Fundamental Rights and Duties
To offset the increasing tendencies of indifference towards the business of the government amongst its citizens and to check fissiparous growth, the Constitution (Forty-Second) Amendment Act, 1976 introduced the concept of fundamental duties by adding Part IV-A, consisting of the sole Article 51A.
Duties – Individual or public in character?
- The fundamental duties are the mechanism that aims at striking a balance between individual freedom and social interests. These duties do not cast any public duties but are applicable only to individual citizens.
- However, in a judgement, the Supreme Court held that the Fundamental Duties are as important as Fundamental Rights and that though Article 51A does not expressly cast any fundamental duty on the State, the duty of every citizen of India is the collective duty of the state- its de facto enforceability in the sense that Article 51A is a yardstick against which the action of the State may be assessed.
- In Union of India v/s Naveen Jindal, the Supreme Court observed that fundamental duties are implicit in the concept of fundamental rights, the former providing certain restrictions on the exercise of the latter.
Enforceability of duties –
- There have been umpteen number of cases in which the various contours of Article 51A have been interpreted and applied by the Apex Court.
- The unenforceable duties have got a booster dose of contents as well as some sort of enforceability through increased references in various judicial pronouncements.
- In certain situations, where the Courts have been called upon to examine the reasonableness of any legislative restriction on the exercise of a freedom, the fundamental duties are of relevant consideration.
- Everybody should remember that entitlements come with duties and responsibilities as well. The grassroots approach should be to work earnestly and give practical expression to both the rights and the duties that democracy entails.
- The presence of a chapter on fundamental duties in our constitution along with the fundamental rights should have effect of reminding the citizen that every right one exercises is balanced by a duty he has to fulfil.
- Since the duties were spelt out by the preamble of the constitution, whatever is needed to achieve the goal set in the Constitution, is our obvious duty to perform – is a dictate of the preamble.
Various current crises related to environment, mob-violence and terrorism etc could have been regulated to a large extent if the human values could be inculcated right from the formative period of life so as to lay a strong foundation for effectuation of Fundamental Duties along with the strong desire to avail the rights. Thus, there is a strong necessity to maintain a strong balance between the rights and the duties. One does not have existence as well as the meaning without the other.
Source – Yojana Magazine
QUESTION – The Constitution of India does not provide judicial enforceability of fundamental duties in India. How can we maintain an effective balance between our rights and duties?