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Making Fundamental Duties Enforceable

Making Fundamental Duties Enforceable

Context: The Supreme Court has asked the Central government and state governments to share their thoughts on a petition seeking clear laws to encourage citizens to fulfill their Fundamental Duties, like being patriotic and fostering national unity.

What are Fundamental Duties?

  • The idea of Fundamental Duties is inspired by the Constitution of Russia (erstwhile Soviet Union).
  • These were incorporated in Part IV-A of the Constitution by the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976 on the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee.
  • Originally 10 in number, one more duty was added through the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002.
  • Like the Directive Principles of State Policy, the Fundamental duties are also non-justiciable in nature.
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List of Fundamental Duties:

  1. Respect the Constitution, the National Flag, and the National Anthem.
  2. Embrace the noble ideals that drove our freedom struggle.
  3. Protect India’s sovereignty, unity, and integrity.
  4. Serve the nation and defend it when called upon.
  5. Promote unity and brotherhood among all Indians, regardless of differences, and oppose practices that degrade women.
  6. Preserve our diverse cultural heritage.
  7. Care for the environment, including our forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife, and show compassion for all living creatures.
  8. Foster a scientific mindset, humanism, and the spirit of inquiry and reform.
  9. Safeguard public property and renounce violence.
  10. Strive for excellence in personal and collective endeavors, pushing the nation to greater heights.
  11. Ensure education opportunities for your child or ward between the ages of six and fourteen (added by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002).

Why Legally Enforce Fundamental Duties?

  • Emphasis on “Kartavya” (duty) in Indian society according to ancient scriptures.
  • The Gita and the Ramayana advocate fulfilling duties over asserting rights.
  • Soviet Union Constitution treated rights and duties equally.
  • The need to enforce specific Fundamental Duties, like protecting India’s unity and integrity, becomes crucial, especially with China’s rise as a superpower.
  • The Verma Committee (1999) identified legal provisions for implementing some Fundamental Duties.
  • Non-compliance with Fundamental Duties affects Fundamental Rights (e.g., equality before law, freedom of speech, right to life) as per the Constitution.
  • New trends of protests in the name of freedom of speech necessitate enforcing Fundamental Duties.

Supreme Court’s Stance on Fundamental Duties:

  • Ranganath Mishra judgment (2003) emphasized enforcing Fundamental Duties through both legal and social sanctions.
  • AIIMS Students Union v. AIIMS (2001) stressed the importance of Fundamental Duties alongside Fundamental Rights.
  • Although Fundamental Duties aren’t legally enforceable like Fundamental Rights, they are crucial as they are also termed “fundamental.”

The Way Forward:

A uniform policy is needed to sensitize, fully operationalize, and enforce Fundamental Duties.This will substantially promote responsible citizenship and contribute to a more harmonious society.

Read Also: Fundamental Duties of Indian Constitution

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