journey of formulation of the Indian Constitution provides a functional framework including principles, procedures, practices, rights, powers, and duties of the government. It also provides fundamental rights and fundamental duties that must be enjoyed and obeyed by a citizen respectively,” says Advocate Manuj Chadha.

Particulars

Fundamental Duties

Covered

Part IV A, Article 51 –A

Borrowed from

USSR

Amendment

42nd Amendment 1976, introduced Article 51 A in the constitution

Recommended by

Swaran Singh Committee.

Numbers

Originally -10 duties Now -11 duties (added bye 86th Amendment ACT, 2002)

List of Fundamental Duties

  1. Abide by the Constitution and respect national flag & National Anthem
  2. Follow ideals of the freedom struggle
  3. Protect sovereignty & integrity of India
  4. Defend the country and render national services when called upon
  5. Sprit of common brotherhood
  6. Preserve composite culture
  7. Preserve natural environment
  8. Develop scientific temper
  9. Safeguard public property
  10. Strive for excellence
  11. Duty fo all parents/guardians to send their children in the age group of 6-14 years to school.

 

Defining Fundamental Duties at Length

The Fundamental Duties were added in 1976, upon recommendation of the Swaran Singh Committee, that was constituted by Indira Gandhi just after the declaration of national emergency, to study and amend the constitution.

This committee was under the Chairmanship of Sardar Swaran Singh, India's longest-serving union cabinet minister. Based on his recommendations, the government incorporated several changes to the Constitution including the Preamble, through the 42nd Amendment, which included the fundamental duties under the Indian Constitution.

However, by the 86th Amendment in 2002, the original 10 duties were then increased to 11, under Article 51A, Part IV-A of the Constitution of India. The 10 fundamental duties are as follows:

  • To oblige with the Indian Constitution and respect the National Anthem and Flag

  • To cherish and follow the noble ideas that inspired the national struggle for freedom

  • To protect the integrity, sovereignty, and unity of India

  • To defend the country and perform national services if and when the country requires

  • To promote the spirit of harmony and brotherhood amongst all the people of India and renounce any practices that are derogatory to women

  • To cherish and preserve the rich national heritage of our composite culture

  • To protect and improve the natural environment including lakes, wildlife, rivers, forests, etc.

  • To develop scientific temper, humanism, and spirit of inquiry

  • To safeguard all public property

  • To strive towards excellence in all genres of individual and collective activities

The 11th fundamental duty which was added to this list is:

  • To provide opportunities for education to children between 6-14 years of age, and duty as parents to ensure that such opportunities are being awarded to their child.

The 11 fundamental duties look at the crisis in Indian society and become a tool for straightening it out. They serve as a source of protection for the liberty of the people.

 

Need & Importance of Fundamental Duties

In case there is a violation of fundamental duties, Article 51A of the Constitution categorizes it as contempt of the constitution which is punishable under the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.

It is easy to assume that constitutional duties are similar to the fundamental duties of the Indian citizen. The Indian Constitution provides a list of fundamental rights and duties to the citizens and lays down the State’s duties toward ensuring that these rights are protected and provided equally to everyone.

These duties were drafted on the lines of moral, ethical, and cultural code of conduct which is to be followed by the people to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of our country. It also helps the government in maintaining proper governance and enabling the proper functioning of a democratic society.

Reasons for Making Fundamental Duties Non-Enforceable

Practically speaking, it was a wise decision to make fundamental duties non-enforceable, especially when the Directive Principles of State Policy in the Constitution, have been made non-enforceable as well. In fact, the reason for not making these duties enforceable is because the majority of the population being illiterate in India, many are unaware of their Constitutional obligations. In this scenario, if the fundamental duties were enforced, it would have resulted in causing chaos and harassment among people.

Also, implementing these elemental duties would have been tough, as the Fundamental Duties mentioned in Article 51A, lack proper explanation and for different people, these duties are liable to be interpreted in many different ways. Moreover, the fundamental duties enlisted is wholly dependent on the performance of the State and the Directive Principle of State Policy.

If the State is unable to provide a proper climate that elaborates on the fundamental duties, then to follow these duties properly will pose a real problem. These duties are not legally enforceable, which means that if a citizen of India violates any of them, no legal action can be taken against him/her.

Although these duties are non-enforceable, they are important because:

  • These duties are a constant reminder to citizens to build a free, healthy, and responsible society and they are expected to not act as recklessly and not indulge in anti-social activities.

  • For the growth of a democratic country like India, it is imperative that all fundamental duties are followed by the citizens while respecting the integrity and promotion of cultural harmony in the country.

  • These duties of an Indian citizen provides education to children, especially to children below 14 years of age, safeguards the human rights, and is a major step towards the abolition of social injustice that is prevalent in the society today.

  • Environmental pollution has become a great cause of concern, not only for Indians but for humanity around the globe. Unless we all take the pledge to keep our environment free from pollutants, there remains the threat of undesirable consequences.

The 11 fundamental duties are not merely the expression of morals or religion, as the courts can take cognizance in the matter to enforce and give effect to these constitutional obligations. Under Article 51A and as per the definition of fundamental duties, it’s the responsibility of the citizens to build a free and healthy society, where all citizens are treated equally.

Fundamental Duty is the Responsibility of the Citizens

There was a judgment by the Supreme Court which said that if someone had genuine religious obligations, that can be placed above patriotism, then no one can force them to sing the National Anthem.

It is a citizen's responsibility to realize that it is in their own interest to perform their duties and discharge their 134 legal and constitutional obligations whole-heartedly because only by doing so, individually, can they help the growth of the democratic republic collectively.

Citizens are expected to behave in accordance with the ideal code of conduct parallel to the 11 fundamental duties and no legal action can be initiated for non-performance. With the independence of India, dawned the “Ganatantra Raj”, which made each of us responsible for the happiness and welfare of our people.

The Relationship between the Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles and Fundamental Duties

The Indian Constitution provides different sections of Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles of the State Policy to regulate the conduct of citizens among each other, and the state’s conduct with the citizens. These different segments of the Indian Constitution provide a rule book of rights, duties, and guidelines for citizens’ behavior and conduct along with the parameters with which the government has to keep itself fully aligned while making laws.

  • The Fundamental Rights are defined as the basic human rights of all citizens. Part III of the Indian Constitution contains all the fundamental rights applicable to all the individuals irrespective of race, religion, caste, creed or gender or place of birth. All these rights are enforceable by the courts, subject to specific restrictions. The basic idea behind formulating these Fundamental Rights is to protect the liberty of citizens and to maintain the social democracy of the country based on the factors of equality in society. 

Fundamental Rights are Right to Equality, Right to Freedom, Right against Exploitation, Right to Freedom of Religion, Cultural and Educational Rights, Right to Constitutional Remedies and Right to Privacy.

  • The Directive Principles of State Policy serves as guidelines for the government to incorporate while framing the laws. These principles are enshrined in Part IV of the Indian Constitution set forth the fundamental guidelines for the State to apply in framing, enacting and passing laws establishing a social, economic democratic nation.
  • The Fundamental Duties have been defined as the moral obligations of all the citizens to help promote the welfare of the country and to uphold the unity of the nation. These duties are set out in Part IVA of the Indian Constitution concerning the individuals and the nation. Just like the Directive Principles, these duties represent guidelines that the citizens should obey for the welfare of a democratic nation.

The Directive Principles of State Policy have been used to lay down the guidelines and principles to achieve social equality, economic equality, and educational upliftment. The relationship between the Fundamental Rights, Duties and Directive Principles can be understood as a method for attaining the national peace, security, and welfare. 

In the landmark judgment of the Kesavananda Bharati case, the Apex Court had showcased the assisting and supplementing nature of the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles. The Apex Court had referred to the Fundamental Duties as an element to justify the Constitutional principles of laws and policies aiming to elevate the objects laid out under the section of Fundamental Duties. These Duties have been referred to as an imperative part of all citizens’ conduct. 

The inter-relationship between the Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles of State Policy is politically valuable in the constitutional context. While rights and duties lay down the principles for citizens to behave and act in society, the directive principles are the guidelines for the State to create and enact laws for the welfare of the nation. These principles lay down different guidelines for different sections of society securing social and economic freedom. 

FAQ's

What is Article 51a of the Indian Constitution?

The Indian Constitution formulated an Article 51a under Part IVA in the 42nd Amendment in the year 1946 completely dedicated to the Fundamental Duties of the citizens. Article 51a lays down all the Fundamental Duties which a citizen should obey and perform in order to thrive towards achieving the welfare of a democratic nation.

It shall be the duty of every citizen:

  • 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, wildlife 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 endeavor 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 to fourteen years.

What is the difference between Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties?

Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties are inter-related and one can’t exist without the other. 

“Fundamental rights can be defined as privileges granted to each individual of the country to enjoy and the Fundamental Duties are the moral responsibilities which one needs to carry out in order to respect the rights of another individual and perform social obligations,” says Advocate Manuj Chadha.

Fundamental Rights

Fundamental Duties

Fundamental Rights are the freedoms guaranteed by the constitution which can’t be taken away from a citizen.

Fundamental Duties are the legal responsibilities bestowed upon the citizens to perform.

Fundamental Rights are considered to be the normative rules of liberty and freedom for every citizen in order to achieve a harmonious and a free lifestyle

Fundamental Duties are the moral responsibilities of all the citizens that need to be performed by them in order to achieve prosperity and uphold the unity of the nation.

Fundamental Rights are universally available to all citizens regardless of their race, caste, religion, sex or place of birth and are justiciable in nature, i.e. they can be taken to the court of law. 

Fundamental Duties are non-justiciable and hence can’t be taken to the court of law.