Fundamental Duties (Article 51A) – Polity UPSC

In this article, You will be familiar with Fundamental Duties of Indian Citizen.

Fundamental Duties

Part IV-A of the Indian Constitution deals with Fundamental Duties. As of now, there are 11 Fundamental duties.

Originally, the Constitution contained only the Fundamental Rights (FRs) and not contain these duties.

Fundamental duties were added by 42nd and 86th Constitutional Amendment acts, which is inspired by the Constitution of erstwhile the USSR.

None of the Constitutions of major democracies contain FDs (except Japan)

Socialist countries gave equal importance to the FRs and FDs of the citizens.

Swaran Singh Committee Recommendations

  • In 1976, the Congress party set up the Sardar Swaran Singh Committee to make recommendations about FDs  the need of which was felt during the operation of the internal emergency (1975 – 1977)
  • Committee recommended the inclusion of FDs in the Constitution.
  • It stressed that citizens apart from enjoying the rights also have certain duties to perform.
  • The Congress govt accepted these recommendations and enacted the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act,1976
  • Swaran Singh Committee suggested the incorporation of 8 FDs but 42nd CAA, 1976 included 10 FDs.

Recommendations of Committee which were not included –

  1. Parliament may provide for the imposition of penalty/punishment for any noncompliance with or refusal to observe any duties.
  2. No law imposing such penalty/punishment shall be called in question in any court on the grounds of infringement of any FRs or repugnancy to any other provision of the Constitution.
  3. Duty to pay taxes should also be an FD.

42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, 1976

  • This amendment added a new part, PART IV A to the Constitution.
  • This new part IV A consists of one Article  Article 51 A
  • Article 51 A = initially consisted of 10 FDs of the citizens.

86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002

To provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age of 6 – 14yrs

List of Fundamental Duties in Article 51 A

  1. To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, National Flag, and National Anthem.
  2. To cherish and follow the noble ideals that inspired the national struggle for freedom.
  3. To uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of India.
  4. To defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so.
  5. To promote harmony and the spirit of brotherhood among all the ppl of India, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities, and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women.
  6. To value and preserve the rich heritage of the county’s composite culture.
  7. To protect and improve the natural environment (forests, lakes, rivers, and wildlife) and to have compassion for living creatures.
  8. To develop the scientific temper, humanism, and the spirit of inquiry and reform.
  9. To safeguard public property and to adjure violence.
  10. To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to a higher level of endeavor and achievement.
  11. To provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age of 6 – 14yrs – added in the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002.

Amendment of article 51A – In article 51A of the Constitution, after clause (J), the following clause shall be added, namely: “(k) 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“.

Q. Which of the following is/are among the Fundamental Duties of citizens laid down in the Indian Constitution?

1. To preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.
2. To protect the weaker sections from social injustice.
3. To develop the scientific temper and spirit of inquiry.
4. To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity.

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:
a) 1 and 2 only
b) 2 only
c) 1, 3, and 4 only
d) 1, 2, 3 and 4

Q. Under the Constitution of India, which one of the following is not a Fundamental Duty?

a) To vote in public elections.
b) To develop the scientific temper.
c) To safeguard public property.
d) To abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals

Q. Which of the following statements is/are true of the Fundamental Duties of an Indian citizen?

1. A legislative process has been provided to enforce these duties.
2. They are correlative to legal duties.

Select the correct answer using the code given below:
a) 1 only
b) 2 only
c) Both 1 and 2
d) Neither 1 nor 2

Q. In the Constitution of India, the promotion of international peace and security is included in the

a) Preamble to the Constitution
b) Directive Principles of State Policy
c) Fundamental Duties
d) Ninth Schedule

Features of the Fundamental Duties

  • Some of them are Moral Duties (Ex. Cherishing noble ideals of freedom struggle)
  • Some of them are Civic Duties (Ex. Respecting the institution, National Flag/Anthem)
  • They refer to such values that have been a part of the Indian tradition, mythology, religions, and practices.
  • Essentially contain just a codification of tasks integral to the Indian way of life.
  • FDs are confined to citizens only, do not extend to foreigners (FRs = extend to all: Citizens + Foreigners)
  • Like DPSPs, FDs are also a non-justiciable: Constitution that doesn’t provide for direct enforcement by the courts.
  • There is no legal sanction against their violation (however the Parliament is free to enforce them by suitable legislation)

Criticism of Fundamental Duties

  1. list of duties is not exhaustive; it doesn’t cover important duties like casting vote, paying taxes, family planning, and so on.
  2. Some of the duties are vague, ambiguous, and difficult to understand (Ex. Phrases like Noble ideals, scientific temper, etc.)
  3. They have been described by the critics as – code of moral precepts due to their nonjusticiable character.
  4. Their inclusion in the constitution is superfluous: this is because the duties included in the Constitution would be performed by the people even though they were not incorporated in the Constitution.
  5. The inclusion of FDs as an appendage to Part IV has reduced their value and significance; they should have been added after part III so as to keep them on par with FRs.

Significance of Fundamental Duties

  1. It serves as a reminder to the citizens that while enjoying their rights, they should also be conscious of duties they owe to their country, their society, and fellow citizens.
  2. It serves as a warning against the national and antisocial activities (destroying pub property/burning national flag)
  3. Serve as a source of inspiration and promotes discipline and commitment; creates a feeling that citizens are not mere spectators but active participants in the realization of national goals.
  4. They help the courts in determining the constitutional validity of a law.
  5. They are enforceable by law. Hence, Parliament can provide for the imposition of penalty/punishment for failure to fulfill any of them.
  6. Their inclusion helps in strengthening democracy.

Verma Committee Observations (1999)

Verma Committee Observations (1999) identified the existence of legal provisions in line with FDs

  • The Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act (1971): prevents disrespect to the Constitution, National Flag, and National Anthem.
  • Various Criminal Laws – punishes for encouraging enmity between different sections of people.
  • The Protection of Civil Rights, 1955, or The Untouchability (Offences) Act, 1976 – punishes for offenses related to caste and religion.
  • Indian Penal Code (IPC) – declares the imputations and assertions prejudicial to national integration as punishable offenses.
  • The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 – provides for the declaration of a communal organization as an unlawful association.
  • The Representation of Peoples Act, 1951 – provides for disqualification of MPs/MLAs for indulging in corrupt practices or soliciting votes on the grounds of religion or promoting enmity between different sections of ppl.
  • The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 – prohibits trade in rare and endangered species.
  • The Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 – checks indiscriminate deforestation and diversion of forest lands for non-forest purposes.


As provided in Article 32 of the Constitution (which itself is a fundamental right) fundamental rights are enforceable through Supreme Court. High Court also under Article 226 can issue Writs etc. for enforcement of fundamental rights. However, Fundamental Duties are not enforceable through courts.

The Courts while interpreting Fundamental Rights or any restrictions imposed on such rights may take into account the Fundamental Duties and also the Directive Principles of the State policy enshrined in Part IV of the Constitution.

In-State of Gujarat v. Mirzapur (2005), while considering provisions of Articles 48, 48-A and also Article 51-A(g), the Supreme Court held:

“. It is thus clear that faced with the question of testing the constitutional validity of any statutory provision or an executive act, or for testing the reasonableness of any restriction cast by law on the exercise of any fundamental right by way of regulation, control or prohibition, the directive principles of State policy and fundamental duties as enshrined in Article 51-A of the Constitution play a significant role.”

In Ramlila Maidan Incident, In Re, (2012) it was held:

“There has to be a balance and proportionality between the right and restriction on the one hand, and the right and duty, on the other. It will create an imbalance if the undue or disproportionate emphasis is placed upon the right of a citizen without considering the significance of the duty. The true source of right is a duty. When the courts are called upon to examine the reasonableness of a legislative restriction on the exercise of freedom, the fundamental duties enunciated under Article 51-A are of relevant consideration. Article 51-A requires an individual to abide by the law, to safeguard public property, and to abjure violence. It also requires the individual to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of the country. All these duties are not insignificant.’’

Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution are important natural rights necessary for the development of human beings. They are enforceable through a court of law. No law can be made which takes away or abridges any fundamental rights. On the other hand, Fundamental Duties though not enforceable, but always taken into account while interpreting any fundamental rights.

Q. In the context of India, which one of the following is the correct relationship between Rights and Duties?

a) Rights are correlative with Duties.
b) Rights are personal and hence independent of society and Duties.
c) Rights, not Duties, are important for the advancement of the personality of the citizen.
d) Duties, not Rights, are important for the stability of the State.

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