Fundamental Duties

Fundamental Duties

Rights and Duties are inseparable. They are two sides of a same coin. So as we have Fundamental Rights that we can enjoy there are also some Fundamental Duties that we must follow & do. They are correlated and either of them cannot be ignored.  

Rights and Duties are inseparable. They are two sides of a same coin. So as we have Fundamental Rights that we can enjoy there are also some Fundamental Duties that we must follow & do. They are correlated and either of them cannot be ignored.

It is very true that the original constitution didn’t contain fundamental duties. In 1976, Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, justifies the inclusion of fundamental duties in the Constitution saying that it will strengthen democracy.

She said, ‘the moral value of fundamental duties would be not to smoother rights but to establish a democratic balance by making the people conscious of their duties equally as they are conscious of their rights.’

The Fundamental Duties of Indian Citizens(Part IV-A) were added as Article 51-A by the 42nd Amendment, 1976 on the recommendation of Swaran Singh Committee. These duties set in part IV-A of the Constitution, concern individuals and the nation.

Originally 10 Fundamental Duties , 11th Fundamental Duty was added by 86th Amendment in 2002. At Present we have 11 Fundamental Duties.

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. The idea for Fundamental Duties has been taken from erstwhile USSR.

The inclusion of Fundamental Duties brought our Constitution in line with article 29 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with provisions in several modern Constitutions of other countries.

Justice Varma Committee was constituted in 1998 “to work out a strategy as well as methodology of operationalizing a countrywide programme for teaching fundamental Duties in every educational institution as a measure of inservice training”.


  • They serve as a reminder to the citizens that while enjoying rights they also have some fundamental duties to follow.
  • They serve as a warning against the anti-national and antisocial activities like burning the national flag, destroying public property and so on.
  • They serve as a source of inspiration for the citizens and promote a sense of discipline and commitment among them. They create a feeling that the citizens are no mere spectators but active participants in the realisation of national goals.
  • The duty as such is not legally enforceable in the Courts; but if the State makes a law to prohibit any act or conduct in violation of any of the duties, the courts would uphold that as a reasonable restriction on the relevant fundamental right..
  • Though non-justiciable in nature, it still helps the court in examining the constitutional validity of the law. If the court finds that a law in question seeks to give effect to a fundamental duty, it may consider such law to be reasonable in relation to Article 14(equality before law) or Article 19 (six freedoms) and thus save such law from unconstitutionality.
  • These duties are in the nature of a code of conduct. Since they are unjusticiable, there is no legal sanction behind them.

Features of the fundamental duties:

Moral/Civic: Some of the Fundamental duties are moral duties & some are civic duty. E.g. it is the moral duty to cherish the ideas of freedom struggle but it is the civic duty to respect the National Flag by saluting it & paying respect towards to it.

Indian way of Life: It is very true that Fundamental Duties have actually been created from the wide culture present in India & hence it is actually a codification of the Indian way of life.

Difference between Fundamental Right & Fundamental Duties: Fundamental Right applies to both citizens & foreigners but fundamental duties apply only to citizens.

They are non-justiciable in nature. Fundamental Rights have negative impact on the government. Fundamental Duties have impact on the Citizens.

Non-justiciable: They are non-justiciable in nature i.e. they can’t be taken to court of law if they are not followed. They lack legal sanction & direct enforcement. But Parliament can enforce it if it wants via proper legislation.

Conclusion: These fundamental duties are not mere expressions of pious platitudes. Courts will certainly take cognizance of laws seeking to give effect to fundamental duties. 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.

It shall be the duty of every citizen of India:

(a) To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;
(b) To cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
(c) To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
(d) To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
(e) 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;
(f) To value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
(g) To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;
(h) To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
(i) To safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
(j) 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;
(k) 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.

However, the Supreme Court, in Surya vs Union of India (1992) case, ruled that fundamental duties are not enforceable through judicial remedies by court.

In MC Mehta vs Union of India, the Sucpreme Court has held that under Art 51-A(g) it is the duty of the Central Government to introduce compulsory teaching of lessons at least for one hour in a week on protection and improvement of natural environment in all the educational institutions of the country.

In Chandra Bhawan Boarding vs State of Mysore, the Supreme court made the following observation prior to the insertion of Article 51-A: “It is a fallacy to think that our Constitution, there are only rights and no duties. The provisions in Part IV enables the legislature to build a welfare society and that object may be achieved to the extent the Directive Principles are implemented by legislation.”

In Vijoy Immanuel vs State of Kerala (1987), the Supreme Court overruled the decision of Kerala High Court and decided that though to Constitution provides it to be the duty of citizen to respect the National Anthem, it does not provide that singing of the National Anthem is part of such respect.

Even a person, while standing during the singing of National Anthem (without himself singing it) can show respect to the National Anthem.

In AIIMS Student’s Union vs AIIMS, a three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court made it clear that fundamental duties, though not enforceable by a writ of the court, yet provide valuable guidance and aid to interpretation and resolution of constitutional and legal issues.

In Aruna Roy vs Union of India, the validity of National Curriculum Framework for School Education was challenged on the ground that it was violative of Art. 28 of the Constitution and anti-secular. It provides imparting of value development education relating to basics of all religions.

In Mohan Kumar Singhania vs Union of India, a governmental decision to give utmost importance to the training programme of the Indian Administrative Service selectees was upheld by deriving support from Article 51-A (i) of the Constitution.

In Rural Litigation and Entitlement Kendra vs State of Uttar Pradesh, a complete ban and closing of mining operation carried on in Mussoorie hills was held to be sustainable by deriving support from the fundamental duty as enshrined in Article 51-A (g) of the Constitution.

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