The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre and States to respond to a petition to enforce the fundamental duties of citizens, including patriotism and unity of the nation, through "comprehensive, well-defined laws”.
A Bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul issued notice in a petition filed by Durga Dutt, who introduced himself as a Supreme Court lawyer. The petition referred to the Bhagwad Gita on the importance of duty. It also took a leaf from the erstwhile Soviet Constitution and pointed to China’s advent as a “superpower” while arguing that the “need of the hour” is to remind citizens that fundamental duties were as important as fundamental rights under the Constitution.
“The need to enforce fundamental duties arises due to new illegal trend of protest by protestors in the garb of freedom of speech and expression, by way of blocking of road and rail routes in order to compel the government to meet their demands,” the petition, filed through advocate Karunakar Mahalik, said.
Though it agreed that the 11 fundamental duties listed in Article 51A of the Constitution were basically “moral obligations” on citizens, the petition used the prefix “sacrosanct” to define these obligations.
“The concept of duty is enunciated in Bhagwad Gita where Lord Krishna guides Arjuna and educates him with the importance of duties in all spheres/ stages of one's life,” the petition noted. It said the time has come to balance rights, liberties and freedoms and obligations. Fundamental duties instill a “profound sense of social responsibility towards the nation”.
“In the erstwhile USSR Constitution, the rights and duties were placed in the same footing. There is a pressing need to enforce and implement at least some of the fundamental duties. That is, to uphold and protect sovereignty, unity and integrity of India, to defend the country and render national service when called upon to do so and to disseminate a sense of nationalism and to promote the spirit of patriotism to uphold the unity of India after the emergence of China as a superpower…” the petition urged.
The petition said fundamental duties were “brazenly flouted” by people. These duties were an important tool to protect unity and integrity. Every citizen should know how to respect institutions in this country, it argued.
The petition mentioned the Supreme Court’s own judgment in the Ranganath Mishra judgment to contend that fundamental duties should not only be enforced by legal sanctions but also by social sanctions. After all, rights and duties were co-relative, it said.
There should be a “creation of role models”, Mr. Dutt argued. Instead, there was not even a uniform policy for the “proper sensitisation, full operationalisation and enforceability” of fundamental duties which would “substantially help citizens to be responsible”.
The court has listed the case for April 4, 2022.