Rights Vs Duties – UPSC GS2

What is the relationship between rights and duties?
  • The evolution of democratic society is centred on the expansion of individual and group rights.
  • Duties are important for reinforcement of those rights. Thus, Duties and rights complement each other.
  • Any notion of rights and duties being opposite or hierarchical(superior/inferior) is incorrect.
  • The Indian Constitution enshrines equality and freedom as fundamental rights, along with rights against exploitation, freedom of religion, cultural and educational rights, and the right to Constitutional remedies.
  • At the same time, citizens have duty to protect the integrity and sovereignty of the nation. Other duties include the duty to promote harmony and brotherhood and to develop scientific temper, humanism, and spirit of inquiry.
What was the view held by the constituent assembly?
  • The emphasis on dignity was important and it guaranteed basic human rights like equality, autonomy, liberty, and others.
  • But rights were not made absolute, and part III of the constitution also contained limitations of the rights. Any curtailment of rights would thus need legislative sanction and should be reasonable as per the constitution.
How did fundamental duties evolve?
  • They were not present in the original form of the constitution. They were added after the¬†Swaran Singh Committee¬†recommendations through the 42nd constitutional amendment and Article 51A.
  • It encouraged citizens to cherish noble ideas, uphold and protect the sovereignty of India among other provisions.
What is the relationship between duties and state?
  • A shift of state policy with an emphasis on duty is not correct.
  • Duty is not something that citizens owe to the state.
  • Obligation or duties of individual citizens can only be meaningful when their rights are guaranteed by the state. E.g. When a citizen has the right to use a public road, they have the duty to obey traffic rules also. Citizens here cannot be obligated to obey traffic rules, without giving them the right to use public roads. Both rights and duties here can happen only in conjunction.
  • But with rising state coercion, restrictions on the rights of the citizens are on the rise.

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