Fundamental Duties – Significance and Criticism
Initially, founding fathers of the constitution did not seem it necessary to include fundamental duties of citizens in the constitution itself. But at time of emergency (1976), Indira Gandhi set up Sardar Swarn Singh Committee to make recommendation about fundamental duties to abide by citizens. Thus on recommendation of committee 42nd constitutional amendment act is enacted and new Part IV A which consist of only Article 51A (specified code for fundamental duties of citizens) is added to constitution.
This section includes 11 fundamental duties of citizens and these are as follows:-
- To abide by the Constitution and respect National Flag & National Anthem;
- To cherish and follow noble ideas that inspired the national struggle of freedom;
- To protect sovereignty and integrity of India;
- To defend the country and render the national service when called upon to do so;
- To promote spirit of common brotherhood amongst all people of India;
- To preserve rich heritage of country’s composite culture;
- To protect and improve natural environment;
- To develop scientific temper, spirit of Inquiry and reform;
- To safeguard public property;
- To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individuals and collective activity;
- To provide opportunity for education to his child (for parent/guardian) or ward b/w age of 6-14 yrs. This duty was added by 86th constitutional amendment act, 2002.
Significance of fundamental duties
- The fundamental duties serves as a reminder to perform specific duties towards society and warning to citizens against anti social activities (disrespect minorities, harm public property etc.).
- The fundamental duties are enforceable by law i.e. parliament is authorized to make law for fulfillment of fundamental duties and can impose punishment and penalties for any act in contravention of any of them.
- In 1992, the SC held that in determining the constitutionality of any law if court finds that it seeks to give effect to any of fundamental duties, it may consider such law to be reasonable in relation to Art 14 or 19 and thus save such law from unconstitutionality.
- As fundamental duties are not included in PART III (fundamental rights) of constitution, no constitutional legal remedies for enforcement of duties but parliament free to provide by suitable legislation.
- As critics pointed out that this list of fundamental duties miss some important duties such as cast vote, pay taxes, family planning etc.
- Some complicated terms such as ‘composite culture’ or ‘noble ideas’ are difficult to understand by common man and lead to violation of any of fundamental duties. The SC ruled that as people of this country are different in number of ways so our common heritage is heritage of Sanskrit.