Fundamental Duties under Constitution -UPSC IAS Exam- Indian Polity- by Dr Ashok...

Fundamental Duties under Constitution -UPSC IAS Exam- Indian Polity- by Dr Ashok Dhamija


Fundamental Duties of the citizens under Article 51-A of the Constitution are discussed here (also freely subscribe to our YouTube Education channel with about 100 free videos on UPSC IAS and other competitive examinations):

Fundamental Duties – background

  • Generally, rights and duties go together. If society gives you some rights, then you may also have some duties towards the society.
  • Constitution guaranteed certain Fundamental Rights. But, there were no Fundamental Duties mentioned in original Constitution.
  • Fundamental duties were added to the Constitution by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976 (w.e.f. 03-01-1977).
  • A new Chapter 4-A was inserted in the Constitution with the heading of “Fundamental Duties”.
  • This Chapter contains only one Article, i.e., Article 51-A imposing certain Fundamental Duties on every citizen.
  • Fundamental Duties were added to the Constitution on the basis of the recommendations made by Sardar Swaran Singh Committee set up by Congress Party in 1976.
  • Initially, 10 fundamental duties were listed. Subsequently, one more fundamental duty was added by the Constitution (86th Amendment) Act, 2002 (w.e.f. 01-04-2010).

Article 51-A of the Constitution

51-A. Fundamental duties.— It shall be the duty of every citizen of India—

(a) to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the National Flag and the National Anthem;

(b) to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;

(c) to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;

(d) to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;

(e) to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;

(f) to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;

(g) to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;

(h) to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;

(i) to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;

(j) to strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity so that the nation constantly rises to higher levels of endeavour and achievement.

(k) who is a parent or guardian to provide opportunities for education to his child or, as the case may be, ward between the age of six and fourteen years.


  • Article 51-A was inserted by the Constitution (42nd Amendment) Act, 1976 (w.e.f. 03-01-1977).
  • Clause (k) was added by the Constitution (86th Amendment) Act, 2002 (w.e.f. 01-04-2010).

Important features of Fundamental Duties

  • The fundamental duties are non-justiciable.
  • There is no mechanism provided in the Constitution for their direct enforcement by the courts.
  • No penalty is prescribed in the Constitution for a citizen who violates any fundamental duty.
  • Thus, there is no legal sanction against their violation.
  • So, there is only moral sanction for these fundamental duties. Every citizen is expected to observe these fundamental duties.
  • Of course, the Parliament may enforce them by suitable legislation.
  • Some of the fundamental duties are moral duties while some others are civic duties.
  • Many of these duties are vague and ambiguous concepts (e.g., “noble ideals”, “composite culture”).
  • Some of the fundamental duties are so vague that they are incapable of being legally enforced. For example, duties contained in clauses (b), (f), (h) and (j) do not contain any definite ideas and appear to be legally unenforceable since they are not measurable in definite terms.
  • Fundamental duties have been imposed only on the citizens, and not on other persons (such as foreigners who visit India or legal persons such as companies). This is in contrast with some of the fundamental rights.
  • No penalty is prescribed under the Constitution for their violation.
  • List of fundamental duties appears to be only partial and not exhaustive (e.g., casting vote, paying taxes, etc., are not included).
  • These duties serve as a reminder to the citizens that while enjoying their rights, they should also be conscious of duties they owe to their country.
  • They serve as a source of inspiration for the citizens and promote a sense of discipline and commitment among them.
  • They create a feeling that the citizens are not mere spectators but active participants in the realisation of national goals.
  • The relationship between the fundamental rights and fundamental duties is not made clear in the Constitution. It is not known whether a law made for enforcement of fundamental duties can infringe a fundamental right.
  • They may help the courts in examining constitutional validity of a law.
  • For example, recently the Supreme Court made it mandatory to play National Anthem in all cinema halls and making it mandatory for all citizens to stand up when National Anthem is being played. However, in a similar matter, the court refused to make it mandatory to play National Song mandatory, on the ground that there is no concept of National Song in Article 51-A.
  • The inclusion of fundamental duties in Constitution has been criticized as superfluous since generally citizens would themselves follow most of such duties, also because there is no penalty for their violation making them only some moral commands.
  • There are already some existing legal provisions which impose similar obligations on the citizens:
    • Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, prevents disrespect to the Constitution of India, the National Flag and the National Anthem.
    • Indian Penal Code has provisions making certain acts against the country as punishable offences (such as sedition, waging war against the country, assertions prejudicial to national integration, etc.).
    • Indian Penal Code also defines offences for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, caste, language, etc.
    • Likewise, Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, and Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, make certain discriminatory practices on caste basis as offences.
    • The Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, prohibits trade in rare and endangered species.
    • Forest Conservation Act, 1980, checks indiscriminate deforestation and diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes.

In Conclusion, it can be said that fundamental duties are generally in the nature of moral commands to the citizens. Perhaps, the idea appears to be that these principles should become a part and parcel of the thoughts and actions of every citizen. So, Article 51-A acts as a reminder to the citizens making them aware of their duties towards the nation, without having the violation punishable.

Watch the YouTube video with full explanation:

In this video, Fundamental Duties of the citizens under Article 51-A of the Constitution are discussed.

This video is useful for the aspirants of the UPSC Civil Services Examination (for IAS, IPS, IFS, and Group-A Central Services) for the General Studies, Paper 2, for Indian Polity. This lecture is also useful for those appearing for Judicial Service Examinations in India, as also for law students, and also for aspirants of other competitive examinations.

This video has been prepared by Dr. Ashok Dhamija, a former IPS.


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