Fundamental Duties Under the Indian Constitution

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Fundamental Duties Under the Indian Constitution

Fundamental Duties were incorporated by the Constitution of India by the Forty-second Amendment. Eleven fundamental duties focus on the moral, cultural and ethical code of conduct that the people follow. In this article, we will discuss the origin of the Indian Constitution, the fundamental duties, why fundamental duties are non-enforceable, the relationship between the fundamental rights, fundamental duties and directive principles of state policy and the difference between the fundamental rights and fundamental duties.

Origin of the Indian Constitution

The first constituent assembly was held in 1946 after independence. Dr Rajendra Prasad represented as the President of the constituent assembly. The Indian Constitution is also known as the Law of the Land. A drafting committee was appointed on 29th August 1947 with Dr B.R. Ambedkar as its Chairman to set up an organized and permanent constitution.

The key feature of the Constitution was Republican State, Independent Judiciary, Parliamentary Supremacy, Federal System, and Fundamental Rights. Finally, after all the discussions, the Constitution of India came into force on 26th January 1950.

The Indian Constitution is the longest written in the world with a Preamble, 448 Articles and 101 Amendments, 25 Parts, and 12 Schedules. The Constitution of India has been derived from different constitutions of the world. It took about 2 years, 11 months, and 18 days to complete the Constitution of India. You can also read the  Salient Features of Indian Constitution

The Constitution of India has laid down the principles, procedures, rights, duties, powers, and practices of the government and the citizens’ fundamental rights and duties.

What are the Fundamental Duties?

Fundamental Duties are moral responsibilities that a person should carry out to respect another person’s rights and perform their social obligations. And to promote the spirit of patriotism.

The Constitution (Forty-second) Amendment Act, 1976 has inserted fundamental duties upon the recommendation made by the Swaran Singh Committee. This Committee was constituted by Indira Gandhi under the Chairmanship of Sardar Swaran Singh after the declaration of the National Emergency. Part IVA, Article 51A of the Indian Constitution, has laid down the fundamental duties that every Indian citizen should follow. These are –

a) To follow and respect the provisions, ideals, and institutions of the Constitution, National Anthem, and National Flag;
b) To follow and nurture the noble ideals that inspired our freedom struggle;
c) To protect and uphold the unity, sovereignty, and integrity of the country;
d) To defend or guard the country and perform national service when called upon;
e) To promote or uphold harmony and spirit of brotherhood among the people irrespective of linguistic, religious, regional, or sectional diversities and to quit practices that are derogatory to women’s dignity;
f) To preserve and value the rich heritage of our culture;
g) To conserve and enhance the natural environment, including lakes, forests, wildlife, and rivers, and to have compassion or sympathy for living creatures;
h) To develop or evolve humanism, scientific temper, the spirit of inquiry, and reform;
i) To protect public property and abstain from violence;
j) To strive towards excellence in all individual and collective activities, to raise the nation to a higher level of achievement and endeavour.
k) Every parent or guardian should provide educational opportunities to their child or ward between the ages of six and fourteen.

Article 51A (k) has been inserted by the Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act, 2002.

Verma Committee’s recommendation on Fundamental Duties

Justice Verma Committee was established in 1998 to plan a strategy and create a methodology to enforce and teach the Fundamental duties in educational institutions. The Committee observed that the fundamental duties become non-operational if not implemented.

The provisions of the Verma Committee are as follows:

1. Any person who disrespects the National Anthem, National flag, and Indian Constitution will be punished under the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act, 1971.
2. Punishment under various criminal laws for creating enmity among the people on the ground of race, language, caste, religion, etc.
3. Offences related to religion or caste shall be punishable under The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955.
4. Any allegations or assertions prejudicial to the nation’s unity and integrity are punishable under different sections of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
5. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, was established to prevent any communal organization from being declared as an unlawful association.
6. The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, was established to protect wildlife and prohibit the trade of rare and endangered animals.
7. To ensure proper implementation of Article 51A(g), the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, was established.
8. Making the State Legislatures and Members of Parliament liable under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, if they engage in corrupt practices.

Significance of Fundamental Duties

Just like fundamental rights, fundamental duties are integral to our Constitution. Let us now discuss the importance of fundamental duties; these are as follows –

  • It creates a sense of responsibility among the citizens towards the nation, people, and society.
  • Fundamental duties warn the citizens against anti-social and anti-national activities.
  • It helps in protecting and preserving the sovereignty, integrity, and unity of the country;
  • To maintain peace and harmony and encourage a feeling of brotherhood among the citizens;
  • It enables the government to maintain proper governance and function the government in a democratic manner.
  • It acts as a reminder that while enjoying fundamental rights, they should not forget their fundamental duties towards the nation.
  • To determine the constitutional validity of the law.


Why are fundamental duties non-enforceable?

Fundamental duties are not enforceable by law, so no legal action can be taken against a person for violating fundamental duties.
Fundamental duties depend on the performance of the State and the Directive Principles of State Policy. Therefore, as the Directive Principles of State Policy are not enforceable, the fundamental duties are also not enforceable.
The main reason for making the fundamental duties non-enforceable is the lack of awareness among the people. Most of the Indian population is illiterate. Therefore, they are not aware of their constitutional obligations.
Though the fundamental duties are non-enforceable, they are essential for maintaining peace and harmony in the country. Moreover, it acts as a reminder to the citizens that India is a democratic country, and the citizen has to respect the country’s integrity and cultural diversity.

Relationship between the Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties, and Directive Principles of the State Policy

The Indian Constitution has provided Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties, and Directive Principles of State Policy to regulate the conduct of the State and its citizens. Therefore, the Fundamental Rights, Duties, and Directive Principles of State Policy have an inter-relationship to maintain national security, peace, and welfare.

In Kesavananda Bharati Case, 1973, the Supreme Court observed that the relationship between Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles is not only complementary. In fact, they supplement each other, aiming to achieve the State’s welfare through social revolution. It has referred to the fundamental duties as an element justifying the constitutional policies and laws that implement the objects put forth under the fundamental duties which are essential part of all citizens’ conduct.
In simple terms, the Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties are laws laid down for citizens to act or behave in a particular manner, whilst the Directive Principles of State Policy are guidelines for the State to make laws for the welfare of the nation and securing social and economic freedom.

In the Javed Vs. State of Haryana, 2003, the Court held that the Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties, and Directive Principles of State Policy cannot be read in isolation; they have to be read with each other.

In the State of Gujarat Vs. Mirzapur, 2005, the Supreme Court held that the fundamental duties and directive principles of state policy play a significant role in testing the constitutional validity of the executive action and statutory provisions. It is also essential to try the reasonable restriction imposed on fundamental rights.

Difference between Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties

Fundamental rights and duties are interlinked with each other. Therefore, to enjoy every right, an equal duty is associated with it. Democracy cannot be achieved until the citizens do not complement their fundamental rights with corresponding fundamental duties. For example, the Right to Education is guaranteed to all citizens under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. The parent or guardian’s fundamental duty is to provide educational opportunities to the child or ward below the age of 14 years under Article 51A(k) of the Indian Constitution.

Let us now understand the difference between fundamental rights and fundamental duties.

Fundamental Rights

Fundamental Duties

Fundamental rights are privileges, freedom, or basic human rights guaranteed by the Constitution to its citizens. Fundamental Duties are legal or moral responsibilities or obligations imposed on the citizens to perform.
Fundamental rights enable a sense of harmony and a free lifestyle by providing liberty and freedom to the citizens. Fundamental duties are the moral responsibilities of the citizens to maintain peace, unity, and prosperity in the country.
Fundamental rights are granted under Part III, Article 12-35 of the Indian Constitution. Fundamental Duties are granted under Part IV A, Article 51A of the Indian Constitution.
Fundamental rights are directly enforceable through the Supreme Court under Article 32, or the High Court under Article 226, if the requests are violated. Fundamental duties are not directly enforceable in any court of law, except in certain circumstances by Parliamentary rules.
Fundamental rights are borrowed from the US Constitution. Fundamental duties are borrowed from the USSR.
Fundamental rights apply to Indian citizens and foreigners to some extent. Fundamental duties are to Indian citizens only and do not apply to foreigners.


Case laws on Fundamental Duties

Bijoe Emmanuel Vs. The state of Kerala, (National Anthem Case)

In this case, three students were expelled for refusing to sing National Anthem. The students refused to sing National Anthem as it was against their religious faith, and they were not permitted to sing. However, the students stood respectfully when the National Anthem was being played.
The Supreme Court had held that they did not commit any offence under the Prevention of Insult to National Honors Act, 1971, by not singing the National Anthem. Still, the students stood out of respect for the National Anthem.


Fundamental Duties are granted under Part IV A, Article 51A of the Indian Constitution. 42nd Amendment had inserted 10 fundamental duties; later 11th Fundamental duty was inserted by the 84th Amendment 2002. The fundamental duties are the moral and legal responsibilities of the citizen to maintain peace, harmony, integrity, and sovereignty of the country, respect the country’s national flag and national anthem, and strive to achieve the best for the nation. Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties are complementary to each other. Fundamental duties are not enforceable in any court of law.


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