article 51a of indian constitution

Article 51A of Indian Constitution – Fundamental Duties Explained

Article 51A of Indian Constitution talks about Fundamental duties. These duties were added by 42nd Amendment of the constitution of India in 1976. Such Duties are generally not found in the constitution based on the western liberal tradition. They are invariably found in the socialist constitutions.

Article 41aFundamental duties It shall be the duty of every citizen of India

  • to abide by the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions, the national Flag and the National Anthem;
  • to cherish and follow the noble ideals which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
  • to uphold and protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
  • to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so;
  • to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood among all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women;
  • to value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
  • to protect and improve the natural environment including forests, lakes, rivers and wild life, and to have compassion for living creatures;
  • to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform;
  • to safeguard public property and to abjure violence;
  • 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.

These are the 10 Fundamental Duties which are given under Article 51A of Indian Constitution.

Need for Fundamental Duties

Rights and duties are correlative. The fundamental duties, are, therefore, intended to serve as a constant reminder to every citizen that while the Constitution specifically conferred on them certain fundamental rights, it also requires citizens to observe certain basic norms of democratic conduct and democratic behavior.

The traditional duties have been given constitutional sanction. “If one takes care to see, he will discover in the Constitution not only his rights but also his duties. A look at ‘ the Constitution will also thus answer the complaint of some persons that Constitution has conferred rights on the individual but has not set out the duties of the individuals towards the society.

By the Preamble the Constitution secures to all the citizens: “liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship”. These are fundamental right; of the citizens. The rest of the preamble emphasises only the duties, “justice, social economic and political. In addition to this, the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution are not absolute rights. The State is empowered to impose reasonable restriction and curtail these rights in the interest of society. Restrictions may sometimes amount to prohibition”

Fundamental duties under article 51a

Source of Fundamental Duties Under Article 51a of Indian Constitution

It is significant to note that none of the constitutions of western countries specifically provide the duties and obligations of citizens. Among the democratic constitutions of the world, we find mention of certain duties of the citizens in the Japanese Constitution.

In Britain, Canada and Australia the rights and duties of citizens are governed largely by Common law and judicial decisions. The French Constitution makes only a passing reference to duties of citizens.

Article 51A

The American Constitution provides only for fundamental rights and does not refer to duties of citizens. It does not mean that the people of these countries behave in an irresponsible manner. In all these countries the citizens are imbued with a high sense of patriotism as a result of education and training in the elementary duties and obligations of citizenship.

The Constitution of Socialist countries, however, lay great emphasis on the citizens’ duties which are given under “Article 51A of Indian Constitution“. Article 32 of the Yugoslavian Constitution lays down : “The freedom and rights shall be achieved in solidarity among the people by the fulfillment of their duties towards each other”. Article 36 says, “The right to work and the freedom to work are guaranteed and whoever will not work, though he is fit to do so, shall not enjoy the rights and the social “protection that man enjoys on the basis of work”. Article 66 lays down, “Every citizen shall conscientiously discharge any public or social office vested in him and shall be personally accountable for discharging it”.


But among the Socialist countries, the Soviet Constitution, which is no more due to USSR not in existence, contained a comprehensive Chapter on the citizen’s duties. Chapter 7 of the Soviet Constitution lays down fundamental rights and duties. Article 59 provided that every citizen of the USSR was obliged to observe the Constitution of the USSR and Soviet laws, comply, with the standard of Socialist conduct and uphold the honour and dignity of Soviet citizenship.

Article 61 laid down that every citizen of the USSR was obliged to preserve and protect Socialist property. Persons encroaching in any way on Socialist property would be punished according to the law. Article 62 provided that defence of the Soviet Motherland was the sacred duty of every citizen of the USSR. Article 63 made military service compulsory, which provided military service in the Armed Forces of the USSR a honourable duty of Soviet citizens. Betrayal of the Motherland was the gravest of crimes against the people.


Enforcement of Duties

The duties incorporated in the Constitution by the 42nd Amendment are statutory duties and shall be enforceable by law. Parliament, by law, will provide penalties to be imposed for failure to fulfill those duties under Article 51A of Indian Constitution and obligations. The success of this provision would, however, depend much upon the manner in which and the person against whom these duties would be enforced.

what are the fundamental duties

For the proper enforcement of duties, it is necessary that it should be known to all, This should be done by a systematic and intensive education of the people that is by publicity or by making it a part of the syllabi and curriculum of education. The Law Minister has himself suggested this. Most of the people of this country are illiterate and not politically conscious of what they owe to society and country. Homes, Universities, officers and their places of work should all be made centers for imparting in the performance of their obligations.

Article 51A of Indian Constitution and 51a (g) Case Laws

Playing of National Anthem-Section 3 of Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971.-In Shyam Narayan Chouksey v. Union of India, the Supreme Court in a PIL held-One is compelled to show respect whenever and wherever the National Anthem is played. It is the clan vital of the nation and fundamental grammar belonging to a nation State. The prescription of the place or occasion has to be made by the executive keeping in view the concept of fundamental duties provided under the Constitution and the law. Playing of National Anthem in the cinema halls on the screen may not be made mandatory until a final decision is taken by the Committee appointed by the Central Government and thereafter by the Central Government. The Court issued the necessary directions with the exemption granted to disabled to remain in force till the final decision of the competent authority with regard to each occasion whenever the National Anthem is played or sung.

M.C. Mehta (2) v. Union of India, (1983) 1 SCC 471

the Supreme Court has held that under Article 51A (g) of Constitution of Indian. it is the duty of the Central Government to introduce compulsory teaching of lessons at least for one hour in a week on protection and improvement of natural environment in all the educational institutions of the country. -It directed the Central Government to get textbooks written on that subject and distribute them to the educational institutions free of cost. In order to arouse amongst the people, the consciousness of cleanliness of environment, it suggested the desirability of organising-keep the city clean week, keep the town clean, keep the village clean week in every city, town and village throughout India at least once in a year.


Aruna Roy v. Union of India

The validity of National Curriculum Framework for School Education was challenged on the ground that it was violative of Art. 28 of the Constitution and anti secular. It provides imparting of value development education relating to basics of all religions The Court held that the NCFSE does not mention of imparting “religious instructions” as prohibited under Art. 28. What is sought to be imparted is incorporated in Article 51A of Constitution of India clause (e), which provides “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 woman”. And to see that universal values such as truth related conduct, peace, love and non-violence be the foundation of education. Accordingly, the Court held that such education is neither violative of Art. 28 of the Constitution nor is against the concept of secularism.

State of Gujarat v. Mirazpur Moti K ureshi Kassab Jamat

 The petitioners have challenged the constitutional validity of the Bombay Animal (Preservation of Gujarat Amendment) Act, 1994, by which the‘ State had prohibited slaughter of cows and its progeny on the ground that it was violative of their right to carry on business under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution. The Supreme Court held that the ban imposed by the Act is a reasonable restriction on their business and in the interest of general public within the meaning of clause (6) of Article 19 of the Constitution. Restrictions imposed ‘for promoting the objectives of the directive principles in Article 48 and Article 51A of Constitution of India is a feasonable restriction on fundamental right of the petitioners to carry on business and therefore, valid.

Government of India v. George Philip

 The respondent has challenged his compulsory retirement from service. He was granted leave by the department to pursue advanced research training. He was granted leave for two years. He overstayed in a foreign country in spite of repeated reminders to come and Join his duty after the expiry of his leave. An inquiry was instituted against him and the charge of overstaying in a foreign country was proved. He was compulsorily retired from service. 

The tribunal and the High Court granted him remedy of joining his service without back wages. The Supreme Court set aside the order of the High Court. The Supreme Court held that Article 51A (j) of Constitution of India imposed a duty on citizen to strive towards excellence in all spheres and it cannot be achieved unless employees maintain discipline and devotion to duty. The Courts should not pass orders which instead of achieving underlying spirit and objects of Part IV-A of the Constitution has tendency to negate or destroy the same. Overstay of leave and absence from duty by Government employee and granting him six month’s time to join duty amount to not only giving him premium to indiscipline but wholly subversive of work cultures in organisation.

Bibliography- Dr. J.N Pandey- Constitutional law of India

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