Thursday, 10 February 2022

Fundamental duties and judiciary


Part IV-A, which deals with fundamental duties of the citizens, was added by the Constitution (Forty-Second Amendment) Act, 1976, in accordance with the recommendations of the Swaran Singh Committee. It thus brought the Constitution of India in line with Article 29 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. When the court is called ahead to give effect to the directive principles and the fundamental duty, the court is not to wave its shoulders and say that priorities are a matter of policy and so it is an issue for the policy-making power. Practically speaking, these duties are ethical and societal obligations of Indian citizens to develop into accountable citizens and build up the country. The fundamental duties can be promoted by constitutional means and can be forced only by constitutional methods. Constitutional enactment of fundamental duties must be used by courts as a tool to tap, in State action which is diverting away from constitutional values. The fundamental duties enjoined on citizens under Article 51-A should also guide the legislative and executive actions of nominated or non-elected institutions and organizations of the citizens together with the municipal bodies. As the Verma Committee (1999) on fundamental duties said essentially all that is contained in the fundamental duties is just a codification of tasks integral to the Indian way of life. A scrutiny of the clauses of Article 51-A indicates that a number of these clauses basically refer to such values which have been a part of the Indian tradition, mythology, religion, and practices. Although the fundamental duties were inserted during the emergency and very noble in the literal sense, cannot either be part of a constitution or a statute nor give any locus standing. They cannot be enforced by a court, but only by constitutional methods. Nevertheless, fundamental duties, though not enforceable by mandamus or any other legal remedy still provide a valuable guide and aid to interpretation of constitutional and legal issues. In the case of doubt or choice, people’s wish as manifested through Article 51-A can be served as a guide not only for resolving the issue but also for constructing or molding the relief to be given by the courts. In AIIMS Student’s Union vs AIIM11, a three-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court made it clear that fundamental duties, though not enforceable by a writ of the court, yet provide valuable guidance and aid to interpretation and resolution of constitutional and legal issues. Again in L.K. Koolwal v. the State of Rajasthan the Court held Article 51-A is the duty of the citizens however, Article 51-A gives a right to the citizens to move the court for the enforcement of the duty cast on State, instrumentalities, agencies, departments, local bodies and statutory authorities created under the law of the State. The Hon’ble Court on similar occasion also stated that the collective duties of the citizens imply the duty of the State. However, this is not denying that the State does not have duties. If the State does not have duties, then it is under Parts III and IV of the Constitution, namely, fundamental rights and directive principles, where analogous negative and positive duties lie in the State.

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