Understanding Fundamental Duties In The Indian Constitution



  1. Introduction 
  2. List Of Fundamental Duties In The Indian Constitution
  3. The Evolution Of Fundamental Duties
  4. Key Characteristics Of Fundamental Duties
  5. Significance Of Fundamental Duties
  6. Criticisms Of Fundamental Duties In The Indian Constitution
  7. Difference Between Fundamental Rights And Fundamental Duties 
  8. Conclusion 


The Fundamental Duties of the Indian Constitution submit to a series of obligations designated for the citizens of the nation. They serve as a gentle reminder to citizens that alongside the privilege of enjoying rights, they also bear responsibility for fulfilling specific duties towards their country. Essentially, Fundamental Duties mentions a collection of moral and ethical responsibilities that citizens are encouraged to honour towards their nation.

List Of Fundamental Duties In The Indian Constitution

Article 51A in Part IV-A of the Indian Constitution delineates eleven Fundamental Duties. These duties are as follows:

  1. Abide by the Indian Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem
  2. Cherish and follow the noble ideals that inspired the national struggle for freedom
  3. Uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India
  4. Defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so
  5. Promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women
  6. Value and preserve the rich heritage of the country’s composite culture
  7. Protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures
  8. Develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform
  9. Safeguard public property and to abjure violence
  10. Strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement
  11. Provide opportunities for education to his child or ward between the age of six and fourteen years. (This duty was added by the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act, 2002)

The Evolution Of Fundamental Duties 

Initially, the Indian Constitution did not encompass Fundamental Duties. However, their necessity became apparent during the internal emergency period from 1975 to 1977. In response, the government took proactive measures that led to the introduction and development of Fundamental Duties in India.

In 1976, the Government of India established the Sardar Swaran Singh Committee to provide recommendations regarding Fundamental Duties.

The Committee noted that besides enjoying rights, citizens should also fulfil specific duties. Consequently, it proposed the inclusion of a dedicated chapter on Fundamental Duties in the Constitution, outlining a list of 8 Fundamental Duties.

Also Read  Difference Between Constitutional Rights And Fundamental Rights

The Central Government embraced the suggestions of the Sardar Swaran Singh Committee and resolved to integrate a roster of fundamental duties into the Indian Constitution. Moreover, in 1976, it enacted the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act, introducing a new part (Part IVA) to the Constitution. This new part encompasses a single Article (Article 51A) outlining a code of ten fundamental duties expected from the citizens of India.

It’s worth noting that although the Swaran Singh Committee recommended the inclusion of eight Fundamental Duties, the 42nd Constitutional Amendment Act incorporated ten Fundamental Duties into the Constitution.

Subsequently, the 86th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2002 introduced an additional Fundamental Duty. This new duty mandates providing opportunities for education to children or wards between the ages of six and fourteen years. Since then, the list of Fundamental Duties in the Indian Constitution has remained unchanged.

Key Characteristics Of Fundamental Duties 

Non-Justiciable Nature: The Fundamental Duties outlined in Article 51-A of the Indian Constitution are non-justiciable, meaning they cannot be legally enforced by the judiciary. However, they hold significant value as moral obligations and guiding principles for citizens, encouraging responsible behaviour.

Scope of Applicability: These duties are specifically applicable to Indian citizens and do not extend to foreigners residing in the country. They delineate the responsibilities that citizens must uphold towards the nation.

Derivation from Various Sources: The genesis of Fundamental Duties is multifaceted, drawing inspiration from diverse sources such as the Constitution of the former Soviet Union, the philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi, and insights from constitutional experts. This amalgamation reflects a fusion of national and international values within the Indian context.

Directive Nature: Fundamental Duties serve a directive function, guiding the conduct and actions of citizens. They act as a moral compass, fostering a sense of accountability and adherence to lawful behaviour, thereby contributing to the formation of a responsible society.

Codification of Indian Values: These duties encapsulate values deeply rooted in Indian traditions and cultural practices. They essentially codify tasks that are intrinsic to the Indian way of life, reinforcing the importance of upholding these values for the well-being of the nation.

Moral and Civic Duties: Among the Fundamental Duties are both moral duties, such as cherishing the noble ideals of the national freedom struggle, and civic duties, such as respecting and abiding by the Constitution. This dual nature encompasses obligations that are both ethically significant and legally binding for citizens.

Also Read  Difference Between Constitutional Rights And Fundamental Rights

Significance Of Fundamental Duties

The fundamental duties outlined in the Indian Constitution play a pivotal role in adding a sense of civic consciousness and responsibility among citizens. These duties remind individuals of their obligations towards the nation and society, encouraging them to uphold the values and principles in the Constitution.

Certain Fundamental Duties underscore the significance of promoting education, scientific temper, and the advancement of scientific knowledge. Simultaneously, they emphasise cherishing India’s rich cultural heritage. This dual focus on education and culture fosters a well-rounded development among citizens, contributing to the nation’s intellectual and cultural growth.

Fundamental Duties complement the Fundamental Rights guaranteed in the Constitution. While Fundamental Rights grant entitlements and protections to citizens, Fundamental Duties serve as a reminder of their responsibilities towards society and the nation. This harmonious balance ensures that citizens not only enjoy their rights but also actively contribute to the welfare and progress of the collective.

Fundamental Duties in the Indian Constitution encourage citizens to view themselves not as onlookers but as active contributors to the achievement of national objectives. They created a sense of participation and engagement in the collective attempt of nation-building.

These duties underscore the significance of preserving national unity and integrity by upholding the foundational principles of the Constitution. They promote a shared dedication to the nation’s well-being beyond individual interests, fostering a cohesive and united society.

Fundamental Duties also play a crucial role in fostering the development of moral and ethical values among citizens. They advocate for integrity, honesty, and respect for others, contributing to a morally conscious and principled society.

By focusing on civic engagement and responsible citizenship, Fundamental Duties promote democratic principles. They encourage citizens to actively participate in democratic processes, essential for the sustenance of a robust and inclusive democracy.

Fundamental Duties further encourage citizens to promote social welfare by fostering harmony, brotherhood, and inclusivity. They aim to cultivate a society that values cooperation and mutual respect, contributing to social cohesion and well-being.

The significance of Fundamental Duties extends to the judiciary as well. As established by rulings from the Supreme Court, if a law is aligned with the fulfilment of a Fundamental Duty, it may be labelled ‘reasonable’ concerning Constitutional provisions like Article 14 (equality before law) or Article 19 (freedoms). This aspect aids the judiciary in assessing and determining the constitutional validity of laws, ensuring they align with ethical and societal responsibilities.

Criticisms Of Fundamental Duties In The Indian Constitution

Non-Justiciability is a key concern surrounding Fundamental Duties in the Indian Constitution. The absence of legal repercussions for not adhering to these duties raises questions about their effectiveness and utility in promoting civic responsibility.

Also Read  Difference Between Constitutional Rights And Fundamental Rights

Another criticism revolves around the Non-Exhaustive nature of the list of fundamental duties. Important duties such as casting votes and paying taxes are not explicitly mentioned, leaving gaps in the coverage of essential civic responsibilities.

Subjectivity and Ambiguity in the language used to state fundamental duties also face criticism. Critics argue that phrases like ‘noble ideals’ and ‘composite culture’ are vague and open to multiple interpretations, making it challenging to determine the precise scope and nature of these duties.

An Imbalance with Rights is highlighted as critics argue that the imposition of fundamental duties creates an imbalance with fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution. They argue that enforceable rights should not come with corresponding duties that may impinge upon individual autonomy and freedom.

Inadequate Promotion and Awareness of fundamental duties among citizens is another criticism. Many are unaware of their duties or assume them as secondary to their rights, which undermines their effectiveness in creating a sense of civic responsibility.

Lastly, the placement of Fundamental Duties as an appendage to Part IV of the Constitution is seen as reducing their significance. Critics argue that they should have been positioned after Part III to emphasise their importance on par with Fundamental Rights.


Difference Between Fundamental Rights And Fundamental Duties 

Fundamental Rights are promises made by the government to its citizens. They ensure that every person has certain freedoms and protections, such as the right to equality, freedom of speech, and the right to education. These rights are essential for individuals to live with dignity and autonomy.

On the other hand, Fundamental Duties are responsibilities that citizens have towards their country and fellow citizens. These duties include things like respecting the national flag, following the laws, and promoting harmony among people. They are meant to encourage a sense of civic responsibility and contribute to the overall well-being of society.


Despite facing some criticisms, the Fundamental Duties outlined in the Indian Constitution continue to play a crucial role in nurturing civic consciousness, fostering patriotism, and promoting social cohesion. They serve as a guiding framework for citizens, encouraging responsible citizenship and ultimately contributing to the nation’s collective well-being and advancement. In essence, these duties are instrumental in realising the vision of a harmonious and democratic society as envisioned by the Constitution’s framers.


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