Why Fundamental Duties Are Not Enforceable By Law?
The government has to maintain law and order and peace in their country. Although the actual burden is on the government, citizens play an important role in protecting peace in their society. Every government provides certain fundamental rights and duties to their citizens that are fundamental to their existence and can enforce these rights. Along with fundamental rights, duties are also conferred by the government, some duties to the citizens that they believe every citizen of the country should abide by. These duties are not enforceable by law which means that citizens are not bound by law to follow them, and no legal action would be brought up against any violation of those duties.
What are Fundamental Duties?
Fundamental duties are those duties to be followed by the country’s citizens. They are moral obligations of the citizens that they must follow to maintain law and order in their societal environment. In the Indian Constitution, the fundamental duties are mentioned in Part IV under Article 51A after the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSPs). Currently, they are not enforceable by law in India, similar to DPSPs. However, several petitions have been filed in the Supreme court to make these duties enforceable by law.
There are currently 11 fundamental duties in the Indian Constitution, such as abiding by the Constitution, respecting the National Flag and National Anthem, defending our motherland, protecting public property, abstaining from damaging it, protecting the environment, and the species living in it, etc.
How were Fundamental Duties Added?
Fundamental duties were not present in the Indian Constitution since its inception. They were added during the Prime Ministership of Indira Gandhi through the 42nd Constitutional Amendment in 1975, also regarded as the Mini Constitution due to introducing a plethora of new laws and policies. They were borrowed from the erstwhile USSR Constitution. Originally, 10 Fundamental duties were added to the constitution based upon the Swaran Singh Committee’s recommendations.
Later, the 11th fundamental duty was added through the 86th Constitutional Amendment, which provided for providing educational opportunities to children between 6 to 14 years. Thus in total, there are 11 fundamental duties in India.
Issues Behind Enforceability of Fundamental Duties:
There have been many debates on the issue of whether Fundamental Duties should be made enforceable by law. The critics behind this approach argue that these are very basic duties and any citizen might not follow them unintentionally based on normal circumstances. By enforcing them, we would only increase the burden on the police system to arrest people, and then the number of people in prisons would dramatically increase. Moreover, some fundamental duties appear vague and ambiguous, so any ordinary man might not understand them. While the advocates of making them enforceable cite examples that prove that enforcing fundamental duties are imperative and beneficial.
For example, epics like Mahabharata and Ramayana emphasize karmas (duties) more than Adhikar (rights). Thus, it is of spiritual importance that fundamental duties should be made legally enforceable. In addition to this, they use the success of enforcing fundamental duties in China to support the claim. Supporters also claim that the citizens must cooperate accordingly and necessarily with the state to maintain peace and order. It is their moral obligation to safeguard the interests of the constitution and that of society.
Fundamental rights and duties constitute a major part of the Indian Constitution. The state of the importance of fundamental duties in the Constitution may remain debatable, but their essence is crucially vital in Indian society. Every Indian must abide by the provisions of the eleven fundamental duties as it would lessen the burden on the government and create a co-habitable situation for us.
The enforceability of the fundamental duties is one of the most concerned topics in the Supreme Court – whether it should be maintained in the Constitution or not. Nonetheless, the enforceability should be minimal because the public might suffer unintentionally.
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