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Fundamental Duties

 

Fundamental Duties

The Fundamental Duties of citizens were added to the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, upon the recommendations of theSwaran Singh Committee that was constituted by the government earlier that year. Originally ten in number, the Fundamental Duties were increased to eleven by the 86th Amendment in 2002, which added a duty on every parent or guardian to ensure that their child or ward was provided opportunities for education between the ages of six and fourteen years. The other Fundamental Duties obligate all citizens to respect the national symbols of India, including the Constitution, to cherish its heritage, preserve its composite culture and assist in itsdefence. They also obligate all Indians to promote the spirit of common brotherhood, protect the environment and public property, developscientific temper, abjure violence, and strive towards excellence in all spheres of life. Citizens are morally obligated by the Constitution to perform these duties. However, like the Directive Principles, these are non-justifiable, without any legal sanction in case of their violation or non-compliance. There is reference to such duties in international instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rightsand International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Article 51A brings the Indian Constitution into conformity with these treaties.

The Fundamental Duties noted in the constitution are as follows:

—It shall be the duty of every citizen of India —

  • 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 and wild life, 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 endeavour and achievement;
  • who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or ward, as the case may be, between the age of six and fourteen years

Criticism and analysis

Fewer children are now employed in hazardous environments, but their employment in non-hazardous jobs, prevalently as domestic help, violates the spirit of the constitution in the eyes of many critics and human rights advocates. More than 16.5 million children are in employment. India was ranked 88 out of 159 countries in 2005, according to the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians. The year 1990–1991 was declared as the “Year of Social Justice” in the memory of B.R. Ambedkar The government provides free textbooks to students belonging to scheduled castes and tribes pursuing medicine and engineering courses. During 2002–2003, a sum of Rs. 4.77 crore (47.7 million) was released for this purpose In order to protect scheduled castes and tribes from discrimination, the government enacted the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, prescribing severe punishments for such actions.

The Minimum Wages Act of 1948 empowers government to fix minimum wages for people working across the economic spectrum. The Consumer Protection Act of 1986provides for the better protection of consumers. The Equal Remuneration Act of 1976 provides for equal pay for equal work for both men and women. The SampoornaGrameenRozgarYojana (Universal Rural Employment Programme) was launched in 2001 to attain the objective of providing gainful employment for the rural poor. The programme was implemented through the Panchayati Raj institutions. A system of elected village councils, known as Panchayati Raj covers almost all states and territories of India. One-third of the total number of seats have been reserved for women in Panchayats at every level; and in the case of Bihar, half the seats have been reserved for women. The judiciary has been separated from the executive “in all the states and territories except Jammu and Kashmir and Nagaland.” India’s foreign policy has been influenced by the Directive Principles. India supported the United Nationsin peace-keeping activities, with the Indian Army having participated in 37 UN peace-keeping operations.

The implementation of a uniform civil code for all citizens has not been achieved owing to widespread opposition from various religious groups and political parties. The Shah Bano case (1985–86) provoked a political firestorm in India when the Supreme Court ruled that Shah Bano, a Muslim woman who had been divorced by her husband in 1978 was entitled to receive alimony from her former husband under Indian law applicable for all Indian women. This decision evoked outrage in the Muslim community, which sought the application of the Muslim personal law and in response the Parliament passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Divorce) Act, 1986 overturning the Supreme Court’s verdict. This act provoked further outrage, as jurists, critics and politicians alleged that the fundamental right of equality for all citizens irrespective of religion or gender was being jettisoned to preserve the interests of distinct religious communities. The verdict and the legislation remain a source of heated debate, with many citing the issue as a prime example of the poor implementation of Fundamental Rights.

Relationship between the Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles and Fundamental Duties

The Directive Principles have been used to uphold the Constitutional validity of legislations in case of a conflict with the Fundamental Rights. Article 31C, added by the 25th Amendment in 1971, provided that any law made to give effect to the Directive Principles in Article 39(b)–(c) would not be invalid on the grounds that they derogated from the Fundamental Rights conferred by Articles 14, 19 and 31. The application of this article was sought to be extended to all the Directive Principles by the 42nd Amendment in 1976, but the Supreme Court struck down the extension as void on the ground that it violated the basic structure of the Constitution. The Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles have also been used together in forming the basis of legislation for social welfare. The Supreme Court, after the judgement in the KesavanandaBharati case, has adopted the view of the Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles being complementary to each other, each supplementing the other’s role in aiming at the same goal of establishing a welfare state by means of social revolution. Similarly, the Supreme Court has used the Fundamental Duties to uphold the Constitutional validity of statutes which seeks to promote the objects laid out in the Fundamental Duties. These Duties have also been held to be obligatory for all citizens, subject to the State enforcing the same by means of a valid law. The Supreme Court has also issued directions to the State in this regard, with a view towards making the provisions effective and enabling a citizens to properly perform their duties