Rights & Duties

Context:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to suggest a dichotomy between the rights and duties of citizens when he said last week that the country had wasted a lot of time “fighting for rights” and “neglecting one’s duties”.

Rights and Duties Go Hand in Hand

  • Mahatma Gandhi in Hind Swaraj observed that “Real rights are a result of the performance of duty”.
  • Rights and duties are closely related and cannot be separated from one another. For every right, there is a corresponding duty.
  • The State protects and enforces rights and it is the duty of all citizens to be loyal to the state. Thus a citizen has both Rights and Duties.
  • Indian Constitution provides its citizens with the Fundamental Rights and lists the Fundamental Duties to be followed by them.
  • The Constitution covers a broad spectrum of domains to protect the rights of the common man by introducing six rights as Fundamental Rights (Part III of the constitution).
  • Similarly, the Fundamental Duties are also emphasised upon by the Constitution (Part IVA of the constitution).
  • Fundamental duties were not part of our Constitution that came into effect in 1950. Instead, they crept in during the Emergency as part of the recommendation of a 12-member committee.
  • They owe their origins to the discussion of part of the Sardar Swaran Singh Committee Report which called for “certain fundamental duties and obligations which every citizen owes to the nation, inter-alia, to function in such a manner as to sustain

Duties of citizens:

  • Citizens are generally duty-bound to protect the integrity and the sovereignty of the country, and this is true for India though there is no conscription.
  • Other constitutional duties expected include a duty to promote harmony and brotherhood, and to develop scientific temper, humanism and a spirit of inquiry.
Neglect of Rights in favour of duties:
    • Realization of rights is still a work in progress: Any shift in state policy emphasis from rights to duties will be absurd and a disservice to many for whom the realisation of even fundamental rights is still a work in progress.
    • Rights necessary for nation’s Critical progress: An enlightened citizenry is critical to progress and good governance.
    • But duty is not something that the citizens owe to the state.
    • The obligation of individual citizens to the collective pursuit of a nation can be meaningful when their rights are guaranteed by the state. The citizen has a right to use a public road, and a duty to obey traffic rules.
    • The right and the duty are meaningful only in conjunction.
Conclusion
  • However, such a comparison of duties and rights is not permissible under our Constitution as its core principles are fundamental rights of the individual and their enjoyment by citizens subject to reasonable restrictions.
  • Subsequent apex court rulings have made it clear that fundamental rights are not absolute.

Source: THE HINDU.

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