Fundamental Duties under Indian Constitution

The original constitution contained only the fundamental rights and not the fundamental duties. The framers of the Constitution did not feel it necessary to incorporate the fundamental duties of the citizens in the Constitution. However they incorporated the duties of the state in the constitution in the form of Directive Principles of the State Policy. Later in 1976, ten fundamental duties of citizens were added in the constitution through 42nd Constitution Amendment Act. In 2002, one more fundamental duty was added by 86th Amendment Act. Fundamental Duties have been given in Part IV -A, Article 51- A.

Need for Fundamental Duties:

Rights and Duties are correlative and therefore fundamental duties are intended to serve as a constant reminder to every citizen that while Constitution conferred on them certain fundamental rights it also requires citizens to observe certain basic norms of democratic behaviour.


Source of Fundamental Duties:

The Fundamental Duties in Indian Constitution are inspired by Constitution of erstwhile USSR.

Swaran Singh Committee Recommendations:

In 1976, Congress government set up Sardar Swaran Singh Committee to make recommendations about need and necessity of fundamental duties.
The committee recommended inclusion of a separate chapter on fundamental duties in the constitution. The Government at the centre accepted these recommendations and enacted 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act in 1976.

List of fundamental duties under Article 51A :

According to Article 51A, it shall be the duty of every citizen of India:
(a) to abide by the constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the national flag and the national anthem;
(b) to cherish and follow the nobel ideals that inspired the national struggle for freedom;
(c) to uphold and protect the sovereignity, unity and integrity of India;
(d) to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
(e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversity and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
(f) to value and preserve the rich heritage of the country's composite culture;
(g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures;
(h) to develop scientific temper, humanism and the Spirit of inquiry and reform;
(i) to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
(j) to strive towards excellence in all the spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement;
(k) to provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age of 6 to14 years.

Features of the fundamental duties:

  • Some of fundamental duties are moral duties while others are civic duties.
  • For instance cherishing noble ideals of freedom struggle is a moral precept while respecting the Constitution, National Flag and National Anthem is a Civic duty.
  • Fundamental duties contain a codification of tasks integral to the Indian way of life.

Are Fundamental Duties applicable to Non-Citizens also?

Fundamental duties are confined to citizens only and do not extend to foreigners. Fundamental duties are non-justiciable. There is no legal sanction against their violation.

Can Fundamental Duties be enforced?

Like Directive Principles of State Policy, fundamental duties are non-enforceable by courts.
Thus fundamental duties cannot be enforced by writs. They can only be promoted by constitutional method such as by law made by parliament.

Significance of Fundamental Duties:

  • Fundamental Duties serves as a reminder to the citizens that while enjoying their rights, they should also be conscious of duties they owe to their country.
  • It serves as a warning against the anti- national and anti-social activities like burning the national flag, destroying public property etc.
  • This server as a source of inspiration for the citizens and promote a sense of discipline and commitment among them.

M.C. Mehta vs Union of India,1991 SC

The supreme court introduced compulsory learning of lessons on protection and improvement of natural environment in all the educational institutions of the country as a part of fundamental duty under article 51-A(g).

Aruna Roy vs Union of India, AIR 2002 SC

In this case, the validity of National Curriculum System for School Education was challenged on the ground of violative of Article 28 and anti-secular.
The court held that NCFSE is valid and constitutional. What sought to be imparted is incorporated in Article 51-A(e) which provides to foster unity and the spirit of common brotherhood between all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversity, to renounce practices derogatory to dignity of women and to ensure that fundamental principles such as truth related actions, harmony, love and non violence be the cornerstore of education. Accordingly, such schooling does not contravene either Article 28 of the Constitution or principle of secularism.

Shyam Narayan Chouksey vs Union of India, 2016 SC

A writ petition was filed by Shyam Narayan chauksey under Article 32 of the Constitution of India to issue certain directions for the appropriate time to play and sing the National Anthem of India.
The court ordered that there should be no commercial usage of national anthem, no dramatization of the anthem as would amount to disrespect, it should not be printed or displayed on any object or on any such place as it is associated with National identity roots. The court also referred to the fundamental duty as enlisted in Article 51A, it becomes obligatory and mandatory for everyone to respect the national anthem and the national flag.
The court further clarified that if any specially disabled person and physically handicapped person visits the cinema hall, he must not stand up but must show such conduct which is commensurate with respect for the national anthem.


India is a country of multi-cultural people believing in unity in diversity. The Court emphasized on many occasions that fundamental duties are equally important as fundamental rights and cannot be overlooked as duties which are non- enforceable. Citizens must understand the Constitution and its organs and being the meaningful stakeholder in the Indian democracy, every citizen has to try to imbibe the constitutional philosophy in its true spirit.

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