This is authored by Janaki Nair 3rd year B. A. LLB student in Symbiosis Law School Pune. The following article aims to showcase the deep and complementary relationship between the Fundamental Rights as well as the Fundamental Duties prescribed in the Indian Constitution.
The Constitution of India is a revered legal document for the Indian governance system. It is the supreme law of the land and it encompasses the basic code that differentiates among the various structures, procedures, powers, rights as well as the duties of both the citizens as well as the governing authorities of India. The Constitution is preceded by what is known as the Preamble that states the aims and visions, as well as the purposes of the Constitution – an example of it is to state that India would be a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic. The Constitution is divided into numerous parts that all have certain rules prescribed into them.
Out of them, arguably, the most important ones are three Parts –
- PART III – Fundamental Rights of the citizens of India
- PART IV – Directive Principles of State Policy
- PART IVA – Fundamental Duties
The Fundamental Rights and Fundamental Duties can be said to be the basic and indisputable rights that belong to every Indian with no discrimination based on gender, sex, caste, religion, etc. Fundamental Duties are the obligations that bind a fellow Indian to observe and behave accordingly and in consonance with the principles of the nation. The Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) are the guidelines that every state authority needs to consider and keep in mind before taking any decision that might affect the country either partly or wholly. All three of these parts are extremely important to the smooth functioning of governance in India and were developed between the years 1947 to 1949.
The following article will be focused on the Fundamental Rights and Duties and how they complement as well as differ from each other.
Rights and Duties under the Constitution
Fundamental Rights, as mentioned, consist of the most basic rights of every human that cannot generally be taken away by a government authority unless under extremely special and extraordinary circumstances. Fundamental Rights are, therefore, enforceable by the court of law; anyone who feels as if one or more of their fundamental rights were violated can appeal before the judiciary. Following are some cases that pinpoint the importance of Fundamental Rights in Indian law –
- Kesavananda Bharti v. Union of India AIR 1980 SC 1789 – In the above, the court had held that fundamental rights formed part of the basic structure of the Constitution and hence were not allowed to be amended in any form.
- re Kerala Educational Bill AIR 1980 SC 1789 – In the above, the court had stated that in a situation of conflict, the DPSP cannot override the fundamental rights. However, the court also stated that care must be taken to ensure that all these important parts of the Constitution are existing harmoniously with each other.
Fundamental Duties, conversely, are the obligations that the same citizens have by simply being Indians towards the country. Fundamental duties stem up in the form of ensuring that the people in the country are upholding the dignity and principles dear to the nation. They are the moral obligations that the citizens promote to encourage patriotism and unity among the diversity of the nation. Some of the duties are as follows – to abide by the Constitution and respect it, to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity, and integrity of the country, etc.
Relationship between the Rights and Duties
It is extremely clear after reading the Constitution that the relationship between fundamental rights and fundamental duties is not mutually exclusive. They are, on the other hand, extremely compatible and even complementary to each other when it comes to announcing the rights and duties of the citizens.
Even though fundamental duties are not legally enforceable before the Court unlike the fundamental rights, the Indian judiciary has time and again stated that the fundamental duties, along with the directive principles of the state prescribed under the constitution, should not be restricted because of a mere legal unenforceability. The judiciary has time and again stated that the duties will not be taken for granted and strict implementation of these principles will be seen by the Government.
In the case of Chandra Bhawan Boarding v. State of Mysore 1970 AIR 2042, 1970 SCR (2) 600, the court had opined that it is a grave mistake to think that the Constitution only primarily guarantees the Fundamental Rights and not the duties. The Supreme Court further stated that Part IV and Part IV A of the Constitution are also present that aims at establishing Indian society as welfare – oriented society both nationally and internationally.
The fundamental rights cannot be exercised without the fundamental duties. As a prudent citizen of the country, every individual has certain rights as well as responsibilities bestowed upon him/her/them under Parts III, IV, and IV A of the Constitution. These rights and duties are also mostly overlapping and redundant of each other. For example, Article 26 of the Indian Constitution under Part III talks about the Right to Education that is fundamental to every citizen of the country. Similarly, Article 51A (k) under Part IV A of the Constitution states how every parent or guardian figure of a child should provide educational opportunities for the child from the ages of 6 years to 14 years. Therefore, both of the rights and duties have worked together towards securing the right to education of a child between the ages of six and fourteen.
Article 21 of the Indian Constitution is the fundamental right to life and dignity of an Indian citizen. Similarly, A. 51 A (c) and (e) are fundamental duties to ensure that the dignity of both the nation as well as the individual is upheld by ensuring harmony and freedom based on religious, gender, social, etc. differences.
Therefore, it is clear that the main purpose of both the rights and duties is to ensure that the country is run along with the ideals of sovereignty, freedom, secularity, and dignity. Both of them ensure that the individuals are treated equally and respectfully thereby upholding the ideals of both the Preamble and the Constitution through their interrelatedness.
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