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Fundamental Duties in the Present Context


Fundamental Duties were added on the recommendation of the Swaran Singh committee in 1976. They are now mentioned under part IV A of the constitution of India. They were inserted through the 42nd Amendment Act, 1976 during the tenure of Ms. Indira Gandhi as the Prime Minister of India. Article 51A of the constitution talks about the 11 fundamental duties that describes citizen’s duty towards the society and nation. The 11th fundamental duty was added through the 86th Amendment Act, 2002 that deals with the right to education to all children in the age group of 6-14 years. It is considered that they will strengthen democracy and bring socialistic values to life.

These fundamental duties are ‘non-justiciable’. We all know that rights and duties are interdependent and co-related. Moreover, it will be a farce if our constitution will only entail rights and not duties. It is an obligation of every citizen to fulfill their duties, however our constitution has not made enforcement of fundamental rights on the condition of fulfilment of fundamental duties. But these fundamental duties can be enforced through the implementation of legislation made for the same. The basic purpose behind the insertion of these duties in the constitution is to create a psychological awareness and obligation on the citizens.

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Role of the Courts.

In the case of M.C. Mehta v. Union of India,[1] the petitioner was deeply concerned by the pollution of Ganga and by way of PIL filed a writ petition under article 32 of the constitution to ask the Hon’ble Supreme Court to give appropriate guidelines for protection of water bodies from pollution. The court took cognizance of the matter and gave directions for the same.

In the case of Shri Sachidanand Pandey v. State of West Bengal[2], the court laid the emphasis on Article 48A and Article 51A(g) and said that the court must bear in mind these constitutional provisions while dealing with problems concerning the environmental issues. the court further noted that, “the fundamental duties must be used by courts as a tool to tab, even a taboo on state action drifting away from the constitutional values.

Fundamental Duties and Sustainability

During the pandemic where the question of environmental protection is raised time and again, the role of fundamental duties have again come into picture. After the dawn of industrialization and westernization, we surely have moved up in the ladder to achieve the goal of becoming a global superpower. But we need to realize the expense of this success is not only the environment but also the future of our children who are going to inherit this earth from us. Nature is trying to create a balance through this pandemic, we have to rationally analyze our acts and work for a more sustainable future. Government alone cannot work for the goal of a sustainable future, therefore, we as citizens have to realize our fundamental duties towards environment protection.

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Even though these duties are not enforceable as held by Rajasthan High Court in the case of Surya Narain v. Union of India[3], the court distinguished between the public and individual duty. The court also said that the fundamental duties do not fall under the ambit of public duty. But it’s time that we realize that the right to a safe and healthy environment is part of Article 21 of the constitution. So, we should make endeavors not only as an individual but also as a society to achieve the goal of sustainable development despite the efforts of the government to ensure a healthy and safe environment for its citizens.


Now, the primary question before us is- Are we really aware of our fundamental duties? Do we wish to fulfill these duties? Are duties complementary to rights? We want to seek the benefit of all the policies of the government and enjoy the rights bestowed by the constitution. But it’s high time we realize that one hand alone cannot make the clap sound.  So, we as citizens need to make small efforts in order to support the government in its endeavor and fulfill our duties as responsible citizen of the country.

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[1] M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, AIR 1988 SC 1115.

[2] Shri Sachidanand Pandey v. State of West Bengal, AIR 1987 SC 1109

[3] Surya Narain v. Union of India, AIR 1982 Raj 1.

Cite this article (The Bluebook 20th ed.)-

Diksha Mehta, Fundamental Duties in the Present Context, Ex Gratia Law Journal, (September 20, 2020),

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Diksha Mehta
Student - Army Institute of Law, Mohali