Explained: What Fundamental Duties mean

News:Recently, the Prime Minister, President and Vice President have said that citizens should remember their fundamental duties as they remember their fundamental rights.


About Fundamental Duties:

  • The Fundamental Duties were incorporated in Part IV-A of the Indian Constitution by the Constitution 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 during the time of Emergency.
  • The concept of Fundamental Duties has been taken from the Constitution of Russia.
  • The idea behind their incorporation was to emphasise the obligation of the citizen in exchange for the Fundamental Rights that he or she enjoys.
  • Currently,there are 11 Fundamental Duties described under Article 51-A, of which 10 were introduced by the 42nd Amendment and the 11th was added by the 86th Amendment in 2002.
  • However,these fundamental duties are statutory duties and are not enforceable by law.But a court may take them into account while adjudicating on a matter.

The Eleven Fundamental Duties:

  • 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 — it is one of the preeminent national obligations of all the citizens 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 — our cultural heritage is one of the noblest and richest, it is also part of the heritage of the Earth
  • To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife 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, as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years.

Additional information:

Other changes made under 42nd Amendment Act:

  • Apart from adding the Fundamental Duties(FD),the 42nd Amendment also changed the Preamble to the Constitution to include the words ‘Socialist and Secular’ to describe India.This is in addition to its being ‘Sovereign Democratic Republic’.
  • Several new ‘Directive Principles’ were added and given precedence over Fundamental Rights.
  • Further,the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and High Courts to review constitutionality of the laws was curtailed.
  • The High Courts were also prohibited from deciding on the constitutional validity of central laws.
  • A new Article 144A was inserted prescribing a minimum of seven judges for a Constitution Bench, besides stipulating a special majority of two-thirds of a Bench for invalidating central laws.

Changes of 42nd Amendment which are still in effect:

  • In 1977,the 43rd Amendment restored the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and High Courts to review the constitutional validity of laws.
  • The 44th Amendment changed the grounds for declaring Emergency under Article 352 substituting internal disturbances with armed rebellion besides requiring of the President that he shall not do so unless the decision of the Union Cabinet is communicated in writing to him.
  • Right to Liberty was strengthened by stipulating that detention under the Preventive Detention Act shall not be for more than two months.
  • Right to Property was converted from a Fundamental Right to a legal right, by amending Article 19 and deleting Article 31.