A duty is an obligation. A man is said to have a duty is any matter, when he is under an obligation to do or not to do something.
It is something we one to others as social beings. What is a right in regard to one’s self is a duty in regard to others. They are two aspects of the something. If one looks at them from one’s own point, they are rights. If one looks at them from the stand point of others, they are duties.
It has been rightly said that ‘Duties’ and Rights’ are the two sides of the same coin. They are co-relative. The two go hand in hand. It is necessary to remember that the individual possesses and is able to exercise his rights only as a member of an organized community. Lakh has described the relation between rights and duties in its three aspects. Firstly, it is the imperative duty of a citizen to use his rights on such a way as contribute to social richness, secondly, the enjoyment of his rights by an individual enjoins on him the duty to let others enjoy the same rights. Thirdly, since the state protects may rights, therefore, it is my duty to perform my obligations towards it.”
M. K. Gandhi attaches far greater importance to duties than to rights. Rights are the opportunity for self-realization. The way to self-realization is the realization of one’s spiritual unity with others by serving them and doing one’s duty by them. Thus every right is the right to do one’s duty.
The constitutions of most western states given prominent place to the rights of the citizen but make no mention of his duties. This, for example, is the case with the constitution of the U S A. Tapan is perhaps, the only country which has adopted the western model of liberal democracy and has also included a number of basic duties in its constitution.
Following the example set by the U.S.S.R., the constitution of socialist states, on the contrary, give equal importance to the fundamental rights and duties of their citizens.
The constitution of India did not incorporate any chapter of fundamental duties. Fundamental Rights which the citizens were given were incorporated in part III of the constitution.
It was during the period of internal emergency declared in 1975 that need and necessity of fundamental duties was felt and accordingly a committee under Sardar Swaran Singh was appointed to make recommendations about fundamental duties.
The committee” emphasized the inclusion of a chapter on fundamental duties in the constitution so that the people of India become quit conscious that in addition to rights they also had certain duties to perform as well.
The committee had also recommended that duty to pay taxes should also be fundamental duty of the citizens. But these recommendations were not accepted by the Congress Party.
As a result of the 42nd amendment carried out in 1976, the Indian constitution has incorporated a set of fundamental duties of citizens in a separate part added to chapter IV (Article 51-A). The fundamental duties are ten in number under this Article, it shall be the duty of every citizen of India.
(1) To abide by the constitution and respect the National flag and the National Anthem;
(2) To Cherish and follow the noble ideas which inspired our national struggle for freedom;
(3) To protect the sovereignty, unity and integrity of India;
(4) To defend the country;
(5) To promote the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India;
(6) To preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture;
(7) To protect and improve the natural environment;
(8) To develop the scientific temper and spirit of inquiry;
(9) To safeguard public property;
(10) To strive towards excellence in all spheres of individual and collective activity.
Fundamental duties are inserted in Article 51A (Part IV), just after the directive principles of state policy. Since this part was not added after fundamental rights but after directive principles of state policy, it becomes clear that intention of the 42nd Amendment was to keep these duties as par with the Directive principles and not with Fundamental Rights.
Fundamental duties has certain inherent weaknesses. The duties enumerated are so vague that it is usually difficult to have their universally acceptable definitions and thus these can be interpreted in the way one would like to interpret these.
One of the duties of the citizens is to follow the noble ideals which inspired our freedom struggle. There are come to another duty which says that every citizen of India will value and preserve the rich heritage of our composite culture.
A question that can be asked is as to which is India’s composite culture Art. 51A is very vogue namely “to develop scientific temper, humanism and spirit of inquiry” It is very difficult to define scientific temper, humanism, or spirit of inquiry.
In brief, the incorporation of fundamental duties on the constitution was an attempt to balance the individual’s civic ‘freedoms’ with his civic obligations and thus, to fill a serious gap in the constitution.