Fundamental duties are provided in the Part IV (Article 51A added by 42nd Amendment, 1976) of the Constitution . These are the duties which are expected to be performed by a citizen but even if a person is not performing such duties we cannot expect a punishment for such a person. So, the question here is whether the unaccountability of Fundamental Duties could be justified? In this essay both aspects will be dealt with i.e. whether the unaccountability is justified or unjustified. Firstly, I will focus on the points that how the unaccountability is unjustified. So, the very first point is that if they are added in the Constitution then they should also serve a purpose. Moreover, it has been added by an amendment which makes it is quite obvious that the need for such duties was felt. The Swarn Singh Committee on whose recommendation these duties were added also wanted them to be enforceable. Following are some of the points which support this argument.
Fundamental Duties and accountability
The question which is generally posed is Why the Fundamental Duties should be made accountable? But the actual question should be Why not the Fundamental Duties should be made accountable? By making them accountable they are not going to harm any person. Following are 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;
- 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;
- To protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, 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.
The very first duty says that it should be the duty of every citizen to abide by the Constitution. The Constitution is the supreme law of the Nation and the citizens have to abide by it. Every law has to be in consonance with the Constitution. Breach of Constitutional law is not allowed. So, even if this duty is enforced, it is not going to endanger anybody’s rights and will not create any conflict among the people. Moreover, we should also respect the institutions, National Flag and the National Anthem, even enforcing this duty cannot create any difficulty for any person because respecting our National Flag or National anthem should not be a thing which creates problem for us but any true Indian will do it voluntarily and happily. Similarly, the other fundamental duties can also be enforced in the same manner.
How accountability of fundamental duties can benefit the nation
Following Fundamental Duties can lead to certain benefits for our Nation as following these duties is going to promote the feelings of Nationalism and brotherhood among the people of India and will consequently benefit the Nation as a whole. Moreover, one Fundamental Duty specifically says, “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 “and it is also necessary to promote such a feeling in a Nation like India which is full of diversity. It should definitely be our duty to promote such a feeling or to not to do any such activity which is against the spirit of harmony and brotherhood.
Moreover, the 7th Fundamental duty focuses on the importance of protecting our environment. Almost every person is contributing in degrading the condition of our environment in one way or the other but nobody wants to take the responsibility for the same. But it is high time that every person should contribute in safeguarding the environment also.
Another Fundamental duty is to safeguard public property and to abjure violence. Both these acts are punishable under Indian law& making this duty accountable is going to reaffirm the law only in the form of a duty as well. Moreover, destroying public property and creating violence is only going to harm the development of our Nation as well as its citizens.
If rights can be enjoyed, then why not duties should be followed?
Our Indian Constitution provides us with some Fundamental Rights which are enforceable and are mentioned in Part III of the Constitution. All the people want to enjoy their rights and any infringement in such enjoyment of rights is not tolerated by anyone. If people can enjoy the rights provided by the State, then they should also be prepared in order to follow the duties as provided by the State. Is it only the responsibility of the State to develop our Nation? When the time will come when citizens of the Nation themselves will be ready to take the charge and follow their duties and responsibilities towards their Nation?
In our daily life we all have witnessed various instances in which we, the People of India, are criticizing our Nation for not being developed, for not providing us various facilities etc. But very few of us would have witnessed people who themselves wants to take the charge of changing our Nation. Most of us don’t want to change anything and have an orthodox mindset that nothing can be changed and our India cannot be developed but they have forgotten that the citizens of India play an important role in the development of Nation. So, the crux of the point is that nobody wants to take the responsibility whether it is for developing our Nation or protection of environment or any such matter that is why people just want to have their rights and they have forgotten about their duties. But this approach is a hindrance in the progress of our Nation as a Nation can develop only when all the citizens will come together and they will give importance to their duties as they give importance to their rights.
The above-mentioned points discussed the importance of bringing accountability to Fundamental Duties and now the following points will discuss that why the Fundamental Duties cannot be made accountable.
Fundamental duties need to be more explicit
Fundamental duties cannot be enforced as they are not specific. What is the extent of a fundamental duty being difficult to determine and in such a condition if it is made enforceable then it would pose difficulty for the citizens as well as the for the Courts because it would become difficult to recognize whether there has been violation of a Fundamental duty or not and it can lead to confusion and chaos as well as can pose problems to innocent people.
For instance, “to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom”, in order to follow this duty, one should firstly know the noble ideals which inspired our National struggle for freedom which can be different according to different interpretations.
Illiterate people and less awareness
Following and understanding a Fundamental duty can be difficult for illiterate persons and less awareness of their duties can also lead to violation of the Fundamental duty unintentionally. So, if fundamental duties are made accountable it is very important that everyone should be made aware about them.
The Fundamental Duties are more like a moral obligation or it can be said that following such duties is much more depended upon the morals of the people. For example, respecting our National Flag, National Anthem or promoting brotherhood is much more a matter of one’s morals then a matter of enforcement. If a person respects and loves his Nation, then no doubt he or she will follow these duties.
To conclude, it could be said that making Fundamental duties accountable can lead to certain problems but these could be solved by some changes in the duties i.e. making the duties more exact and definitive. So, the unaccountability of Fundamental duties cannot be fully justified and there is a need to make citizens of India more responsible and for that, with some changes, Fundamental Duties can be made enforceable because the responsibility of making a Nation developed is the responsibility of every citizen.
 Student, University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh.
 INDIAN Const. art 51A.
 Swarn Singh Committee recommendations, Fundamental Duties, (June 19, 2018 4:05 PM), http://www.eenadupratibha.net/Content/PublishFiles/4EB1137D-EED2-4FAA-A9AE-6DAF3F771312/start.html.
 Supra Note 1.