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Do we remember our Fundamental Duties like we remember our Fundamental Rights?

Do we remember our Fundamental Duties like we remember our Fundamental Rights?
- Ashima Sharma, Teaching and Research Associate, Gujarat Maritime University, Gandhinagar

The Constitution of India has been a result of the historical fight fought against the Britishers for a democratic system of governance, economic well -being, political and civil liberties, rule of law and so on. It is a culmination of multiple deliberations and revisions that were made by the chosen representatives to ensure that our dreams, objectives and ideals were epitomized in the most fruitful manner possible. The Fundamental Rights were incorporated in the Constitution with the aim of ensuring dignity and liberty to the individuals. The arbitrariness in the administration and governance of the country and ill-treatment of Indians by the Britishers acted as an epiphany for the Constitution makers, thereby, making them realize the paramount importance of guaranteeing Fundamental Rights to the people of India which were then incorporated in Part III of the Constitution. These Rights are a part of the Basic Structure[1]  of the Constitution and the Grund norm itself puts an obligation of the State to refrain from taking any action which infringes or curtails upon these liberties. The Constitution makers shouldered and fulfilled their duty by giving us a Constitution which guarantees its people a life of dignity and liberation but they didn’t feel the need of incorporating corresponding duties of the nationals for contributing towards the state and social welfare. Many, therefore, looked at the Constitution as a Charter of Rights alone. The conception was further strengthened through various Supreme Court and High Court judgements, thereby, resulting in individuals believing that their duties were not for them to consider and were to be worked out by Government.

There is no doubt that an individual must be provided with a holistic environment which allows him/her to grow and flourish to the maximum possible level but a much nobler thought is that the growth of one must not hamper the growth of the society.  The rights can’t be enforced at the cost of public good and social development and it is a recognized principle of legal jurisprudence that duties and rights must go together.The Indian history also has emphasized on the performance of one’s duties or “Kartavya” towards the society and the nation. 
Therefore, there was a need of having Fundamental Duties to balance the enunciation of Fundamental Rights in the Constitution.

It was by the 42nd Amendment of the Constitution, in the year 1976 that Article 51A was added to the Constitution which enumerated the Fundamental Duties of the citizens.These duties were added to instill a sense of nationalism amongst the masses and to prevent the exercise of rights from becoming a one-sided affair which would lead to instability, stunted social progress and lack of political maturity.

The Fundamental Duties are a constant reminder of our responsibility towards the state and our national goals and it is only when each individual understands the importance of fulfilling the duties in the most earnest way, that we can lead the nation towards development and progress. It was through these Fundamental Duties that the Parliament wished to inculcate the spirit of nationalism in the citizens and the same was confirmed in the case of Shyam Narayan Chouksey v. Union of India , when the Supreme Court while deciding on the playing of National Anthem opined,

“When we consider the perspectives put forth before us pronounced in their own way, we have no shadow of doubt that one is compelled to show respect whenever and wherever the National Anthem is played. It is the élan vital of the Nation and fundamental grammar of belonging to a nation state. However, the prescription of the place or occasion has to be made by the executive keeping in view the concept of fundamental duties provided under the Constitution and the law.Thus, Constitutional nationalism is distinct as it demands a citizen’s allegiance not to any religion or school of thought, but only to the constitutional ethos.”

Therefore, there is no doubt that the Fundamental Duties were incorporated to inculcate a sense of responsibility in the nationals towards their nation.

Yet, it is a common sight to see people turning a blind eye towards their duties. It is easier for individuals to claim their rights but when it comes to their duties, no action is taken. Unfortunately, individuals take fundamental duties for granted and don’t understand the need for having the same, while equally being conscious of their own right. 

Lack of respect towards the ideals of freedom struggle, mob lynching and animosity amongst groups merely on the basis of religion, littering in and around heritage sites, cruelty towards animals, least regard for the protection of environment, destruction public property are all examples that we commonly see in our day to day lives.

The implementation of Fundamental Duties has been difficult mostly because of the lack of patriotism amongst the individuals, difficulty in the identification of violation of duty and the lack of enforceability. When a Fundamental Duty is infringed, it is the society which gets affected and not the individual and thus, the common mentality of being selfish refrains us from taking any steps in enforcing our duties.

Hence, it has become impertinent that the notion of people towards Fundamental Duties is changed and they learn the value of the same.
In the present times, what we require is the coming together of dedicated individuals, voluntary organizations, civic bodies and committed societies to create a sense of nationalism and a social climate which can help people realize that Fundamental Duties are as important as Fundamental Rights and that the failure to observe the same can be detrimental to us as well as the nation. It is time that the public opinion towards the importance of Fundamental Duties is changed, thereby, facilitating their enforcement. Mass media and changes in the educational system can also go a long way in achieving the required changes.
Along with this, the government needs to come with a better legal machinery to incorporate social sanction for the implementation of Fundamental Duties in order to prevent them from becoming mere aspirations embodied in the Constitution. 

References :- 
1. Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, [1973] AIR 1461 (SC)
2.Carleton Kemp Allen, ‘Legal Duties’ (1931) 40(3) YLJ   <> accessed: 21 January 2020
3. V K R V Rao and Sardar Swaran Singh, ‘Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles under the Proposed Amendments to the Constitution’ (1976) 3 IIC <> accessed: 24 January 2020
4. V. S. Deshpande, ‘Rights And Duties Under The Constitution’ (1973) 15(1) JILI <> accessed 20 January 2020 [2018] AIR 357 (SC)
5.Sidharth Luthra and Nivedita Mukhija, ‘The Nationalism Debate, Concerns, And Constitutional Response’ (2018) 30(1) NLSIR <> accessed 24 January 2020