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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.
To know more about your fundamental duties as an Indian citizen, connect with us for expert legal consultation.
Just like all citizens have equal rights, they also have an equal fundamental duty to uphold others 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.
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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:
The 11th fundamental duty which was added to this list is:
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 of liberty of the people.
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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 proper functioning of a democratic society.
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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 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 which 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:
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.
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There was a judgement 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 citizens 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.
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 Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971 - An Act of the Parliament of India which prohibits the desecration of or insult to the country’s national symbols, including the National Flag, the National Anthem, and map of India including contempt of the Indian Constitution.
 Directive Principles of State Policy - These lay down that the State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may, a social order, in which justice-social, economic, and political-shall form in all institutions of national life.
Antim Amlan is the in-house corporate counsel for MyAdvo and has been associated since the inception of the legal team.
Antim is a graduate from National Law University Odisha and has the expertise of consulting several corporates on litigation strategies, due diligence projects, regulatory compliance & licensing. He also advises corporates on structuring of the work processes based on subject matter and curating suitable legal solutions that benefit the corporate clients. He is an avid blogger and has interest in Corporate, Banking and Finance laws.